Daily Kickoff - 3.2.24
What you need to know

19 MLS & MLS NEXT Pro clubs to compete in 2024 US Open Cup

MLS and U.S. Soccer have reached an agreement that will see eight MLS clubs and 11 MLS NEXT Pro teams in the Open Cup this year. See the full list here.

Cincinnati loan Barreal to Brazil's Cruzeiro

FC Cincinnati have loaned left wingback Álvaro Barreal to Brazilian top-flight side Cruzeiro. The deal is through December 2024 with a reported $4 million-plus purchase option. Additionally, Cincy can reportedly end the loan if a transfer offer exceeding the purchase option amount presents itself.

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Teams that could use a bounceback after MLS is Back

Your second match of the year is all about bouncing back from the overreactions of match one so that people can overreact the other way after match two. And then we’ll just kind of keep doing that for 32 more matches, but, hey, match two feels very, very important. Here’s a few teams who should be expecting better today.

We’ve said it all week: You shouldn’t be burying the Rapids after giving up four goals on 0.4 xG to Portland. They were incredibly unlucky in the midst of integrating a handful of new pieces into the lineup. That’s a bad formula. Maybe they can look a little more comfortable (and a little luckier) against Nashville at home. With Hany Mukhtar, Sam Surridge and Tyler Boyd all questionable for Nashville, it kind of feels like the Rapids have to take advantage. Otherwise… well, it’s too early to hit any kind of panic button, but it’s never too early to think about inching toward one.

Seattle will be fine. Let’s be clear from the jump. An opening-day road loss to their biggest challenger in the West while missing multiple key players is no real cause for concern. Bouncing back today is more about vibes. They still have an injury list as long as a CVS receipt, but they’re going up against an Austin side that got thumped at home in their opening match. Seattle should still have plenty to get back on track today. That’s especially true if Pedro de la Vega is set to go for a full 90 minutes.

The Red Bulls went on the road to face a depleted Nashville side, created a bunch of chances, allowed almost none, hit the post a bunch of times, and still came away with no goals and one point. There’s nothing wrong with that on the road, but it would be fair to experience some early-season frustration if they create big chances today and still can’t find the net. It would all be a little too 2023.

That being said, a win might be asking a little much. A road trip to Houston is a road trip to Houston. It won’t be easy. Even if the Dynamo are coming off the dreaded midweek Concacaf Champions Cup game. Still, a goal or two would make everyone feel better.

Chicago played well in Philadelphia last weekend! But that couldn’t stop them from letting the “Chicago” of it all seep in. They held a lead twice and lost a lead twice, then nearly lost the game entirely. They’ll have officially made progress when we aren’t so worried about the team holding onto leads. Hopefully, for their sake, they feel a little more inclined to stay in front at home. 

Of course, they’ll have to get in front to do that. FC Cincinnati are in town tonight and, even after a CCC match midweek, they’re still the Shield winners.

NYCFC failed to create big chances last Saturday. That’s understandable as they work some new pieces in, but they can only fall so far behind in the East before they find themselves in some trouble. With a young (see: inconsistent) attack, it’s fair to wonder if they’ll be able to score often enough to earn points week over week. Getting on the right track and getting on the board for the first time of the season will be a step in the right direction. They’ll have to do it against St. Louis’ press, though. That’s not always easy.

Other Things

New York City sign Hope-Gund from MLS NEXT Pro: New York City FC have elevated MLS NEXT Pro defender Rio Hope-Gund to a first-team contract through the 2024 MLS season, with options through 2026. Selected in the first round of the 2021 MLS SuperDraft by Orlando City SC, the 24-year-old center back had an assist in 24 appearances last season with NYCFC II.

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Good luck out there. Be interesting when you get together with friends.