Last week, I got a chance to watch two MLS games. The first game of the new season kicked off last Thursday with the Seattle Sounders hosting the latest expansion team, the Philadelphia Union. Union coach Piotr Nowak opted to field a young team in the hopes of building something for the future. Since the Sounders were a fantastic success as an expansion team last year, the Union is hoping to emulate them. While some would argue that the Union players looked frustrated, especially as cards were being issued left and right, I thought they played very well. They were competitive and attacking throughout the game, even after Philadelphia’s Toni Stahl was ejected in the first half, forcing them to play a man down. Seattle’s stadium was rocking as fans enjoyed a 2-0 victory. Again, while some people argue that it was a poor showing for the latest potential MLS darling, I thought they played very well and look forward to following them along with their supporters club, the Sons of Ben.
What I hope changes, however, is Nowak’s attitude. If he continues to whine about bad officiating, it makes me wonder how much coaching he can do. The officiating will be what it will be. What your players do is the only thing they can control.
The second game I watched featured the debut of the new Red Bulls Stadium as New York hosted the Chicago Fire.
I’m from Chicago, so I held my breath when Brian McBride’s bicycle kick hit the far post early in the match. A number of the other people in the pub with me commented on how great it was to see Patrick Nyarko starting. Still, the Fire just couldn’t seem to score, and the Red Bulls were able to win at home 1-0.
Of particular note: while Seattle is packing their stadium with fans wearing scarves and jerseys, FC Dallas is struggling. Dallas hosted the Houston Dynamos and were only able to get around 8,000 fans in the stadium, and some were Dynamo fans. Pitch Invasion notes the decline in home opener attendence, and this BigSoccer.com thread about FC Dallas opening day attendance shows that fans are frustrated with the management.
What did you think of the first week of MLS? Did any results surprise you? What is turning away FC Dallas’ fans, and what can be done to bring them back?