A special night at CITYPARK and New England’s revolution: 5 things we learned from MLS Matchweek 2

And so it begins. The newness has worn off and we're fully back into the thick of it. Matchweek 2 of the 2023 MLS Season saw quite a few surprising results that help fans gauge what to expect from each team. Seattle showed its class once again, Inter Miami put together a statement win over Philadelphia, but most importantly, Apple TV made considerable strides with its MLS 360 coverage. Unfortunately, the commercials appear to be here to stay.

5 things we learned from MLS Matchweek 2

#1. Columbus Crew might just be a team to watch in the East

Last week’s 4-1 humiliation at the hands of the Union overshadowed what was a fairly decent showing from Columbus. The Crew began life under new manager Wilfried Nancy with a 1-0 lead in Philadelphia before the floodgates opened on the other end. 

This week, Nancy’s side hosted D.C. United and earned their first win of the season thanks to a brace from Argentine Lucas Zelarayán. The 45-year-old French head coach has had a great deal of success in MLS with CF Montréal, taking the Canadian side to second in the Eastern Conference last season. 

Columbus missed out on the playoffs last season by just two points but with Nancy at the helm, don’t be surprised if the Crew are in the running for the top spots come September and October.

#2. Is New England’s revolution legit?

The Revs had been the league’s best team in the 2021 regular season but came up well short in the playoffs when eventual champions NYCFC bounced them in the conference semifinals on penalty kicks. 

While the club would have liked to bounce back and challenge for the title in 2022, last season proved to be nothing more than a disappointment for New England. 

However, this year appears to be a Revolution of sorts in New England. Bruce Arena’s side has returned to winning ways with a narrow win over Charlotte on opening day and now a comprehensive 3-0 battering of Houston.

It’s still early days but the Revs are fun to watch again and performances like these certainly put New England back on the map. Next week’s match against LAFC will be a great litmus test to see exactly what this team is capable of. Now, if only they could get people to go to the games. 

#3. Something special is happening at CITYPARK

Anyone who tuned in for St. Louis City SC’s first-ever home game was treated to one of the best atmospheres in the league. The Gateway City had waited for years to scratch its unique soccer itch and at the club’s brand new home ground, everything came together in the best possible way. 

Following last week’s inspiring 3-2 win over Austin FC, St. Louis christened CITYPARK with a historic 3-1 win against last season’s expansion side Charlotte FC. Two wins from its first two games put Bradley Carnell’s side in very good company, joining LAFC, the Seattle Sounders and the Chicago Fire as the only sides to achieve this feat. 

Next up for St. Louis is a trip to Portland and a chance to keep this phenomenal streak going against a Timbers side that looked vulnerable, to say the least. 

#4. I lowkey forgot it was possible to tie

We were treated to a great opening day last week, filled with stoppage-time winners, tight tactical battles and proper batterings alike. Not one match ended in a tie, and to be completely honest, I totally forgot that some games could actually be boring. 

A week later and fans were treated to five draws, three of which were scoreless. 

Now obviously games can still be exciting without goals but that's not really the point here. After a week that gave us the best of what MLS was capable of, week two was a return to the mundane. A week that reminded us that this league, quite often, does not live up to the billing, rendering a so-called “whip-around show” less than pointless. Whatever, that’s soccer I guess. 

#5. So much for parity?

MLS hypes itself up as one of the most competitive leagues in the world; a league where anyone can beat anyone on any given day.

The word used most often to describe this phenomenon is parity but this year, in many ways, seems to be a continuation of last season. The teams that missed the playoffs last season, in general, are still less than impressive, with the exception of one or two clubs. 

Is this the league’s competitive balance evening out and fully rewarding the clubs that are run properly or just a fluke for the first two weeks of the season? Only time will tell but it’s certainly interesting to wonder. We may be on the cusp of having dynasties, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before in MLS. Cross-conference rivalries akin to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors of years past may pop up as we see Philadelphia and LAFC run the east and west respectively for years to come.

Well-run teams will be rewarded for their efforts behind the scenes, but until then, enjoy the parity while it lasts, however fleeting it may be. 

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