MLS is nothing if not exciting... and filled with bad defenses. Five games were decided with goals scored after the 85th minute as fans who stayed for entire matches were rewarded with thrilling finishes. While this is wonderful and makes for exciting soccer, it also shows that the money on the field is being spent on attacking players. Of course this is nothing new, but with the designed player rule, MLS has goal scoring threats a plenty while defenses rely on lower budget players to stop those brought in on multi-million dollar transfer fees. Those results shone brightly this week as the late defensive slips had demonstrable effects across the matches in the league.
Meet Kellyn Acosta, attacking midfielder
After a surprising mid-season trade that sent Kellyn Acosta to Colorado for a rotation level striker, the USMNT midfielder is thriving in the Rockies. Playing in a more attacking role for the Rapids, Acosta already has two goals in his two starts. He needs just one more to match his highest scoring season with FC Dallas. He found the net for the Rapids in a 2-1 win against the LA Galaxy and seems to be a player that his new team can build around for next season. Interestingly, after playing in the backline and as a more defensive minded midfielder with FCD, Acosta is playing as attacking midfielder with more freedom to run at defenders and create shooting opportunities - and he’s thriving.
Talk about a player that just needed a change of scenery. Kellyn Acosta looks like he’s having fun again. He’s playing well, body language is positive, and has 2 goals in his first 2 games. This one was nice against the Galaxy tonight #USMNT https://t.co/DHcU1PaRZC— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) August 5, 2018
A needed win and a big game for an American teenager
At some point it seems like Peter Vermes looked at his team and saw Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber and said, “if I can finish 5th with these guys, I can probably finish 5th without them.” (Seems is doing a lot of the lifting in that statement, he did not ever say this). That certainly seems to be the case this year as Vermes has increasingly looked to youth players to play vital roles for Sporting Kansas City. Midfielder Gianluca Busio collected an assist in his first MLS start and Rob captured a brilliant moment when he nearly scored a goal of his own in the match. Oh, he’s 16 and thanks to his assist SKC is now in 3rd in the West.
Trying to watch this HOU/SKC UFC match to get a look at Gianluca Busio. This shot attempt is ridiculous. Quick release off the cut in and an absolute laser. You have my attention now. pic.twitter.com/fGp6v3A5tQ— Rob Usry (@RobUsry) August 6, 2018
At least Dom Dwyer is playing well?
Orlando City is a mess. The team went from a 6 game win streak to a 9 game losing streak and once again fired their head coach mid-season. The team completely reworked its roster in pre-season and it seems like the players they have assembled once again do not fit together and new manager James O’Connor hasn’t quite figured out how to get the team back on track. At the very least they showed a lot of fight this weekend as they battled back from a 2-0 deficit to even the score only to go behind once again 3-2. A last minute goal would halt their most recent losing streak at three games. At the very least, Dom Dwyer seems to be finding his form again. The striker scored a goal in his second game in a row and his third in five games.
A faceoff in LA
It wasn’t exactly Nicolas Cage and John Travolta trying to out act each other, but LA hosted an entertaining MLS showdown featuring some of the best Americans in the league on Sunday. LAFC would fall to the New York Red Bulls 2-1 with Bob Bradley playing Lee Nguyen and Benny Feilhaber as deep midfielders in a 4-2-3-1. With Mark-Anthony Kaye set to miss the rest of the year and the rest of his defensive midfielders mainly helping to fill out the roster Bradley went a little Jurgen Klinsmann putting the pair in their defensive role. It wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t exactly a success. New York was largely happy to cede possession and press LA the whole game. LA couldn’t break the press and couldn’t stop Daniel Royer who notched a brace. As for the Americans in the match, Luis Robles made two saves while Aaron Long and Tim Parker kept LA largely at bay for the match. Sean Davis and Tyler Adams paired as defensive midfielders containing the LA attack. For the home team, Walker Zimmerman watched Tyler Miller fail to smother a ball that bounced to Royer for the first goal of the match for NYRB.