Ignore everything I said last week. Backing last yearís MLS Cup finalists at home was a terrible idea as Toronto and Seattle combined for zero goals in losses to Columbus and LAFC, respectively. I wonít make that mistake againÖ hopefully.
Iíll try and do better in Round 2, but it doesnít help that there are only nine matches, with Toronto and Seattle among those on bye. The good news is that Chicago and New York will be playing their first matches, both at home. But the first team Iím taking notice of is the Crew, who throttled Toronto last weekend. The updated (and healthy) Columbus roster looked great and now has its home opener against Montreal, who just gave up two goals in Vancouver.
Federico Higuain is the safest choice as the attacking midfielder who does a little bit of everything. He scored in the first match but also had the ball a ton and set things up for the Crew. Behind Higuain, I prefer Pedro Santos over Gyasi Zardes. Even though Zardes had the goal last week, he also rarely touched the ball as the lone true striker. Equally intriguing is the Crew back line that held Toronto in check. If Jonathan Mensah and Harrison Afful can stay healthy, this group can be one of the best in the league, especially if 19-year-old Milton Valenzuela can remain a factor at left-back.
There are a couple other teams to have your eye on for captain with New England (v. Colorado), Houston (v. Vancouver), Orlando City (v. Minnesota) and Atlanta (v. D.C.) all in good spots. In fact, you could throw any home team into the equation because none of the road squads are all that trustworthy. The Galaxy and Timbers may be the best of the road teams, but no one is backing them to win against the two New York clubs.
If you like gambling, Atlanta is the best route to take after how they looked at home last season, scoring in bunches late in the year. While they lost 4-0 in the opener, things will be a lot different at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez are the logical choices to go be involved in multiple goals. My pick is Almiron, who hit the post last week and finished with six shots and two corners.
The Dynamo were on the other end of that Atlanta drubbing and are at home again, meaning they can be trusted. As long as Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis start, theyíll be great options no matter the opponent at home. Manotas is probably the more popular pick as the top forward, but Elis finished with more shots and supplied numerous crosses from the wing.
Nemanja Nikolic and Bradley Wright-Phillips are both at home and in their first matches of the season. Iíd lean to Nikolic, who was more consistent and got more chances than Wright-Phillips last season. The worry for Nikolic is that SKC goes fully defensive on the road, which is more than possible.
Iíd be more inclined to go with RSL midfielders Joao Plata and Albert Rusnak. Real Salt Lake looked solid in the opener and almost stole a win at Dallas. With Luis Silva up front flanked by Plata, Rusnak and Jefferson Savarino, this attack can be dynamic. Thatís made possible by Rusnak in the middle, who sets everything up. That being the case, heís the safest of the bunch in terms of a captain, though Plata may have more upside.
Of course, I saved the best for last with NYC FC. David Villa is still in the league, and unless Father Time caught him in the offseason, heís one of the best strikers in MLS. The Galaxy looked respectable in the opener, but Iím not willing to say they wonít give up four goals on the other side of the country, especially without their best player, Romain Alessandrini. Villa has the ability to score a hat trick in every game, but he also has the consistency to score more often than not. Thatís perfect captain material along with midfielder Maximiliano Moralez
Last week, picking a captain was equal to a dumpster fire. This week, thereís David Villa at home. Donít screw this up.