Daily Kickoff - 3.25.23
What you need to know

NYCFC sign midfielder Ledezma on loan from PSV Eindhoven

New York City FC have signed attacking midfielder Richy Ledezma on loan from Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven through the 2023 MLS season. The loan doesn't contain a purchase option. The 22-year-old, who has one US men’s national team appearance, came through Real Salt Lake’s youth system before heading to one of the Dutch first division’s highest-profile clubs.

Houston Dynamo sign center back Sviatchenko from FC Midtjylland

Houston Dynamo FC have secured a key piece in their roster rebuild, announcing Friday they’ve signed Danish international defender Erik Sviatchenko from FC Midtjylland. The 31-year-old, who’s captained the Danish powerhouse side, has signed through the 2024 MLS season with an option for 2025. The deal involved Targeted Allocation Money (TAM).

Soccer Saturday

Yep. Another one. See the full schedule here.

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Three Saturday storylines

This is kind of a perfect MLS Saturday. We’re just at the point where we think we’re getting the general feel for how teams will perform this season and then, boom, an international break smoke bomb gets thrown into it all and every single result today will have varying levels of validity. Basically, we could learn a lot and also nothing but maybe something today. How can you not be romantic about MLS?

Absences everywhere (but some more than others)

We talked on Thursday about which teams will potentially be missing the most today due to international duty. However, pretty much every team is missing at least something. Again, maybe not an ideal way to learn about the quality of each team. It could be an ideal way to get some of the weirdest games of the season. Just imagine MLS 360 cutting into one of the best own goals you’ve ever seen and jumping out of that broadcast to another broadcast to show you one of the best own goals you’ve ever seen and then returning to the previous broadcast to tell you that Video Review looked at the play and realized that, first off, that own goal was super sweet, and second, there was actually a penalty at the other end of the field before the super sweet own goal.

All of this and more is possible today because a league filled with variance is getting an IV bag full of even more unknown variables. There will be teenagers making their first starts, tactical changes to make up for absent players and a general sense that anything could happen.

Or I guess it could be the ugliest soccer of the year and we just choose to never talk about this one again. But I choose to embrace today with unbridled optimism at the possibility we could see one of the weirdest days of the year. And isn’t that what The Daily Kickoff is all about?

All eyes out West today

Even with some reshaped rosters, there are some excellent games in the Western Conference today. You’ve got a battle to avoid winning a race to the bottom, a potential panic party, a couple of chances to take down the big bads, and a GRIT and HUSTLE and CITY extravaganza. It’s going to be awesome.

Starting with Portland and LA today at 4:30 pm ET on Apple TV (free) and FOX. We’re only four games in for Portland and three games in for the Galaxy, but neither is going to feel ecstatic about taking less than a point per game so far. Neither team needs to burn it all down and start over with a loss today, but it might be time to consider reconsidering expectations for the season. Neither team has looked sharp at any point, neither team has looked like they’ve improved from last season and the Galaxy are running out of time to bring in transfers before the Primary Window closes and their Secondary Transfer Window restrictions kick in. Could be messy. And a bit desperate at times. How can you not be romantic about a potential semi-desperate mess?

Then, Austin face a Colorado team that just lost their most solidifying midfielder, Jack Price, for the season. After last week’s general existence within a nightmare, Austin could use a win here. If they don’t get it… well, no one should actually be all that concerned but there’s no denying the vibes around the club might get strange.

Later in the day, nearly-full-strength Sporting KC and FC Dallas sides have a chance to take down slightly diluted versions of the West’s best. Dénis Bouanga, José Cifuentes and Diego Palacios are out for LAFC, and Seattle are missing a handful of starters including Nouhou and Raúl Ruidíaz. If there was ever a time to take all three points against these two teams, this is it. If you can’t do it now, are you ever going to do it?

And then, of course, you have St. Louis and RSL. The two teams most meme'd for doing the most uncool thing in the world: trying. But it clearly gets the job done. And it will be fascinating to see which team ends up winning the most 50/50 balls, duels and other grit-based metrics. It will likely decide the winner and whether or not St. Louis stay on track for the 102 points they seem destined to earn.

Styles making the fight

The East doesn’t quite have the same stakes today, but Nashville and Cincinnati should at least be an Audi MLS Cup Playoffs preview. I don’t think anyone has many doubts about that. Even just four games in. You should, at the very least, get a well-played game here.

But will it be a good game? I don’t know. Either Nashville suffocate Cincy and the Knifey Lions aren’t able to get their attack up and running at full speed again. Or maybe FCC open this one up and we get Brandon Vazquez and Lucho Acosta trading blows with Hany Mukhtar and… Jacob Shaffelburg?

Look, maybe don’t dedicate your night to this one, but just keep an eye on it. The winner will be through the first five games of the year with one of the conference’s best records.

Other things

Real Salt Lake sign captain Kreilach to contract extension: Real Salt Lake have signed captain and midfielder Damir Kreilach to a contract extension through the 2024 MLS season. The 33-year-old, who’s held a Designated Player roster spot, originally joined RSL in 2018 from German side Union Berlin. He has 44 goals and 24 assists in 127 games since then, earning the Claret-and-Cobalt’s golden boot on three separate occasions.

D.C. United midfielder Santos undergoes knee surgery, out 2-3 weeks: D.C. United midfielder Pedro Santos has undergone arthroscopic surgery to remove an osteochondral fragment in his left knee, an injury sustained during his substitute appearance in a 3-2 loss to New York City FC on Matchday 4. Santos was removed from the match in the 78th minute.

Charlotte FC sign homegrown center back Neeley: Charlotte FC have signed homegrown defender Jack Neeley through the 2026 MLS season with an option for 2027. The 18-year-old center back becomes Charlotte’s third homegrown signing, following in the footsteps of attackers Brian Romero and Nimfasha Berchimas.

Real Salt Lake sign Eneli after SuperDraft selection: Real Salt Lake have signed defender/midfielder Emeka Eneli after selecting him in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas. The 24-year-old, picked No. 25 overall (first round) out of Cornell University, joins through the 2023 MLS season with options for 2024-26. Eneli becomes RSL's third SuperDraft signing this year, following in the footsteps of Generation adidas forwards Ilijah Paul (7th overall) and Bertin Jacquesson (16th overall).

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Good luck out there. Sometimes you have to find the wrong answer to get the right answer.