The international break is over and the Americans at home are back! Some never left as we discussed last week, but there were some big performances by players who came off of national team duty over the weekend and some by bubble players and youths who might get a look for the Gold Cup or upcoming YNT tournaments. Here’s how some of those players managed over the weekend.
He’s back, again
Toronto took on a pretty good NYCFC team and dominated in a 4-0 win. After two TFC goals were disallowed, Jozy converted a pass from new Designated Player Alejandro Pozuelo into the first goal of the game. From there New York couldn’t break the Toronto press and Alex Bono finished the game with a clean sheet. The team’s possession went through Michael Bradley who had 87 passes as he patrolled the middle of the field.
It turns out all TFC needed was a no. 10 to pull the strings and get Jozy the service he needed to re-enter the conversation about being one of the best teams in MLS once again. And what a 10 they’ve found, Pozuelo stepped up and put a panenka past Sean Johnson and then chipped the keeper as he stood far off his line later in the match. Between Pozuelo and Darwin Quintero figuring out that every American keeper in MLS can be easily chipped, the international player rule may need to be amended soon. I’ve been critical of Greg Vanney before, but the win was impressive and if Toronto, and Jozy, can stay healthy they should be one of the best teams in the East all year.
Washout in Columbus
It rained in Columbus and then it rained a lot. So much so that play was stopped and Atlanta United and the Columbus Crew were sent to the locker rooms on Saturday night. In some ways the game could be seen as an embarrassment for MLS. Defenses were helped by standing water on the field where passes simply died, at one point Pedro Santos scooped up the ball and juggled it about 10 yards before being put on his backside by an Atlanta defender. Atlanta’s struggles continued as it gave up a goal within two minutes. Still they had their chances but Zack Steffen made some terrific saves to seal the win and shut out for the Crew. Gyasi Zardes also added another goal in the game as he’s giving Gregg Berhalter a lot to think about between choosing him and Altidore as striker.
After his time with the U-23s, Miles Robinson had an uneven game. He seemed to have trouble with the field conditions and made several passes that put Atlanta in bad spots as the team puzzlingly tried to build from the back. His worst moment came when he fouled Zardes in the box setting up a penalty taken by Federico Higuain which was saved by Brad Guzan.
Under the radar in Houston
While a lot of deserved attention is being lavished on younger players like Paxton Pomykal, another young American midfielder is off to a hot start in MLS. Memo Rodriguez may not be a player that has gotten the looks at the YNT level, but the midfielder scored his 4th goal of the season in Houston’s 4-1 win in suburban Denver.
Dallas youngsters leading the way
Mr. Alex Muncy discussed Pomykal’s goals in the Youth Update, but another American got on the board for FC Dallas in their 4-1 win against Real Salt Lake. Forward and U-20 national teamer Jesus Ferreira scored his first goal of the year for the Texas team. Striker is something of an open position for FCD this year with Dominique Badji not quite fitting into the plans of Luchi Gonzalez.
Joining the two young Americans was Jacori Hayes who came on as a sub for 25 minutes and Jesse Gonzalez who allowed two goals making just one save. This is exactly how FCD drew it up - the young players it develops are thriving under the former academy director as manager. It will be exciting to watch how this all plays out over the coming season and beyond.
As for the RSL Americans, Corey Baird came off of the bench for 28 minutes as Red Card Salt Lake again had a player sent off and had to play a man down. This time it was Damir Kreilach who saw red in the 17th minute. It would be a long day for Brooks Lennon as FCD poured on three goals after going up a player.
Dwyer’s good start continues
Orlando City is still Orlando City, now they have Nani though! DC United went to Orlando and came away with a 2-1 win on goals from Steve Birnbaum in the 6th minute and an obscene Wayne Rooney free kick at the half hour mark. Orlando would get a glimmer of hope at the hour mark when Dom Dwyer ended Bill Hamid’s scoreless streak on a goal assisted by Chris Mueller. It was Dwyer’s thrid goal of the year as he is scoring once every 100 minutes in 2019 and has added two assists as well.
Jeremy Ebobisse: Goal scorer
Last year Jeremy Ebobisse was lauded for doing the quiet things that strikers do that don’t involve scoring spectacular goals. This year he’s scoring if not spectacular goals, at least decent ones. The striker evened the score at one with an effort against the LA Galaxy in the final MLS match of the weekend.
Zlatan would convert two penalties if the game as LA prevailed 2-1.