Voices: Kevin Egan

360 View: Will New York Red Bulls make statement vs. Inter Miami?

24-SeasonPass_KevinEgan_Temp_Emil Forsberg

Hello, there beautiful people! Welcome back to 360 View with yours truly, Kevin Egan.

We’ve got another brilliant and bonkers Saturday night in store on MLS 360! Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

Okay cool, I knew you’d be the sunny side-up kind of folks. The good news is that MLS Season Pass is free this weekend! Cancel those plans, tell a friend and get involved in our show using #MLS360.

The bad news is we won’t have the reigning champions Columbus Crew on #MLS360 this week, as they’ll be enjoying a well-earned bye in Matchday 12. Was anybody else left in awe of this team during their midweek performance at Liga MX powerhouse CF Monterrey? Wilfried Nancy’s troops were next-level incredible – a joy to watch. Now, they’ve got a Concacaf Champions Cup final against Pachuca booked for June 1.

Any fan of MLS (even if you’re a FC Cincinnati fan) should champion Nancy every chance you get. He’s the poster boy for homegrown coaching success. I know he’s French, but Nancy rose team by team through the CF Montréal academy, eventually jumping from assistant to first-team head coach. After his first full offseason, Nancy led Montréal to second in the East, and the best road record ever in MLS. Columbus came calling, and Nancy won MLS Cup in his first season. Now this! Simply incredible. In Wilfried we trust!

Back to #MLS360 for a quick second. I’m still shocked at what my three so-called ‘teammates’ did to me last week. I’m usually interrupting Sacha, Kaylyn and Brad, but that trio got some revenge, completely derailing my open!

I’ll come prepared for everything they’ll throw at me this week. And I may have a little revenge of my own.

As I prepare for MLS 360, here are a few big thoughts that come to mind.

Can Red Bulls pass their biggest test yet?

If you’re not on the New York Red Bulls’ hype saddle, you’re missing out. This team is a championship contender. Yes, I said it. They sit third in the Eastern Conference with 17 points (4W-1L-5D). I’d argue they’ve only been second-best once this season, and that was at the hands of the aforementioned Crew. Here’s a glance at the games where the Red Bulls could’ve and should’ve taken all three points:

  • 0-0 at Nashville SC: RBNY battered Nashville that day with 17 shots and hit the woodwork three times.
  • 1-1 at Orlando City SC: RBNY led until an unfortunate own goal in the 89th minute. They were kicking themselves after.
  • 0-0 vs. Chicago Fire FC: Center back Andres Reyes was sent off in the first half. RBNY still dominated, had 17 shots, and again hit the woodwork three times.
  • 2-2 at LAFC: Again, kicking themselves after Denis Bouanga somehow squeezed home an equalizer in the 95th minute.
  • 1-1 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Déjà vu as they see a center back sent off at home, this time Noah Eile.

Led by new head coach Sandro Schwarz, this team has already earned a few statement wins. I’m thinking the result at defending Supporters’ Shield champions Cincinnati, and of course that 4-0 thumping of Inter Miami. Wow.

All the proof suggests this team can take on any challenge MLS has to offer. The caveat is Lionel Messi is playing (unlike their last matchup), and while some call him a goat, others claim he’s actually an alien. The greatest of all time. The EIGHT-time Ballon d’Or winner is the exception to all rules.

So make no mistake: Messi in South Florida on Saturday (7:30 pm ET | Apple TV - Free) is the biggest test for Emil Forsberg and this sizzling-hot New York Red Bulls team. WHAT A MATCH THIS PROMISES TO BE!

Are Atlanta really a 9th-place team in the East?

My immediate response is absolutely not, but the standings don’t lie. Yet, with back-to-back home games up next, it’s a chance for Atlanta United to get back on track.

It’s been such a strange season so far for the Five Stripes. A bright start at home, winning their first three at the Benz, but injuries and an international break derailed any momentum. Woes up top and at the back have been unfortunate.

Giorgos Giakoumakis also came flying out of the blocks, with five goals in four games. Bang! Injured. Jamal Thiaré steps up with three goals in himself. Bang! Injured. ATLUTD is then forced to sign Daniel Rios, who made an instant impact scoring on his debut. Nine goals from the striker group after nine games is a good return, and excellent when considering the injuries.

Gonzalo Pineda has used six center backs already due to health and international call-ups. That’s astonishing so early in the season. Homegrown youngsters Noah Cobb and Efrain Morales have been thrust into the spotlight and performed admirably.

These are realities rather than excuses. Every team has adversities to face. Look at Montréal, for example. They have the same 3W-3L-3D record as Atlanta and have played seven road games. Atlanta have one single goal from four road games, and that is certainly an area that must improve. A huge positive is this team is creating chances – Chicago goalkeeper Chris Brady had a career performance last Saturday with several huge saves in a 0-0 draw – and Pineda fully believes it’ll all click soon.

For now, Atlanta hope to return to winning ways at the Benz on Saturday (7:30 pm ET | Apple TV - Free). Pineda’s men welcome Eric Ramsay’s Minnesota United, a team looking for a third straight win. It’s always big time at the Benz, and I’m so excited that this match will feature on #MLS360.

Why is home territory Vancouver's Achilles heel?

Vancouver host Austin on Saturday night (10:30 pm ET | Apple TV - Free), a truly fascinating matchup. Vanni Sartini’s Whitecaps are fresh off a 1-1 draw at the Red Bulls, sitting one point off the top spot in the West. At this point, they’ve got to be in every contender conversation. They’ve earned it.

Here’s the strange aspect of the Whitecaps’ season: BC Place, their classy home, has almost been their downfall. The ‘Caps are unbeaten on the road, but they’re 2W-2L-1D at home. Why the drop-off?

My colleague Paul Dolan provides tremendous insight on this. Paul is a former Canada goalkeeper and has called Vancouver games for years. On Extratime recently, Paul said Vancouver “are more comfortable allowing the opposition come at them. At home, the Whitecaps have almost been too tentative.” Dolan also referenced the need to get the crowd more involved in the game and show more energy.

Whitecaps fans will absolutely expect their team to take the match to Austin FC this weekend. But they better not get caught, because this is an Austin team completely transformed from the dismal results we saw to kickstart their season. With four wins from their last five games, Josh Wolff’s men are motoring. I’d argue this is their toughest test within this stretch. An under-the-radar gem of a game!

Which coaches need to ease the pressure this weekend?

I’m stunned by some of the teams that are struggling this season. When thinking about the Supporters’ Shield back in February, I had Seattle, Orlando and even New England as contenders. How wrong was I?!?

Whether they like it or not, there’s immense pressure on certain coaches and players to deliver ASAP. It was this matchday in 2023 where Chicago bid farewell to Ezra Hendrickson, and the New York Red Bulls parted ways with Gerhard Struber. This is the harsh reality of coaching at this level.

If I’m honest, I’m not overly concerned about Seattle. Experience played a huge role as the Sounders picked up a huge 3-2 win at Philadelphia on Tuesday. On this week’s This is MLS show, there was some talk of Seattle being complacent this season, which I think is fair. Sunday evening vs. the LA Galaxy (6:45 pm ET | Apple TV - Free) is now a blockbuster game!

Orlando, what is going on? I don’t get it – 13th in the East after conceding two goals in the final three minutes to lose at home to Toronto last week. This follows a season where the Lions finished second in the East. Sacha picked Orlando to win the Shield, so it’s safe to say this season has fallen woefully below the standards they set last season. It doesn’t get any easier as Cincinnati come to town on Saturday (7:30 pm ET | Apple TV - Free).

Caleb Porter is a two-time MLS Cup-winning coach. Now in his 10th season in MLS, there’s an argument that Porter is the best MLS coach in that time period, winning with different teams. Yet here we are, witnessing the worst start in Revs history.

Porter said in preseason he was “excited about the whole group. We have a lot of top players, and I’m not doing my job unless I bring out the best in them.” With four points from nine games, this season has been nothing short of disastrous, yet here’s the wild thing: It wouldn’t surprise me if this team made a miraculous comeback. MLS is forgiving, and the Revs could kickstart their season with a win at Chicago on Saturday (8:30 pm ET | Apple TV - Free).