Stock Up, Stock Down for MLS Week 15: Short week, big performers

It was an abbreviated Week 15 in MLS with just six games, the last half-dozen before the Gold Cup break, which may have flown under the radar with the Women's World Cup, U-20 World Cup, European Championship qualifiers, international friendlies and more all on this weekend. But three points this week counts the same as three points on opening weekend and the same as three points on Decision Day presented by AT&T.

What does the index look like after the light week in MLS?

Stock Up

Maxi Moralez

Heber was fantastic (again) for New York City FC in their 5-2 thrashing of FC Cincinnati, but, guys, we're still sleeping on Maxi Moralez. Perhaps it was NYCFC's draw-heavy start to the season, perhaps it was his (brief) early season injury absence, perhaps it's our fixation on other stars, but whatever it is, Moralez continues to quietly be one of the league's best attackers.

When he's on, he's orchestrating a symphony at Yankee Stadium. He had a goal and three assists against FC Cincy, giving him three goals and eight assists in his last eight games. His lone goal (above) is one to watch on repeat, but check out the full highlights for his hat trick of assists.

Saphir Taider

Which was better from Taider this week: His game-winning brace – with both goals coming after the Montreal Impact fell behind 1-0 to the Seattle Sounders – or his halftime speech to galvanize his team? Both were awesome. 

On a macro level, those goals may mean much more than the three points it earned. L'Impact had won just one of their last five games heading into that match, the Sounders were missing eight players to international duty (the Impact had their absences, too) and Nacho Piatti's injury absence continues to be felt. Big players step up in big moments – his play on the field matched his halftime leadership. 

Ilsinho

This is a fun sequence of events for Philadelphia Union fans: 

  • Philly are down 2-0 at home to the New York Red Bulls in the 53rd minute
  • Philly sub on Ilsinho
  • Philly take a 3-2 lead in the 72nd minute

Ilsinho had two goals and an assist, his latest great escape to rescue victory for the Union. He has started four games this year, totaling one goal and zero assists when in the starting XI. He has entered from the bench ten times (267 minutes), providing three goals and five assists. 

Should he enter the starting lineup or stick to a game-breaking sub? Bobby Warshaw has championed this larger discussion, writing about it when it pertained to Jonathan Lewis at NYCFC. It's relevant in this scenario, too.

Stock Down

Daniel Vega

It's been an erratic season for Vega as the San Jose Earthquakes' No. 1. On Saturday, he careened to the wrong end of his form guide. 

The unfortunate own goal aside – it'd be too simplistic to point to that and that only, because Sean Johnson showed you can rebound from that kind of error – it reveals a larger concerning pattern: He's prone to big mistakes. Per Opta, Vega has more errors leading to shots (4) than any player in the league. 

Given that Matias Almeyda has JT Marcinkowski on the depth chart, is the job still Vega's moving forward?

Connor Lade

Look. Any fullback tasked with slowing down Ilsinho when he's in that kind of mood is in about as unenviable position as any in the league, and on Saturday it was Lade

He was cooked by Ilinsho on the first two goals and, understandably, gave the Brazilian too much space to complete a forward pass in the build-up to the penalty, which led to the third goal. And while there wasn't too much to do on the penalty rebound that Ilsinho scored, Lade did happen to be the closest defender as Ilsinho reacted quickest to the bounce. 

Not great optics. 

Yoann Damet

That new coach bump has flattened out in Damet's tenure in Cincy. 

The interim coach, MLS's youngest at 29 years old, hasn't halted the downward momentum the club were on before he was given the gig on a temporary basis. It wasn't an easy task, obviously, but it hasn't been great for Damet since his first game, which the club won. They are currently on a four-game losing streak and have hemorrhaged 15 goals (!) during that span. 

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