Observations from last night’s MLS FirstKick; Arlo White’s sharp breakdown of today’s match

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Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman looks like a guy who spent some time in the national team camp, who is feeling the confidence borne of Jurgen Klinsmann’s confidence in him. His passing last night through the RSL midfield was quick and accurate, even without his smooth-passing partner Javier Morales, and even without workhorse left-sided midfield man Will Johnson. Beckerman didn’t get any of the goals in Saturday’s big win over the Galaxy, but he was mighty important in the bigger body of work.

Every time I looked at the screen during Vancouver-Montreal – I’ll go back and watch all the games again, but this was on at the same time as Colorado-Columbus – Martin Rennie’s Whitecaps looked like freakin’ Spain out there!  Good passing. Good offensive spacing. Just enough flash and dash to go with solid possession in the 2-0 win at BC Place. I think we can all agree that Vancouver, as suspected, already looks vastly improved. But there’s something else afoot here: Montreal may be worse than everyone suspected. Yesterday’s lineup, in all candor, was an assembly of MLS backups and journeymen. Also known as, “an expansion team.” Let’s hope Montreal ownership has patience; they’re going to need it.

Colorado Rapids new playmaking Jaime Castrillon had some really nice moments in the Burgundy’s 2-0 win over Columbus. And Oscar Pareja’s new 4-3-3 had a pretty nifty look, too. It didn’t always look terrific, but Robert Warzycha’s Crew is always a tough team to break down. And always physical, too, which will be something for Pareja’s men to deal with as they merge into a passing-possession style.

Congrats to RSL rookie Sebastian Velasquez, who was playing in junior college last year, but supplied a critical cross as Jason Kreis’ side took down the Galaxy. Yep, good on ya, kid!  But he really, really should rethink that rat tail.  Young Sebastian, do not make me add you to this list.

Is it going to be the same old D.C. United, looking shaky in the end and unable to close out matches? Props to Sporting Kansas City for pressing and pressing and finally getting the goal, never mind that Peter Vermes’ team was the road team.  And is this going to be the best we’re going to get from new DP striker Hamdi Salihi, DP Dwayne De Rosario and DP Branko Boskovic? United’s offense was awfully tame, all things considered.

I’ll have more later, including post-game thoughts on today’s NBC Sports Network debut. The network is in Texas for today’s (potentially wet) FC Dallas-New York Red Bulls contest. This is exactly where things ended last year for Schellas Hyndman’s men of FC Dallas, in a playoff loss to Hans Backe’s Red Bulls. So today should be interesting.

And to make it more interesting still, watch Arlo White’s fantastic tactical breakdown. He’ll have one of these every week, and it looks like can’t-miss destination viewing to me.

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