22MLS_TheDailyKickoff-4x5 (3)
What you need to know

Wales salvage draw vs. USA in World Cup opener

Tim Weah scored a first-half opener, but Gareth Bale answered with a late penalty kick, forcing the US men's national team to settle for a 1-1 draw against Wales in their 2022 FIFA World Cup Group B opener.

D.C. United sign free agent Santos

D.C. United have officially signed free agent defender Pedro Santos. Santos joins the Black-and-Red on a two-year contract through 2024 after spending the previous six seasons with the Columbus Crew. Santos, 34, spent the last five and a half years with the Crew, making 155 appearances after playing for Braga in his native Portugal. He was originally signed by Columbus as a Designated Player winger, but transitioned to attacking fullback in recent years to good effect.

New York Red Bulls sign free agent Burke

The New York Red Bulls have signed free agent striker Cory Burke to a two-year MLS contract with an option for 2025. Burke, a Jamaican international, joins RBNY after playing five seasons for the Philadelphia Union, making 93 MLS appearances and recording 25 goals and eight assists. He appeared seven times in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the Union, most notably scoring a game-clinching goal in their 3-1 victory against New York City FC in the 2022 MLS Eastern Conference Final.

Re-Entry Draft Stage 2 today

Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft will be conducted on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 1 pm ET. Basically, teams can draft players who are out of contract who weren’t eligible for free agency and give them a contract offer. Players do not have to accept. See the full list of eligible players here.

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Small-sided: A bunch of smart moves to get a little better

Welcome back to small-sided, the section where we take a quick look at what’s happening around the league. Do you get it? Small-sided like the tiny version of soccer but it sounds like “small-sighted” which is pretty close to the more commonly used “short-sighted?” Anyway, that’s not what’s most important today. What’s most important today is that MLS teams have quietly been making a handful of smart moves that should make them a little better in 2023. Oh, and also the Re-Entry Draft. That’s happening too.

1
Bassett’s return instantly makes Colorado better

For now, the Rapids’ long-term plan for 21-year-old midfielder Cole Bassett seems to have worked out. Colorado recalled him from Fortuna Sittard on Friday after he struggled to thrive in the Eredivisie. It happens. But by building in the ability to recall Bassett, Colorado have regained one of their best players and a critical piece of the group that finished first in the West in 2021. 

He won’t solve all their problems. And I’m still disappointed by how little they did to build on the success of 2021. However, it’s a step in the right direction for a team that really, really needed to take a step in the right direction. Now they just need to keep taking steps forward. Maybe by filling at least one of their three open DP spots?

2
The Red Bulls make a low-risk, high-reward move at striker

I could explain New York’s issues at striker or you could just go back and read every single article about the Red Bulls since Bradley Wright-Phillips left. Your call. Let’s just agree either way that striker has been an issue and a key reason the Red Bulls haven’t been able to reach the Supporters’ Shield-winning highs of the BWP era.

Now, I’m not saying Cory Burke is BWP. What I will say though is Burke is a low-risk, potentially medium to medium-high reward signing that makes them better in a position of need. There’s a reason he didn’t start over Mikael Uhre and Julian Carranza in Philadelphia this year, but that reason is far more about Uhre and Carranza than Burke. Because nearly every time Burke took the field this year, he made good things happen.

Burke scored seven times and created five assists in just a little over 1,100 minutes of playing time. His per 90 numbers compared to other forwards were outstanding in attack and even better defensively in a system that’s one step away at most from Energy Drink Soccer. He’s a perfect fit to play in New York and the Red Bulls were smart to pick him up before someone else did. Now we just have to see if he’ll continue to be a supersub or if New York have bigger plans.

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3
D.C. United pick up Santos

D.C. United have signed 34-year-old fullback Pedro Santos on a two-year deal. You might be balking a bit at that deal for a 34-year-old but, uh, Santos was awesome this year? A bright spot for the Crew in a lackluster year. 

In general, things are pretty weird for D.C. United right now as they go through a major shift across the organization. But with Brad Smith leaving, this move makes a lot of sense. There’s no reason to think Santos will stop being a productive two-way player any time soon. And considering his age, it’s likely he took a pay cut for this deal.

4
Stuver gets a long-term deal

Per American Soccer Analysis, Brad Stuver finished 2022 as the fourth-best shot-stopper in the league this season. A decent chunk of Austin’s overperformance relative to their expected goals numbers can be attributed to Stuver. On top of that, he just happens to be incredibly involved in the community and a vocal supporter of positive causes. I don’t have much more to add beyond the fact Stuver is awesome and deserved this kind of deal. Austin have locked down a long-term piece who can be the face of a young club for years.

5
Stage 2 of the Re-Entry Draft today

The Re-Entry Draft isn’t exactly a critical piece of the offseason, but there are still some decent pieces available. Although, admittedly, maybe not as many decent pieces as in years past. That being said, there might be some names on the move today. Keep an eye on former Toronto midfielder Noble Okello, former Vancouver midfielder Michael Baldisimo, former Galaxy midfielder Victor Vazquez, former Minnesota United midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez, former New England midfielder Wilfrid Kaptoum and uhh, wow, a lot of midfielders available here, huh? Look, maybe just check back in tomorrow and see what happened. Odds are there will be at at least one interesting thing involving a midfielder.

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Other Things

Austin FC sign goalkeeper Stuver to long-term extension: Austin FC have signed goalkeeper Brad Stuver to a new contract through the 2025 MLS season with an option for 2026. Stuver joined the Verde & Black ahead of their 2021 MLS debut, arriving via free agency after previous stops at New York City FC and the Columbus Crew. He also spent time as a pool goalkeeper. The 31-year-old has emerged as one of MLS’s top goalkeepers and helped Austin reach the Western Conference Final in the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs.

England rout Iran in World Cup opener: England demolished Iran, 6-2, in Monday’s Group B opener, a statement display from head coach Gareth Southgate’s team. Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka had a brace and Tottenham striker Harry Kane assisted twice, while Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham showed why he’s one of the world’s top teenage talents. The USMNT will meet England on Black Friday at 2 pm ET.

The Reading Rainbow
Full Time

Good luck out there. No fake advice today, just a reminder Ken Griffey Jr. owns part of the Sounders and that’s cool as hell.

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