Kickoff 8.7.23
What you need to know

Leagues Cup continues tonight

The Round of 16 continues with three games. Philadelphia host New York, Querétaro take on New England and Charlotte face Houston. See the full schedule here.

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Your Leagues Cup Kickoff

I mean…

The Recap
FC DALLAS - 4 | INTER MIAMI CF - 4 (MIA wins 5:3 on PKs)
F. Quignon (37'), B. Kamungo (45'), A. Velasco (63'), R. Taylor (68' OG) | L. Messi (6', 85'), B. Cremaschi (65'), M. Farfan (80' OG)

What happened?: I… I don’t even know. Gonna take a deep breath here and try to lay some of it out, though. Ok, one sec………………………………….

SO. Lionel Messi scored six minutes into a game being played in 100-degree weather in Frisco, Texas, home of the Soccer Hall of Fame and the FCS National Championship, thanks to an assist from Jordi Alba that looked extremely Barcelona, but Dallas got back in the game with a goal from Facundo Quignon and then took the lead moments later thanks to a goal from Bernard Kamungo, who was playing for Abilene High School three years ago, and then took that a step further by adding a goal from Alan Velasco to make it 3-1, only for 18-year-old Benjamin Cremaschi to score immediately after, only for that to be immediately canceled out by a Robert Taylor own goal that only happened because he ran 100 yards to try and hustle back on defense, which reminded us that you should never try at anything, including defending a Messi free kick because then you end up like Marco Farfan, who sent a thumping header into the wrong net in the 80th minute to make it 4-3 (!) and then, with the game on the line, Messi lined up a free kick and sent it into the top right corner with inch-perfect precision to make it 4-4, and then Inter Miami won the shootout with a final kick from Cremaschi who is, again, 18 years old.

Ok. Yep. I think I got it?

Oh, Inter Miami will face the winner of Houston and Charlotte, by the way.

So, did we learn anything?: What makes this particularly terrifying for everyone else in the league is the thing everyone said would happen with Inter Miami finally happened and it did not matter. They played terrible defense, they went down two goals twice and it did not matter. They were on the road in extreme conditions and it did not matter. This is the exact scenario where everyone thought the Herons might be truly vulnerable and, well, nope, Messi free kick from 30 yards into the top right corner, sorry. I have no idea when and how they’re ever going to falter again. It seems impossible right now.

About tonight

Three more Round of 16 games tonight. Let’s talk it out with some help with our world-famous watchability meter, The Plusometer ©*.

(*The closer to 50 the more likely the game is to be extremely entertaining)

Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls | 7:30 pm ET

WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer score: 35/50

Oh man, the universe delivered a classic Daily Kickoff special in a single-elimination game. And by that, I mean enjoying Philadelphia-New York games takes a very refined MLS pallet. Expect constant car crashes in midfield and somewhere around 60% pass completion for both teams. It’s the Beautiful Game… from a certain point of view. Usually, that means one very small moment will make the difference.

Querétaro vs. New England Revolution | 8 pm ET

WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass, FS1, UniMás
Plusometer score: 30/50

The Revs will be without their head coach/sporting director, possibly without their starting goalkeeper and, now, without starting fullback Brandon Bye. Bye picked up a long-term knee injury against Atlas in the last game and it’s fair to say it has not been a fun couple of weeks in New England. Still, they’ll be favored against Querétaro. They have plenty of talent left over and any team with Carles Gil on their side has an advantage.

Charlotte FC vs. Houston Dynamo FC | 9:30 pm ET

WATCH ON: Apple TV - MLS Season Pass
Plusometer score: 28/50

I think both teams are probably just happy to be here. Leagues Cup has already been a success for both sides, but now there’s a legitimate opportunity. The chance to advance into the quarterfinals and face Messi and Co. with a spot in the semifinals on the line is a remarkable chance for two teams that have been hovering around the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs line all season. Something special could be in the works for whoever wins this one.

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Good luck out there. Place it where no one can save it.