BY CHRISTIAN ARAOS
Staff Writer, MLS
Surprise! All three Canadian teams in MLS all have wins before St. Patrick’s Day! In fact, the trio has combined for five wins in six games through the first two games of the season.
Considering Toronto FC finished dead last amongst all teams, the Impact fell well short of an Eastern Conference playoff spot and the Vancouver Whitecaps were eliminated in their Wild Card match against the Galaxy, this is already an improvement over 2012.
Obviously it is too early to read deeply into results, but you can still rest assured that 2013 will not be the “Year of the Maple Leaf.”
Out of the three Canadian teams, the Vancouver Whitecaps are without a doubt the most talented. Even with the loss of defender Jay DeMerit to an achilles injury, this is still a team that is very strong at the back with Brad Rusin replacing the former American international. Rusin had no defensive issues against Columbus last Saturday and almost scored late in the first half with a header that hit the post. Missed chances may be an issue but as long as the Whitecaps keep creating chances through the work of Daigo Kobayashi, Kenny Miller and Darren Mattocks will get their goals.
The Montreal Impact have experience in all positions, which is a plus in one goal games like the one against Portland last weekend. But experience is a byproduct of age. It’s a dichotomy that is going to make every Impact game an adventure. That experience held strong when the Timbers tried to mount a late rally last weekend. That age kept the Impact a step behind in the early part of the game, forcing Troy Perkins into several key saves. Perkins’ form has been erratic throughout his second stint in MLS, so relying on him to bail the Impact out is far from a safe bet.
It is an uneasy thought, but as Perkins goes, so do the Impact.
Toronto FC got their first win in
forever 234 days when they upset Sporting Kansas City 2-1 at the Rogers Centre. SKC started poorly for the second straight week and were 2-0 down inside of 21 minutes. Eventually, Kansas City assumed control of the game with better passing and possession but the Darren O’Dea led defense held firm only conceding once to a Claudio Bieler header.
The additions of Robert Earnshaw and John Bostock provide pace and creativity to the TFC attack, but the 5’8″ Earnshaw is going to have a tough job if he continues to be up top by himself. Their midfield is especially concerning as both Terry Dunfield and Jeremy Hall are not good on the ball. Every member of the starting midfield for Toronto had possession tackled away at least 10 times last weekend. With pressing and defensive midfielders becoming the norm in the league, Toronto are going to struggle to get their creative players the ball as the season goes on.
All in all, each of the Canadian teams have started out well through the first two weeks of the season. Again, emphasis on “first two weeks.” Vancouver is expected to be in playoff contention in the West but let’s not get too caught up in the hype surrounding Montreal and Toronto just yet.