22MLS_TheDailyKickoff-NYCFC-Campeones
What you need to know

NYCFC take home Campeones Cup title

New York City FC scored goals four minutes into each half to defeat Mexico’s Atlas FC 2-0, capturing the 2022 Campeones Cup Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium. It was the third win for an MLS club in the competition’s four editions, with Atlanta United defeating Club America in 2019 and the Columbus Crew emerging victorious over Cruz Azul in 2021.

New York Red Bulls clinch Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs spot

Austin FC clinch Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs spot

Austin FC’s year-two turnaround has reached a historic high note as they became the second Western Conference team to book an Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs spot. The Verde & Black punched their first-ever playoff ticket following Wednesday's 3-0 win over Real Salt Lake.

USA plans October camp for select MLS players before World Cup

Since the 2022 MLS regular season concludes with Decision Day on October 9, domestic-based players not in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs could go 43 days between then and the US men's national team's Group B opener at the FIFA 2022 World Cup, a Nov. 21 meeting with Wales. Head coach Gregg Berhalter and his staff, recognizing the potential challenges there, plan on being proactive for MLS-based players who aren’t in the postseason or get knocked out early, organizing a training camp in October. The exact location and dates are yet to be announced.

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The Recap

NYCFC (2) VS. ATLAS (0)

What happened: Alexander Callens opened the game with a 4th-minute goal and Maxi Moralez sealed a trophy win for NYCFC in the 49th minute as NYCFC won the Campeones Cup, 2-0.

What it means: Another trophy for NYCFC. And maybe a much needed boost for the rest of the season.

ORLANDO CITY (0) VS. ATLANTA UNITED (1)

What happened: Thiago Almada found himself with a space in the box and capitalized on it in the 72nd minute as Atlanta picked up a massive 1-0 road win over their rival.

What it means: Atlanta’s not dead yet. And maybe even a little less than almost dead. They’re chasing a bunch of teams who have a game in hand on them, but the Five Stripes are just three points removed from Orlando for the fifth spot in the East. It’s going to take a bit of a miracle in the end, but Atlanta are officially in the realm of possibility.

AUSTIN FC (3) VS. REAL SALT LAKE (0)

What happened: A whooping courtesy of Moussa Djitte, who fired off a second half hat-trick as Austin cruised.

What it means: RSL are in trouble. They’re in seventh now, just three points above the eighth-place Galaxy and four points ahead of Seattle, each of whom have a game in hand.

COLORADO RAPIDS (2)  VS. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (1)

What it means: Colorado still has a tiny bit of hope. There are four points separating them and seventh-place, but they only have three games left to make up ground.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (3) VS. LA GALAXY (0)

What happened: I bet the Galaxy are wondering that too, amiright? Ryan Gauld, Pedro Vite, and Tosaint Ricketts each scored in the second half to give Vancouver the win and send the Galaxy into panic mode.

What it means: We’re one step closer to the doomsday scenario for LA. They’re now three points behind seventh-place and they’re losing the games in hand advantage they had on the teams they were chasing. They still have one game in hand on seventh-place RSL, but they’re stumbling toward the finish line right now.

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Assorted questions from the midweek that was

The last big midweek slate is over and I have questions. And maybe some answers too… but mostly questions.

Does NYCFC read The Daily Kickoff?

Yesterday we talked about how a win in the Campeones Cup can be energizing. It is a final after all. For NYCFC, any kind of boost they could get from last night felt wholly necessary for a team in total a nosedive. It seems like they may have just found it.

The Pigeons took it to Atlas, lifted a trophy, sprayed some champagne and got a reminder of what it’s like to win. It couldn’t have gone better. And it’s not farfetched to see that confidence boost translating to a version of NYCFC that looks a lot more like the group who played some of the best soccer in the league at the start of the season.

““I do believe the victory tonight is the start of something big,” Maxime Chanot said after the game. “It’s gonna happen with this club and this team."

He just might be right.

Can CF Montréal win it all?

I think the answer is pretty undeniably “Yes” at this point, right? I think if we were asking this question during the middle of their run without Djordje Mihailovic you could have been hesitant. At this point though, they have everything you could ask for in an MLS Cup-winning team.

They have attacking firepower in Mihailovic, Romell Quioto (and Zachary Brault-Guillard?) that can compete with any pairing in the league. They have veteran presences like Kei Kamara and Victor Wanyama. They have a coach in Wilfried Nancy that seems to make the right move in every situation. And their underlying numbers suggest that their defense has been hobbled by subpar goalkeeping this season. That…well honestly that part hasn’t improved all that much and may be their kryptonite in the end, but still, their defense might be good enough to make up for that. They’re second in the league in xG allowed, right behind LAFC and right in front of Philadelphia.

On top of that, they’re in the East. Other than Philadelphia, who else feels like a sure thing in that conference? It’s not playoff RBNY and it definitely ain’t NYCFC. The rest of the conference has been varying degrees of good to meh all year. There are a whole lot of elements of an MLS Cup formula here. Wins like this week’s have helped reinforce that for most of the season. Even if it is just Chicago because CF Montréal have lost just once since July 10. July 10!

Ok, LAFC have definitely made this too complicated, right?

So Carlos Vela was like a 10 and then Gareth Bale and Chicho Arango were up top and then Denis Bouanga and Kellyn Acosta were on the wings and ohhh boy this was just a heckuva lineup to put out for one the biggest games of your season. More importantly, it’s a heckuva lineup to put out four games before the playoffs LAFC seem to be prioritizing.

This can only mean that it’s time for a hot take that I’m only kind of confident in but I’m gonna just push out into the world anyway.

It almost feels like LAFC have entered a best trick competition and are about to lose to folks landing basic tricks while they crash and burn attempting something the world has never seen before over and over until they’re out of turns. Which, I respect it, but y’all were the best team in the league before this all became messy. There have been so many changes at this point I’m not sure what a “return to basics” actually looks like, but is there a chance it might be necessary for this team to accomplish its goals?

That may mean keeping a few excellent players on the bench, but they’re simply getting outplayed right now. There’s a world where everything clicks all at once and LAFC become the greatest team of all time in a couple of weeks. But a safer and simpler route resembling the setup they had during their best moments this season should be enough to win a title. If you can hit a triple backflip while everyone else is doing doubles, you don’t have to keep trying a sextuple.

Are the Revs done?

Not technically, but if you’re not going to get the job done against a Houston team that just fired their manager while they sit on the bottom of the West, you probably aren’t going to get the job done over your remaining three games. They’re three points back of the seventh-place Crew (who have a game in hand) and are even behind Atlanta at this point. Injuries aside, that was a game they simply couldn’t lose.

“We lose many, many games, many chances to try to be there,” Carles Gil said. "I think maybe we don't deserve to be in the playoffs because I think we are not now a competitive team, me the first one, of course. So yeah. Difficult, difficult moment for everyone.”

How much trouble are the Crew in?

Despite the Revs blowing it a bit the end here, there’s still genuine pressure on Columbus in seventh place. New England are three points back, Atlanta are two points back with a game out of hand and Inter Miami are two points back with the same number of games played.

But it’s not just the Crew. Atlanta’s win over Orlando last night has really thrown things in the East into the chaos blender. Atlanta and Inter Miami are now just three points back of fifth place. Atlanta seems to be the oddest man out of that group and may well be mercy killed by Philly this weekend, but for now the Zombie Five Stripes are playing decent ball and finally starting to see proof of concept after a long season. There’s a chance things get very, very weird over the final four weeks of play.

Which means that of all the teams above the line in the East, the Crew are in the most trouble. They have the fewest wins of any team in ninth place or higher, and wins are the first tie-breaker in MLS. They face Portland, Red Bulls, Home Charlotte (a juggernaut compared to away Charlotte) and Orlando City on decision day. They have a steep hill to climb still and they aren’t exactly carrying a whole lot of momentum as they start their ascent.

Are RSL and the Galaxy about to enter the Thunderdome?

The Galaxy and RSL are setting themselves up for the purest of six-pointers. Not because they want to, but because both teams have a front row seat on the struggle bus right now. Seventh-place RSL are just three points above eighth-place LA and LA has a game in hand. When they meet in the penultimate game of their season, it could decide everything. Will we see the final spot in the playoffs come down to RSL getting the better of LA for the second straight year?

No, they’re both going to lose out to Seattle.

Will MLS ever lose out on a trophy to Liga MX again?

Who’s to say? But seems unlikely.

The Reading Rainbow
Full Time

Good luck out there. Don’t be afraid to play the hits.

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