1. Pirlo Figuring Out MLS?
After a pretty forgettable 2015 debut with NYCFC featuring listless performances and a dour demeanor, expectations were not particularly high for the Italian international and his teammates in 2016. However, NYCFC have gotten off to a pretty solid—though not great—start and an improved Andrea Pirlo is certainly helping. In particular, he and his teammates are communicating better and we can see this borne out in much improved passing #’s year over year. Although is usage rate is approximately the same at about 14% (very high by the way), his trademark long-passing ability seems to finally be showing itself. It will be interesting to see if he can keep it up and if NYCFC can establish themselves as a true contender in the east.
2. The Galaxy experiment just might work
Look at this lineup from the most recent LA Galaxy match, I mean just look at it. Is this not the most interesting/random team in the history of MLS? If there is a team that is must-watch right now in the league it might be the 2016 LA Galaxy:
Multiple former English internationals, maybe the best player in Ireland’s history, an El Tri star in his prime, the only openly gay player in major professional soccer, a WC final villain, etc. etc. I am still not sure how all the pieces are going to fit together, but I do know that Bruce Arena is probably the best coach in MLS history and if anyone can it is him. The early results have been positive for the Galaxy, as seen by their 3-1 evisceration of the San Jose Earthquakes. A major key has been the surprisingly exemplary early play by Ashley Cole, a player who once famously derided MLS. If Arena can make these pieces work we may very well be seeing yet another MLS Cup in Carson come December 2016.
3. Diego Valeri is pretty good