MLS Thoughts: Bastian Schweinsteiger makes his debut

Welcome to Major League Soccer, Bastian Schweinsteiger!

After signing with the Chicago Fire on March 21, the German midfielder saw his first MLS action Saturday at home against the Montreal Impact. And it didn’t take Schweinsteiger long to make an impact.

Schweinsteiger found the back of the net off of a header in the 17th minute. He also added two more shots and helped the Fire control the possession battle in a 2–2 draw.

Obviously, Schweinsteiger isn’t going to solve all of the Fire’s problems, which are focused primarily on defense. But he will be a help on the field and also in the stands, since the Fire have their first truly marketable player since Cuauhtémoc Blanco in 2009. It will be interesting to see how that helps out their attendance as the season goes on.

Also, Schweinsteiger just might lead the Fire to the World Cup (he won’t).

Atlanta’s very quick attack

I’ve watched every Atlanta United match this season, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I noticed just how fast their attack really is.

Despite the absence of Josef Martinez due to injury, United’s attack looked really good in a 0–0 draw at Seattle on Friday. Atlanta turned defense into offense incredibly quick with Héctor Villalba, Yamil Asad and Jacob Petersen in the attack. And it only got better when Miguel Almirón entered the fray in the 65th minute. In all. United managed to get three shots on goal, but nothing went in. Still it made for exciting action against the Sounders.

It’s somewhat of a joke, but Atlanta truly has that SEC speed. When they get on the break, they’re breakaway speed is deadly. Once they get Martinez back from injury, United will be the team to beat in the East.

Columbus’ hot streak

Don’t look now, but the Columbus Crew look like a legit contender in the Eastern Conference.

After drawing Chicago at home and losing at Houston, the Crew have rattled off three-straight wins to sit atop the East. And the last two victories have come against playoff contenders. Last week, Columbus beat the Western Conference leading Portland Timbers. They followed on Saturday it up with a 2–0 win against an Orlando City team that also looks like a threat in the East.

Of course, it helps that the last two matches have been at home, but the Crew have still looked very good since mid-March. They’ve only allowed two goals during the win streak. Justin Meram tallied three goals in the past two games while Ola Kamara has two goals and Federico Higuain added another one during the streak. So long as the Crew attack stays this hot and the defense doesn’t cave, Columbus will be a threat.

If this form is indicative of things to come, don’t be surprised to see them contending to win the East or even the Supporter’s Shield.

D.C. United get first goal, win

D.C. United failed to score a single goal through the first 287 minutes of the season.

But the 288th minute brought the end of a lot of frustration. United’s Jose Ortiz’s shot in the box took a wicked deflection to find the back of the net in the 18th minute on Saturday — D.C.’s first of the season. United’s luck doubled in the 27th minute when Luciano Acosta slotted home a penalty en route to a 2–1 win over Philadelphia — also the first of the season.

D.C.’s slump to start the season comes as a bit of a surprise considering there was some hope for the team. United made the postseason each of the last two years and they had a pretty decent offseason, notably bringing in Ian Harkes, son of former MLS player John Harkes. But the season hasn’t gone to plan. While failing to find the back of the net, the United defense struggled, giving up six goals in the first three matches.

Now, maybe with the first goal and first win, United will look like at least a playoff contending team.

Minnesota picks up first win

After four weeks of futility, Minnesota United picked up its first win of the season on Saturday against Real Salt Lake.

The match looked like the same script from every other match after RSL scored off of a United mistake in the 4th minute, but the Loons flipped the script from that point on. Kevin Molino headed home a ball from outside the six-yard box to level the match, and Christian Ramirez gave United its second-ever lead in the 52nd minute.

Ramirez then took advantage of a really bad mistake from RSL keeper Nick Rimando to double the lead while Johan Venegas finished off the rout in the 68th minute.

This is a huge win for a team that many predict won’t win more than five games. Of course, it comes against a hapless Real Salt Lake side that just fired its manager, but to fight back from the early deficit is huge. If they can fix their defensive woes in the summer transfer window, this will be a team capable of pulling off some upsets.

L.A.’s Struggles Continue

The Los Angeles Galaxy might not make the playoffs.

Yes, we’re still 30 matches from the end of the season, but it’s a statement that looks more true each match.

Coming off a 2–1 win at Real Salt Lake on March 18, the Galaxy looked to have it turned around with a 2–1 halftime lead at Vancouver behind great goals from Romain Alessandrini. But the second half will be one the Galaxy will want to have back.

Vancouver struck for two goals in two minutes to take the lead en rout to a 4–2 win over Los Angeles. And now the Galaxy are reeling with only RSL keeping them from the cellar of the Western Conference.

Head coach Curt Onalfo, who took over for long time coach Bruce Arena this offseason, has made questionable decisions this season, including starting at Clement Diop the keeper position over Brian Rowe. Diop’s poor decision making directly lead to two of the four Whitecap goals.

But the struggles go beyond that. The defense has been very suspect. Jermaine Jones continues to struggle in the midfield. And there’s still a question mark about who will be the goalscorer for this team. 

Like I said earlier, there’s a long way to go in this season. But as these types of results continue to trickle in, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to see the Galaxy miss the postseason for the first time since 2008.