Week 10ish of the MLS season, that magical time of year when we start learning things about the MLS season. There’s the teams that got a hot start because their center backs score all their goals, but they’re actually frauds like the Columbus Crew. There are the teams that are at the top of the table but are probably frauds and don’t have the talent or depth to keep up as the better teams catch up with games in hand or just start playing to their ability like the Philadelphia Union. Of course, there’s also the pleasant surprises that might be good actually like the Houston Dynamo and the occasional side that yells YOLO and refuses to change its tactics to deal with injuries like Sporting Kansas City.
And of course, there are the teams that have fired their coaches. Say good bye to Anthony Hudson, who basically asked to get fired after losing to Atlanta when he said his team didn’t have good players. Say hello to American soccer hero Conor Casey. Casey is now the manager of the Colorado Rapids... who also traded for a good player to help him win games when they acquired Jonathan Lewis from NYCFC. Casey lost his first game in charge of the Rapids 3-2, but... well they are an MLS team and can’t get relegated so he might stick around for a while.
FC Cincinnati also fired their manager Alan Koch after he said his players weren’t as good as the ones for the Philadelphia Union. He will not be replaced by an American hero as Yoann Damet is taking over in the meantime. The Cinci job does not seem like a good one and they are an MLS team and can’t get relegated so he might stick around for a while.
There were Americans who played soccer in MLS over the past week, let’s take a look at some of them.
More words about Philly
Are they good actually? I can’t say for sure, they are pressing more and that seems to be working for them as they’ve only allowed one goal a game this year. But they’ve also played some trash teams who they’ve beaten but been beaten by good teams. I think time will tell, but I don’t see they sticking around at the top of the table. One of, if not many of, Atlanta, Toronto, NYCFC, or even the Red Bulls will catch and pass them.
Still, they beat FCC behind a Fafa Picault goal in a 2-0 win last Wednesday.
That game also saw Brenden Aaronson get his 9th start of the year. The big win for Philly would come over the weekend with a 6-1 win over the New England Revolution, who are completely pitiful this season. Picault would go for 64 minutes in that one and register five shots. Alejandro Bedoya committed two fouls over going the full 90 in both games.
Speaking of the Crew too
The Columbus Crew seemed like they were going to pick up where Gregg Berhalter left them after winning four of their first six games this year. Since then, they’ve lost five in a row and have scored two goals in that stretch. So, what’s different between 2018 and 2019? It isn’t really like they’ve had a lot of injuries or had players transfer since Berhalter left, but he did leave and was replaced by Caleb Porter.
The Crew played DC United and lost 3-1 in part because Paul Arriola scored for the Red and Black while the lone goal scored for the Crew was put in the net by Bill Hamid. Russell Canouse was back and played the full 90 after missing the last three games with an injury.
Columbus has players like Wil Trapp that can play to try and establish possession, they can press, they can create scoring chances and Gyasi Zardes can score them. It may be a matter of putting all that back together. If the team had a highlight in the game it was this save by Zack Steffen... who is leaving this summer.
Sounders get another draw
The last we saw of the Seattle Sounders, Cristian Roldan was getting a red card for violently conducting himself while playing soccer. MLS being MLS rescinded the card so Roldan was able to play against Minnesota United. It was a good thing too because he scored this incredible goal:
Ike Opara had previously scored for Minnesota and the teams would split the points in the land-o-lakes over the weekend. The Sounders have somewhat struggled after seeming to pick up where the left off last regular season and partly it seems like they aren’t creating chances. Jordan Morris had just one shot in the game and the Sounders took seven shots in the entire match.
Portland adds another win, but Ebobisse time may be dwindling
There are many factors that go into deciding how lineups are picked obviously. One of those is that only 11 players can be on the field at the same time. MLS Soccer dot com has a breakdown of how new Timbers signing Brian Fernandez may not mean that Jeremy Ebobisse is going to be headed to the bench. Still playing a front four of some combination of Ebobisse, Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco, and Fernandez will be something to watch as the Timbers work their new signing into matches.
For now, Ebobisse went 83 minutes as Portland beat RSL 2-1 in Sandy, Utah over the weekend. The striker played a role in setting up the first Timbers goal in the match, though was not credited for an assist.
RSL is settling into its typical playoff bubble spot on the table.
Nick Lima - strafender
It’s hard to say if San Jose is good now or just getting a little lucky. The team lost its first four games by giving up 2, then 3, then 4, then 5 goals and then went 3-2-1. Whatever is happening it is happening in sequence. They play New England and Chicago coming up but then have Toronto, DC, Dallas, Houston and LA Galaxy so the team will be tested at the very least. For now, they managed to beat FC Cincinnati 1-0 thanks to Nick Lima. The guy who might be in the picture for national team right back playing time scored in the 22nd minute and helped the Quakes hold on after going down a man in the 51st.
For FCC Caleb Stanko got his third start of the year, Forrest Lasso went 90 tall minutes, and Kenny Saief lined up as a forward, nominally at least, but did not manage a shot in the game.
Bad news MLS, Atlanta United has figured things out maybe
After struggling to start the year, the Five Stripes have won three of their last four. The wins haven’t always been pretty, but that changed on Sunday. The team went to the Blue Hell and thumped a SKC team who is so injury depleted they only sat four position playing subs. Atlanta dominated in creating 19 shots on the road.
Something that has gone under the radar for the team this year has been the very good defensive play that has kept them in games while the attack sputtered. That is thanks in some part to the play of Miles Robinson who has emerged to take a starting center back role from veteran Michael Parkhurst. As a testament to the United captain, Parky has accepted whatever role is needed of him and lined up at left back in the game. Atlanta is allowing just one goal a game and Brad Guzan helped with three saves in the shut out.