The MLS is Back tournament has been fairly successful for the league. After two teams had to withdraw due to positive COVID tests, the games largely went off as planned and aside from typical MLS shenanigans it’s been pretty good. Americans in the tournament have also made a mark as it seems like the league has seen more value in playing the kids. The youth in the league has never been better and Americans are clearly benefitting from the USL to MLS pipeline that is being developed.
More Earthquakes please
It’s a bit of a travesty that I haven’t mentioned the San Jose Earthquakes more in this post. Matías Almeyda had his team playing some of the best soccer in the tournament and three Americans are making an impact on the squad. Jackson Yueill is holding down central midfield, Tommy Thompson has found a home at right back, and Nick Lima looks pretty decent playing on the left. Keep in mind, pretty decent is a quality the USMNT has lacked in a left back since about 2014, so that’s really good.
The Quakes knocked off Real Salt Lake, with Corey Baird adding an assist for RSL in the match, by a score of 5-2. The team was eliminated by Minnesota United though by a score of 4-1.
A quiet end for Seattle in the MiB tournament
Will Bruin scored. The team also lost 4-1 to LAFC who seems to have given Tristan Blackmon the right back starting job this year.
Gyasi scores, but Columbus is out
Speaking of Americans scoring goals, Gyasi Zardes scored his 4th of the tournament in a losing effort for the Columbus Crew. As they faced Minnesota United, Zardes evened things up in the 79th minute by missing a PK and then putting home the deflected save so that Columbus could push the game to a shootout. While the Crew lost, Zardes did convert his try from the spot.
Young Yanks square off
Sporting KC and the Philadelphia Union are teams with a fairly similar ethos. They’re both hard working squads with fairly limited resources and have some young Americans to be excited about. At this point the secret is out about Brenden Aaronson, Mark McKenzie has been on the radar of the US youth teams for some time and now is nailed on as a starter for one of the more exciting teams in the league. Meanwhile, SKC attacker Gianluca Busio is coming on a bit more slowly. He made his second start of the tournament against Philly but was subbed at the half.
Anyway, you’ve seen Aaronson’s pass so watch Peter Vermes go all Gunnery Sargent Hartman about the water break.
A big goal for Jacori
The Paxton Pomykal hype train derailed what would have been a good spot for Jacori Hayes to prove himself in Dallas. The midfielder is getting a second chance with Minnesota United and put the Loons up 2-0 in the 21st minute. Minnesota has looked strong all tournament and Hayes was able to contribute when needed.
Portland sees out NYCFC
A big winner in the tournament for Americans at home has been James Sands. The defensive midfielder showed that he can effectively anchor NYCFC and even carry them through the tournament as they struggled at times. Sadly, his run in MLSisBACK was ended by the Portland Timbers by a score of 3-1. Timbers forward Jeremy Ebobisse added four shots with two on goal in the win.