What a week in MLS. Toronto FC and New York Red Bulls both drew, CF Montréal and Sporting Kansas City were both shut out, and Portland Timbers beat Seattle Sounders FC. It was truly a week unlike any other.
Not my fault, voted on by like 15 MLS personalities, editors and writers, etc., etc. Y’all know how the Power Rankings work by now. Probably. Although, maybe we should quit reminding folks of that. Come on, there hasn’t even been one quote during a post-game press conference about how wrong the Power Rankings are. It’s hard not to start feeling nostalgic about the early days, ya know?
LAFC held off the LA Galaxy and even held off the potential El Trafico chaos that threatened to take over Sunday’s rivalry game late. They’re entering the Concacaf Champions League semifinals as a favorite to win the whole thing, they’re leading the league in points per game (2.43) and they still have an open Designated Player spot (in case you forgot). Everyone else is playing catch-up at this point.
Also, this is incredible:
Despite the draw and what Bruce Arena described as “phony baloney” calls, the Revs are on top of the Eastern Conference a fifth of the way into the season. It seems like Latif Blessing has found his place in New England’s midfield and the team as a whole is clicking.
You can go ahead and expect them to hang around the top of the standings for a while. At least as long as Djordje Petrovic is here.
Well. Rough weekend for anyone who thought two straight losses had dragged St. Louis back down to Earth permanently. The Fightin’ Toasted Raviolis (do they have a nickname yet?) drove FC Cincinnati into the ground during a 5-1 win that was one part good luck and one part keeping their foot on the gas as they crushed one of the league’s best teams. Kind of feels like they’re going to do that a few more times this year.
“It doesn't feel like a rivalry. After the game, some of our staff members, there's everybody talking, laughing. It's like another loss. It's not another loss. It's against the Timbers. We have to get back this – all of us have to get back to understanding that this is a rivalry,” Brian Schmetzer said following Seattle’s 4-1 loss to Portland.
“At 1-0, we have to have that killer instinct against a team that's beat us three games in a row, that's had our number at their place. Stick the knife in, kill the game. I don't give a s---t if it was the second goal or extended possession.”
Seattle will be fine. I can’t imagine this will be a fun week of practice though.
Yeah. So. That could have gone better.
For the first time all year, Cincy played a game that didn’t end in a draw or a one-goal win. It’s nice to have a little bit of variety. It’s not so nice to get mollywhopped by an expansion team that didn’t take three years to get it all together.
You shouldn’t be worried about Cincinnati or anything, especially since they were without Luciano Acosta and Brenner. Bad days happen and, you’re not going to believe this, but St. Louis overperformed their xG by a comical amount. I mean, I could show you the final numbers or I could just show you this.
Even still, this is hopefully a bit of a shock to the system for a team that’s clearly been good, but not quite at the level we know they can reach. They can’t spend all year in second gear and expect to reach their goals.
The collection of “Wait, who was that?” guys that have scored for the Crew this year only grows larger and more powerful by the week. I think sometimes we overrate a manager’s ability to get the most out of young players, but every game under Wilfried Nancy seems to add another data point suggesting he’s worth the praise he’s receiving for development.
Thanks in part to those young players, the Crew have taken 10 points from their last 12 on offer.
The Five Stripes survived a full road game without Thiago Almada and Franco Ibarra, and half a road game without Giorgos Giakoumakis. They probably should have taken all three points anyway, but came up short on the road for the second straight week thanks to Brandon Servania’s last-second equalizer. All considered, five points from games against the Red Bulls and at NYCFC and Toronto is a great return for an Atlanta team that typically faceplants in those scenarios. Now they get rewarded with their easiest stretch of the season.
FC Dallas just get points. They earned three points last weekend when they beat Real Salt Lake with a late winner from Bernard Kamungo. They’re fourth in the West and will probably be somewhere around there for the rest of the season because they just show up to the soccer game and get points. This is just how it works and I don’t think we need any more analysis beyond that for, like, maybe the rest of the year? Or the decade?
The Earthquakes keep rolling and so does Cristian Espinoza. He somehow quietly put up seven goals and 14 assists last season. After scoring in San Jose’s 3-0 beatdown against SKC last weekend, he already has five goals and two assists on the year. It’s past time to start acknowledging we’re talking about one of the best wingers in the league here. He’s a major reason why San Jose are playing some of the best ball in the Western Conference right now.
The Pigeons came out and ambushed Nashville early. That’s tough to do on even the biggest fields. Seems like another solid data point about how they’re heading in the right direction with Talles Magno back on the wing. It helps they can now start Richy Ledezma and bring on Santiago Rodríguez to replace him.
Another one-goal game, but this time Hany Mukhtar couldn’t save them. The margins are really thin with how dependent Nashville are on last year’s Landon Donovan MLS MVP and Golden Boot presented by Audi winner.
They drew at Chicago last weekend after they took three whole minutes to break out of thinking “Beat LAFC, Beat LAFC, Beat LAFC…” and score twice. Philly are in the CCL semifinals and will get their shot at revenge against LAFC. In many ways, that’s all that really matters for the Union right now.
Houston challenged the Red Bulls to play with the ball and nearly came out of Harrison with a win. New York broke through at the very end, but it’s still 10 points out of 15 for the Dynamo.
The Lions have been among the least effective attacks in the league this season and Matt Doyle is throwing around terms like “Atlanta United Syndrome” to describe just how dribbly boi-centric they’ve become. That’s not ideal! But that same attack got the job done late against Minnesota United last weekend as Orlando went on the road for a 2-1 win in comeback fashion. Maybe that will provide a spark? Maybe they just need more Duncan McGuire?
The Loons had a 1-0 lead heading into the homestretch against Orlando, then caught some bad breaks in a 2-1 loss. It happens. At least the early reviews on newcomer Sang Bin Jeong have seemed mostly positive.
Fire Feeling Flow Chart check.
I can see it → Oh, no → Oh, yikes, no → Well, maybe → Nope → But let’s just… → Oh, ok immediate no on that → But what if they tweak this → This looks better! → OH NO. THEY GOT ME AGAIN → No. → I’m not falling for that → No, forever. → Offseason → I can see it.
We’re still very much at “I can see it!” Although a blown 2-0 lead against Philly could potentially be a sign of the “Oh, no” to come. For now, a lot seems to be going well in Chicago. Even the too-early underlying numbers suggest things are going totally fine. The Fire are fifth in the Eastern Conference in expected points per game. That doesn’t mean a ton at this point, but it’s a sign they may stay out of “Oh, no” for a little longer than normal.
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They didn’t look outstanding against Atlanta, but they pulled out yet another draw thanks to Brandon Servania. That’s a (kind of hilarious) six draws in eight games this year for the Reds. It feels like getting Lorenzo Insigne back should help tilt a few of those close games in their favor going forward, though. Insigne came in at the 76-minute mark on Saturday.
It was another 1-1 draw for the Red Bulls, but the off-field issues linger. I suggest you listen to Sacha Kljestan and Co.’s comments on MLS 360 for greater perspective.
A road point is a good point. And their 2-2 draw with Charlotte thanks to a little help from, uh, Charlotte makes it four straight unbeaten for the Rapids. Things don’t seem nearly as bad as they did a few weeks ago. Even if they still only have one win on the year.
Any logical person would have picked Seattle to steamroll the Timbers last weekend. Especially after losing midfielder Eryk Williamson for the season to an ACL tear earlier in the week. Anyone whose heart has been fully corrupted by MLS knew how the logical person had a good chance of being very, very wrong. And, well, the logical person’s wrongness started with this…
…and ended about 18 minutes later with the Timbers up 4-1. Portland haven’t lost to Seattle since August of 2021.
Is this the kind of moment that saves a team’s season and puts them on the path to a surprise turnaround? It doesn’t seem all that likely in this case considering the underlying numbers, the injuries and Portland’s general performance over the last year. But this is MLS. Weirder things have happened.
A draw and a clean sheet against a good Vancouver team isn’t the worst result.
It all seemed so exciting…until it wasn't.
RSL were probably the better team against FC Dallas, but came up short. Little is clicking right now.
Miami seem to be the big winner in last week’s trade with Montréal for Canadian international center back Kamal Miller, which somehow also netted them $1.3 million in General Allocation Money (GAM). But there’s still a long, long way to go for Miami. At least they got the week off to reset.
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LA lost at home to the LAFC for the first time last weekend. Although it might have felt a bit like a road game at times. Either way, the Galaxy are still looking for their first win of the season. And either way, you absolutely can’t sit around and wait for Carlos Vela to line up a shot like this.
I could just leave this here and you’d get the point. But it feels important to point out it’s not like they’re creating a ton of chances and just getting unlucky. SKC have created the third-lowest xG in the league, just ahead of Montréal and Inter Miami.
It doesn’t seem likely CF Montréal will break 2013 D.C. United’s record for the fewest points (16) in a season. But the fact it’s worth having the conversations should tell you a lot about how things are going. They have just one win on the year and it’s the only game they’ve actually scored a goal in. So far the best solution they’ve come up with to fix that is to…trade away an All-Star-caliber defender and $1.3 million in GAM?