MLS 2018 – Five things we learned in Round 2

The second weekend of the MLS 2018 season is now behind us and each of the 23 sides have begun their season. Here is what we learned from week two of the campaign ahead of the third set of fixtures this coming weekend.

Los Angeles FC are for real

Although they won at Seattle on the opening week of the season, the new franchise LAFC confirmed they mean business this year when they went to Rio Tinto and walloped Real Salt Lake City 5-1 in their own backyard, and in truth they could have scored even more than the five they managed to bag.

You would think that a win over the former champions would have sounded out their legitimacy, but those who doubted them offered up the fact that the Sounders were focused on the CONCACAF Champions League. Any such talk was rubbished by a wonderful performance, led by the classy looking pair of Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi, who look to have hit up an instant relationship.

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Nemanja Nikolics is no one season wonder

The Chicago Fire forward Nemanja Nikolics outscored everyone in his first season in the MLS, but there were some wondering if he could back up his Golden Boot heroics from last term, especially in light of the fact that David Accam has headed for pastures new. A brace against the defensively strong Sporting Kansas City side showed that he will be in the mix when the scoring honour is dished out at the end of this campaign though.

While the pace and power of Accam will be a loss, the Fire look to have made a shrewd signing in the form of Aleksandar Katai. The Serbian, signed from Alaves in La Liga, showed signs of a man who will express himself this season, which should be to the benefit of the entertainment of the Chicago fans.

Atlanta United have lost none of their attacking spark

One of the shocks of the opening round of the season was the margin that Atlanta United were beaten by at Houston Dynamo, but they bounced back with the sort of exciting, attacking performance that we became accustomed to seeing from them last season.

Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez and Hector Villalba tore defences apart last year, and all three were on the scoresheet in their 3-1 win over DC United, for whom a tough campaign is expected. Atlanta were involved in a number of high scoring contests in their maiden season in MLS, and the signs are we will get plenty more from them this season, especially with Ezequiel Barco still to come into the side. No wonder they continue to set new attendance records.

Portland Timbers have major issues already

The former winners have a new coach but Giovanni Savarese is going to have to stamp his authority on his side very quickly because already they look a shadow of the team who won the title, and then made the play-offs again last season. Clearly the loss of Darlington Nagbe to Atlanta United left a big hole in their side but their woes lie deeper than that.

Fanendo Adi, who has so often been their talisman, has offered little while Diego Valeri, MVP of the league last season, looks lost without his midfield partner. The Timbers went down 4-0 to a much changed New York Red Bulls side in round two and put in one of their worst performances of all time. Portland have the upcoming weekend off and they need it to regroup and sort themselves out.

Kei Kamara could be the missing piece in the Vancouver Whitecaps jigsaw

The Vancouver Whitecaps have been losing Conference semi-finalists in two of the last three seasons with a deadly fox in the box, or someone who can convert big chances under pressure, being something they have lacked but there have been signs already that they might have addressed that with the addition of Kei Kamara from the New England Revolution.

The 33-year-old cost the Whitecaps a draft pick in each of the next two drafts, and with two goals in his first two appearances and a calmness and a presence that he has provided up front, it already looks like an excellent piece of business by Carl Robinson. If they manage the Sierra Leone man well he could be the man to fire them to glory come the end of the year.

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