What you need to know

US Open Cup heads to quarterfinals

Chicago and RSL moved on to the quarterfinals, while Charlotte and Columbus were both victims of upsets last night. Check out the full results here.

CF Montréal, Whitecaps reach Canadian Championship final

CF Montréal and Vancouver Whitecaps FC will face off in the 2023 Canadian Championship final on June 7. Winner goes to the Concacaf Champions League.

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The one big issue facing each (early) contender

We still probably need like 20 more games before we know who’s truly a contender and who isn’t for MLS Cup. Some team will inevitably stay in the middle of the pack for most of the year, then win their last five games and suddenly become the team we actually have to pay attention to in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. But, for now, it seems relatively clear which teams are trending towards “possible trophy winner” and which team just doesn’t have the upside.

For now. There’s still a whole transfer window to go through. If the best of the best so far want to stay contenders all the way into the playoffs, they might want to use the next few months to work on this one big issue…


You can’t Revs your way to glory (probably)

In New England’s 2021 Supporters’ Shield-winning, record-setting season, the Revs won a record 18 games by one goal. The previous record checked in at 13 one-goal wins.

FC Cincinnati have won nine games this season. Eight of them have been by one goal. We’re 13 games into the year with Cincy and they’re five one-goal wins away from matching the old record. It’s kind of absurd. Plus kind of not sustainable.

See, the thing about that New England team is that they had Matt Turner. Roman Celentano has been great this year, but he’s not quite Matt Turner because few folks in MLS history have been. That New England team also had Carles Gil, Tajon Buchanan, Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa in attack helping them pull out close games. That’s a ton of match-winners. Even with all those match-winners and one-goal wins though, they still crashed out of the playoffs.

The Garys still need to take it up another level or two as a team. Compared to that New England team, they don’t have nearly the same amount of match winners. They won’t survive for nearly as long if they don’t start fully taking control of games. One-goal wins are great, but they aren’t the kind of performances you can live on for an entire season and a playoff run. So far, Cincy haven’t been bad, but they haven’t been overwhelming. They’re going to have to start sometime. Even the best “grind it out” teams tend to come up short.

Too much winning is… bad?

I dunno, maybe they’ll get bored or something? I mean, ew, gross, another trophy? Where would they even put it?

Have… have I mentioned lately that they still have a Designated Player spot open?

You’ll never guess

It’s not even worth the words. Get Hany Mukhtar some help. That’s all.

Just remember though that help is finally on the way this time. Nashville have an open DP spot and a chance to bring in the No. 9 they’ve been missing. The rest is golden.

Whatever is happening literally right now

It’s been a weird one. The Sounders have totally stalled out. They’ve won just twice since getting blasted by the Timbers, and those wins were largely uninspiring 1-0 grinders. In the meantime, they’ve lost to Sporting KC, Austin and Vancouver over the last four games. That’s not up to Sounders standards, to say the least. 

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what the issue is though. The team is giving the “we need to fix our mentality” quotes at this point, but that doesn’t fully describe the reason for the drop-off. They’ve had some injuries and some fixture congestion, but other teams have as well. It’s all pretty strange for a team that still sits second in the West, even after a bad run of form. 

The scariest scenario is that some of the issues that defined Seattle’s post-CCL life last season were more long-term than we realized. The more likely scenario is that this is just a blip and they’re fully prepared to go toe-to-toe with LAFC in the West. However, you can’t help but wonder which version of the Sounders we’re going to get at any given moment.

Batteries run out eventually (and LAFC are waiting)

When you have a game model and ethos predicated on intensity, there are going to be drop-offs. You can’t stay fully locked in at all times. I’d imagine it’s even harder to stay locked in after the last few months of disappointing “almost” moments when it comes to major trophies. I’m not saying the Union are going to fall off a cliff, but you do wonder if Red Bulls syndrome might affect them at some point. Tired legs and tired brains can become major obstacles late in the season. It seems even more likely those obstacles show up with a group that’s seemingly had the pedal to the floor for a while now.

Or, they’ll be just fine. It seems really likely they’ll be just fine. The only real problem then is, if they make it to a situation with a trophy on the line, will they finally be able to take down LAFC? It might be too big of an ask.



It’s starting to get concerning. Enough to convince me to put them in Tier II instead of just calling them a contender. Dylan Borrero is out for the year, Henry Kessler is out for the next three months, Gustavo Bou has missed time, depth pieces have missed time, and Carles Gil came off early this weekend. Sometimes, you just get a season that’s snakebit. Those injuries plus concerns about putting together a cohesive front three are enough to make you worry.

This stuff doesn’t work in the playoffs

Ask the Red Bulls. Yeah, St. Louis can play with the ball at their feet a little more effectively, but the game models aren’t all that far removed from each other. And it’s only a little more effective. When opponents have let the Fightin’ Toasted Raviolis have the ball for the majority of the game, St. Louis have had issues.

Game control

Atlanta United have scored the most goals in the league and allowed the second most. There’s a ton of talent, an increasing level of talent cohesion and plenty of reason to believe things are heading in the right direction. At their best, they can compete with anybody. But they can’t sustain their best for too long and it leads to chaotic games and dropped points. Exhibit A: Whatever happened in Chicago this past weekend. They’re still a piece or two away from being a true contender. But, hey, it’s only a piece or two.

Other Things

Fire sign Mauricio Pineda to contract extension: Chicago Fire FC have signed homegrown defender/midfielder Mauricio Pineda to a contract extension through the 2026 MLS season with an option for 2027. Pineda, 25, initially joined Chicago ahead of the 2020 MLS season after playing college soccer at UNC Chapel Hill. He boasts five goals and four assists in 90 league games (78 starts) with the club. This year, he's played in 11 matches (four starts).

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Good luck out there. Wherever you go, nowhere is safe.