What you need to know

MLS Cup a few days away

Hey. Pretty big game on Saturday, huh? You can check it out for free on Apple TV or watch on FOX, FOX Deportes, TSN and RDS at 4 pm ET. Here’s how you can watch and stream.

2024 Copa America schedule announced

Conmebol has announced the 14 host cities/stadiums and complete match schedule for the 2024 Copa América that's held across the United States from June 20 to July 14. The competition will feature 32 matches to be played by 16 participating nations – 10 from South America and six qualifiers from Concacaf. Several of the venues will also host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches. Five MLS stadiums (of 14 total) will host games, including the opener at Atlanta United's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Check out the full list of stadiums and games here.

Houston, Philadelphia and Seattle announced roster decisions

Houston forward Corey Baird and right back Griffin Dorsey are eligible for free agency, and former DP center back Teenage Hadebe is out of contract. Nico Lodeiro’s time in Seattle has officially come to a close. And the Union are still in discussions with Alejandro Bedoya and Kai Wagner, both of whom are now out of contract. See the full list of decisions here.

Atlanta United fully acquire Silva from Dijon

Atlanta United have exercised their transfer option on Xande Silva from French third-division side Dijon and signed the winger through the 2025 MLS season with an option for 2026. Silva, a former Portugal youth international, initially joined Atlanta on loan during the 2023 Secondary Transfer Window and tallied 4g/3a in 13 games across the regular season and Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

FC Dallas sign U22 Initiative winger Sali from Romanian club

FC Dallas have signed winger Enes Sali from Romanian top-flight side FCV Farul Constanța through the 2027 MLS season with an option for 2028. Sali, 17, arrives via the league's U22 Initiative which allows clubs to sign young talent – from within MLS or abroad – at a lower salary-cap charge.

Frank Klopas named Chicago Fire head coach

Chicago Fire FC have brought back Frank Klopas as head coach, the club announced Tuesday. This is Klopas’ second stint as the Fire's full-time head coach and he’s served as interim head coach on three prior occasions, including in 2023 when he saw out the remainder of their campaign following Ezra Hendrickson’s departure in early May.

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A number to spike the anxiety of each MLS Cup fanbase

I’ll be honest with y’all. Hiding behind the joyful facade I’m trying to put forward for MLS Cup week, I’m feeling more destructive than creative. I’m glad we’ve got an outstanding game on the way, but I’m not ready to see a fanbase celebrate. Because, I mean, first off, I’m a bad person. Second, after two straight years of a team here in Georgia winning a championship, I’m officially going home empty handed in 2023. It’s hard to be too sad in a back-to-back national champions shirt, but it’s hard not to think about how good I would have looked in a back-to-back national champions shirt. In my head, that gives me plenty of reasons to be a jerk about things. So. Here we are. You. Me. And a number for Crew and LAFC fans that’s going to totally ruin their day. Mutual destruction has always been the number one goal of The Daily Kickoff, I’ve always said this.

Columbus Crew: 0.26 xGA per game on set pieces

Only one (1) Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs team had a worse set-piece defense than the Columbus Crew. One. The New England Revolution take home that honor. Other teams slightly worse than Columbus at defending from dead-ball situations included: Toronto FC, Chicago Fire FC, Minnesota United and Austin FC. And that’s only if we’re going by chances allowed.

If we’re going by actual goals allowed, the Crew were once again the second-worst playoff team at defending set pieces. They were fifth-worst in the entire league this year. They were right in the same group as Colorado, Inter Miami, Austin FC and Vancouver. Vancouver, of course, faced LAFC in Round One. They only gave up four set-piece goals in the first game, so the good news is that kind of season-long performance indicator didn’t come back to bite them in any way………[re=reading that sentence, one sec]..........Oh. Uh-oh.

To be fair, the Crew have barely allowed any set-piece chances so far this postseason. They’ve been solid. The bad news is, LAFC have figured out a new strategy where they blast it in Ryan Hollingshead’s general vicinity and the ball ends up in the back of the net. Through four playoff games, LAFC are averaging 1.25 set-piece goals per game.

We know that set-pieces can change games like this in an instant. We saw it last year when LAFC took down Philadelphia in MLS Cup. I’m just saying, it seems like a pretty big deal one of the best set-piece-taking teams in the league is going up against a team that had seven months or so of issues defending them.

LAFC: 2.03 xGF with Diego Rossi

Before Diego Rossi’s first start on August 26, The Columbus Crew averaged a solid 1.52 xG per game in attack. Since then, they’ve been at a league-best clip of 2.03 xG per game. PER. GAME. That includes the playoffs. Fifteen games in which they were fighting for playoff position or actually in the playoffs and they’ve been on one of the single-best attacking stretches in league history. Rossi’s inclusion obviously plays a major role in that. 

Which brings us to a scenario for LAFC where a former star comes back and ruins 2023 for them. Maybe there are some LAFC fans who would just be happy to see him doing well. But other LAFC fans, the honest ones, aren’t going to be thrilled if a former player puts a dagger in them. 

Even if it’s not Rossi, holy smokes, 2.03 xG? Per game?? The Crew are creating a ton of chances. LAFC used to create chances kind of like that. Now it just seems like it’s either a set piece goal or Dénis Bouanga doing something cool while the team has like 30% possession the whole game. If LAFC lose this game to a high-octane attack led in part by Rossi, there might be some deep self-reflection on what happened to shift them away from that kind of identity this year. 

Ok, maybe not that deep. It’s hard to be too sad in a 2022 MLS Cup champions shirt. But I bet it’s easier than you think.

Other things

Seattle Sounders pursue Lanús attacker de La Vega: Seattle Sounders FC are looking to add Lanús attacker Pedro de la Vega as a Designated Player this winter, according to numerous reports. The 22-year-old Argentine youth international would reportedly fill the DP slot vacated by legendary No. 10 Nicolás Lodeiro, who’s out of contract and set to leave Seattle this winter. Primarily a winger, de la Vega has 17 goals and 13 assists in 126 appearances across all competitions for Lanús.

St. Louis CITY sign Hiebert to new contract: St. Louis CITY SC have rewarded Kyle Hiebert with a new contract after his breakout 2023 MLS season, announcing Monday they've signed the Canadian international defender through 2026 with a club option for 2027. The 26-year-old was a cornerstone of CITY SC's defense during their historic debut campaign, playing both centrally and at fullback.

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Good luck out there. Bring that same energy.