MLS was back at it this weekend, with many teams also playing US Open Cup games last Wednesday, but there were some players in the league representing their countries in Russia. Carlos Vela along with Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos have been leading the Mexican National Team to a pair of wins as they sit atop their group with six points. Panama and Costa Rica haven’t quite fared as well with Panama getting blown out by England 6-1 and Los Ticos having been eliminated with losses to Brazil and Serbia.
The response to this has been something like this:
Hey #USMNT...watching this Panama performance should hurt. It should hurt badly. It should cause a pain that doesn't go away. Use it to remind you. Use it to fuel you. Use it to make sure you are never in this position again. #WorldCup— Alexi Lalas (@AlexiLalas) June 24, 2018
Who knows what this is actually about - is it a commentary about Bruce Arena looking at Panama and thinking, “let’s go to Panama and play for a draw” in a game that the USMNT got outplayed in and out shot 19-7? Who knows, it’s Twitter and even with 280 characters there isn’t enough room to get into it.
Still - let’s step back a minute. I would love to be watching the US losing to our former colonizers rather than a country that we helped forge into existence in order to build the Panama Canal. But Panama’s first ever qualification for the World Cup is a huge moment for the country - just look at how the fans celebrated the first ever World Cup goal in Panama’s history:
Feel pain about this if you want, but this a beautiful and inspiring moment - it’s what the World Cup is all about.
Anyway... here’s how some Americans did playing in our domestic league.
Edgar Castillo and Miguel Ibarra get Rocky Mountain High scoring
The Colorado Rapids have been completely terrible this season. Luckily they got to face another team that hasn’t exactly shined in the league this year when Minnesota United came to town. In a match that was largely devoid of defending, Miguel Ibarra opened the scoring for the Loons but Edgar Castillo equalized with a highlight reel goal smacking this curling shot into the upper 90.
Colorado would win 3-2 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Stadium.
A wild finish in the wild Midwest
One of the biggest surprises in MLS this year has been Sporting Kansas City going from being a team that played unattractive anti-soccer and pressed the life out of games last year to turning into a club that plays fun attractive soccer this year. It didn’t look like they were having much fun as the team was down 2-1 heading into the 85th minute. That’s when Diego Rubio stepped onto the field to equalize (literally he was subbed in in the 85th minute and scored a goal, incredible). American forward Khiry Shelton, who himself was subbed into the match in the 76th minute, then scored the game winner in the 88th to put SKC ahead 3-2.
A big moment for a USMNT legend
Yeah, it’s the World Cup and the USMNT isn’t there, but you can still watch Clint Dempsey score goals. The man who is even with Landon Donovan for all-time goals scored with the national team also tied a club record on Saturday. The forward put the Seattle Sounders ahead 1-0 for his 47th goal with the club - putting him even with Fredy Montero.
Also, apparently the Fire have a hot shot 23 year old American midfielder who does heel flicks and has four assists in four games named Brandt Bronico (before you ask, yes his Twitter handle is @Bronibro13).
What does Andrew Carleton have to do to get a game with Atlanta United? He scored his first professional goal with the Five Stripes in his last US Open Cup match and was rewarded by being on the bench for the next one against the Chicago Fire last Wednesday. Chicago bunkered and made things difficult for Atlanta who lacked creativity as Carleton... was on the bench until the 85th minute. He came into the game and did this against the Chicago Fire when his team was down 1-0 in the five minutes that he saw off of the bench.
Closest Atlanta got to an equalizer came off this chip from Carleton to Villalba. Kid was good in his cameo. pic.twitter.com/kMxCIOz6PW— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) June 21, 2018
Then Saturday as the team was tied 1-1 against the Portland Timbers at home Tata Martino looked at his team and made his third sub of the game to try to find a goal - that’s right he pulled Mikey Ambrose and put in Sal Zizzo, leaving Carleton as an unused sub and Atlanta with just one win in their last four games at Mercedes Benz-Stadium.
Bull vs. Bull, Bull wins
In the matchup of the New York Red Bulls vs. the be-steered FC Dallas, the team from New Jersey would come out on top despite going down a man in the 27th minute. What’s more, they would dominate the game. New York won 3-0 and it wasn’t even close. We showed you the sick Tyler Adams assist in the game and talked about his role in the win, but the Red Bulls are stacked with Yanks who play like Yanks aren’t usually thought capable of playing.
Jesse Marsch has the team pressing and being absolutely lethal in transition. Including players off the bench, the game featured seven Americans for the Red Bulls. Center back Aaron Long scored his second goal of the season in the game - a center back playing a man down scored against FC Dallas, one of the better teams in the league.
Luis Robles had another standout performance in goal with six saves to keep a clean sheet.
For Dallas, there was a troubling moment when Kellyn Acosta was given the dreaded first half tactical sub in the 32nd minute. Acosta should be something of a cautionary tale in this game also, just remember that he was the last Tyler Adams in terms of hype and potential.