Week Two is in the books. The Fire picked up all three points this weekend making it four in it’s first two matches of 2017. I can’t really even believe I just said that. We won. Going back over the past couple of years you’d find that it was Week Four in which the Fire got their first win in 2016. It was also Week Four in 2015. The 2014 edition of the Fire did not get their first win until Week Nine! It is still quite early but I believe the improvements made to the squad are already paying off. The MLS season is a marathon, not a sprint. Teams can recover from a sluggish start and go on to do well in the playoffs as seen by Seattle’s run last year. But for a team like the Fire, looking to get into the postseason after several disappointing seasons it is imperative to pick up points early. Lets take a look at how the other teams in the Eastern conference fared this weekend.
Philadelphia 2 v. Toronto 2
Philly v Toronto or Bedoya v Jozy? Toronto like many has not hit top gear yet. They wound up with a solid point on the road in Philadelphia. Sebastian Giovinco was taken off after picking up an injury. From what I have seen it doesn’t look like they expect it to be serious but it is something to keep an eye on. They have not been particularly impressive early considering I was expecting them to possibly challenge for the supporters shield and they still may. Jozy Altidore scored from the penalty spot and Michael Bradley dropped a nice ball into Justin Morrow for Toronto’s second catching the Philadelphia defenders sleeping. The Union responded immediately through C.J. Sapong making it a draw which was probably the fair result. USMNT teammates Altidore and Alejandro Bedoya got into a small war of words through social media. Apparently Bedoya said that Jozy went down easily for the PK and Jozy sent Bedoya a tweet basically saying he talks to much. That was fun.
Houston 3 v. Columbus 1
Zach Steffen, Columbus’ young keeper played a poor pass early on in this one gifting Houston a 2nd minute goal. He failed to recognize Romell Quito lurking. He pounced on the ball and scored his 2nd goal of the season. Columbus never recovered. Giving up a goal in that fashion early on can be insurmountable and it was for the crew. Alberth Elis and Cubo Torres went on to score for Houston. Torres’ goal was a particularly good one.
New York Red Bulls 1 v. Colorado 0
Tim Howard made some fantastic saves at Red Bull Arena keeping this one closer that it perhaps should have been. The only goal on the day was an own goal giving Red Bulls a full three points. There were question raised when New York gave up Dax McCarty to our Fire but some of the younger players New York have like Sean Davis look competent. It wasn’t a blistering game but Red Bulls were the better of the two teams here. For the club who finished 1st in the East the past two years it seems like business as usual. Even when they don’t play their best they find a way to get a result.
Montreal 2 v. Seattle 2
Ignacio Piatti slipped in Matteo Mancosu early and Mancosu finished nicely. Those two continue to seem like a nice pairing for Montreal. Piatti then scored on an awesome solo run from about midfield making it two for Montreal. It seemed like they would go on to grab three points at home. Seattle had other ideas though. They got an 83rd minute goal after a PK call that I thought was a little soft. But at the same time a little lazy defending from Laurent Ciman. Seattle then got a stoppage time equalizer from Will Bruin after a scrappy goal. Montreal seemed a bit troubled by any pace that Seattle threw at them, especially Jordan Morris. However they will be particularly disappointed they did not get three points after going up two at home. The defense kind of fell asleep late on.
NYCFC 4 v. DC United 0
David Villa got his 1st and 2nd goal of 2017 in this one. He also assisted on Maxi Moralez’s goal. Rodney Wallace also scored and assisted for NYCFC and looks like a good under the radar signing. With Luciano Acosta still out for DC they simply looked like they had no ideas on how to break down NYC and were never in this game. NYC ran rampant and this game was really over in the first half after the third goal. On any day Villa can just be too good to slow down.
Minnesota 1 v. Atlanta 6
There was some snowy soccer played in Minnesota and it was fun to watch. Atlanta’s Josef Martinez scored in the 3rd minute after being put in on goal by a pass from Miguel Almiron. Martinez would go on to score another two making it a hat trick. Almiron himself netted a brace. This game was just an afternoon of Atlanta shooting practice. The South American DPs on Atlanta are very much living up to the hype and they destroyed Minnesota.
Hot (Time) Take
There is plenty to take away each and every week and after two games I feel confident in saying the Fire stack up much better this year than previous seasons. Many of us on Hot Time predicted the Fire would finish in one of the lower playoff spots. It is so early on but right now that looks good. We should expect our team to be much more competitive each game this season. Depth is always going to be a concern but it is for every squad. The combination of Dax and Juninho in midfield is right up there with the best central midfield pairings in MLS. I expect NYRB and NYCFC to both sort of set the pace in the East. Atlanta looks extremely dangerous in attack and Toronto can be equally dangerous if Giovinco is healthy. The individual standouts to me this week in the East were David Villa, Ignacio Piatti, Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez. These players were all excellent this week.
THE WAY TOO EARLY STANDINGS
New York Red Bulls 6pts
Chicago Fire 4pts
Atlanta United FC 3pts
New York City FC 3pts
Orlando City SC 3pts
DC United 1 pt
New England 0pts