Week two has come and gone in MLS, which means that it is time for another MLS Big – 5.
1) Wenger Up – Mattocks out
The top two selections in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft are in the news this week but for very different reasons. You may recall that in the build up to that draft, Montreal had to decide between the speed and potential of University of Akron forward Darren Mattocks and the more seemingly pro-ready game of Duke’s Andrew Wenger.
Montreal opted for MAC Hermann Trophy winner Wenger and Vancouver grabbed Mattocks. After failing to impress both players have been moved on with Wenger finding early season success this year at his third club, the Houston Dynamo, while Mattocks hopes to do the same following a reunion with his college coach Caleb Porter in Portland.
Wenger was named the MLS Player of the Week for his one goal, two assist performance last weekend in the Dynamo’s stunning 5-0 win over FC Dallas and has already outpaced the one goal and two assists that he totaled last year in Philadelphia.
Wenger began his career in Montreal as a midfielder after splitting his college years between center back and center forward. Wenger was used as a midfielder in Philadelphia but he seems to have clicked at the position so far in Houston.
Caleb Porter coached Mattocks and the Akron Zips to the 2010 NCAA title and of course, led the Timbers to the MLS promised land last December. Mattocks has scored just 19 career MLS goals and it is never easy to crack a championship team’s lineup but Porter will be hoping that familiarity unlocks Mattocks potential and the coach need only look to Mattocks’ SuperDraft rival to see that it is not too late for the 25-year-old Jamaican.
2) Upsets Galore!
We have already referenced one of the biggest shocks from week two in MLS, but Houston’s 5-0 demolition job on highly touted FC Dallas hardly stands alone.
After the kind of seasons that Real Salt Lake, Colorado, and Philadelphia endured in 2015 supporters of those clubs will be hoping the weekend’s results are a sign of things to come.
Even as the home teams, RSL’s 2-1 win over Seattle and San Jose’s victory over the defending champs Portland by that same score were surprises but Philadelphia’s 2-1 road win at Columbus and Colorado’s 95th minute 1-0 shocker over Los Angeles via Marco Pappa share the honors for Longshot of the Week with the Dynamo’s home effort versus FCD.
3) Herculez Gomez Tries to Catch On in Seattle
The former U.S. MNT striker left MLS in 2010 for Mexico where he enjoyed success, most notably that first year when he led the league in goals for Puebla, becoming the first American to accomplish that feat in a foreign league.
Last season Gomez ended his estrangement with MLS when he signed with Toronto but Gomez recorded just one goal and was released in the offseason.
Obafemi Martins’ sudden departure has created a vacancy in Seattle and Sigi Schmid wants to give Gomez a chance to show that he can fill it. With Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, and Nelson Valdez already on hand Gomez could be a nice fit for the Sounders.
4) No Sophomore Slump for Larin
This whole professional soccer thing seems to be going pretty well so far for Orlando’s second-year striker Cyle Larin. Last year the 2015 overall number one SuperDraft pick out of UConn earned Rookie of the Year honors following a 17 goal season.
Now, two games into his second season in the bigs Larin shows no signs of succumbing to the sophomore slump, not with two goals in two games. Larin’s opening day tally came in the 94th minute starting an unlikely Orlando comeback that would be completed one minute later when Adrian Winter’s goal tied Real Salt Lake at 2-2.
A week later Larin opened the scoring in the Lions 1-1 draw versus Chicago, not a bad start for the 20-year-old Canadian.
5) Vieira Mixes it Up
No one knew what to expect when New York City FC hired first-time coach Patrick Vieira to replace MLS veteran Jason Kreis after just one season at the helm of the fledgling franchise, even Toronto coach Greg Vanney admitted that he was taken by surprise when he faced the former Arsenal legend at Yankee Stadium last Sunday.
Asked about NYCFC’s formation after the 2-2 draw, the TFC coach said, “it wasn’t just a 3-4-3, it was a three and then a box in the middle of the field and then three guys.” Vanney continued, “they overloaded the middle of the field, meaning that against our three they had four.”
Vanney said that he brought his wings into the middle to counter New York’s numerical advantage but even if TFC’s comeback from a two-goal deficit lends credence to Vanney’s remarks, Vieira is to be credited with giving his opposite number something to think about so early in his coaching career.