Major League Soccer is back, and now more than ever the emphasis is on the evergrowing list of Mexican players that have all of a sudden decided to call this league their home. While same-old Carlos Vela did his thing (and will probably continue to do his thing), there was plenty of other things to talk about including the long-awaited debut of Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez with the LA Galaxy. Here are three things we learned from the opening week of MLS.
Patience will be the name of the game for Chicharito and Pizarro
The name Chicharito certainly carries it’s fair amount of weight around these parts of the world. On Saturday, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez made his debut with the LA Galaxy in front of a packed house in Houston. Naturally, a goal and a win would have been nice for Chicharito, but the Dynamo played a smart second half to cancel out a 13th minute golazo from Cristian Pavon and earn a 1-1 draw.
The game was far from Chicharito’s best, but nobody said it was going to be a walk in the park. It is clear that the Galaxy still need to iron out some wrinkles, and if anything, this game proved just how much the Galaxy miss Jonathan dos Santos in the midfield. JDS is expected to be back by next week, and there is no denying that the Galaxy are a completely different team when the Mexican midfielder is pulling the strings.
Ultimately, the goals will come for Chicharito. He is too good to not to score them.
Something similar can be said about Rodolfo Pizarro. From his perspective, things are a little tougher because Inter Miami don’t have the depth of an LA Galaxy. However, they have a sound coach in Diego Alonso who offers a proper footballing ideology that the team can build on.
For Pizarro, it looked like a lack of chemistry more than anything else. Not to mention, Inter Miami had the poor fortune of playing LAFC first, arguably the league’s favorite to win the MLS Cup.
Inter Miami probably won’t be challenging for any titles this season, and the downside of a coach like Diego Alonso is the team is prone to bad runs just as they are to good ones. The challenge for Pizarro might just be finding consistency in a team that is going to really suffer the trials and tribulations of a full Major League Soccer season.
Some started the season with the right foot
Well, in the case of Oswaldo Alanis, he is a lefty. The Mexican center back scored the San Jose Earthquake’s dramatic late equalizer with a free kick in their 2-2 draw with Toronto FC.
Everybody needs a left-footed center back on their team, and having one that can score free kicks is definitely a bonus. Alanis is no stranger to taking set-pieces around the box, and it’s good to see him start his MLS career in such positive fashion.
Alanis wasn’t the only former Chiva to start the MLS season with a goal. Sporting Kansas City spent big money to bring Alan Pulido from Guadalajara, and the 28-year-old delivered after only 17 minutes, scoring his first goal to help Sporting KC towards a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Pulido quietly has all the potential to be a big difference maker with his team. In fact, it is arguable that from the three major Mexican arrivals during the offseason (Chicharito, Pizzaro, Pulido), he is the most readymade to play in this league. He was already playing at a terrific level with Chivas during his last year in Liga MX, and even if the goals don’t come his way regularly, he doesn’t have the pressure of somebody like Chicharito and he is still incredibly useful from a tactical point of view
Carlos Vela picks up where he left off last season
If you are a betting person, you might want to put money on Carlos Vela scoring in every game he plays in this season. On Sunday, it didn’t take long for last year’s golden boot winner to get on the scoresheet, as he was the lone scorer in LAFC’s 1-0 win over Inter Miami.
As ever, Vela’s goal was another moment of brilliance, scoring a Giovani dos Santos-like chip over goalkeeper Luis Robles. His goal was so good that after the game coach Bob Bradley acknowledged that all the headlines should go to his number 10. Among other things, Bradley had plenty of praise for Vela, and even called him one of the most special players he has ever coached, putting him alongside players like Hristo Stoichkov and Mohamed Salah.
You probably don’t need any telling of this, but Vela is shaping up to have another great season.