Let's get right into the highs and lows from a packed Week 20 in MLS.
That Aged Very Well Take of the Week
All week, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was loud, belligerent and defiant about his own abilities. Microphones were in front of his face even more than normal leading up to El Trafico and it seemed that his takes grew hotter with every passing syllable, testing the boiling point for 2019's very best interviewing technology. Eyebrows and facial hair, too, would be at risk getting too close to the fire he was spitting. He was building momentum, rolling downhill and swerving to make contact with anything on his path.
Carlos Vela? So what that he entered the weekend leading the league in both goals and assists. Who cares he's on pace to set a new single-season goal record that we thought would take some time to be taken down, if not rationally untouchable.
Erroneous! Erroneous on both counts.
Golden Boot race? Sure, Zlatan cared about that and the record books a few months ago, but now that Vela opened up a healthy lead, we don't care about that anymore, either. Ferraris and Fiats, as you've heard.
More than a few of us were beginning to grow tired of the caricature of Zlatan, some of us (read: me) were reckless enough to air those opinions on a public platform. Taylor Twellman led ESPN's El Trafico broadcast with a well-rationed, well-argued position that Zlatan was under immense pressure of his own doing.
And then Ibrahimovic went out and dominated LAFC, a hat-trick so incredulously produced that it had to be Zlatan in Hollywood. And those of us who were foolish enough to dare question his shtick now are forced to genuflect at the steps of Zlatan. I'm wearing that L. Heavy.
Fair enough, man, fair enough.
... this happened.
This is why you saw #LAFC staff approaching Zlatan post game. Munir is rumored to have a potential “zygomatic fracture” and will see a facial specialist Monday. Disciplinary committee of @MLS is on 🚨 from what I hear. pic.twitter.com/1cTdwHeJg2— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) July 22, 2019
Notable mostly out-of-context quotes
- “I don’t know to be honest. Just try to save it [and] keep it out of the back of the net.” Brad Guzan on ... keeping clean sheets
- "Take away his left foot I guess, see if we can chop it off and see what we can do with that." Brad Guzan on ... how to stop Carlos Vela
- “Again, a frustrating game, probably one to put in the category of the majority of the games we have played." Yoann Damet on ... FC Cincy's season
- "You've got to score." Peter Vermes on ... SKC losing.
- "He wished me luck, I wished him luck so that’s the end of it.” Brian Schmetzer on ... a conversation with Gio Savarese
- "Sometimes, you have to make hard decisions. That’s why they hired me to do that." Frank de Boer on ... Pity Martinez
Whirlwind 33 minutes for a 16-year-old
Kids these days, you know? Attention spans shortening and all, Sebastian Anderson packed a few games' worth of action into just 33 minutes on Saturday night.
All it took was 33 minutes for the 16-year-old to get his first career goal and first career red card in the Rapids 2-1 loss to NYCFC.
Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night. I, meanwhile, could crush, like, half a family-sized box of Lucky Charms in 33 minutes at that age on a riveting Saturday night. Honestly, I might not even need all that time. Take that, wunderkind!
It was really cool to watch how happy Pity Martinez's teammates were for him after his game-winning goal.
Just out of the Atlanta United dressing room. They were very, very happy for the day Pity Martínez had. I could tweet a sound bite, but I think this video paints a better picture. pic.twitter.com/ZQDlycUY4W— Justin Felder (@Justin_FOX5) July 21, 2019
It was the second consecutive game that Martinez started on the bench as the league's most expensive transfer continues to look to find his footing. It looks like his guys are there to pick him up either way. Sports are cool.
Commitment to classy
Shoutout Orlando City boss James O'Connor for his colossal reservoir of grit to continue to wear a shirt and tie combo even in the oppressive Orlando summer heat.
Open for business
The Chicago Fire are open for business, GM Nelson Rodriguez said after a lackluster run of form. That disappointment reached its nadir after picking up just one point against the Crew and Cincy at home last week.
This weekend, they fell to first-place Philadelphia Union 2-0, lengthening their gap between to the playoff line to seven points. Which players will Rodriguez be fielding calls for before the Secondary Transfer Window closes next month? Fire up the fake trade machine.
How are you, how's the family?
A nice, pleasant exchange between Brian Fernandez and Roman Torres typified Sunday night's Cascadian Cup clash between Portland and Seattle. Fernandez's disingenuous "it's okay" double shoulder pat is a wonderful dismount.