22MLS_TheDailyKickoff-PHI-NTCFC-2022
What you need to know

Charlotte FC name Lattanzio head coach, extend front office contracts

Charlotte FC have named Christian Lattanzio as their head coach and removed his interim tag. The deal, which has been in the works for a bit, has been finalized and signed. In addition to Lattanzio signing a long-term deal, Charlotte have agreed on new long-term contracts with sporting director Zoran Krneta, director of scouting Thomas Schaling and head of analytics and technical scouting Lisandro Isei as well. The moves tie down club leadership for the foreseeable future as Charlotte head into their second MLS season, building off their expansion year in 2022.

Seattle Sounders announce roster moves

The Seattle Sounders announced their latest roster update yesterday. The reigning Concacaf Champions League winners still have a strong core intact, but have a little flexibility for roster evolution this winter, with 23 players under contract for next year. To headline departures, the Sounders declined the option for veteran forward Will Bruin and Jimmy Medranda is out of contract. They picked up contract options on homegrown midfielders Josh Atencio and Danny Leyva, as well as star winger Jordan Morris. See the full list of moves here.

Philadelphia Union's Curtin named 2022 MLS Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin has been named the 2022 Sigi Schmid MLS Coach of the Year, the second time he’s earned the honor in his career. After first winning the year-end award in 2020, Curtin led Philadelphia to a new single-season club points record (67), which secured first place in the Eastern Conference for the second time in three seasons. In Curtin’s ninth season at the helm, the Union set club records in goals scored (72) and fewest goals conceded (26) in a single season. He also owns the fifth-highest regular season win percentage of all MLS head coaches with at least 100 wins (54.5 percent). Curtin is the youngest two-time recipient of the honor (age 43) and fifth coach overall in league history to win the award multiple times.

Atlanta United's Almada named 2022 MLS Newcomer of the Year

Atlanta United midfielder Thiago Almada has been named the 2022 MLS Newcomer of the Year, an honor recognizing the year’s most impactful new MLS player who has prior professional experience. The 21-year-old Argentine joined Atlanta as a Designated Player in February, arriving on a reported league-record $16 million transfer from Velez Sarsfield. He led the Five Stripes in goal contributions (18), via 6g/12a, and was named to the MLS Team of the Week presented by Audi on five occasions (Weeks 11, 13, 25, 30, and 31).

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We shoud stop for a moment and appreciate the two best teams in the East (for the last five years)

The Union got their rematch. It’s a pretty excellent story arc. It’s not an “I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE!” kind of arc, it’s more of a “I’m here to work through some personal demons after coming up short last time largely due to circumstances out of my control” kind of arc. It’s much more nuanced and much better writing.

If you’ve forgotten, NYCFC beat Philadelphia in the Conference Final last season. The Union, due to health and safety protocols, were missing about six starters and 11 total players. Instead of getting the Union’s best punch, NYCFC got the kind of Union team you’d see if you took a midweek lineup rotation game against San Jose and went a step below that. Even still, Philly nearly got out alive. They went up 1-0 in the second half before Maxi Moralez equalized moments later and Talles Magno found the winner in the 88th minute.

If you’re asking me if a full-strength Union team wins that game, the answer is I’m not sure. If you’re asking me if this year’s Union side is even better than last year’s, the answer is 100% yes. They have a real chance to, in some ways, make up for last year’s disappointing loss and have the celebration (and potentially the home MLS Cup) they thought they deserved.

That’s the surface level narrative arc here. It’s a really, really good one. But the underlying arc is maybe just as intriguing. We’re getting a rematch between the East’s two best teams.

That’s not just this season. I’m talking the East’s two best teams over the last five years.

Besides the Red Bulls, NYCFC and Philadelphia are the only two teams to make the playoffs in the East every year since 2018, and the only ones to make it every year since 2019. And, along with Orlando, the only teams to make it every time since 2020.

It’s really hard to make the playoffs and they just keep cruising into them without much worry. Over those five years, NYCFC’s average seeding is 3.2. The Union’s average seeding is 2.6. If you make that a four-year average, the Union have finished, on average, at 1.75th place in the East.

Between them, three of the last five seasons in the East have finished with NYCFC or the Union earning the first seed. The Union have a Supporters’ Shield while NYCFC have an MLS Cup and a Campeones Cup in that time.

We can go even further than that though. Since 2018, the only team in MLS with more points than both teams is LAFC, and it’s close. The only team with a better goal differential than both teams is LAFC. And you might have forgotten, but LAFC finished seventh in 2020 and missed the playoffs entirely last season. When we talk about NYCFC and Philadelphia, we’re probably talking about the two best teams in the league over the last five years, not just the East.

This matchup is special. And considering how both clubs operate, there’s no reason to think the late-round playoff meet-ups will stop with the sequel.

Other Things

Columbus Crew make CF Montréal's Nancy head coach target: The Columbus Crew have made CF Montréal manager Wilfried Nancy a target for their vacant head coaching job, sources tell MLSsoccer.com. Sources add Nancy's 2023 contract option was automatically triggered by the club making the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs, meaning Columbus would need Montréal's permission to officially interview Nancy. They would also need to compensate CFMTL if Nancy were to leave and take the Crew job.

MLS legend Wondolowski to be subject of Hollywood film: A feature-length film chronicling the life and professional soccer career of San Jose Earthquakes legend Chris Wondolowski is in development, according to a report from The Athletic's Jeff Reuter. The movie is set to be produced by the Hollywood-based Gritty Film Productions, which focuses on developing movies about true sports-related dramas.

The Reading Rainbow
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Full Time

Good luck out there. Reach out with warm greetings.