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Americans at home (and in Canada): The return of a familiar face

MLS: New England Revolution at Toronto FC Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Three weeks into the MLS season and things seem to be continuing along a path tread before. The MLS Cup champs are struggling with fixture congestion, injuries, and tactics, an expansion team is drawing huge crowds and getting unexpected results, and the San Jose Earthquakes haven’t won a game. It’s like 2018 never ended.

Concacaf Champions Lealmost all of the MLS teams are eliminated

Sporting Kansas City is the only MLS side to go through to the CCL semi-final. The team beat Independiente 3-0 at home last Thursday to advance on a 4-2 aggregate. The American defenders on the team defended really well and Tim Melia kept a clean sheet. Elsewhere, the Red Bulls were eliminated by Santos Laguna, though NYRB academy product Omir Fernandez, who has represented the U-20s and U-18s, did score in the match.

Tigres beat the Houston Dynamo 1-0 to advance with DaMarcus Beasley leaving after the 20th minute with an injury. The left back celebrated his 20th professional season this week but it was cut short as he also missed the Dynamo’s win over Vancouver over the weekend. Atlanta United looked better, but not great, in their 1-0 win at home against Monterrey. Rayados will face SKC in the next round.

Bill Hamid on a streak

Give him credit, after going in on Brad Guzan and all of the goalkeepers who have been called into the national team this year, Bill Hamid is on a hot streak. He’s gone every minute this season without giving up a goal and if he keeps it up may break Zack Steffen’s MLS record of 525 consecutive minutes of not conceding a goal. Of course, in his career he’s also been injured often and has been, at times, maddeningly inconsistent so that may also happen. Still, after keeping 10 and then 9 man Real Salt Lake scoreless on Saturday, three clean sheets to start the year is as good of a start as he could hope to have. It obviously didn’t matter to Gregg Berhalter who picked Jesse Gonzalez over him to call into the friendlies this March with Zack Steffen unavailable.

Jozy caps off a dramatic win for Toronto FC

The Americans in Canada had a decent day with TFC needing a late goal to overcome the visiting New England Revolution (how MLS manages to avoid having the Revs play at home on St. Patrick’s Day seems like a big miss to me). After an early penalty gave New England the lead, TFC rookie Ayo Akinola drew the score even in the 14th minute by running past the entire backline (warning, video contains atrocious defending).

The US youth international would add a hockey assist on a Jordan Hamilton goal right before the half.

Everyone’s favorite American striker came on as a sub in the 68th minute and 12 minutes later would put the home team ahead thanks to a play sparked by a Michael Bradley long ball to Justin Morrow.

In addition to setting up the winning goal, Bradley took six corner kicks in the game as it seems like Gregg Berhalter is perhaps set to provide him a chance at some starting minutes in defensive midfield with Tyler Adams reportedly to play right back for the Stars and Stripes.

America always needed it’s own Pep Guardiola.

A goal from a teenager in Atlanta

Not that teenager. With Marco Fabian suspended, the new look-trying to press Philadelphia Union turned to 18 year old Brenden Aaronson to provide a spark in the attack. The central attacking midfielder had 74 minutes, one shot, one goal, and filled in very well for the visitors. Alejandro Bedoya committed one foul in the match.

For his part, another teenager, Andrew Carleton, came in for 11 minutes playing central midfield as Atlanta hunted for a second goal. It didn’t come for the Five Stripes, but at least Carleton saw the field for the second time in 2019.

Not much defense in Chicago

Jordan Morris continued his comeback tour in the Windy Suburb on Saturday with a goal and assist in the Seattle Sounders 4-2 win over the Fire. He helped set up Victor Rodriguez’s opening goal by slipping a ball through the Chicago defense from the right wing in the 8th minute. Morris would get his third goal of the year after showcasing his speed to drop both Fire defenders in the box and then taking a touch before sending a looping shot over David Ousted. After missing last year, the forward now has as many goals in 2019 as he did in all of 2017.

The Fire came to life in the second half and scored two goals, the first came from an assist by C.J. Sapong who had goal in his past two previous matches. While the Sounders made the most of their 10 shots with four goals, the Fire took a less efficient approach with 25 shots. Five of those came off of the foot of Djordje Mihailovic, though he did not find the back of the net. That shot total resulted in a 10 save game for keeper Stefan Frei.

They don’t got Zlatan, but they got Lletget

The LA Galaxy bounced back after their 2-0 loss last weekend to beat Minnesota United 3-2 at home. Chris Pontius put the home team ahead 2-0 in the 41st minute. After the visitors scored in the 75th, Sebastian Lletget put the Galaxy up 3-1 in the 81st minute with a beautiful volley that was made in obvious tribute to Zlatan’s flying dropkick efforts. The Loons would get one back, but LA held on for a 3-2 win.

MLS is heading into the international break (you know for some teams, the ones that decide they want to take a break during the in which means that since MLS doesn’t actually take off for international friendlies I will be writing about all of the players in the national team pool that aren’t good enough for the national team next week. Good times!