Kickoff - 4.1.23
What you need to know

LAFC sign Polish midfielder Bogusz from Leeds United

LAFC have signed Polish youth international midfielder Mateusz Bogusz from English Premier League side Leeds United. Bogusz, 21, has joined the reigning MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield champions through the 2026 MLS season with an option for 2027. Bogusz spent much of his Leeds United tenure on loan in the Spanish second tier, accumulating seven goals and eight assists across 65 appearances for UD Ibiza and UD Logroñés. After developing at Polish side Ruch Chorzów and moving abroad, he became a mainstay for Poland’s U-21s.

LA Galaxy sign Serbian goalkeeper Mićović on loan from FK Čukarički

The LA Galaxy have acquired Serbian youth international goalkeeper Novak Mićović on loan from Serbian SuperLiga side FK Čukarički for the 2023 MLS season. The deal has a permanent transfer option. Mićović played for the same Serbian team as New England Revolution goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic

Soccer Saturday

Just another typically excellent Saturday. Check out the full 14-game schedule here.

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Three Saturday storylines

Another big Saturday ahead with a whole lot of good games that could turn into great games. MLS 360 will be your friend tonight. There’s just too much good happening to keep up with it all at once. In particular, here are a few things to keep an eye on.

LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City face big tests at a bad time

If you haven’t noticed, LA and SKC are alllllllll the way at the bottom of the Western Conference table. SKC are only slightly ahead of last-place Colorado Rapids thanks to the fact Jordan Morris decided to only score four on them last weekend instead of five, and LA are just one point ahead of them with three draws and a loss on the season. Both teams have scored just two goals thus far.

So, yeah, now seems like a bad time for LA to host Seattle Sounders FC (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass, FOX) and SKC to visit the Philadelphia Union (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).  

Now, a good rule of thumb around here is to never say anything with confidence about MLS except for “you can’t say anything with confidence about MLS.” However, Seattle and Philadelphia are favorites heading into today. It’s not hard to imagine us talking about LA and SKC teams sitting on the very bottom of the table on Sunday morning. 

It’s early. You know that at this point. We’ve been talking all week about how everything will probably be fake until at least Matchday 8. However, we know from past experience that you can only dig yourself so deep a hole before it becomes near impossible to dig yourself out. Just ask…well, SKC. They were one of the better teams in the league over the last third of 2022 and it didn’t matter one bit. The Galaxy should feel especially hurried to get things moving considering the fact they can’t bring in international signings during this year’s Secondary Transfer Window.

Surprises versus surprises

There are two really interesting games elsewhere in the West today between teams that have had surprising starts to the season. 

St. Louis are St. Louis. I don’t feel like I have to explain that any further at this point. However, we probably haven’t talked enough about Minnesota grabbing eight points over their first four games. They’ve reacted to Emanuel Reynoso’s absence by looking relatively comfortable without the ball and capitalizing on their chances with it. I’m not sure how sustainable that is, but it will at least present a unique challenge for St. Louis. Seriously, it’s unique. They’ve literally never faced one like it. 

Tonight at CITYPARK (8:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass) will likely be the first game in club history where the opponent lets St. Louis control the ball. You kind of have to wonder if that will be a curveball that’s tough to handle. Then again, why would you ever expect St. Louis to lose another game at any point this season? Sure doesn't seem like that’s going to happen.

In addition to that matchup, you’ve got San Jose Earthquakes hosting Houston Dynamo FC (10:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass) in a matchup of two teams that, so far, have been good enough to make folks at least consider a timeline where one or both make the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. We’ve been harping on the Quakes as a playoff possibility since Matchday 1 here at The Daily Kickoff. Houston haven’t quite gotten the same amount of love yet, but maybe they should. 

There’s still a lot to learn about this group, but they seem to have bought into what new head coach Ben Olsen is selling immediately and are even playing some pretty fun ball. I need a few more data points before I’m convinced of the roster, but they seem to have, at the very least, figured out how to make Héctor Herrera look like Héctor Herrera. Few players in the league have been more effective so far. In fact, American Soccer Analysis’ not-always-perfect-but-always-intriguing Goals Added metric has Herrera as the most productive player in the league so far. If he keeps playing well and Houston keep gelling, then we may be looking at a bit of a turnaround in H-Town. A win tonight on the road would really start to get people paying attention.

Atlanta United have never beaten the New York Red Bulls in the regular season

I genuinely don’t think there’s been a more one-sided series in MLS…ever? 

Saturday evening at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass) will be the 13th regular-season meeting between the two Eastern Conference teams and New York have won eight of the 12 previous meetings. In large part that’s because Atlanta’s possession-based style seems to be an accelerant to the Red Bulls’ hair-on-fire approach. And because, at this point, it kind of just seems like Atlanta have the yips against them.  

Maybe Atlanta adjust. Maybe they keep tilting at this particular windmill and it actually topples over. Maybe the 13th time's the charm. Or maybe New York will go ahead and continue one of the most dominant stretches against a single team in league history. 

Here’s the full Opta stat to show how crazy it is: The Red Bulls have lost only one of their 14 all-time meetings with Atlanta United (W9 D4), with that defeat coming in the first leg of the 2018 Conference Final. The 12 regular-season meetings without ever losing over 90 minutes equals the most by one team against another in MLS history (Fire vs. Tampa Bay, though Chicago did lose one breakaway shootout to the Mutiny).

Other things

FC Cincinnati transfer winger Atanga to Norway's Aalesunds FK: FC Cincinnati have recalled winger Isaac Atanga from his loan to Turkish club Göztepe SK and transferred him to Norwegian side Aalesunds FK for an undisclosed fee. The 22-year-old departs Cincy with one goal and two assists in 23 appearances (12 starts) totaling just under 1,100 minutes

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Good luck out there. Up the Sea Cows.