Week 1 of the MLS is in the books. New teams were unveiled. New faces in different places. For our T&T internationals, it wasn’t a kind weekend for most, but despite the result, one or two still had a good game. Let’s review.
Joevin Jones LB Seattle Sounders FC:
So we had a pretty good inkling Joevin Jones was going to be in for a good year this preseason. He was probably the Sounders’ best player over the life of the 2017 preseason, and entering the regular season there were precious few left backs league-wide who could legitimately claim to be on better form. On Saturday, he proved those claims were no myth. This is the best Jones has ever looked.
Jones pumped in dangerous cross after dangerous cross on Saturday, and the majority of the Sounders’ best goal-bound opportunities were generated off his left flank. Ever since arriving in Seattle we’ve known Jones had the speed to push width and create danger on the overlap, but his one-on-one defending was often stressed to a breaking point due to his need to track back from such high positions. Considering he was up against the youthful Alberth Elis, one of the best offseason acquisitions in the league, Saturday’s matchup was of particular interest.
There was certainly a feeling-out period between the two in the first half, but Jones simply wore Elis down over the course of the match. By the time there were 20 minutes left, Elis was gassed and Jones looked like he was still fit enough to run a marathon. The Sounders’ back line was quality in the run of play all night, and Jones was its lodestar. But more than that, he ground a young, spry winger into dust.
We’ve known for some time Jones had all the potential in the world. It seems he’s getting dangerously close to realizing the whole lot of it.
– Will Parchman (SoundersFC.com)
That was Joevin Jones in a nutshell that whole game. Whoever was his marker or who was marking him had no chance against him. He’s too quick to defend against and always able to beat his man past him to deliver an uncontested cross into the box. In the second half is when he really turned it on. One cross deflected off the keeper and found itself on the foot of Clint Dempsey, who returned to MLS action after missing the season with an irregular heartbeat. Another well placed cross found the foot of Lodeiro who amazingly missed the equalizer. Head coach Brian Schmetzer was very high on JJ’s performance:
“He was great. He carried a lot of our attack down the left-hand side, and you saw him for what he is. A really skillful, technical, fast, young, fit player.”
– Brian Schmetzer (Seattle Sounders Head Coach)
This was also the first game where I really recognized his play defensively as well. He was all over his man like a snuggie. When he was in the box, Joevin gave him little to no room. He was solid except when the ball is going in the other direction and he already made the push upfield. All in all, despite a loss, Joevin Jones has shown me (albeit this is the 2nd Sounders game I’ve seen) a key player on the Seattle Sounders.
Kevin Molino RW Minnesota United F.C.
Woof! I can’t lie. This game was rough to watch.
Coach Adrian Heath invested heavily on offensive firepower, including a $650,000 trade to bring the former Orlando City player over to the expansion side in the preseason. However the back four was absolutely atrocious throughout the whole game. It’s like Minnesota were on the ball then all of a sudden, a Portland player is running down the sideline and scoring a goal. There were a lot of defensive lapses including this:
Yeah…I dunno how that didn’t result in a goal, but that’s how bad they were on the defense.
As for Molino, I really didn’t see much of him in this game. I wish I had proper game film to better analyse his play, but I just don’t remember him making much of an impact on the game, and he played the full 90 mins. Hopefully next week they have better success in their first home game against fellow expansion side Atlanta United, and I’ll have more to say on Molino next week. He’s one of the best players in the MLS in my eyes and Minnesota thinks the same way. That’s why MNUFC and Coach Heath brought him here. But he has to show up, and that defense has to raise their game come next week.
Kenwyne Jones CF Atlanta United:
Remember when I said I expected Kenwyne Jones to start in the inaugural game for Atlanta as their top forward? Well I did, and I was wrong. I was so wrong…
Apparently I didn’t take in to consideration the many factors led 23-year old Venezuelan Josef Martínez (on loan from Torino) over the 32 year old Soca Warrior. There’s the 9 year age gap, the fact that Martínez scored 4 more goals than Jones in the preseason (Kenwyne didn’t score) and that Martínez is much more fitter. Fortunately (to my relief) I wasn’t the only one that thought Kenwyne Jones was the clear cut starter in Atlanta:
Heading into camp there are several categories of players. You have your lock starters like Miguel Almiron and Kenwyne Jones. Then your depth players like Mikey Ambrose and Harrison Heath. In between those two groups is a rather large group of players who have a lot to prove and positions to earn.
– Rob Usry (Dirty South Soccer)
Kenwyne Jones saw playing time, being subbed on in the 85th minute while Atlanta United found themselves on the losing end of a 2-1 defeat, after looking like the better of the two sides for about 80 minutes. When he came on, he didn’t do much in terms of contributing to try to get the score level (I mean what could you do in 9 mins?).The ball didn’t even see him as the Red Bulls were trying to run out the clock.
It seems though that, barring injury, that this is the role that Jones will take up: a relief striker that will play, at max, 15 min. games; providing a different attacking threat to Josef Martínez: a back-to-goal striker with aerial scoring potential. I was hoping that the MLS would be a way for Jones to regain a semblance of form for the WCQ games against Mexico and Panama this month, but it doesn’t look to be the case here.
As for the other T&T internationals in MLS, Mekeil Williams was on the bench for the Colorado Rapids 1-o win in their opener against the L.A. Galaxy, while defender Shannon Gomez and winger Cordell Cato didn’t show up on the team sheet this weekend. The Cato absence surprised me a little bit. While last season he only tallied 2 assists in 21 games played last season, he’s proven to be a capable player with 7 goals and 8 assists since joining the club in 2013. More recently he’s had a couple good outings with the Soca Warriors. Him and the other T&T internations (K. Jones included) are just an injury away from getting playing time, so hopefully we’ll get to see Cato and the others in action.