Daily KO - Coco
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Philadelphia steal a point in Atlanta

After going down 2-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Philadelphia Union scored twice after the 70th minute to swipe a draw in Atlanta. The Union remain the last undefeated team in the league.

St. Louis take down Austin

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Assorted thoughts from the weekend that was

We’re so close to actually knowing something about the teams in this league. Just give 26 or 27 matchdays or so, and we might be there. Until then, we have some thoughts.

Houston keep surviving

Let’s start the morning off by giving flowers to one of the hottest teams in the league. Houston went up to Minnesota this weekend and earned their fourth win in five games.

Now, the big caveat here is three of those wins have come over Portland, Colorado and San Jose. They haven’t been clawing their way through boss fights. But the reverse caveat is Houston have been without DP midfielder Hector Herrera for the entire season and DP forward Sebas Ferreira for the majority of it.

It’s worth mentioning again that, per American Soccer Analysis, Herrera had a higher percentage of his team’s touches in the middle and final third than any other player in the league. More than Riqui Puig, more than Lucho Acosta, more than Thiago Almada, and more than Bebelo Reynoso.

Staying afloat without him in the lineup seemed next to impossible.

And, honestly, they haven’t. They’ve actually been one of the worst attacking teams in the league. But they’ve been good enough to get results and reward themselves for playing excellent defense. Only Red Bulls, Charlotte and Cincinnati have had a better expected-goals-allowed-per-game rate so far. It’s been enough to grind out results against mid-level Western Conference teams. But it’s probably not indicative of a team that will continue earning wins consistently if they don’t improve in attack.

There’s more good news, though. Herrera should be back in the next few weeks here. If he looks like the 2023 version of himself, then the Dynamo are a lock for a playoff spot. He doesn’t even have to turn them into anything special going forward. Last year’s Houston team averaged 1.27 xG per game. This year’s averages 0.97. They basically have to become mediocre instead of bad in attack to see a return to form.

For now, the story is that Ben Olsen and company have dealt with adversity early in the season and still have plenty of room left for growth.

Minnesota United Win A Home Game Challenge 2023-24: IMPOSSIBLE

The flip side of Houston’s win is Minnesota lost at home. I’ll keep mentioning how bad they’ve been at home this season and last until something changes and this stops being one of the weirdest trends in MLS. Until it does, they aren’t even a contender for a home playoff spot. Maybe they don’t want to be? They’ve lost as many home games as they’ve won from 2023 on. For me, that makes them the most frustrating team in the league.

D.C. United are officially the (second) most frustrating team in the league

D.C. United aren’t far behind Minnesota, though. To recap: D.C. have held leads against Inter Miami, St. Louis, CF Montréal, Columbus and Orlando City over the last five games. They earned five points over that span. That includes the 2-1 lead they held 81 minutes into their match against Orlando this weekend before losing 3-2.

Those blown leads get even more frustrating when you dig into D.C.’s underlying numbers. The Black-and-Red lead MLS in expected goal differential and expected points, plus are second in ASA’s all-encompassing Goals Added metric. They’re 19th in the Supporters’ Shield standings.

That indicates a decent chunk of bad luck. But the blown leads also indicate this team hasn’t figured out how to close out games and grind out wins. That could be a depth issue, that could be a strange mentality issue, it could be a weird random cluster of events, or it could be a combo of all three. Either way, something has to give or this team won’t live up to their potential.

Remember, Columbus used to have a similar problem. We’ve all seen where they ended up once they sorted it out.

CF Montréal made a statement

We couldn’t get out of here without mentioning Montréal winning their first home game. It’s not like they got a gentle welcome either; they had to deal with FC Cincinnati right off the jump. They even lost forward Matias Coccaro early in the match. But Josef Martinez came on in a substitute role and added a goal and an assist to guide Montréal to a 2-1 win that saw them look a lot more like the possession-based team we’d heard they might be once Laurent Courtois took over.

They ended the weekend eighth in the East on points per game despite playing six of their seven games on the road. A return to the playoffs is well within reach if they just take care of business at home from here out. They essentially have to be anything but Minnesota.

Are Inter Miami set to take off?

Everything good and bad about Inter Miami was on full display this week. They bombed out of CCC, struggled defensively against SKC, and scored three times to win in front of 72,000 people on the road.

As uneven as that back-and-forth win over Sporting ended up, it felt like a sign of what’s to come. A key part of the argument for those of us who picked Inter Miami to not take home the Supporters’ Shield was that a deep CCC run would be too much to handle. Now, they don’t have to worry about it – which means the rest of the league should be worried about a more rested and potentially recentered Inter Miami.

We’ll give it a few weeks to see if they keep pulling out results, but now’s the time for the Herons to take off after a middling start. I don’t know if they have it in them to truly care about regular-season games after a disappointing exit from Concacaf. But they do have Lionel Messi.

That’s probably enough, right? As long as he’s healthy, anyway.

What even are LAFC?

Does anyone know at this point? Everything they do right now reminds me of the 2021 team that we gave up trying to figure out halfway through the season. The underlying numbers suggest they’re good. Maybe really good. But the results and the eye test keep telling us that they’re more middling than anything. I don’t know what to make of it at this point. However, I promise to you, dear reader, that I will have a full-on panic attack trying to figure it out a few weeks from now if they keep underperforming. See y’all then.

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Good luck out there. Stay unbeaten.