Major League Soccer 2023: Now With League-On-League Violence

Titans Bastard

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Philadelphia vs. LAFC in CCL tonight. It's the first leg of the semifinal. The other SF is Tigres vs. León, so we have a guaranteed MLS vs. Liga MX final.

The Union haven't been great in MLS so far this season, in part because they are prioritizing CCL. It's a rematch of MLS Cup and should be a good series.
 

steeplechase3k

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US Open Cup draw for the Round of 32 is done.

Shockingly the Timbers and Sounders are NOT playing each other.



For those without Twitter access, home teams first, matches to be played May 9 or 10:
NYRB-DC
Revs-Pittsburgh
Loudoun-Columbus
Cincy-NYC
Charlotte-Orlando
Miami-Charleston
Chicago-STL
Minn-PHL
Austin-San Antonio
Houston-KC
Birmingham-Memphis
Nashville-Dallas
LAG-Seattle
Portland-RSL
Sacramento-Colo
Monterey-LAFC

(copied from View: https://twitter.com/SoccerInsider/status/1651655278406905858
)
 

67YAZ

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Where was this Benteke for Liverpool?

Chicago let a win slip away, let NYRB score late to share the points. The Fire are -4GD after the 75th minute this season. And tonight I knew when Hendrickson subbed out Guti for Shaq that the lead wouldn’t hold. Shaqiri is just blows a hole in the heart of defensive set up. He can’t be played until he improves his effort.

But let’s give it up for Ol’ Man Kamara. He just isn’t slowing down. His goal tonight was a true striker’s finish - beat his marker to the cross and directed the header in at an acute angle in full sprint. He’s 38!

 

Titans Bastard

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The Revs' 1-1 draw with fellow Eastern Conference contenders FC Cincinnati was marred but what appears to be a serious injury to Dylan Borrero. That's a huge loss for this team and we'll need some other players to step up to replace his contributions.
 

speedracer

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lol Rooney mentioned in his postmatch presser that Benteke was giving him a lot of stick about that goal at Old Trafford.

Rooney had been tinkering around a lot with the lineup, but seems like the optimal side is what he's fielded the last two matches -- 3-5-2, Benteke as target man, Taxi Fountas as off-striker and the attacking width mostly being supplied by the wingbacks.
 

67YAZ

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The Fire rolled out a 3-4-1-2 thing with Shaq at the 10. How’d it go?


Brady actually had a strong match with a few great stops, which is the only thing that held Nashville to 3 goals.

The “Sack Ezra” chants are getting louder, but I don’t blame him. I think he’s gotten this team to play to their level. The roster is incomplete and incoherent with the highest paid players (Shaq at $8.15m, Gimenez at $2.3m, & Przybylko at $1.1m) also being 3 of the worst performers.

Getting in an established manager with a strong track record, in MLS or beyond, would require Heitz to give up some measure of control.

Mansueto is going to have to dump Heitz in order to hire Jim Curtin this fall. I’m going to will this into existence.
 

Senator Donut

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Peter Vermes must be frantically deleting outlook meeting invitations right now.

Struber had to go for a variety of reasons. RBNY is a decent team by xGD and I expect some progression to the mean under a new manager. I’ll be watching them closely.

Hendrickson was not the problem in Chicago, but probably wasn’t going to be part of any solution either. (I call this the Jay Heaps zone.) I’ll defer to Yaz on that.
 

67YAZ

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Hendrickson was not the problem in Chicago, but probably wasn’t going to be part of any solution either. (I call this the Jay Heaps zone.) I’ll defer to Yaz on that.
Now it’s obvious that Ezra threw out that weird formation headed by Heitz’s expensive attacking transfers as a “see what you’ve given me?” kiss off.

Ezra got dealt a shitty hand for his first manager position. He’s a good guy who tried a lot of different approaches to get something from this squad. Youth development was definitely a strength. Hopefully Ezra finds a good assistant job quickly and then gets another shot as manager, this time with a well run club.

The real killer is that elevating Klopas for the rest of the season means Heitz is just writing off this one. Frank is a Chicago soccer & Fire club legend and all, but not much of a manager. So much for 2023.

Edit: not sure how Heitz can be serious about keeping Guti & Brady from the U20 WC because they’re key starters…and then install Klopas for the rest of the season. Arrggghhh.
 
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67YAZ

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In news that may or may not be related to Chicago Fire, Ralph Wicky just won the Swiss Super League in his first season in charge of Young Boys.
Insult meet injury.

A popular theory on Fire Twitter is that Mansueto won’t let Heitz hire a permanent replacement because Heitz is gone at end of season. This is the “clean slate” dream/delusion Fire fans have that we’ll sign Jim Curtin, he’ll handpick a sporting director, and Chicago replicates Philly’s success. Foolproof plan, really.
 

InstaFace

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Ezra Hendrickson continues the time-honored tradition of black coaches getting less margin-for-error, shorter grace periods and harsher scrutiny of results than white coaches*. Doesn't get even 1.5 seasons in charge. Brian Flores should buy him a drink.

* "on average, black coaches get fired one to two years sooner than white coaches with a comparable performance record" -- 2015 study. There are various other studies.
 

the1andonly3003

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I was going to come in here to ask whether I should head over to Soldier Field this summer to watch the Fire.

Good thing I don't pay for Apple TV just to watch that team....
 

Titans Bastard

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Ezra Hendrickson continues the time-honored tradition of black coaches getting less margin-for-error, shorter grace periods and harsher scrutiny of results than white coaches*. Doesn't get even 1.5 seasons in charge. Brian Flores should buy him a drink.

* "on average, black coaches get fired one to two years sooner than white coaches with a comparable performance record" -- 2015 study. There are various other studies.
Fun fact: to the best of my knowledge, there has never been an American-born black coach in MLS.
 

67YAZ

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Ezra Hendrickson continues the time-honored tradition of black coaches getting less margin-for-error, shorter grace periods and harsher scrutiny of results than white coaches*. Doesn't get even 1.5 seasons in charge. Brian Flores should buy him a drink.

* "on average, black coaches get fired one to two years sooner than white coaches with a comparable performance record" -- 2015 study. There are various other studies.
I fully agree and will only add some nuance here - Hendrickson played 260 matches in MLS and then came up as a coach through the Sounders organization, including a 3 year stint as Sounders 2 manager. Then he moved to the Galaxy for a year and Columbus for 2 more. Oh, and he was an assistant for the St Vincent & Grenadines national team for 3 years, too.

That’s as a good an MLS pedigree as you can get, and while Ezra had several interviews, Chicago was the first managerial job he landed. And everyone here knew that Ezra got that job in part because as a perennial bridesmaid, he couldn’t negotiate for much power in the transfer business and technical set up.

In short, getting passed over several times put Ezra in a weak position when taking the Fire gig. So he had a smaller than typical role in the squad’s failure but of course bears outsized consequences.

I hope he gets another shot at running a club. He deserves a chance to actually win.
 

InstaFace

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Yeah I was going to say something to the effect that his coaching career was basically the MLS cursus honorum. That doesn't make him god's gift to coaching, but you'd think he'd be a MLS "good ol' boy" now, like all those MLB retreads who just know everyone and get slack because of it.
 

67YAZ

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It’s been crappy for the Fire, but they beat StL in the Open Cup tonight and Guti managed a very slick and heady assist on the second goal.


Klopas didn’t show us anything new, back to the 4-2-3-1 Ezra was running most of the season with Shaq at the 10 and Guti out left.

The first MLS meeting between the side is Saturday. The league is pushing the “ARCH Rivals” slogan on it <groan>. Fire fans need a chant about reversing the flow of an entire river just to send our shit down to St Louis. Now that’s some real rivalry stuff.
 
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67YAZ

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Beating StL twice in a week? Yeah, that’s how you inaugurate a rivalry.
 

Pesky Pole

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Fun little battle royale broke out at the end of the Colorado-Union game. A couple of reds and a bunch of yellows after Barrios shoved Blake into the advertising boards. Apparently a supplex is a red card which makes sense. Union get the 2-1 win.
 

Senator Donut

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San Diego is next. It'll be a great market for MLS, I think.

View: https://twitter.com/dunord/status/1658561270558208002
San Diego joins St. Louis as a city where I'm stunned MLS didn't expand to earlier, but I guess if billionaires like Blank and Tepper write huge expansion checks, then they get to skip the line (and things have worked out great so far). It sucks for the USL team, which essentially did free market research for Mohamed Mansour and the Sycuan tribe. I hope they get a fat check for their efforts and in return the new club gets a peaceful transition from USL to MLS.
 

67YAZ

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In their inaugural season last year, the waves had the 3rd best NWSL attendance with 96k. They also set the single match record with 30k for their home opener. The fans are there.

I also look forward to another MLS academy in our richest talent pool.
 

Titans Bastard

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An eight figure fee for Araujo is great business for a guy who didn't live up to his billing.
 

67YAZ

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Somehow last night’s Open Cup match was the first meeting of the Fire and Austin.

Shaqiri is reborn under Klopas. I think there’a 2 parts to this. Frank is not assigning Shaq to do any defensive work. The Swiss Messi is back to having a truly free role, so he’s making the most of it. Which is related to point 2 - it’s clear that Shaq “quiet quit” on Ezra, so now he’s back to playing at his actual level.

Klopas rolled out a 3-4-2-1 last night with Shaq and Guti as dual 10s behind Kamara. Selassie played RWB, which could be fine for now since he’s such a pacy and disciplined player. But I’m not sure how long the defensive shape can hold up with Shaq & Guti on the pitch together.

If this squad ends up being an all-attack, no-defend, every match sees 5-+ goals…that might not be successful, but at least it’s entertaining.
 

Titans Bastard

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Toronto FC have the highest payroll in the league, driven in large part by the hefty salaries of Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi, but are dead last in the East right now.

This article is incredible.
  • Bernardeschi hates Bob Bradley
  • Insigne hates Bob Bradley
  • Bernardeschi and Insigne hate each other
  • Michael Bradley is distant, aloof, and creates a weird vibe in the locker room
  • Bernardeschi openly vaping in the practice facility
  • Manning going over the heads of the technical staff and signing players based on their Transfermarkt profiles

The call, according to multiple sources briefed by players who took part, included nine or 10 players and was led by the two highest-paid members of the team: Italians Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi, the latter of whom told reporters on Saturday night after the loss that, “I think maybe we need to change something.”

Monday’s conversation directly concerned the type of change the former Italian national team winger was seeking: the ouster of head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley.

The behind-the-scenes bickering continued on Tuesday as players and coaches returned to Toronto’s training facility, according to multiple sources present. There, Bradley met with the team’s leadership committee, which includes his son and TFC captain Michael Bradley, Sean Johnson, Insigne, Matt Hedges, Jonathan Osorio, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Richie Laryea, about how to address Bernardeschi’s comments. After that meeting, the full team convened. There, Bob Bradley confronted Bernardeschi about his quotes from Saturday night. Bernardeschi initially said he had nothing else to add, but when challenged further, the Italian traded barbs about team issues and tactics with both Bradleys and Kaye. Eventually, the meeting dispersed and the team went forward with its preparation for Saturday’s game against D.C. United.
Multiple sources within and outside of the team were told that at the conclusion of last season, Insigne declared in front of teammates that he would not return to TFC if Bradley remained head coach. Although he did indeed return, the same sources confirmed Insigne again told teammates this week that he did not want to continue playing under Bradley moving forward.

Multiple sources familiar with both players also said Insigne and Bernardeschi did not get along before signing for TFC and that those issues have continued in Toronto, with the compatriots having at least one blow-up fight last season. Last month, when Michael Bradley and Jonathan Osorio were both injured, Insigne was named captain for the upcoming game against NYCFC. When the team was informed ahead of a training session in preparation for the game, Bernardeschi initially refused to go on to the field, multiple sources who witnessed the encounter said.
A jockeying of egos between the designated players has continued. Sources said Bernardeschi was upset that Insigne had a jacket collaboration with Drake’s OVO brand and he did not, for example, and that Insigne went to MLS’ media day ahead of the 2023 season while he did not. Insigne’s reps, meanwhile, were upset that the 2023 MLSPA salary release did not include the star’s marketing deal that adds a significant chunk to his earnings. According to the release, Insigne’s $7.5-million guaranteed compensation is now second in the league to Chicago’s Xherdan Shaqiri’s $8.153-million deal.
The pair have not been pillars of the locker room individually, either. Sources within the team said Bernardeschi has been admonished for using a vape pen in the practice facility, including the training room and on the team plane, despite being told multiple times it was not allowed. Insigne, meanwhile, has remained a somewhat distant figure among the squad, in part because he does not speak much English. He interacts with teammates who speak Italian and Spanish, but otherwise keeps mostly to himself, club sources said.
In the meeting, per multiple sources present, Bernardeschi quipped “of course, you’re his son” to Michael when the veteran midfielder spoke up to encourage Bernardeschi to air his issues out in the meeting, and “of course, you’re his papa” to Bob. At one point, when Mark-Anthony Kaye interjected, Bernardeschi referred to Kaye as Bob’s “other son.”

Multiple sources on the team or close to players on the team said there is a feeling among some players in the locker room that issues discussed around Michael Bradley would find their way to his father and the coaching staff, creating a walking-on-eggshells feeling among a locker room that is, ideally, supposed to be close-knit. Those sources said that players still don’t speak freely around Michael due to concern that it will reach the coaches.

“He’s not a teammate,” said one former Toronto FC player of Michael. “He’s an assistant coach.”
The signings highlighted what some believe has been a problem under Manning. Multiple former TFC employees said Manning does not seek others’ opinions when making decisions and that he considers himself the best scout, negotiator and talent evaluator in the club. Another said he looks for the easiest path in soccer decisions, pointing to the fact that Manning said he went to the website Transfermarkt.com to find a player, while failing to consider the relationships and personalities at play in such a major move.
 

InstaFace

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"Manning going over the heads of the technical staff and signing players based on their Transfermarkt profiles"

Oh god, as if Manuel Veth doesn't have a big enough head already.
 

67YAZ

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Hey Revs fans, you ready for a Shaq Attack!?!?

A couple days ago the Fire announced Chris Mueller is out for the season after arthroscopic hip surgery. He was the squads second best goal threat and only effective winger.

The shift to the 3-4-2-1 makes more sense now since the squad is weak on wingers. Not sure if Klopas can stick with this for long since the shape requires a pair of beastly wingbacks who can effectively control the flanks without support. The Fire don’t have that.
 

67YAZ

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I’m really not sure what to make of this kinesiology line up. Koutsias is a stinker - no idea why he’d start over Guti I’d everyone is healthy.

 

67YAZ

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Finally, the Fires’ the 3 best players get in the match - Czichos, Kamara, & Guti. Time to turn this back around.
 

Titans Bastard

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This game is giving me a good sense of what it is like to be a Chicago Fire fan.
 

Titans Bastard

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We've got a midweek slate tonight, PLUS the first leg of the CCL final: León vs. LAFC at 10pm ET on FS1. León finished 6th in the Liga MX Clausura season that just concluded.

If you find yourself wondering what Joel Campbell is up to these days, he's probably coming off the bench for León tonight.
 

67YAZ

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Brady made a nice save and paid the price in the form of a knee to the face. In case you’re wondering what kind of SOB Brady is, he stood up and laughed before getting subbed off.

 

67YAZ

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What was I saying about the Fire being at least entertaining? Last 180 minutes = 10 shots, 1 on goal, 0 goals. Blecht.