Everyone is getting fired in MLS - Anthony Hudson and Alan Koch said good bye to MLS last week and before the matches this week New England sent Brad Frediel packing. Then they fired their general manager Mike Burns. Freidel’s firing came after the Revs went 12-13-21 under his tenure, a time that featured him putting Lee Nguyen out in the cold and Burns failing or refusing to trade him until the trade window nearly closed last season. Nguyen ended up with LAFC so he clearly ended up getting the better end of the deal.
In any case, Burns and Freidel were roommates in college and the former Revs manager had no professional experience coaching before taking the New England job. The results speak for themselves with whatever gains the team made in 2018 being erased in the last four games with Freidel in charge in which the team lost all four games and gave up 17 goals in the process. If there is one positive, it is that New England has made Orlando, Chicago, and Minnesota look like they know what they’re doing which is no small feat. But they’ve figured it all out as the Revs are reportedly set to hire Bruce Arena.
As far as how Americans in MLS that played for and against those teams fared last week, let’s take a look.
There were many games
Meet new MLS designated player... Gyasi Zardes
The second best American striker in MLS, behind Jozy Altidore and tied with Jordan Morris, CJ Sapong, Jesus Ferreira, and defender Shea Salinas, Gyasi Zardes signed a designated player contract this week. He also played two games as the Crew got back on track and then promptly fell off of it. Zardes would open the scoring against the LA Galaxy midweek and got an assist in the match also. It was Zardes’ first goal since March 30th, but it wouldn’t exactly put him on a hot streak. The Crew would be dominated in their weekend match against LAFC and Zardes wouldn’t register a shot.
Maybe the Fire are good actually?
Or maybe they just played Minnesota United and the New England Revolution... In their two games this week the Fire put up seven goals. It was a solid showing for the team and an American named Brandt Bronico scored in the team’s 5-0 rout of the Revs midweek. Djordje Mihailovic would start in both games in central midfield as he seems to be the top choice in the role over Mo Adams for now. The Fire will be able to answer questions about their being good coming up - after a game this weekend against San Jose they play NYCFC, DC United, Atlanta, RSL, NY Red Bulls, Atlanta, and Sporting KC.
Cristian Roldid it again...
In a hard fought game between Seattle and Houston, Cristian Roldan once again came up big for his team. The midfielder scored the lone goal and game winner in the match with a 5th minute strike from distance. This comes after his long range effort last weekend against Minnesota.
Houston had their chances and nearly came back to even the score several times, but the Sounders held on for 85 minutes to hold onto the win. Will Bruin earned a yellow card in the match.
More defense from Atlanta
We are used to hearing about Atlanta United tearing past teams with their attacking South American-Germanic four headed monster, but the defense is making waves this year. The Five Stripes recorded their fourth clean sheet in a row with a dominant 2-0 win midweek against Toronto and a less dominant and more fortunate 1-0 win against hapless Orlando.
In the second game Atlanta made some mistakes and nearly gave the visitors an equalizer when Dom Dwyer failed to finish on an open net. Still, Brad Guzan and Miles Robinson are keeping things tidy on the scoresheet for the Five Stripes. Robinson has been especially impressive so far this year. The youngster stepped up big for Atlanta in a few key moments in 2018, but this season he’s really come into his own. He seems to be the total package with great 1v1 defending, very good passing for a player just assuming the starting role, and a good understanding of what to do when Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez decides that he’s an attacking midfielder actually. Not convinced? Consider that Brek Shea has been starting at left back for the Five Stripes, a player I’ve come to love, and the team is still keeping clean sheets.
One player who has not stepped up is Andrew Carleton. He’s been hyped and there was much consternation last year when Atlanta brought in Ezequiel Barco to seemingly play a similar position to Carleton. The American had every chance to develop and take a starting role and he hasn’t done it. As a result, Barco is going to the U-20 World Cup and Carleton isn’t. This seems like it would be an opportunity for the youngster though - with Barco out he could be earning playing time and giving manager Frank de Boer reason to start him in league games and not just in the Open Cup to keep the MLS starters fresh. So far that doesn’t seem to be in the cards as Tito Villalba was in for Barco in the win against Orlando.
Rocky Mountain rivals
Two players who have the talent and ability to be called in to January camps for the next half decade squared off for their teams this weekend. Kellyn Acosta and reigning MLS Rookie of the Year Corey Baird went head to head as the Colorado Rapids hosted Real Salt Lake. Baird would show everyone why he won ROTY last year as the winger scored his first goal in 10 games this year to put RSL up 2-1 on the home team. This is apparently called a trivela... apparently the Rapids defenders were so amazed by Baird’s really good touch to bring the long pass down that there was nothing to be done once he decided to shoot.
Not to be outdone, Acosta would even the score in first half injury time. Brooks Lennon would come off of the bench for RSL as the team eventually won 3-2. Tim Howard and the Rapids have allowed 30 goals in 11 games this year, they are on pace to let in 92 over the whole season.
Sorry, not sorry. The American winger took on Sporting Kansas City as Peter Vermes’ team tries to get back on track this season. SKC has dealt with injuries and the gauntlet of the Concacaf Champions League has really taken a toll on the squad this year - they would only dress three position players as subs in the match. As far as the Americans in the game, Arriola would score the decisive goal in the 1-0 win for DCU.
Bill Hamid would make four saves in the game and now has six clean sheets on the year in 12 games - a mark that eclipses the five in 14 games he had with the team last season.
Fine I’ll talk about Brian White
The Red Bulls have been bad this year. Tyler Adams was clearly the straw that stirred the drink last season and he’s something of an irreplaceable unicorn in MLS in terms of talent and contract friendliness. The team has struggled because nobody can score goals and the best shot that Kaku has taken all year was directed at a fan in Kansas City - somehow only earning him a three game ban which is an embarrassment from the MLS discipline committee.
Bradley Wright-Phillips has fallen off of a cliff opening the door for the back up strikers to claim a starting role. Enter Brian White, a 2018 draft pick from Duke who scored eight goals in 22 games for RBII last year. He’d get his third start of the year against FC Dallas and scored an 85th minute goal to put the game out of reach for the away side. The assist on the play was credited to fellow young Yank Omir Fernandez.