In order to keep tabs on MLS’ newest rookies, MLSsoccer.com introduces Rookie Report, which recaps the performances of select first-year players each weekend.
In all, 13 rookies made their MLS debuts over this weekend, including some of the top prospects selected in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft.
Stealing the headlines as far as first-year talents go was Sporting Kansas City forward C.J. Sapong. The forward out of James Madison opened his MLS scoring account against Chivas USA in less than two minutes after pouncing on Ben Zemanski's poor clearance.
The forward’s goal helped set the tone in Sporting’s 3-2 victory, and Sapong celebrated the moment by running around the Home Depot Center's field, screaming his head off.
“Before the game we were talking about what the celebration was going to be when we score, what we were going to do, but when it happens that fast, it just all went by the wayside,” Sapong told reporters. “It was a dream; all I could do was run and scream. It shows for me all the hard work has paid off, but at the same time it’s a motivating tool to keep it up.”
New England boss Steve Nicol trotted out two rookies in his starting lineup during the Revolution’s 1-1 draw against the LA Galaxy on Saturday evening. Defender A.J. Soares debuted in central defense while second-round pick Stephen McCarthy played 90 minutes in the midfield.
In D.C. United’s 3-1 win, both the Crew and United handed rookies a starting spot in defense. Perry Kitchen went the distance for DC in the middle of the back line, while Rich Balchan suited up for Columbus on the left.
Anthony Ampaipitakwong can now stake a claim at having the longest last name in the league as he made his San Jose debut as an 81st-minute substitute in the Earthquakes' 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake.
“I had butterflies,” he said after the game. “I was so thrilled to be on the field, especially in a situation where I was put on to try to help the team get back in the game. We just couldn’t finish our chances.”
New Zealander Michael Boxall started for Vancouver just two days after officially joining the team. He had a solid showing for the Whitecaps and was the only Supplemental Draft Pick to see time over the weekend.