MLS Fantasy 2019: Who are the MLS Cup favourites after Week 1?
The 2019 MLS season is back in full swing and sooner than you know it, we'll be bogged down with midweek fixtures and a congestion pile-up that means we'll never be without league action until October. One interesting takeaway, which we explore in this article below, is if the landscape of Major League Soccer and the chase for its domestic crowns have changed after Week 1's action. We look at our picks for glory in the 2019 season. All aboard.
MLS Favorites Stumble in Week 1, Have Great Chance to Rebound in Week 2
On the whole, Week 1 of the 2019 MLS season did not disappoint for fans of the beautiful game in the States, who witnessed over 3.4 goals per-game and witnessed some stunning highlights.
However, some fan-bases will certainly feel a little disheartened after the opening round, in particular supporters of the defending MLS Cup champs. Atlanta United, The Hype Train’s pick to win the 2019 Supporters’ Shield, was the only team that didn’t find the score-sheet in week 1, losing 2-0 to DC United in the nation’s capital.
The second-favourite to win the 2019 MLS Cup (sitting at +550 heading into the season) Atlanta’s odds aren’t likely to take a huge hit after just one game. After all, this is not virgin territory for the team. Fans of the Five Stripes will remember that their side was blanked 4-0 by Houston in week 1 last year, yet finished 2018 with the second-most points in the entire MLS (69), the most goals (70), and eventually a shiny new piece of hardware.
Atlanta will have a great chance to put their week 1 loss squarely in the rear-view mirror this weekend, hosting MLS newcomer FC Cincinnati. The 2018 USL regular-season champions were rudely welcomed to the MLS by the Sounders on Saturday, getting pounded 4-1 in Seattle. After Cincinnati jumped out to a surprising 1-0 lead in the 13th minute, Seattle dominated every facet of the game, controlling 64% of possession and out-shooting Cincinnati 24-7.
Is the Supporters' Shield going to stay where it is?
The NY Red Bulls, the only team that opened the season with better MLS Cup odds than Atlanta (+500), started with more of a whimper than a bang as well, drawing Columbus 1-1 away.
An away draw with the Crew is not a terrible result, in and of itself, but Chris Armas knows his squad had a golden opportunity to pick up the full three. The best defensive team in the league last season (33 GA in 34 matches), the Red Bulls held a 1-0 lead just six minutes into the game, but couldn’t even hold that edge until halftime, conceding the equalizer on a corner in the 41st.
While the Red Bulls appeared to pot the go-ahead goal in the 75th minute (called back on a questionable offside), they also conceded a boatload more corners to the Crew (nine in total for the game) and were outplayed after the opening minutes. Luis Robles salvaged the single point with a couple crucial injury-time stops.
Just like Atlanta, the schedule makers are serving the Red Bulls a slice of cake in Week 2 as New York returns to Harrison to face the basement-dwelling San Jose Earthquakes, who finished with a paltry 21 points last season.
The Earthquake are coming off a 2-1 home loss to Montreal and only won four matches all of last year. They came away pointless in 12 of their 17 away matches, and even though there are signs of improvement in Matías Almeyda's side, the new project in California will take some time to stick to its players.
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