We witnessed MLS history on Wednesday night. All 27 clubs in action. Fourteen games. One (Campeones) Cup.
Actually, “witnessed” might be an overstatement. If you’re here hoping I have all the answers after somehow watching all 1,260 minutes (plus stoppage time!) of action, you’ve got another thing coming.
It’s after midnight and I’m dragging myself ashore amidst the wreckage of my three-screen (sometimes four with phone) viewing setup. Charlie Boehm has your Campeones Cup breakdown. Here’s what you need to know elsewhere in MLS…
It only took Josef Martinez 125 games (all comps) to hit triple digits. Nobody’s done it faster in MLS history – Robbie Keane was second quickest to mark in 156 games – and so much of Atlanta United’s success in their first five seasons has come thanks to the voracious appetite of their Venezuelan striker.
Wednesday night’s penalty kick wasn’t among Martinez’s most memorable strikes, but it was damn important in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoff race, fueling a 1-0 victory that pushed the Five Stripes back above the line and dropped Inter Miami CF seven points off the postseason pace.
Understandably, Atlanta made a big deal of celebrating the man who chose their city as his own and helped build their club from scratch. The standing ovation and adulation from his teammates were givens, but I am also choosing to take this tweet extremely literally.
Do it, Atlanta United. Build it. Come on. You know you want to. Hell, you said you would! We have the proof!
The Falcon is cool and all, but I agree with whoever is running your Twitter account: it’s time to commission another iron giant. Atlanta needs a statue with a scowl. Atlanta needs a statue with swagger. Your supporters need history memorialized outside the Benz. They need The Father staring daggers in every single person who meets his frozen gaze forever.
There is plenty of real estate to work with outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium, so choose a spot, lock in the sculptor and unveil the thing. Unless that tweet was just a tease, in which case carry on. Clearly Josef will on the goal front. He needs 86 more to match Landon Donovan for the all-time, all-comp MLS total.
Pretty legendary stuff. Statue worthy, even, you might say. Or tweet. Just saying.
The Chicago Fire won for the first time in five games … then this happened.
If we’re trusting Taylor’s reporting – and I absolutely am – Wicky would be the seventh manager to lose (or, in Freddy Juarez’s case, leave) his job in MLS this season. There would also be six head coaching gigs open around the league, and I feel safe saying this isn’t the end of the 2021 coaching carousel.
- Chris Armas (Toronto FC) — JOB OPEN (Javier Perez named coach for rest of 2021)
- Gabriel Heinze (Atlanta United) — Gonzalo Pineda
- Freddy Juarez (Real Salt Lake) — JOB OPEN
- Marc Dos Santos (Vancouver Whitecaps CF) — JOB OPEN
- Luchi Gonzalez (FC Dallas) — JOB OPEN
- Jaap Stam (FC Cincinnati) — JOB OPEN
- Raphael Wicky (Chicago Fire FC) — JOB OPEN
As for Wicky, who lasted just 21 months in the job, it’s hard to be surprised given the results (50 points from 51 games). This season, which once held real playoff promise, has been a major disappointment (12th in the East, seven wins in 28 games, -15 goal differential), and 2020 wasn’t any better.
It’s really been a comedy of errors at times in Chicago. The Fire’s knack for inexplicable, game-losing errors is well documented, but they’re also last in the Eastern Conference in goals scored. Chicago have lost more games this year than FC Cincinnati. Their Designated Players haven’t been difference makers. Nobody has, really, and Wicky paid the price.
I can’t say that Wicky was the problem, just part of it. How could he possibly bear that sort of organizational responsibility when you look at the macro of the last decade-plus and not just the past two, pandemic-plagued years?
The Fire are about to miss the playoffs for the 10th time in 12 years. That’s ugly stuff for a once-proud club.
Wicky’s exit won’t be the last in Chicago this fall and winter. Change is the name of the game for a club that doesn’t seem to have a clear identity or direction on the field, and more change is surely coming.
I did a blind panel bit in my Cheat Sheet column before the weekend that was designed to help folks understand just how poor the Galaxy’s form (L-L-D-D-D-L-L-L) has been for the last month and a half. That was BEFORE they lost in Austin then, on Wednesday night, in Sandy.
The halcyon days of April, May and June are long gone, replaced by the very real prospect that this team could miss the playoffs. Forget a home game, the Galaxy are just trying to give themselves a chance here.
Fortunately for Greg Vanney, everybody around LA dropped the ball on Wednesday, too. Minnesota United lost. San Jose lost. Vancouver drew in Houston. Perhaps most importantly, for playoff and rivalry reasons, LAFC lost their third straight game.
I know it’s hard to keep up with the glut of games on the calendar, but the third El Trafico of the season goes down on Sunday at Dignity Health Sports Park (8 pm ET | ESPN and ESPN Deportes). It feels like the Last Chance Saloon for Bob Bradley’s team, without Carlos Vela because of injury, and facing what could be a seismic shakeup in the offseason.
I’ll riff on that a bit more later this week. For now, it’s desperation time for both sides of LA.
D.C. United supporters were not happy when I said Hernan Losada and Ola Kamara didn’t have a shot at winning Coach of the Year or MVP. I’d say they have long memories, but eighth place wasn’t that long ago.
I know you’re excited about beating Minnesota, but Emanuel Reynoso didn’t play. That was a bubble team-on-bubble team result without the guy who would have been the game’s best player. And, yes, 40 points is good for solo third in the East, but it’s also just a point more than NYCFC, Philly, Atlanta and Orlando City in 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th.
Point being: Don’t get too high on your horse just yet!
Knock off Orlando City this weekend, then take down Nashville at home and we can talk about Hernan Losada for Coach of the Year and D.C. as a near-shoo-in playoff team. Six points and he’s probably a finalist. Four and he’s got a chance of pushing his way in. Less than that and there’s a chance D.C. aren’t even above the line. That’s how packed up the East is right now.
Take that too-many-one-goal-victories narrative!
New England dropped four in Montréal and ran out three to the good to keep their Supporters' Shield lead at 16 points. I’ve been updating this each week. Maybe you’ll find it useful. I think the Revs set the points record … 75 points sounds about right.
- LATEST RESULT: 4-1 W @ MTL
- LAST FIVE: W-D-W-W-W
- 65 points (72, LAFC record) w/ 5 games remaining … 80 max, 8/15 points needed to pass
- STILL AHEAD ON PACE – 2.24 ppg vs. LAFC 2.11
- ON TRACK FOR 76 points…
- REMAINING SCHEDULE: CHI, at DC, at ORL, COL, MIA
Take a bow, Anderson Julio.
A 95th-minute winner like that? C'mon, just absurd.
GOAL: Anderson Julio, Real Salt Lake - 95th minute
- The Rapids needed that win at home against Austin bad. They haven’t lost since July 24, which sounds great, but they’ve dropped eight points from winning positions since August 28 and drew against Toronto FC. They should absolutely be in first place right now in the Western Conference, perhaps even by a wide margin, but should doesn’t get the job done.
- Another Seattle win on the road (9-2-2), ho-hum. Leo Chu looked lively in the second half, and it appears Jordan Morris is going to play a role this season, perhaps a major one. Who do you think is going to peak in the playoffs? You’d be naïve not to say the Sounders.
- Two straight disappointing draws for Nashville. They had a chance to hand Orlando City their fifth straight loss and got burned by a set piece in stoppage time. Gary Smith’s boys have two home games and five road games remaining. They’re going to get a home game in the playoffs, but 13 draws in 27 games tells you that they’re not always a dominant force.
- Daniel Salloi is good at scoring goals from the run of play (and FC Dallas had no answer for him). More on Salloi’s MVP case coming later this week!
- I got a pit in my stomach when Sebastian Blanco was forced off because of an injury just after the halftime break against LAFC. It seemed like an ominous moment at the time. This tweet came as good news, indeed.