So much soccer. All 59 MLS teams were in action this week... well, we’re not quite there yet, but with 10 teams playing on Wednesday and the full slate of games over the weekend, it was quite the week for Americans in MLS. As you can tell from the headline, the constant position of need for the USA had some signs of life, though the position is quite thin and the players discussed might not exactly make the Stars and Stripes 2022 World Cup champions.
Anyway, here’s how some of the Americans did in the 173 games that MLS played over the past week.
James Sands, center back
It appears that Dome Torrent is intent on playing James Sands at center back... for now at least. The teenager has been much touted as a defensive midfielder though he did line up at center back for the youth national team. With NYCFC needing to shore up its backline as it struggles to find its footing in attack, Sands started in the middle of a three center back formation in both of the Pigeons games this week. The games weren’t exactly pretty, the first was a 1-0 win against the Chicago Fire and the other was a 1-1 draw with Orlando, both at home. New York may not be the same side it was with David Villa leading the line, but the team is trying to create scoring chances through possession. Sands’ versatility as a player who is calm on the ball and solid in defense has at the very least guaranteed him starting minutes and if NYCFC can start creating chances, his quiet role on the team will help them do that.
That guy from January camp had a solid week
Speaking of teams beating the Chicago Fire, Daniel Lovitz and the Montreal Impact also notched a win against the team from the windy suburb. Lovitz took a while to get there and is probably far from the first choice at the position, but he is in the picture for left back on the national team. The defender had an assist in the Impact’s 3-0 win over the New England Revolution midweek and then helped keep a clean sheet as the side defeated Chicago over the weekend.
So many ties for San Jose
The Earthquakes are coming off of the worst year in MLS history having just won four games. 2019 seemed to be going about that badly, but there are glimmers of hope in the Bay Area. The team has already won an astounding two games this year and had a tough couple of matches this week against Seattle and Dallas. Both games would end in a draw, 2-2 against the Sounders and 0-0 versus FCD, but they looked solid against two of the best sides in the West.
Against Seattle, Shea Salinas (who is probably making his debut in this article this week) had two goals - he now has a career high four goals this year. Nick Lima has shifted to left back of late, largely making way for Tommy Thompson to play on the right though he would only go against Dallas this week, and helped keep FCD scoreless in Arlen over the weekend.
As for their opponents, Alex discussed Paxton Pomykal’s injury scare in the youth update, but Jesus Ferreria had a difficult match with just one shot created though Reggie Cannon, Jesse Gonzalez and Edwin Cerrillo did keep San Jose off the scoreboard.
And about the Sounders
Apparently they also have so many ties. Their midweek draw against the above mentioned Quakes included a comeback effort capped off by a goal from Harry Shipp in the 67th minute to save the draw. Since this is MLS and the schedule cannot be made to avoid something like this happening - the team would face LAFC, who they visited last weekend. That game ended in a 1-1 draw thanks to a first minute goal by Jordan Morris.
That would be one of two shots that Morris had over the two games last week. In part, that is because Cristian Roldan got a red card in the 18th minute.
Seattle would hold on against LA despite the visitors having MLS Messi on their team.
A big bad week for Columbus and an OK one for DC United
After pioneering the strategy of having its defenders score all of its goals, the Columbus Crew seem to have hit a rough patch. The team has lost four straight and in that time only scored one goal. They would not score one this week against DC United or the Houston Dynamo. Gyasi Zardes doesn’t seem to be the same player under Caleb Porter he was under Gregg Berhalter and Zack Steffen can’t carry the team on his back. Once Columbus loses its best player by the time summer rolls around, they will have bigger problems than not being able to score.
As for their opponents midweek, Bill Hamid kept a clean sheet against Columbus, but did let in a goal away in the loss to Minnesota. DCU has had some injury issues lately pressing Chris Durkin into action as Russell Canouse works his way back to health. The midfielder went the full 90 in both matches and had a huge play in the game against the Crew.
The most excitement you can have in the Midwest
The most exciting game over the weekend came with Sporting Kansas City playing against the New England Revolution. The Revs got shut down by Montreal at home midweek but came to KC if not ready to play, than at least ready to take advantage of a team dealing with three injured defensive starters. Juan Agudelo would manage a goal and an assist, rookie winger DeJuan Jones would get his first MLS goal and it seemed like New England would ride a 4-2 lead to an unlikely win on the road.
That wouldn’t happen though. In the 70th minute 4-2 would turn into 4-3 and 13 minutes later it would be 4-4 where it ended. Along the way, Kelyn Rowe and Graham Zusi would each earn an assist on Krisztian Nemeth’s opener for SKC. At the half Gianluca Busio would come off as Sporting looked for something more in attack. Rowe also put Gerso through on goal in a play that would earn a red card for Brandon Bye in the 55th minute.
Another red would be shown to Jalil Anibaba in the 89th, but the game would end before SKC could capitalize on its two man advantage.
MLS will again be busy midweek with just one match followed by the regular slate of weekend games.