It's only been two matches for Daigo Kobayashi, but his play has answered one of the biggest question marks heading into the 2013 season. In the pre-season, Kobayashi looked dominant, creative and ready for the MLS regular season to begin.
However, there were still plenty of questions surrounding his play. He'd never been in the MLS before; how would he stand up to the increased physicality? Sure, he could complete deft passes and attack creatively in the pre-season, but how would he measure up when the real matches started, when the passing lanes became smaller, when the play got tighter? Fortunately for Whitecaps fans, it hasn't been a problem.
In just two matches, he's gone from unknown quantity to, if he keeps this level of play up, newcomer of the year territory. He's been the pulse of the Whitecaps attack, with crisp, perfect passes, clever plays and, yes, creativity in mid. The media was abuzz this off-season with rumors of Davide Chiumiento majestically riding into the 'Caps locker room on his white steed, reclaiming his position and giving the Whitecaps attack the swagger it had sorely missed since he had left.
Those feelings only intensified when Barry Robson decided to catch the first flight back to Europe. Around that time, Kobayashi had been brought in on trial and signed. For a franchise that's made plenty of flashy signings and trades since they joined the MLS, it's ironic that one of their most important was unheralded, and underrated.
Of course, all these happy feelings might just be because I'm still giddy about the goal Kobayashi scored against the Crew on the weekend. Honestly, who hasn't watched that goal highlight endlessly? It was a breathtaking strike from 30 yards out, a perfect curling shot that gave the 'Caps the start they needed just six minutes into the match.
So, are we still missing Chiumiento? From a media standpoint, well, yes, he was the best quote on the team. On the pitch? Kobayashi has filled that role perfectly so far. Hopefully, he can keep it up, and save me from looking like just another reactionary scribe.