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Week 5 in MLS: early season trends

The high point of the weekend was Kaka’s return to competition. With him conducting the attack, Orlando have every right to be thinking big this season.

Felipe is just one of many MLS players and coaches in disbelief about the surge of red cards
Felipe is just one of many MLS players and coaches in disbelief about the surge of red cards
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Top two games of the weekend for me: Orlando's win against Portland and SKC v. RSL. Is it too early to see some trends appear across the league? I believe there are early trends one can discern watching MLS this season? (thank God for MLS Live !) ? I believe things would be very different had Kaka been healthy from the start but here are a few observations:

1- The reds are coming … and keep on coming …. MLS players should know by now that any tackle even remotely, potentially, possibly endangering the "safety" of an opponent … is likely to result in a red card. Coaches are not happy … I think the game suffers when contests are disrupted by an early expulsion.

2- Last year’s minnows are not such an easy prey this year. The Union, the Fire and the Rapids for example, have all improved and are doing better than favourites such as TFC, the Sounders and Red Bulls. Another reason why the MLS is such a great league in terms of competitiveness. The addition of plays such as Chris Pontius (Phi), Johann Kappelhof (Chi) and Shkelzen Gashi (Col) is making a difference.

3- Talking about new "blood" in MLS, here are my early favourites among the new crop of imports or recruits: Jelle Van Damme in LA, Christian Bolanos in Vancouver, Nuno Cuelho at SKC and Tsubasa Endoh at TFC. For the first three in particular, this type of veteran presence is a bonus for any team. In Montreal, Lucas Ontivero will be among that group as his fitness improves.

4- Having watched almost every single game so far this season, it seems to me that the Western Conference is better in almost every sense: more enjoyable play style, faster and more tactically astute than most teams in the East. This is a fairly subjective determination but it does go along with what has been observed in MLS in the last few years and the current power rankings.