Saturday saw Chicago Fire FC and Sporting Kansas City draw 2-2 and the Montreal Impact got a huge 2-1 win over Inter Miami CF. MLSsoccer.com Senior Editor Ben Baer is here to tell you what he learned from the two matches.
Fire need an upset
Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith proclaimed on Wednesday that their magic number to make the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs is 26. In order for the Fire to hit that number, they will need six points in their last five matches. All five of those matches are against teams currently above the playoff line, which could be a problem for a team that has struggled against higher-quality opponents.
A draw against a strong Sporting squad is nothing to sneeze at, but doing it thanks to a last-second defensive mistake isn't something that can be counted on in the future. Chicago have been one of the unluckiest teams in the league when looking at expected goals, but if that doesn't change they could be on the outside looking in come Nov. 9.
Blaise Matuidi has been one of the best midfielders in the world over the last half decade. He has not looked like that kind of player with Inter Miami so far. Too often he has not made an imprint on a game either through his exceptional passing ability or with his ability to break up plays. On Saturday he didn't have a chance created, tackle or interception and lost his only duel.
His chance creation numbers for the season are below those of more defensive players like Pablo Ruiz and Victor Ulloa, while his usage rate (which basically measures how much he gets on the ball) isn't among the top 20 players in MLS. Miami needs more from him if they want to make the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs in their first season.
Can Quioto, Bojan lead Impact?
Montreal head coach Thierry Henry has been complementary of Romell Quioto throughout the season and for good reason. The former Houston Dynamo forward has been a revelation playing up top for the Impact, as he now has 11 combined goals and assists in just over 1100 minutes, which includes his delicious ball to Bojan that led to the game-winner vs. Miami. His non-penalty goals plus assists per 90 minutes figure (.88) places him at No. 11 in the league.
Quioto will have to keep up those numbers in the absence of Saphir Taider, who was transferred to Al Ain FC on Wednesday. One other player who will need to step up is Bojan. The 30-year-old has three goals in his last five games and his chance creation figures have bumped up to above average over the last month. If that continues, Montreal could be seeing themselves stay above the playoff line.