Week 22 of the MLS season is nearly here, but first there's plenty going on around the league as teams pencil in final preparations. Here's your chance to keep up to date with the latest news as it happens.
Ricketts: Being away from home like the "Twilight Zone"
Over the course of a very strange season for all, the Vancouver Whitecaps have had it more rough. After having a depleted roster at the MLS is Back tournament, a majority of Vancouver's regular season has been away from home -- phases two and three of the season have seen them play home matches in Porltand, and the time away from their families has been a weird experience.
"[It's] kind of like the twilight zone here. You wake up every day and it’s the same thing," forward Tosaint Ricketts said in a pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday's game against the Portland Timbers (10 pm ET | TV & streaming info). As a result, the short trips the group has been able to make back to Vancouver have been extremely valuable.
"It’s nice to get home," he added. "Just a little boost and I don’t think it makes you miss your family more. It gives you more motivation. It gives you more drive to make this time here worth it."
The Whitecaps have two matches remaining in the MLS season and sit in ninth place with 1.14 points per game, having to overcome the Colorado Rapids' current points per game of 1.27 to make the postseason.
RSL's Juarez: It's the "wrong time" to play Galaxy
The LA Galaxy's first game after firing Guillermo Barros Schelotto will be against Real Salt Lake on Sunday (10:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info), which from an RSL point of view presents a tricky proposition as they look to secure a playoff spot.
"It’s not going to be an easy win or an easy opponent," head coach Freddy Juarez said in a pre-match press conference. "They just fired the coach, and we all know how teams react when they get a new guy in. That’s a different kind of challenge. All of a sudden, guys are motivated, so we’re playing Galaxy at a wrong time."
Defender Justen Glad agreed with his coach, saying that he thinks the Galaxy will come out more energized than they have been in the past.
"I think whenever a team gets a new coach, the team responds to that coach," Glad said. "They come out and they want to prove to that coach they can play, they deserve to be there. I do think they’re going to come out with a lot of energy, a lot of fight."
"You can’t change much tactically," Juarez added of the Galaxy, who will be coach in the interim by Dominic Kinnear. "It might be something maybe just based on their organization on their defensive shape but I am anticipating a team full of energy."
Figal out for Inter Miami's "final"
Inter Miami CF currently sit in 11th place, one spot outside the Eastern Conference’s field for the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs.
“We have to play this game as it was a final and go for it and play it fully,” Matuidi said through a translator. “We also have to stay calm mentally and not put ourselves with additional pressure.”
As Miami continue their late-season push, they’ll be without Argentine center back Nicolas Figal for a few weeks with a muscular injury on his right leg. Making matters more challenging at defense, they’ll also be without Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Andres Reyes for this weekend's game due to yellow-card accumulation.
“Nico, we’ll surely have him out for a few weeks,” Alonso said through a translator. “We’re not sure on how long, but he won’t be available for the next game.”
Guzan: Nobody more frustrated than ATLUTD players
Veteran goalkeeper Brad Guzan addressed their state of affairs when looking ahead to Sunday’s must-win home game against FC Cincinnati (7 pm ET | TV & streaming info). Most notably, he said “there's no one more frustrated and disappointed with how the results have been than the guys in the locker room.”
Atlanta won the U.S. Open Cup and Campeones Cup in 2019, continuing momentum after lifting MLS Cup in 2018. But this season, they’ve suffered a steep drop in results.
Arena: Defensive tactics aren't anti-soccer
Especially during the end of Ben Olsen’s time as head coach, D.C. United were criticized for taking a defense-first approach.
It’s something that the New England Revolution confronted three times this year, going 2-0-1 against the Black-and-Red before Sunday’s game at Gillette Stadium between the Eastern Conference sides (7:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info). But Arena feels that stance can be particularly effective, even if it presents challenges for the attacking team.
“I wouldn’t say they’re anti-soccer tactics,” Arena said. “They’re soccer tactics. There’s a lot of different ways to skin a cat. Teams at times establish themselves with a defensive posture. The last two teams we’ve played are very good defensively, and they’ve been successful, especially Nashville. It’s all part of the game. The challenge at our end is to play better, executive better.”
Will Arena and the Revs see something similar this weekend? Arena doesn’t think so, not as D.C. carry a three-game win streak and try to sneak into the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. The club, of course, is being led now by interim manager Chad Ashton.
“The obligation a team has is to try to get a result,” Arena said. “I don’t think D.C. United will come in here on Sunday and play a wide-open game. They’re going to do everything they can to get at least a point out of the game. It’s our challenge to counter that. That simple."