The MLS All-Star team was announced and between the fans, the commissioner, and Tata Martino the roster seems pretty fair. Perhaps Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Dos Santos haven’t exactly had All-Star years and there are a few other surprises with fans in Atlanta seemingly driving the vote for Ezequiel Barco and fulfilling their dream of turning the city into Zlatlanta even for a single game, but an argument can probably be made for those players. The roster also perhaps signals something to fans of the USMNT as only six US eligible players were selected - and two were goalkeepers.
To the extent that the roster is a good evaluation of talent in the league, and I think it is for what that’s worth, only having four American outfield players representing the entire league is certainly not a good look for the USMNT. Several players who have represented the national team or should be pushing for a call up are not included, like: Paul Arriola, Michael Bradley, Perry Kitchen, Dom Dwyer, Wil Trapp, Brandon Vincent, Nick Lima, Christian Ramirez, CJ Sapong, Cristian Roldan, Gyasi Zardes, and Tyler Adams.
Of these players only Trapp, Adams, and Zardes (YES, REALLY) can say that they’re deserving to be considered among the best players in the league based on their contributions to the success of their teams and overall performance in the league.
Part of the point of MLS is that it should be a platform for American players to develop and excel and while international players have come to the league and done that, the Americans haven’t kept up.
MLS is often knocked for being “hard to watch” and while that can be true, for every Manchester City there are a dozen West Broms. If you don’t follow the league or haven’t been watching, it has taken a giant step forward in recent years. Atlanta United, led by Tata Martino, has gotten a lot of attention, but Toronto FC, FC Dallas, NYCFC, the New York Red Bulls, the Columbus Crew, and Sporting Kansas City play fun, attacking, exciting soccer that shows how the league has been growing tactically. Meanwhile, coaches who can’t keep up are being shown the door.
While the league has been getting better, that doesn’t seem to be paying off for Americans in the league. Of course, this is a deeper problem than domestic players just not being able to keep up with talented international players. It speaks to the overall challenges that the US has in developing players that can compete at a high level. If the player development system can’t even produce players good enough to be considered All Stars in the domestic league, where roster rules and marketing efforts give them an advantage, it goes to show how far off the USMNT player pool is from being deep and talented enough to be truly competitive internationally.
Anyway, here’s how some Americans in MLS fared last weekend...
No goals a highlight in Minnesota
FC Dallas went to Minnesota after getting completely outplayed by a 10 man New York Red Bulls last week and held the Loons to a 1-0 scoreline. Jesse Gonzalez made five saves and Matt Hedges and Reggie Cannon helped secure the clean sheet and win for FCD.
Meet the American striker with 10 goals in 17 games
No, Teal Bunbury does not play for the Canadian National Team - I had to check. But he did score his 10th goal of the season for the New England Revolution. It’s hard to think that a player who will be 32 in 2022 should be called into national team. Give Brad Freidel credit, he’s turned Bunbury into the best American striker along with Gyasi Zardes.
Speaking of Zardes
He just can’t stop scoring goals. The striker got his 10th goal on the year as he is on pace for just shy of 20 in 2018 as the Columbus Crew beat Real Salt Lake 2-1. Wil Trapp went the full 90 in the game for Columbus while Justen Glad and Brooks Lennon featured for Real Salt Lake.
Someone might be working out some stuff from four years ago
Meanwhile, Chris Wondolowski continued to gain ground on Landon Donovan’s all time MLS goals record with brace in the California Classico, including a PK he converted against former Earthquakes teammate David Bingham. He was so happy about it that afterwards he tried to devour Bingham’s spirit. Chris, that’s David Bingham not Thibaut Courtois.
I didn't know Wondo had this in his soul but I blame Twitter for it. pic.twitter.com/eaKUAMdeIE— Bobby Warshaw (@bwarshaw14) July 1, 2018
Don’t watch MLS, just watch LA Galaxy II
⬇️ say whaaa? This free kick from Alex Mendez is pic.twitter.com/HQW02zrJfH— LA Galaxy II (@LAGalaxyII) July 2, 2018
Struggling American defenders ahoy
Meanwhile, two teams that feature American heavy backlines struggled over the weekend. Sporting Kansas City lost 2-0 to the Montreal Impact while the Philadelphia Union fell 4-1 to LAFC. For SKC, Jaylin Lindsey got a start at left back going for 74 minutes while his teammate Wan Kuzain made an appearance off the bench for a 7 minute stretch.