Major League Soccer 2019: Your Humble Local League (and a little USOC too)

Titans Bastard

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The 24th season of America's very own domestic league kicks off on Saturday. Warts and all, MLS has long become my favorite league. For me, there's nothing like having a local league with local teams and local players.

A few league-wide previews:
The "big storylines" are:
  • FC Cincinnati joins as the 24th club after quickly becoming a big deal at the USL level
  • The Columbus Crew have been saved and are moving forward with a new downtown stadium
  • MLS is starting to embrace a deeper relationship with the global transfer market. There were about $60m worth of outbound transfers finalized this winter (Almiron, Davies, Adams, Richards, Steffen, Yotun, Silva, et al), which is far more than usual.
CCL:

Toronto got whupped in Panama and put in a poor performance at home, as well, in a continuation of the terrible form that has plagued them since last summer. Otherwise, the first round of CCL went swimmingly. Houston, NYRB, and KC won both legs of their games — KC against Mexican opposition. Atlanta laid an egg in Costa Rica, but obliterated Herediano in the second leg at home. It's only the second time MLS has sent four teams to the quarterfinals.

Some local color:

The Revs are widely expected to be near the bottom of the Eastern Conference this year. They did make some notable signings: attacking midfielder Carles Gil, forward Juan Fernando Caicedo, and left back Edgar Castillo. They also signed two academy players and a couple of semi-interesting draft picks. Still, the backline will probably have issues, all the DM options are mediocre, and there likely isn't enough offensive firepower to make up for it. We will see if Brad Friedel can get more from this group in 2019, but in an era where there are a number of legitimately impressive American coaches, Friedel looked out of ideas in 2018.

Portland/Seattle/Atlanta/Philly/whoever else people on SoSH: what do you expect from 2019?
 

steeplechase3k

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I'm on my phone right now, So I'll be brief for now.

I expect the Timbers to really struggle with the 12 games on the toda they are facing. If they average over one point a game it would be amazing. Significantly under 10 points and I don't think they'll be able to make up there ground.

This will be important for the players that are getting to the end of their prime, particularly for the Diegos. The offense relies so much on Valeri and the defense on Chara, that if they struggle, the entire team does.

The stadium is going to be AMAZING, so I think it will be worth it.
 

Titans Bastard

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Michael Bradley scores the first goal of 2019, at the stroke of halftime in Philadelphia, a simple finish after Haris Medunjanin is caught ball-watching and doesn't track Bradley's run. I suspect Jim Curtin will need a little more defensive ability in the midfield than what he'll get from Medunjanin at the #6 and Ilsinho as a shuttler.
 

Titans Bastard

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It took until the second game for there to be an insane VAR decision. Orlando denied a penalty for...reasons.
 

Titans Bastard

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Revs eke out a draw in Dallas, which is a decent result for them. Mancienne went down with an injury during warmups — oops. Delamea was beaten fairly badly on Dallas' goal. The defense and the general mediocrity of our DMs will likely be an ongoing concern.

Orange ball alert in Colorado, where it is 18 F and snowing.
 

ThePrideofShiner

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I have pretty high expectations for the Sounders, though I think replacing Alonso will be harder than many fans think. A full season of Ruidiaz and Lodeiro together will be awesome, and anything Morris provides is a cherry on top.

Also, they've had two great summer DP pickups the last few years so I hope that trend continues this year.
 

Titans Bastard

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Colorado gets one at the death to salvage a point against Portland in crazy conditions. The Rapids came back twice while down a man. I don't think they'll be good this year, but they had a nice offseason and should be improved.

A lost opportunity for the Timbers at the beginning of their long-ass road trip.
 

Titans Bastard

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16 year old Efrain Alvarez makes his debut (after destroying USL last year) and immediately sets up the equalizer for LA Galaxy. Too bad he's playing for Mexican youth national teams right now...
 

Titans Bastard

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The great thing is that Bill Hamid ruffled Guzan's feathers before the game by declaring that he's better than Guzan...

We don't have three really good goalkeepers, so I imagine he'll stick around as the sage veteran, but it should be all Steffen (or another younger GK) from here on out.

--

Toronto FC got their man:

 

Titans Bastard

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TONIGHT:

NYRB vs. Santos Laguna
Houston vs. Tigres

NYRB's chances are better because they have a stronger squad than Houston and they aren't playing Tigres. Chris Armas chose to field a largely B team in Columbus over the weekend, so they will be well rested. Young RB Kyle Duncan will be put to the test, as Michael Murillo is suspended for this one.


Houston can be fearsome on the counterattack with Elis and Manotas, but I don't have enough faith in their defense or midfield to have much hope against Tigres. It would be a big upset if the Dynamo advance.
 

Titans Bastard

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That all went poorly. I watched the first half of NYRB, who controlled proceedings, missed a couple of gilt-edged chances, then conceded right before HT. Typical CCL disappointment.

Going into the second leg, NYRB is 97% cooked, Houston is 100% cooked.

I have faith that SKC will advance. Atlanta is another story. They have the talent to go toe-to-toe with Monterrey, but I don't think they'll find their sea legs under Frank de Boer fast enough to give it a go. They have looked very shaky in his system for two of their three games so far.
 

Monbo Jumbo

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That all went poorly. I watched the first half of NYRB, who controlled proceedings, missed a couple of gilt-edged chances, then conceded right before HT. Typical CCL disappointment.

Going into the second leg, NYRB is 97% cooked, Houston is 100% cooked.

I have faith that SKC will advance. Atlanta is another story. They have the talent to go toe-to-toe with Monterrey, but I don't think they'll find their sea legs under Frank de Boer fast enough to give it a go. They have looked very shaky in his system for two of their three games so far.
Yup - fledgling fan here. de Boer played most of his A team Sat, Gressel hurt in practice Monday. it could be very ugly tonight. That said, I have tix for the return leg. :)
 

Titans Bastard

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LA Galaxy have signed Joe Corona. They have a ton of cover in the two deeper-lying midfield slots now, along with Jona Dos Santos, Juninho, Perry Kitchen, and Servando Carrasco.

https://www.lagalaxy.com/post/2019/03/06/la-galaxy-sign-midfielder-joe-corona

They also signed Diedie Traore, a 20 year old French left back who had been with their USL team last season.

FC Cincinnati have taken Kenny Saief on loan from Anderlecht.

https://www.fccincinnati.com/post/2019/03/06/kenny-saief-joins-orange-and-blue-rsc-anderlecht
 

Titans Bastard

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More grim stuff in CCL. Last year, MLS clubs went 3-0 against Liga MX in the first legs of the QF. This year, 0-3. I do think SKC has a strong chance of advancing, but that's likely to be it. It's disappointing to totally fail to build on what felt like a breakout performance in 2018. CCL kills me.
 

biollante

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So I go to the home opener and the Revs don't look very good. They just don't have the horses. Seems like they have no one that can shoot or even wants to give it a try. And this was a day when the Crew were sleep walking. Buchanan looked interesting as a sub for the Revs because he tried. Bye played well in the first half.
 

Titans Bastard

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So I go to the home opener and the Revs don't look very good. They just don't have the horses. Seems like they have no one that can shoot or even wants to give it a try. And this was a day when the Crew were sleep walking. Buchanan looked interesting as a sub for the Revs because he tried. Bye played well in the first half.
It's going to be a long season. Short on talent and a coach who, one year and multiple transfer windows in, doesn't seem to have a much of a plan.
 

Kliq

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I don't watch every game, but I don't think I've ever seen Teal Bunbury do anything positive.
 

Titans Bastard

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Frank de Boer is already beginning his ascent up the MLS Managerial Hot Seat Power Rankings.

1-1 at home vs. Cincinnati, and making Atlanta's ~$40m attack look pretty toothless.

EDIT: and I wrote that before I saw this:

 
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jkempa

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Can he last longer than at Palace? He needs to make it 3 more games (though he’s already got 3 more points than he did in South London).
 

Titans Bastard

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de Boer will make it through 3 more games. Atlanta won't have give him an especially long leash by MLS standards, but no one in the US is as trigger-happy as EPL clubs.


In other news, SKC signed Gedion Zelalem.



I see him as a poor man's Darlington Nagbe at this point, but maybe he'll surprise me. The technique, touch, and passing of a #10 without any of the instincts or mentality, and soft defensively.
 

Titans Bastard

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That all went poorly. I watched the first half of NYRB, who controlled proceedings, missed a couple of gilt-edged chances, then conceded right before HT. Typical CCL disappointment.

Going into the second leg, NYRB is 97% cooked, Houston is 100% cooked.

I have faith that SKC will advance. Atlanta is another story. They have the talent to go toe-to-toe with Monterrey, but I don't think they'll find their sea legs under Frank de Boer fast enough to give it a go. They have looked very shaky in his system for two of their three games so far.
Well, the first second leg begins tonight and NYRB is up 2-0 in Mexico inside of 10 minutes. 2-2 on aggregate now.
 

Titans Bastard

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Orlando City added a center back yesterday, 27 year old Swede Robin Jansson from AIK.

https://www.orlandocitysc.com/post/2019/03/12/orlando-city-sc-signs-center-back-robin-jansson

He is apparently a recent cult hero, a sort of Swedish rags-to-riches Jamie Vardy. A few years ago he was in the fifth division while working in a horseshoe factory, but he eventually got picked up by a third division club, then got signed by AIK who were in an injury crisis at the time. He ended up starting and scoring the title-winning goal, and got his first cap in January.

Signings from Sweden are very hit-or-miss, but he could be fun. Orlando set the MLS record for goals conceded last year and they haven't added any big names at CB, so he could have a real shot to play a big role quickly.
 

Titans Bastard

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The Chicago Fire have completed the signing of Nicolas Gaitan on a free from Dalian Yifang. This looks like a very good signing; he's 31 and was sold to Atlético for $30m 2.5 years ago.

https://www.chicago-fire.com/post/2019/03/14/chicago-fire-soccer-club-acquires-argentina-national-team-midfielder-nicol-s-gait-n

From a USMNT perspective, the big question is whether this pushes Katai to the bench, or Katai inside and Mihailovic deeper in the midfield. Mihailovic has been very good in the first two games.
 

Titans Bastard

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SKC beat Independiente 3-0 in the second leg to advance to the CCL semifinals, where they will lose to Monterrey.
 

Titans Bastard

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This is amazing:

The Red Bulls’ most rabid fan has a ridiculous attendance streak

“I used to make fun of MLS, and finally we were at a Yankees game in 2009 and she said, ‘Quit making fun of it and just come to one Red Bulls game with me,’ ’’ Ferrezza said. “She told me to bring fake money from a dollar store and I didn’t know why. I brought it and handed it off to this guy that was collecting it and putting it in garbage bags.

“When we were in the stadium, as the players were walking out to the field underneath us in Section 101, they dumped three bags of fake money on David Beckham’s head, and I immediately turned to Jen and said, ‘I’m getting season tickets. I’m hooked.’ ’’
His 60th consecutive came in a CCL match against the Honduran club Olimpia last year in Costa Rica, where the match was played because of political unrest in Honduras and closed to the public because Olimpia was under penalty because of poor home fan behavior.

Ferrezza arranged a press credential through SB Nation to get into the stadium and, just as in Mexico on Tuesday, he was the only Red Bulls supporter at the match.
 

Titans Bastard

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The Jordan Morris Winger Experiment is going well: 3g/1a in the first three games so far. Seattle has only played bottom-feeders so far, but they are 3-0 and have scored 10 goals. A very un-Sounders-like start to the season.
 

Titans Bastard

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Welcome to the Claude Dielna experience, Portland. First MLS win for FC Cincinnati in their home opener.

The Timbers have shipped 10 goals in three games and have nine more road games until the refurbished and expanded stadium opens up. It sure seems like they'll be in a big hole by then!

Golazo of the weekend (so far) goes to Lucas Rodriguez of DCU.

 

Titans Bastard

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Impressive scenes from Cincinnati's home opener. Can you imagine something like this in Boston?

 

Titans Bastard

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More teenagers have now played in MLS this season than La Liga, Premier League, & Serie A. 4 debuts this week.

Argentina- 57
Netherlands- 48
France- 37
Germany- 28
MLS- 18 (after 3 weeks)
Spain- 17
Italy- 17
England- 17
Russia- 15
Turkey- 12
Portugal- 9

11:44 AM - Mar 18, 2019


Good to see quite a few young players already get on the field; the number should grow as the season progresses. MLS should be high on this list considering the strength of these leagues.

I'm surprised to see Portugal so low. Maybe it's just because Benfica, Porto, and Sporting snap up every halfway decent prospect and stash them in their reserve teams?
 

Titans Bastard

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Nice video of one of last week's teenage debutantes:


Aaronson played with Philly's reserve team, Bethlehem Steel, as an academy kid a bit in 2017, then more in 2018 and signed an MLS deal for 2019. This was his MLS debut; he's a #10 who thus far has been viewed as far enough down the depth chart that he's never been called to a U20 camp.

All the breadth in the world doesn't matter if you don't have top-end talent, but...there's just a ton of breadth of young American prospects right now. Between MLS, USL, and abroad, there's just way more than there have ever been before.
 

Domer

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19-year-old Ayo Akinola looked great for TFC last weekend too. Hopefully the US can cap tie him in the near future.
 

Titans Bastard

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DC signed 16 year old academy winger/forward Griffin Yow. He's worked his way into the current US U17 squad and scored his first USL goal for Loudoun United this past weekend.

It is likely that DC will have an easier time of retaining academy talents now that they have a USL team. They have lost a few in recent years.

 

Titans Bastard

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The Revs managed to lose 2-0 at home to FC Cincinnati today. They're really going to suck this year, huh? I didn't have the good fortune to be able to watch the game, but from the highlights - yikes. Comical defensive midfield work on the first goal from Zahibo. I also noted that the Revs just booted the ball downfield after the second half kickoff. I assume Friedel picked up that trick from game tape of my shitty rec league games from the late 1990s.


The Revs are such a poorly-run organization. I wish they could just burn it down and start over again. Get rid of the name and stupid logo, get rid of the stadium, and most importantly: get rid of the Krafts.

In more exciting news, FC Dallas started five academy products and rode them to a win over Colorado. Paxton Pomykal continues to be an influential presence in the midfield and seems like the early pick to be the breakout youngster of the year. 17 year old Thomas Roberts came off the bench for his debut and helped set up the winning goal.

RSL set an MLS record by starting six academy products in one game, but lost to LAFC thanks to this stoppage time strike by Walker Zimmerman.

 

The Gray Eagle

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Has there ever been a separate thread for the Foxborough Revolutions on this board? I don't remember any, and that seems weird. Is it because there just isn't any interest? From the looks of that photo, that may be the case.

I try to follow them, but it's frustrating that it seems like they play in a different state, since the stadium is so hard to get to. They would have so much more interest if they played in stadium that was on the T. I suppose they aren't going anywhere anytime soon, so a potentially huge market will continue to be a wasteland.
 

Salem's Lot

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Has there ever been a separate thread for the Foxborough Revolutions on this board? I don't remember any, and that seems weird. Is it because there just isn't any interest? From the looks of that photo, that may be the case.

I try to follow them, but it's frustrating that it seems like they play in a different state, since the stadium is so hard to get to. They would have so much more interest if they played in stadium that was on the T. I suppose they aren't going anywhere anytime soon, so a potentially huge market will continue to be a wasteland.
I don’t believe there ever has been. It really is a shame that they can’t get it together. I watch them every week and go to about 2-3 games a year. I like soccer and they’re my local team so I support them, but the team doesn’t have a committed ownership group. The Krafts seem to have no interest in the team if they can’t get a publicly financed stadium in Boston, and that’s never going to happen politically.
 

Titans Bastard

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Has there ever been a separate thread for the Foxborough Revolutions on this board? I don't remember any, and that seems weird. Is it because there just isn't any interest? From the looks of that photo, that may be the case.
There hasn't been for years (at least), but that's not a huge surprise given how heavily Anglophile this board leans, and because the Revs are among the least inspiring teams in MLS these days for the reasons mentioned in the last few posts.

Someone should start one, though!

I try to follow them, but it's frustrating that it seems like they play in a different state, since the stadium is so hard to get to. They would have so much more interest if they played in stadium that was on the T. I suppose they aren't going anywhere anytime soon, so a potentially huge market will continue to be a wasteland.
I don't watch every Revs game, but I follow them. I don't go to games often (though I've gone to almost every US Open Cup game they've played in Allston at Harvard).

The stadium location is a huge handicap and will remain so as long as the Revs are in Foxborough, but I do think they could be doing a lot better nonetheless. I was at the Eastern Conference final second leg in 2014 against NYRB, along with 32k people. It was an amazing, electric atmosphere. In the early years of the league, the Revs were known for having the best attendance (or close to it) in the league.

The potential is totally there for soccer in Boston, but many clubs around the league are improving things like scouting, academies, and levels of investment at a steady clip and it's become easy to fall behind. As a result, a lot of soccer fans in Boston aren't fans of Revolution, and generally won't give MLS the time of day because they assume the whole league is like this.
 

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I don't think it can be understated how undermanned FCC was coming into this match. Adi was hurt and several contributors were on international duty: Waston, Mattocks, Powell, Amaya. Meanwhile, the Revs were only missing Rennicks to international duty (among players who have made an appearance) and the team was fully healthy for the first time all year. That was without exaggeration one of the worst soccer performances I have ever seen and also probably the most negative Revs home crowd I have experienced in recent years. It's readily apparent to even casual observers that the manager is in far over his head, and even though Burns has ramped up international scouting, the bad acquisitions still far outnumber the good ones.
 

Arroyo Con Frijoles

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Sadder than the lack of a thread on the Revs is that this is probably the longest run of consecutive posts about them perhaps ever. I'm a former season ticket holder and have followed them weekly since probably 2002. I flew to LA a few years back for another MLS Cup loss. But I'm finding it very, very hard to continue on. They are a joke, and ownership doesn't care. Every new team carries with them excitement that hasn't been with the Revolution for years, and while I really do understand why they continue to play at Gillette, it's absolutely brutal for the fan experience. But in the end the stadium is not the exclusive problem because if they were competently run, you would still pull 20k down to Foxboro for these matches, and it would be slightly less horrendous. They are dire in every possible way, and it depresses the shit out of me.

Sell the team, please?
 

Titans Bastard

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Allianz Field opens in a few weeks and this is from an open house attended by a relatively small group of Minnesota fans. (@Arroyo Con Frijoles does this subtweet of the Revs count as continuing the streak?)