The 2021 MLS season has started and Pulso Sports has started a new segment called “Hot or Not” where each week Pulso reviews which clubs performed and underperformed every week. We are not determining results by club’s position in the standings but rather by the on-field result and the potential it could carry over to the following week. We won’t go through every club but rather the match results that stood out in both the good and the bad. Welcome to the first installment of Hot or Not!
A new formation and a mostly quiet offseason didn’t phase the Sounders against Minnesota United at Lumen Field on Friday. The Rave Green held the Loons scoreless into halftime then went on a goal scoring rampage in the second half. Joao Paulo scored a thunderous volley in the 49th minute followed by Peruvian forward Raul Ruidiaz scoring a brace (two goals) in the 70th and 73rd minute, capped off by a fourth goal by Fredy Montero in the 85th minute. It was Montero’s first match back with the Sounders since 2012. Did I also mention the Sounders were firing on all cylinders that match without their squad 100% available for selection too?
Los Angeles Galaxy
A back and forth match between the Galaxy and Inter Miami at DRV PNK Stadium saw Chicharito and company come away the victors 3-2 in the first match under new Head Coach Greg Vanney. After a dismal year of underperforming with one goal, Chicharito rediscovered his form and also confidence in himself with a brace. Perhaps playing against former club icon now co-owner of Inter Miami David Beckham provided the Galaxy extra motivation. In a match which LA had 67% possession but had only 6 shots with 5 shots on target compared to Inter Miami’s 19 shots with 8 shots on target, LA clearly wanted the win more.
Chicago Fire and FC Cincinnati
The storyline was the same for both these clubs. These two didn’t face each other in the first week but, both teams conceded two goal leads after scoring two goals in quick succession within the first fifteen minutes of the match. Now credit to Cincinnati their big signings off the offseason in Luciano Acosta and Brenner supplied the goals, but the inability to defensively not allow the opposition back into the matches is concerning. This is a problem if not resolved could plague these two clubs down the road.
This is a team that won their first match. Playing in the comfortable confines of Banc of California Stadium against expansion franchise Austin FC with a limited crowd in attendance should have been all the motivation LAFC needed to make it a hostile experience for the opposition. LAFC would go onto win 2-0 but it wasn’t a complete and confident performance that everyone’s normally accustomed to seeing.
There was also the mistaken substitution of Carlos Vela in the first half who signaled to the training staff that he needed treatment instead of being replaced. By the time Head Coach Bob Bradley realized Vela wanted to remain in the match, it was too late. Could the mistaken substitution script the overall narrative for the season?