Sign up for The Daily Kickoff in your inbox! The Daily Kickoff is more than an article – it can be delivered to your email account as well.
Another week gone by, another week full of questions to ask. We probably don’t have any real answers yet, but we’re getting closer and closer.
This Saturday existed, to some extent, in an analytical black hole. So many teams were missing key players.
In a league where the difference between top players and depth guys is bigger than any other, your depth issues can become apparent in an instant. What can we take away from any of it then?
Well, there are a few key patterns that showed up in the previous normal weekends and this not-so-normal one. We’ll get to those. As for the rest of it, maybe don’t discard any new info, but maybe don’t hold it too close to your heart either.
Not one, not two, not three, but four goals for Jordan Morris this weekend, y’all. He has seven on the season and looks like he’s on a different level right now. He’s leveraging his elite physical skillset into chances and goals in a way he never has before.
Morris’s career high for goals in a season is 12. That came back in 2016. He hit 10 a couple of times (in 2019 and the shortened 2020 season). He had seven over the entirety of last season. This is something new and something special. And it seems largely down to an improved understanding of how to use his explosiveness effectively off the ball. When you’re bigger, stronger, faster and smarter than everyone else, you’re going to do pretty well.
Now, we should probably note, he spent his four-goal game at striker for Seattle due to the absence of Heber and Raul Ruidiaz. I’m not sure how many more games he’ll have there. However, before this weekend he had three goals in four games. Maybe he slows down a little, but it feels like we’re at least watching a career year start to take shape. Potentially, it could be even more than that.
NYCFC weren’t quite at full strength, but the Dynamo’s 1-0 win this weekend deserves to be applauded. It seems like Hector Herrera is really finding his way in MLS all of the sudden, and it’s maybe not a surprise the Dynamo are doing the same. They’ve faced a tough schedule to start the year and have earned six points in four games that probably should have been seven or nine.
Who knows how sustainable it all is. It’s too early to start buying up as much Houston stock as possible. It is a first step in the right direction though. That’s important. Even if they struggle to be a playoff-caliber team the rest of the year, they’ll hopefully continue to show signs of progress.
It has not been good. No excuses this week either for the Union. They didn’t have CCL to worry about, and they weren’t missing any more key players than the Orlando team that came out and immediately put two goals up on them. They just weren’t good enough. And it’s super weird.
Philadelphia had five losses all of last season. In five games this year, they’ve lost three times. Nothing they’re aiming for this year is out of reach yet or anything, but they certainly haven’t looked like last year’s version of the Union. That’s strange considering there weren’t any real changes from last year’s version to this year’s other than adding some depth.
“Maybe we’re all trying to be perfect rather than just doing our job,” Jim Curtin said after this weekend’s loss. That could be true. And it might be the kind of early-season thing that melts away once they settle into the normal rhythm of the season. Honestly, I’d be shocked if they didn’t do just that and start picking up big wins and a ton of points. For now though, it’s fair to tilt your head a bit and stare and wonder what exactly is going wrong.
Another week, another incident. A team that is not St. Louis once again passed the ball directly to a St. Louis striker who was just kind of standing there. It is a form of deep magic we’ve never seen in MLS and full credit to St. Louis for unlocking it immediately. Maybe someday teams that are not St. Louis will figure out Joao Klauss is not on their team. Saturday was not that day. Reset the counter and we’ll try again next Saturday.
Canada ease past Curaçao to set up decisive encounter with Honduras: The Canadian men’s national team eased past 10-man Curaçao, 2-0, in Concacaf Nations League A (Group C) action Saturday evening, securing a berth in the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup this summer. The victory sets up a high-stakes encounter with Honduras on March 28 (8 pm ET | OneSoccer) at BMO Field, home of Toronto FC, as a win or draw for Les Rouges means they would top the group and advance to June’s Nations League Finals, a four-team, single-elimination tournament.
- Charles Boehm looked at how Matchday 5 tested each club’s depth across MLS.
- Matt Doyle’s Sunday column is up and good.
- Daryl Dike and the USMNT are bracing for an “intense” Nations League clash with El Salvador.
- Austin FC II and MNUFC2 stole the show on MLS NEXT Pro’s opening night.
- Dénis Bouanga scored a legendary goal for LAFC after a 13-hour flight.
- Christian Ramírez bagged a brace on his Columbus Crew debut.
- St. Louis CITY SC's magic carpet ride reached a new "big achievement."
- Jordan Morris pulled off his best Erling Haaland impression for Seattle this weekend.
Good luck out there. Take a chance from distance.