This is always fun. The national team is playing so presumably: 1. MLS should have all of their teams taking a break like the rest of the world and isn’t for Reasons and 2. The players worth talking about in this article are either with the senior or youth national teams. But everyone’s favorite league isn’t on a break and some good players did take the field in limited action over the weekend. Was it against diluted competition since the best players in the league are away on international duty? How did Corben Bone do? Wow, there sure are a lot of backup goalkeepers playing this weekend, surely the competitive equity and parity that MLS bases its claims about why they need a salary cap are real and not a reason to control the players and don’t come at the expense of good soccer when depth is actually needed in a week like this one.
Cincinnati stays hot
Is FC Cincinnati good actually? It seems like the answer might be yes. The team got trounced in its opening game but after that has had some good results. Taking a 1-1 draw against the MLS Cup champs in their second match, then exposing the Portland Timbers as frauds who are embarrassing the league in their home opener was pretty good. Last weekend FCC went to New England and played a Revs a team that is usually not that great but that features its best asset - a terrible playing surface - that visitors always seem to have a tough time with. A tough time was not had.
If Gregg Berhalter needs a no. 10 who is a real no. 10 to play as a no. 10 he should probably look no further than Kenny Saief at the present moment. In one start and two games played, the midfielder has two assists and a goal. His effort against New England included setting up the first goal for Kekuta Manneh and then he scored his own goal, this time assisted by Manneh, to put the game out of reach. Manneh, who is eligible but not cap-tied to the USMNT, lined up as a striker for Cinci.
The goal from Manneh assisted by Saief was particularly nice with Manneh also deserving of a hockey assist on his own score.
If you are looking at Tim Ream at left back and thinking, surely the US has another option, Greg Garza played 90 minutes in the clean sheet effort.
To any extent that the FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids matchup had any national team narrative, you could find it with Kellyn Acosta lining up opposing Paxton Pomykal. While another right back turned central midfielder, then turned right back drifting into central midfield, Tyler Adams tries to fit in with Berhalter’s new system, Acosta in more of a left midfield role. He managed two shots in the 2-1 loss in Texas.
Meanwhile, Dallas youngsters Pomykal and Reggie Cannon pulled out a late win on a Ryan Hollingshead late goal. Pomykal had three shots and two key passes playing from central midfield. Cannon had 75 touches in the game as Dallas built from the back throughout the game. Striker Jesus Ferreira managed just one shot with it going on target in the game.
Philly’s Marie Kondo roster beats the Steffen/Zardes/Trappless-Crew
Also falling into the surprisingly goodish camp are the Philadelphia Union. Perhaps helped by the Crew missing Zack Steffen, Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes, Philly won easily against the Columbus 3-0. Fafa Picault picked up an assist in the game and Brenden Aaronson got another start. Alejandro Bedoya committed zero fouls in the match. Mark McKenzie, who is still coming back from injury was one of four! Philly position players to make the bench as the Union went with a minimal set up in the game.
Zimmerman a late hero for LAFC
Red Card Salt Lake traveled to California to take on LAFC. The away side held strong until extratime when Walker Zimmerman sent a curling shot past Nick Rimando for the win. Shaft Brewer made the bench for the home team. As for RSL, Brooks Lennon was pressed into duty on the right wing. It was a well deserved result for the home side as LA dominated with 67% possession and outshot RSL 19-3.
The league will be back to full strength next weekend as the players who were on international duty come back on short rest.