MLS Week 12 squeezed in 10 matches just before the flood of Concacaf Gold Cup washed over North America, and even with several of the league’s top tyros away on international duty, young talent was centrally involved in the action.
Here are the ones who shined brightest, at least from where we’re standing.
Seven months ago CFM paid a king’s ransom – at least by the standards of MLS trades – to pry Mihailovic away from his hometown Chicago Fire FC. At this point we can say it’s working out pretty great for both player and club. The playmaker has taken the keys to Montréal’s attack and driven them up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference, seven points and seven standings places above the aforementioned Fire.
Mihailovic has racked up two goals, four assists and an average of two key passes per game, distributing both creatively and efficiently for a transition-oriented side who have to make the most of their time with the ball. He was downright elegant in Wednesday’s comeback win over NYCFC, earning the equalizing penalty kick then playing in Romell Quioto for a silky match-winner:
Sporting a blindingly bleached new hairstyle, Tolkin played three key passes, won most of his duels and prowled his flank ferociously in a rugged battle with Olivier Mbaizo before suffering an ankle injury that ended his night early. And oh yeah – he also committed this savagery on Philly’s savvy vet Alejandro Bedoya:
The Gs shelled out a pretty penny to acquire the French winger just before the season’s start, reportedly paying Valenciennes FC a transfer fee north of $5 million and sending a quarter-mil in allocation bucks and a first-round SuperDraft pick to FC Cincinnati just for his discovery rights. Cabral’s early months in MLS hinted at his abilities, but he didn’t really light the fuse – until last Wednesday, at least.
With Jonathan Lewis and Sam Vines away with the US men’s national team, the Rapids needed new contributions on their flanks as Minnesota United rode a seven-game unbeaten run into DSG Park. And that’s exactly what their promising young Argentine provided in his first start of 2021 with this pretty strike, which earned an MLS Goal of the Week nomination:
Nominally deployed as a left wingback in a 5-3-2, Galvan roamed all over the pitch – as you can see by where he popped up to score that golazo – and while his passing was a bit sloppy in places, it bodes well for the Mile High Club that they can bring an Argentina youth international off the bench at a shorthanded moment.
You may have noticed that the once-hapless Fire have lately discovered a rich vein of form, knitting together a three-game unbeaten streak marked by three-goal outings in all three. And the sight of their 21-year-old Nigerian striker capping last week’s impressive win over Orlando City with his first MLS goal can only pump more optimism into the Windy City side as they seek to climb the East standings.
AB Cissoko: The undefeated Seattle Sounders keep racking up results, and their young center back has been a big factor as he deputizes superbly for the injured Nouhou. Cissoko completed 39 of his 40 passes in the 2-0 win over Houston and bailed out Stefan Cleveland big-time after the goalkeeper went on walkabout, tracking back to deny Fafa Picault an empty-net finish.
Andres Perea: Orlando City’s Colombian-American was a bright spot in the loss at Chicago, showing a striker’s instincts to hammer home the opening goal, his first in MLS. He also played two key passes in an overall tidy outing in a more advanced midfield role than usual.
Maciel: Though his legs may be feeling the weight of his first MLS campaign a bit, the New England Revolution’s unfussy young center mid just keeps earning minutes, completing passes and covering ground. The 3-2 home loss to Toronto FC stings, but there’s more to come from the Brazilian.