1. It’s Anybody’s Year
Parity is often touted as one of the most attractive aspects of MLS, but it’s one thing to say it and another to have it stand out so clearly two weeks into the season. Of the 27 teams in MLS, 25 have played two full matches, and only the Los Angeles Galaxy took the maximum six points available. A little over half of clubs have won one match, and, only two teams, the New York Red Bulls and Minnesota United FC, have yet to earn a point.
2020 was a weird year where it felt like anybody could win because the global pandemic created so much schedule upheaval that it was difficult to judge with any certainty who was good. 2021 is starting off without any favorites and more questions than answers. But this seems to be on par for this league. In Europe, Juventus has won nine consecutive Serie A titles, Bayern Munich has won the Bundesliga eight years running, and PSG has won Ligue 1 seven of the last eight years. MLS hasn’t seen a repeat in nearly a decade. To say it’s anybody’s year could be an understatement.
2. Chicharito Leading the Golden Boot Race
Chicharito entered MLS prior to last year with as much hype as the league had seen. The anticipation was on par with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose departure made way for Chicharito. The star Mexican forward arrived at the Western Conference foe LA Galaxy months after his fellow countryman Carlos Vela set the MLS single season goal-scoring record at rival club LAFC. Every fan of the league began speculating on the new individual rivalry that added an international layer to El Trafico. If Vela could notch 34 goals, how many could Chicharito tally in 2020? Well, in 759 minutes across 12 matches, while battling injuries, he scratched two goals, not even 10 percent of Vela’s production in 2019. But last year appears to be last year.
So far in the young season, 52 players have scored one goal, nine have scored two goals, nobody has scored three, nobody has scored four, and Chicharito stands by himself atop the Golden Boot race with five. After the Galaxy’s season-opening win in Miami, he told reporters that 2020 was the hardest year of his life on and off the pitch, but 2021 is different. Two weeks in, the results on the pitch are displaying as much.
We don’t decide the MVP in April, for good reason, but we do make note of who’s come out of the gates firing on all cylinders, and Chicharito has put the whole league on notice. The Rapids have plenty of time to hope Chicharito slows down, as their first matchup against the Galaxy isn’t until August 11, when Colorado will travel to Dignity Health Sports Park.
3. RSL Tops Minnesota in Early Western Conference Battle
Last weekend, two of the Rapids’ familiar foes in Real Salt Lake and Minnesota United FC squared off at Allainz Field, and Real Salt Lake came away with a big 2-1 victory. RSL took an early 2-0 lead, with both goals scored by Anderson Julio, currently on loan from Atlético San Luis, in his MLS debut. Minnesota continued to fight in the second half, firing off 23 total shots but only managed two on frame. They broke through in the 81st minute, but one goal wasn’t enough to earn points. The match marked RSL’s first game and win of the season and gave Minnesota their second consecutive loss.
This year, opponents like RSL and Minnesota will become even more familiar, as Colorado is set to face them each three times instead of the usual two. The other team’s that the Rapids will face three times include: Sporting Kansas City, FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders FC and Austin FC. These clubs, in total, have a combined 4-3-4 record thus far, which signifies a pretty level playing field two games in amongst a tough group that includes 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoff teams.