10 Bright Spots of MLS Week 1: The Gambians, Cooke, and a Salute to Youth

1. New England Revolution

Introduce two U-20 Gambian players and succeed? Sure. Steve Nicol certainly knows what he’s doing and his opener – without the services of Twellman – truly pays homage to his ability to man manage and bring along young talent. Let’s not forget Adam Cristman who worked well with Nyassi and Mansally. All three – along with the veteran presence of Steve Ralston (let’s hope that shoulder’s okay) and the patrolling of Joseph/Larentowicz in the middle – helped put together an attack that even Houston’s defense couldn’t withstand. On the other end, however, Parkhurst dealt with Ching effectively, while it’s pretty certain that Wondolowski should not be in there.

2. Terry Cooke

When did Terry Cooke get fast? We knew he had a boot, but his speed and tenacity was the difference versus the Galaxy. Could it have been the Englishman just wanted to show up his former teammate Beckham? If that’s the case – the opening goal in a 4-0 drubbing of the Galaxy and two subsequent assists will do just that. We can expect another big service year from Cooke. Someone explain to me how Cooke got awarded that second assist on Colin Clark’s goal??? Clark dribbled for what seemed like an eternity before beating Cronin near post…at what point does Cooke’s initial pass become “unassisted”? 

3. Kenny Mansally/Sainey Nyassi

These kids can play. Nyassi burnt Houston on the wings and was able to finish his first goal ever in his debut. Mansally had his hand in the first goal and looked strong on the ball with an uncharacteristic poise for a first year striker. If Mansally and Cristman do well enough up top, does Taylor Twellman technically become expendable?? (Answer is probably no…). Sainey Nyassi was hyped up a little less than Mansally throughout the preseason, but he arguably was the more effective player. Not even Corey Ashe had an answer for his speed on the wings. Both players if consistent provide the Revs with a depth that could account for the loss of Dorman and Noonan. Let’s wait for week two though…

4. Maykel Galindo

He did it at the expense if FC Dallas’ new acquisition and Mexican international Diulio Davino, but no matter how it happens, the Goats came away with a point. Davino mishandled a trap and Galindo capitalized by pouncing on it and sending it straight through Dario Sala’s legs to equalize with 5 minutes to go. What it made it more impressive was that Galindo is still recovering from sports hernia surgery and isn’t at 100%. The Cuban international then kissed the Chivas USA shield during his end-of-the-game interview. The guy is class.

5. Claudio Lopez

Eddie Johnson who? Lopez and Ivan Trujillo ripped apart a decent D.C. United defense with the help of Carlos Marinelli. Already, this is shaping up to be one interesting year. If I’m not mistaken though, there were some crazy results at the beginning of last year too. Anyways, Lopez is class and looks like he’ll end up being another DP success. In fact, you could almost say that about all the DP debuts.  

6. Dema Kovalenko

The guy got stiffed by RBNY and sent on over to Salt Lake (stiffed in the sense he’s more of a big city guy, Chicago his “adopted home”, etc.), but he made the best of his first appearance. Dema, within two minutes of coming, served a cross that was redirected into the Chicago goal by young Bakary Soumare. In a questionably sloppy game, Kovalenko got the job done. On top of that, Kova was just recently sworn in as an official citizen of the United States of America.

7. Adam Moffat

One hell of a game winning goal for Columbus from the star of the Crew’s preseason. A developmental contract that looks to make a significant contribution to the Crew’s run this season. Reminds me of a younger Kerry Zavagnin. 

8. John DiRaimondo/Nick LaBrocca/Kosuke Kimura

LaBrocca, the NJ native, and DiRaimondo really frustrated the hell out of an almost non-existant Los Angeles midfield. Fernando Clavijo’s injury predicament forced him to go with a lot of new blood. Kimura held his own at right back, keeping Donovan pretty quiet throughout the whole game. From the get go, it was clear who wanted to win the game and all three were a huge part of that.

9. Traveling Toronto FC Fans

TFC had something like 2,000 supporters travel down to Columbus to take over Columbus Crew stadium. The Crew still outplayed them in the end, but Crew Stadium was still Toronto’s for the afternoon. Take those supporters away and you have one pitiful Columbus crowd. Mr. Gillett, you want a team? I got one for you…

10. Jon Busch

The seemingly eternal back-up began his Chicago starting career with a big game. A potent Real Salt Lake offense tested him again and again, forcing him into 8 saves. Busch, who last started regularly in 2004 with the Columbus Crew, looked shaky in the beginning but ultimately showed well and solidified his number one spot. In 2004, Busch was the brightest spot on a decent Columbus team – he posted a 1.07 GAA and a 12-5-12 winning record. Then he was replaced….Here’s to hoping he finds that success again.

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MLS Rumors Watch, 1-1 (2-1 soon?) + Today’s Latest

Even though the ink is not yet dry on the trade that will send Alecko Eskandarian to Chivas USA, the content of Steve Goff’s direct communication with the forward makes me feel comfortable enough to say they got that one right. That takes them to 1-1 – and Esky sounds happy. Huzzah!

In other news, they’re “90% certain” to go 2-1 on the Claudio Lopez to MLS rumor.

To move this thing forward, I came across a late post yesterday: Toronto FC is after/working on signing some Argentinian dude with dodgy facial hair named Roger; they didn’t rate this one, but I’m going to call it live. This seems to be part of the grand, hush-hush project of making MLS the Argentine League Norte.

Anyway, I’ll post more of today’s rumors in this space as the day progresses…after this sentence.

UPDATE: Tricky, tricky, tricky, so much so that scuttling this Rumor Watch project is tempting. For instance, what to do with the Clint Mathis to Greece thing? For starters, they don’t really treat it like a rumor – it’s more of a report – and multiple sites are reporting it as such (which I’ll be doing myself shortly). So, that won’t count.

I get the same feeling about the Clarence Goodson to some Scandinavian team with a made-up name (IK Start? Ah, bullshit. That’s like IK Let’s Go! C’mon, tell me the real name). Mmm…maybe it’s not so hard. 3rd Degree’s report link to Soccer by Ives ran on something more solid than “making a run” at a job in Norway; then again, Ives’ headline reads pretty firm, “Goodson Says Goodbye.” So, all right, I’ll call this one live – and they’re rating it as a 5…and I’m guessing this will be an easy W for MLS Rumors.

For the record, I’m passing on the expansion city post and the one about Denis Hamlett refusing the first offer from Chicago (though, if he did, good for him). So, for today, I’m only clocking the Clarence Goodson and Roger rumors…plus the ones leftover from yesterday…getting confusing…

UPDATE: Because MLS Rumors tagged it with a 3, the Kenny Cooper to Houston rumor doesn’t rate; damn shame, ’cause that’s a really nifty li’l rumor.  And, because I thought it already happened, and because it seems inevitable, I’m going to spike (e.g. not count) the rumor that has Carlos Pavon out of LA.  This one, however, does rate:

– Joseph Ngwenya to some Austrian joint (rated: 4).