It’s all, almost all, free - for now. MLS Live, the streaming service run by the league, is gratis until ESPN takes over a $5 a month service for the league later this spring. For now, there’s free soccer - and some of it is even watchable! If you’re written off MLS as a league that focuses on hoof and chase tactics, that isn’t quite the case anymore. Not every team plays a fluid, attacking style, but not every team in La Liga is Barcelona either. All of this is to say that MLS is getting better and this can only be good for American players and soccer in the country as a whole. Case in point, two of the best LigaMX teams getting waxed in Concacaf Champions League by MLS teams. Plus, IT’S FREE - you don’t even need your parent’s cable log in to watch most of it.
Anyway, here’s the Americans at Home...
An ImPRESSive Performance: The New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC are both through in the Concacaf Champions League. The Red Bulls were led by a standout performance by Tyler Adams who not only scored, but the youngster so thoroughly dominated midfield for New York that Club Tijuana was actively avoiding going through the center of the pitch while trying to mount a comeback in Harrison, New Jersey. Don’t take my word for it:
#RBNY goal came on a swift counterattack off a #Xolos corner, and Tyler Adams started at the edge of his own box. He then made a lung-bursting run to the other box, arriving to finish Murillo's cross. Great goal that exemplifies his non-stop engine. #NYvTIJ #CCL #MLS #USMNT pic.twitter.com/cggwRKGqfU— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) March 14, 2018
If you like a team that presses and want to see one of the most exciting young Americans in the game today, checkout Adams and watch Red Bulls matches.
Meanwhile in Monterrey, Mexico - Toronto FC lost 3-2 but went ahead on aggregate 4-4 thanks to the two away goals. Marky Delgado went 75 minutes in the match as the 22 year-old was called into the USMNT by American Manager Dave Sarachan to join the team for their friendly against Paraguay next week.
Perhaps feeling the effects of their midweek matches, both teams lost away on Saturday with Montreal beating TFC and NYRB losing to Real Salt Lake - both by a scoreline of 1-0.
San Zusi’s Day: Sporting Kansas City is good at soccer again. Not just good at defending, they’re playing nice looking, fun soccer and are intentionally trying to score. This is a big departure from last year. After routing the Chicago Fire 4-3 on the road last week they came back to Children’s Mercy Park and hung 3 goals on the San Jose Earthquakes. Graham Zusi put the go ahead goal in the net with this beauty.
Oh, and in garbage time, Chris Wondolowski scored his 135th goal - putting him just 10 behind Landon Donovan for the most in MLS history.
Suburban DC Rally: Paul Arriola and Chris Durkin had themselves an afternoon in a snowy game played at the Maryland Soccerplex. DC United was borrowing the Washington Spirit’s home venue while Audi Field is being completed, much to the chagrin of DaMarcus Beasley (Beasley might be overreacting a touch, but imagine what he’d think if he was a World Cup champion and was enduring those conditions). Durkin checked in at the 70th minute, coming in for Venezuela national teamer Junior Moreno, and made an impact with his distribution. Arriola also came on as a sub helping DCU to come back from 2-0 down to draw with the Dynamo 2-2.
Finlay Flashback: Minnesota native Ethan Finlay added his first assist of 2018 following his two goal performance last weekend. The Loons winger sent a cross into the box that was headed home by Sam Nicholson to beat the Chicago Fire.
Cleansheet Show: The Columbus Crew and Philadelphia Union played a 0-0 draw in Chester, Pennsylvania over the weekend. While that seems completely un-noteworthy - and MLS perhaps did viewers a small mercy by letting MLS Live crash during the broadcast - it was a nice game for some American defenders. Zack Steffen for Columbus and Keegan Rosenberry and Auston Trusty of the Union keep the game scoreless. Meanwhile, Wil Trapp shielded his backline and Alejandro Bedoya got a yellow card.
Dessert for Frosted Orange: After much clamoring from the fanbase and the media, Andrew Carleton got some time on the field for Atlanta United in their 4-1 win against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Carleton came on in the 75th minute and created a spark on the right wing. Oh, yeah, and he got his first professional assist helping Josef Martinez seal his hat trick:
Darlington Nagbe also set the tempo nicely for the Five Stripes as they completed 671 total passes as a team with 94% accuracy and two key passes.
Clint Dempsey trying s***: After getting thoroughly trounced in CCL by - yep that’s 15th place Chivas, the defending Western Conference champs got thoroughly trounced in Frisco by FC Dallas. Even without starting keeper Jesse Gonzalez, FC Dallas won 3-0 thanks to Dempsey being indelicate with Jacori Hayes and getting a red card - luckily this time Dempsey went off and the referee’s book stayed intact. Matt Hedges contributed to a clean sheet at center back while 18 year-old Homegrown player and USMNT U-20 camp invitee Paxton Pomykal played 22 minutes as a sub in midfield.
VAR catches Dempsey and he's off. Seattle down to 10 men. pic.twitter.com/Anba5sxNHZ— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) March 18, 2018
There’s more soccer leagues in America than MLS though, well, one less than last year but that’s another issue, unless Winston & Strawn has an rec soccer team... Here’s a few highlights from players in USL (which also is - FREE TO WATCH on YouTube).
Ulysses Llanez of LA Galaxy II played for 30 minutes in the team’s loss to Colorado Springs. He’s been called into the U-20 roster for the upcoming friendlies this month and this showcases why:
This was his best moment. Beautiful pass. pic.twitter.com/wwQTyd10Np— Scuffed (@zlebmada) March 18, 2018
Got a few moments from Ulysses Llanez's 30 minutes with LA Galaxy II in a 2-0 loss to Colorado Springs in #USL. He's 16, and on the roster for the U.S. U20 camp in Spain. Nothing close to the finished product but he's a fluid wide attacker. Beats 2 guys and draws a foul here. pic.twitter.com/pCTbci88I2— Scuffed (@zlebmada) March 18, 2018
Fellow US U-20 National Team player Aedan Stanley played left wingback for Saint Louis FC in a 1-1 draw with the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. He played a key role in the play that led to the equalizer for SLFC:
Excellent run forward, combines, and wins a corner kick, which resulted in the equalizer for St. Louis in the 82nd minute. Good stuff. pic.twitter.com/T59Pnr7iEM— Scuffed (@zlebmada) March 17, 2018
This blog post has been brought to you by the gif makers, blessed be they.
Since MLS is the way that it is there are 12 teams playing over the international break and USL will have a full slate of games as well.