Thirteen games tonight in the first midweek slate of the season. Highlights include FC Cincinnati hosting CF Montréal, Orlando City welcoming NYCFC, and LAFC taking on a (kind of) resurgent Sporting KC. See the full schedule here.
MLSPA releases 2023 player salaries guide
The MLS Players Association (MLSPA) released its 2023 Spring-Summer Salary Guide, featuring salary information for all MLS players under contract as of April 30, 2023. The guide contains players’ current annualized base salary and their annualized average guaranteed compensation.
Reynoso cleared for Minnesota United FC return
Minnesota United FC playmaker Emanuel Reynoso, more than three months after his preseason suspension, has been cleared to play and return to full team participation. Reynoso has missed the Loons' first 11 games of the 2023 season, with Adrian Heath's team sitting ninth in the Western Conference table (3W-5L-3D record). It's not immediately clear when Reynoso will feature, both in terms of fitness and team reintegration. But on the surface level, it's a significant step for Minnesota considering the Designated Player's importance to their offense.
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We’ve reached a midweek slate, and, as any seasoned MLS degenerate will know, midweek means rotated lineups or heavier legs or maybe even both. Things can get weird. And that might just be an opening for some upsets, some resurgence and maybe even a great game or two. Here are a few storylines to keep an eye on.
The two hottest teams in the Eastern Conference are…[double checking because I’m still not totally convinced, but yep it’s right there]...CF Montréal and Inter Miami. CF Montréal have won four straight, all by a final scoreline of 2-0. Inter Miami have come out of a six-game losing streak by winning three straight. And not only winning three straight, but taking down Columbus, Atlanta United and New England in the process.
There haven’t been many stretches in MLS this season better than what CF Montréal and Inter Miami have put together. Considering both seemed like serious Wooden Spoon contenders up until a few weeks ago, we’re bordering on two of the most “MLS lol” stretches to ever happen. Are we suddenly looking at two teams that have morphed into contenders overnight though? Wellllllllll…..
We should probably point out again CF Montréal have taken down Red Bulls, Sporting KC, Orlando City and Toronto in this four-game streak. The standings suggest they haven’t run a gauntlet here. Although, we’ll talk about that Red Bulls win actually looking pretty good in a second. Still, combine that with the fact CF Montréal have outperformed their expected goal differential by more than four goals over those four games, and it’s hard to buy in completely. That said, it does kind of feel like things are leveling out for a team that, on paper, didn’t seem quite as bad as they were to start the season.
As for Inter Miami, it doesn’t seem like a coincidence Leo Campana’s return to the starting lineup has coincided with a decent stretch. His brace powered them past Columbus and he picked up an assist in the win over the Revs. What does seem like a coincidence is they’ve been able to do this while missing Jean Mota and Gregore in midfield. They’ve had homegrowns step up in their place and succeed though. And Josef Martinez suddenly has three goals in three games as well after really, really, really struggling to start the year. It’s been encouraging. Then again…I have no real idea how they’re doing this or how real these results actually are. Kind of feels like they’ve caught a break or two.
All that’s to say, both teams still have convincing to do. They can take a big step toward winning hearts and minds tonight though. CF Montréal head to TQL Stadium in Cincinnati to take on an FC Cincinnati side that’s tied for the Supporters’ Shield lead thanks in part to the fact they haven’t dropped a single point at home this season. Meanwhile, Inter Miami go on the road to Nashville SC, whose transition-heavy attack won’t exactly play into the counter-attacking style that’s guided the Herons to their last three wins. Nashville have had 31, 44 and 42 percent possession in the last three games.
If either team pulls out a win tonight though, we’ll have no choice but to really start thinking about both as playoff teams. Maybe we should be anyway?
The Daily Kickoff’s Rubbernecking Match of the Weekday is up in Toronto where the Reds are hosting the Red Bulls. Both teams have undeniably underperformed this year. Toronto have underperformed compared to the talent they have on paper while New York have underperformed their underlying numbers by more than any team in the East this year.
These two are meeting after very different weeks though. New York parted ways with Gerhard Struber and immediately picked up a US Open Cup win over D.C. and a Hudson River Derby win over NYCFC. Toronto lost twice to CF Montréal and pressure has never been higher on Bob Bradley’s side to perform.
Unfortunately for the Reds, this is far from a get-right game. The Red Bulls haven’t been lethal in attack, but they’ve at least excelled in making their opponents look generally toothless. It’s not a setup that allows possession-based teams to suddenly look like they’ve solved all their problems. If things go south defensively for a Toronto team already at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the vibes might reach a boiling point. Then again, a win for either team would put them on 15 points. In the East, that’s good enough for anywhere from sixth to 12th place entering today.
I’ll be honest. I don’t think SKC have solved much of anything. But they are catching a few more breaks as of late. That’s resulted in back-to-back league wins over Seattle and Minnesota. Those are great results for a team that was off to a historically terrible start, even if the underlying numbers from the last two games don’t suggest we’re looking at a team on the rise. They’ve scored five times on just 1.7 xG, and, well, that’s probably not that sustainable. Especially for a team that hasn’t generated more than 1.0 xG worth of chances in any of the last eight games.
But confidence can go a long way. And it doesn’t feel like this roster has been nearly as bad as the results they’ve picked up. Maybe there’s some juice here.
They’re going to need every bit of it to get past LAFC tonight. Even with LAFC likely already thinking ahead to the CCL final. But maybe they can pull off an upset that somehow tops their win at Seattle from a couple of weeks ago. Or even just grab a point. If that happens, they’ll head into a matchup this weekend against their new in-state rival, St. Louis CITY SC, with a ton of momentum. At that point, a win could feel like a genuine turning point for this group.
Not saying it will be. Just that it could feel like it. For me, that seems a lot more fun than feeling like you’re about to clinch the Wooden Spoon by July. It’s a big matchday for Sporting KC.
- Balogun picks USMNT over England: Folarin Balogun has formally chosen to represent the United States in international competition, the federation confirmed Tuesday. The 21-year-old striker, who represented England at the youth level and was also eligible for Nigeria, could make his debut during the USMNT’s Concacaf Nations League semifinal on June 15 vs. Mexico. Balogun, who’s on loan from Arsenal, sits sixth in the Ligue 1 Golden Boot race with 19 goals and three assists across 34 matches.
- Seattle Sounders sign homegrown defender Baker: Seattle Sounders FC have signed homegrown defender Cody Baker to a four-year contract with options for 2027 and 2028. The 19-year-old joins the first team on a permanent basis from MLS NEXT Pro side Tacoma Defiance, who first signed the Issaquah, Washington native in July 2021. Baker made 40 appearances (25 starts) with the Defiance from 2021-23, scoring once.
- FC Cincinnati buy out goalkeeper Vermeer: FC Cincinnati have used their one buyout of a guaranteed contract on goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer. Vermeer, 37, will no longer occupy a spot on the club’s roster or count against the 2023 salary budget, retroactive to March 9.
- LAFC challenged América and Monterrey for the top spot in the new Concacaf rankings.
- Joe Lowery picked out six MLS squads who are ready for a busy summer.
- Jonathan Sigal looked at 10 MLS players to track at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
- Cyle Larin is finding his spark in LaLiga before Canada's busy summer.
- USMNT's summer just got way more interesting with Folarin Balogun’s commitment.
- Schuyler Redpath has your MLS Fantasy and Gaming advice for Round 13.
- Power Rankings.
Good luck out there. Let’s ride.