Daily Kickoff - 6.15.24
What you need to know

Soccer Saturday

We’ve got 13 matches today. Check out the schedule here.

Three MLS players made the USMNT Copa América roster

Three MLS players are on the US men's national team's 26-man roster that will compete at 2024 Copa América this summer: FC Cincinnati defender Miles Robinson, Nashville SC defender Shaq Moore and Toronto FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Thirteen MLS players on Canada’s Copa América roster

Head coach Jesse Marsch has named 13 MLS players to Canada's 26-man roster that will compete at 2024 Copa América this summer.

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The (Mini) Recap

Just one game to address from Friday night. Let’s talk it out.

M. Ilenič (Red Card 39'), A. Ojeda (44'), S. Rodríguez (86') | C. Ramírez (48'), M. Farsi (53'), Cucho (65')

After New York City FC goalkeeper Matt Freese did everything in his power to keep Columbus off the board, the game broke open in the 39th minute when Mitja Ilenič’s DOGSO red card led to… a lightning-quick goal for NYCFC because why not, right?

Christian Ramírez found Columbus’ equalizer coming out of the halftime break, Mo Farsi scored a go-ahead goal and Cucho Hernández converted a penalty after a lengthy Video Review. NYCFC weren’t done, though. Santi Rodríguez brought them back within one just before the 90-minute mark. After 14 minutes of second-half stoppage time, one of the wilder games of the season came to a close.

It’s just NYCFC’s second loss in their last 12 games and Columbus’ fourth-straight road win. More importantly for the Crew, it’s their first win after losing the Concacaf Champions Cup final. They caught a slight break with the red card, but they were giving Freese all he could handle before that. They deserved the win. We still need a few more data points to see if Sean Zawadzki stepping into midfield can tide the Crew over with Aidan Morris reportedly getting transferred to Championship side Middlesborough, but so far so good.

NYCFC should be worried about getting carved up the way they did before the red, but they shouldn’t be worried about who’s in goal. Have we mentioned Freese stood on his head, yet? He’s been the best ‘keeper in the league this year.

Your Saturday storylines

It’s admittedly a quiet-ish Saturday. Plenty of games should go to heavy favorites. That, of course, means today’s going to be as wild as possible and none of the results will make sense. So it goes.

Here’s what to keep an eye on.

Philadelphia try to make this house a home again

One win. Three draws. Four losses. The Union’s home record looks like a Wooden Spoon contender’s road tally. It’s, to be blunt, super weird.

Across the 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 seasons, the Union lost at home four times. They haven’t lost more than three home games in a season since 2018. Considering the last few years, it’s odd to see Philadelphia lose at all, let alone at home.

But something has been off this year. Their normally Best XI-caliber spine hasn’t been up to standards. Andre Blake has taken a step back in goal. Jack Elliott and Jakob Glesnes haven’t been at their best. José Martínez doesn’t look like a top-five defensive midfielder in the league anymore. And the team as a whole has lacked the kind of grit we’ve become accustomed to seeing.

Things are about to get even tougher, too. Star striker Julián Carranza appears to be on his way out. Eredivisie side Feyenoord have reportedly come calling for a summertime transfer, and Carranza is not expected to play tonight against Inter Miami (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass). That move would open a Designated Player spot, and to state the obvious: Trying to replace one of your most critical pieces while needing to climb the standings isn’t easy. Dániel Gazdag is away representing Hungary at Euro 2024, too.

Philadelphia have an opportunity tonight, though. A win against Inter Miami would provide a confidence boost and a reminder that winning at home isn’t as hard as they’ve made it the last few months. It would also indicate Philadelphia can find results without Carranza (and Gazdag). With Miami missing multiple key players themselves, we’re heading toward a key moment in the Union’s season. They need a win to start working their way back toward the top of the Eastern Conference.

Inter Miami without their luck

We’ve talked plenty lately about Inter Miami’s remarkable overperformance of their underlying numbers. To recap: The Herons are on pace to outperform their expected points total by one of the top-five largest margins in American Soccer Analysis’ database.

Some of that is luck, and we started to see them regress to the mean just before the June international break. A 3-1 home loss to Atlanta United and a 3-3 home draw against St. Louis CITY SC exposed some vulnerabilities. But some of that luck comes from the fact Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez tend to find and finish high-value chances at a rate we don’t typically see in MLS.

Now, Messi and Suárez are gone for the next few weeks until they return from Copa América. Does that mean Miami’s luck is gone as well? Their two most critical players could miss the next seven games. If those seven games follow the same pattern as Inter Miami’s last two games, their Supporters’ Shield chances may evaporate quickly. That starts tonight against a Philadelphia side that desperately needs a home win.

The new coach bounce?

Atlanta United and FC Dallas will both take the field with interim managers. Atlanta, with Rob Valentino at the wheel, host Houston Dynamo FC (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass). Dallas, led by Peter Luccin, host St. Louis (8:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).

Who knows what will change for either team, but it’s certainly worth paying attention to their response. That’s especially true for an Atlanta team with great underlying numbers. Maybe slight tweaks will lead to the results that haven’t been coming.

The Reading Rainbow
Full Time

Good luck out there. Remember your history.