Top Things to Watch in MLS this Week

The Pitch - Week 24

2022 MLS All-Star Minnesota at a Glance

MLS All-Star Minnesota is less than a week away. All media information for the week-long, midsummer celebration of soccer and culture can be found by visiting MLSsoccer.com/Media-Resources.

Media Schedule at a Glance: Major League Soccer will begin All-Star week festivities on Sunday, Aug. 7, with events each day leading up to the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target on Wednesday, Aug.10. An overview of the 2022 MLS All-Star media schedule is below. 

The media schedule is available to VIEW HERE & DOWNLOAD HERE.

Sunday

  • MLS President & Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott will rededicate a field in the Twin Cities that his father opened in 1967 that played a major role in introducing the sport to Minnesota. 
  • ExtraTime presented by Continental Tire will host a live show at 7 p.m. CT at Blackhart (1415 University Avenue West Saint Paul, MN 55104)

Monday

  • MLS WORKS All-Star Day of Service presented by Target
  • MLS All-Star & LIGA MX Trainings and Media Availabilities
  • MLS All-Star Press Conference, featuring MLS All-Star Players and Head Coach Adrian Heath
  • LIGA MX All-Star Press Conference, featuring LIGA MX All-Stars and Head Coach Diego Cocca
  • MLS All-Star Media Mixer
  • MLS All-Star Concert presented by Target - Concert headlined by Grammy-nominated Khalid

Tuesday

  • MLS WORKS + Target All-Star Community Day
  • MLS & LIGA MX Trainings and Media Availabilities
  • MLS All-Star Hometown Heroes Showcase
  • MLS All-Star Soccer Celebration presented by AT&T 5G
  • MLS All-Star Skills Challenge presented by AT&T 5G

Wednesday:

  • MLS NEXT All-Star Game presented by Allstate
  • Special Olympics Unified All-Star Game presented by MLS WORKS, ESPN, & Coca-Cola
  • MLS All-Star Soccer Celebration presented by Coca-Cola
  • MLS All-Star Game presented by Target

Homegrown Duo Bursting onto the Scene for Atlanta 

Wiley

Atlanta United have consistently developed young domestic and international talents into MLS starters, and 21-year-old George Campbell and 17-year-old Caleb Wiley are the two newest young budding stars to step on the pitch for the Five Stripes.

Campbell has been a mainstay in the Atlanta’s backline, playing in 19 of their 22 games so far this season while helping lead the club to four clean sheets. He has racked up the third-most minutes played (1,475 minutes) of any Atlanta player to date this season, after totaling just 629 minutes last season. The Five Stripes have a proven formula for developing national-team-caliber defenders, as demonstrated by Miles Robinson’s rise, and this season marks Campbell’s first step to potentially reaching similar heights.

Wiley is breaking out as an all-action left-sided player, adding to his defensive tool belt while playing as a left-sided defender for most of this season. The teenage sensation is also one of four teenagers to play over 900 minutes in MLS this season and one of only three teenage field players to do so as well. Wiley is also following in the footsteps of an Atlanta success story after former Homegrown and U.S. Men’s National Team defender George Bello paved a similar path from Atlanta’s academy and onto the first team.

Campbell and Wiley will take the field again on Saturday when Atlanta hosts a hungry Seattle Sounders FC side led by2022 MLS All-Star and USMNT forward Jordan Morris on Saturday (3 p.m. ET, ABC / ESPN Deportes).

2022 Leagues Cup Showcase Kicks off with Doubleheader at SoFi Stadium

Chicharito

This Wednesday, the Los Angeles Football Club, LA Galaxy, Chivas of Guadalajara, and Club America will compete in the first-ever soccer event at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles to kick off the 2022 Leagues Cup Showcase. The marquee doubleheader serves as a preview to the highly-anticipated Leagues Cup – the annual, month-long official tournament between MLS and LIGA MX – that will take center stage in the summer of 2023.

The LA Galaxy and Chivas will meet for the first time in 15 years and just the fourth time overall. It will be the first time Galaxy star Javier “Chicharito” Hernández faces his first professional team. Chicharito scored 26 league goals for Chivas before moving on to Manchester United as a 21-year-old in 2010. Chivas won the most recent meeting, 2-1, at LA Memorial Coliseum during SuperLiga 2007.

The match between LAFC and Club América will be only their second meeting after LAFC's 3-1 triumph in the 2020 Concacaf Champions League semifinals. That game was played before an empty Exploria Stadium in Orlando amid the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means this will be the first where fans of both storied clubs can be part of the action. Will Mexican stars Javier “Chicharito” Hernández and Carlos Vela shut down LIGA MX’s best in the exciting doubleheader matchups?

Chicago Eyes A Playoff Spot Ahead of Six-Pointer with Charlotte

Mueller

As the Eastern Conference playoff race begins to heat up, Chicago Fire FC made it clear in July that they will be in the thick of it until MLS Decision Day. The Fire rattled off three straight wins before a scoreless draw against Atlanta United over the weekend, and they now sit just two points off FC Cincinnati for the seventh and final spot in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs – all while playing their best soccer of the season.

With the season winding down, each match is a critical one for the postseason push, and Chicago’s trip to Bank of America Stadium to face Charlotte FC is no different. A true six-point matchup, the Fire will look to take down one of the best home teams in MLS in Charlotte FC (7-3-0 home record), who recently thrashed Nashville SC 4-1 in their last completed home game. If the Fire can secure the victory, they would not just close in on the final playoff spot, but also close in on the next three highest places in the Eastern Conference standings.

To grab a win in the Queen City, Chicago will rely on Chris Mueller’s bright form after he provided a career-high five goal contributions (two goals, three assists) in the month of July. Now that Mueller has settled into the Fire’s squad, his creativity with Xherdan Shaqiri and Jairo Torres in attack have forced defenses into panic to keep track of the trio. Mueller and Chicago hope that Charlotte is the next team that they force into a panic and walk out with a crucial three points.

Pat Noonan Welcomes Jim Curtin and the Union to TQL Stadium

Noonan

It’s common for players to come up against their old teams throughout their careers, but the occasion rarely arises for coaches. However, first-year head coach Pat Noonan will have that opportunity when he and FC Cincinnati host the Philadelphia Union on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE on ESPN+) at TQL Stadium.

Noonan, who served as an assistant coach at the Union between 2018-2021, has led Cincinnati through the most successful period in their club’s history since they joined MLS in 2019. In his early tenure, Cincinnati has already won more games and recorded more points in a single season than they had in their previous three seasons while also continuing to compete in an eight-team race for the final three playoff positions in the Eastern Conference. His leadership has also seen Brandon Vázquez take a leap in his development as the 23-year-old striker sits one goal off the top of the MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi standings with 13 goals so far in 2022.

Jim Curtin and the Union, however, are in a race of their own against Los Angeles FC, Austin FC, and New York City FC for this season’s Supporters’ Shield title. After drawing Cincinnati, 1-1,at home earlier in the season, the Union will be out for blood as they hunt down their sixth consecutive win while outscoring opponents 18-2 over that stretch. MLS All Stars Andre Blake and Kai Wagner have been instrumental in that run, with Blake keeping three clean sheets and Wagner providing six assists, bringing his season total to 11, which ties for the league lead alongside fellow All Stars Carles Gil and FC Cincinnati’s own Luciano Acosta.

With valuable points for either side on the line, the stakes are high heading into a battle between Curtin and Noonan. Will Noonan get one over on his old boss, or will Curtin and the Union outplay their former assistant coach?

Must-See Acrobatic Stoppage-Time Goal Secures Upset Win for Philadelphia Union II

Union2

Playing in his first game back after being sidelined for two months with an injury, Philadelphia Union II’s Stefan Stojanovic made his presence felt in a huge way on Sunday night. His team battled Columbus Crew 2 to a 1-1 tie in stoppage time, and the match appeared destined for a shootout before the substitute clinched a win for Union II with a dazzling, acrobatic goal. A beautifully placed pass from teammate Nathan Harriel allowed Stojanovic to score in dramatic fashion. WATCH | DOWNLOAD

The goal was Stojanovic’s first in MLS NEXT Pro. The 22-year-old forward has played in nine games for Union II so far this season, starting six. Philadelphia (23 points, 6-7-3) is currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference after pulling off the upset over first-place Columbus (38 points, 12-3-2).

Week 24 - English