MLS 2021: On a scale of 1-10, my baby's 26

67YAZ

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I didn’t watch the Fire match on Sunday, but the field was a disaster for football on Saturday, and that’s a sport that doesn’t involve a ball rolling on grass.
View: https://twitter.com/briansandalow/status/1442148186315837450
I was just doing some reading about the turf and discovered that Green Bay uses Desso GrassMaster hybrid turf, same as at Old Trafford and a number of other top clubs.

Obviously, sharing a playing surface with a football team is going to fuck things up in September and October. But if a hybrid surface can work in Green Bay, it can work in Chicago.
 

ThePrideofShiner

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After scoring twice, Raul Ruidiaz pulled up lame with a potential hamstring issue and he's subbed off at halftime. Hopefully just precautionary.
 

67YAZ

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Man, that’s cold right on the heels of a win. And, oh yeah, Wicky was also a core piece of the Heitz plan for the club…and Wicky takes the fall for its failure. I won’t go to the mat for Wicky the manager - too many matches with poor prep, too many weird formation shifts, too many locker room factions. But how much could you really expect out of this roster?

Bob Bradley is being rumored as the favored target, but will Bob really come if Heitz still controls the roster? There’s a lot of salary coming off the books this winter, so a a quick mini-rebuild is possible. Any manager with a good track record is gonna want to be hands on with that process, which hasn’t been the Heitz approach.

Frank Klopas, it’s your time to shine.

Edit: I do feel for Wicky. By all accounts, he's a good guy and is impeccable with the media - he'll occasionally challenge a player to step up their form in public, but always has his guys' backs and takes responsibility when the microphones are on. Hope he lands in a good spot with some talent to work with next.
 
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67YAZ

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Who says there’s no excitemt at the bottom of the table?

Chicago went up 2-0 by the 17th minute, and then Cincy had it knotted by the 36th. The match then settled into a frustrating note until injury time, where Cincy scored once and Chicago netted twice after the 90th minute.

Edit: Wish the Fire could just end the season on this. Cancel the rest of the matches! Go out on a high note!

 
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67YAZ

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Fire put a dent in RSL’s playoff hopes tonight. A reported 31k at Soldier Field! Pretty entertaining stuff, too.

Beric has scored 3 in the last 2 matches. I have this sinking feeling that he’s going to get a new deal out of this…

Gaga Slonina with a strong all around performance. I think he’s shown enough to be the #1 keeper next season. It will definitely be a growth year for him, but this squad needs a turnover and should count qualifying for playoffs as success.

also, today in KC…

 

ThePrideofShiner

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Welp, the Sounders have certainly made me think that I should cancel my plane tickets to Boston for the MLS Cup.

Jesus, what a collapse.
 

Senator Donut

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Twellman just dropped a bombshell during the halftime show. Apparently the Chicago Fire decided to inform the players who are not having their options picked up. Those seven players have left the team and will likely not be available for the important finale against Columbus. Calvo has already reported for national team duty.
 

67YAZ

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Twellman just dropped a bombshell during the halftime show. Apparently the Chicago Fire decided to inform the players who are not having their options picked up. Those seven players have left the team and will likely not be available for the important finale against Columbus. Calvo has already reported for national team duty.
Ugh. What the fuck is Heitz doing?

So far looks like Twellman is the only one reporting the story. None of the locals have tweeted independent confirmation yet. Hopefully they will have some sources shedding light on why they would do this.
 

Senator Donut

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Titans Bastard

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View: https://twitter.com/HoustonDynamo/status/1456395838243049473


No surprise here. Not only did the Dynamo have a tough year, but the club has a new, seemingly more ambitious owner. They just brought in former club legend Pat Onstad to be the GM.

It's going to be quite an offseason manager carousel. There are vacancies or interims at RSL, Vancouver, Dallas, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Houston. Perez at Toronto technically isn't an interim but I think his deal is up this winter. Bob Bradley seems likely to leave LAFC. You never know if Matias Almeyda will peace out of SJ.
 

67YAZ

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Twellman now says the Fire expect everyone except Calvo, who has already absconded to Costa Rica, to travel with the team to Columbus.
View: https://twitter.com/taylortwellman/status/1456109011774828547
Local reporting suggests that Twellman got the “7 players waking out early” part wrong.

Heitz did inform players with contract options whether or no they’ll have those picked up. Heitz claimed this is how it’s done in Europe and it’s for the benefit of the player, who gets more time to line up their next step.There’s invisibly no official list yet, but looks like Beric, Medran, Calvo, and Luka are moving out while Gimenez stays. Medran had a very good season, so this seems like a poor decision for the Fire. He’ll have some attractive options. Retaining Gimenez seems odd, but Beric and Luke going opens a good deal of salary and a DP slot.

But all the players have been in training except Calvo, who was granted leave to get to the CR team camp per their manager’s request. This happened in the September window, too, so I don’t think there’s anything scandalous here. Plus, the Fire are better with Calvo a 1000 miles away.

Anyway, Twellman seems to either have gotten bad info or made some bad inferences. Either way, he needs to confirm his stories before dropping bombs live on air.
 

Pesky Pole

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Watching the Union/NYCFC game and I still can’t believe this field is allowed in a real professional league. It’s a hockey rink with awful turf. The Union are up a man but its hardly an advantage when my 84 year old mom could change fields.
 

67YAZ

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Flipped over to the Crew-Fire after the Red Stars win. The match is a wide-open mess with some poor officiating helping that along.

But 18-year-old homegrown Alex Monis gets his professional debut for the Fire with a second-half sub. And he promptly whiffs on a volley attempt. Welcome to the show, kid.
 

67YAZ

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I really thought Columbus had the mark of a repeat champion coming into the season.
 

67YAZ

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Someone on Twitter just pointed out that the Fire were the only MLS team not to be awarded a PK this season. So top of the shopping list has gotta be someone who actually makes dangerous plays in the box at least once a season.

Looks like Chicago will have 11 players leave this winter, including several top earners. I’m doubting that Heitz will recruit an MLS-experienced manager and allow him to reshape the roster…but c’mon, go get Bob Bradley and let’s do some shit next year!
 

ThePrideofShiner

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The damn playoff schedule still isn't out. Twitter says MLS is basically changing dates, etc., to try and get the Sounders the game on Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting here in a tickets presale window and won't buy because I don't know when the damn game is!
 

Senator Donut

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The damn playoff schedule still isn't out. Twitter says MLS is basically changing dates, etc., to try and get the Sounders the game on Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting here in a tickets presale window and won't buy because I don't know when the damn game is!
I mentioned some of this in the Revs thread, it seemed like the plan was for the Sounders or SKC to host on Thanksgiving coming off a bye against a team that played on 11/20, but both those plans were blown up on decision day. Now Fox and MLS are staring down the prospect of the Revs or Rapids hosting a network television match with an NFL lead-in.

Obviously I’m hoping for a quick resolution so I don’t have to blow up my Thanksgiving plans on short notice.
 

Senator Donut

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Lorenzo Insigne rumors to MLS (likely TFC) keep popping up in Italian media. The article itself pours cold water on the idea, but Insigne is out of contract in June and is miles apart from Napoli on an extension. There will likely be a resolution one way or another in the January window.

It’s hard for me imagine Insigne in MLS before the 2022 World Cup, but stranger things have happened. I don’t think he’d be frozen out of the national team like other aging European imports.

View: https://twitter.com/salvione/status/1458048806029778948
 

PseuFighter

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Wasn't sure where to put this, and maybe it could be its own thread if there's interest, but does anyone watch Liga MX? Now that I'm in Mexico, I've been catching a fair amount of matches, and going to all of the Club America and Cruz Azul matches I can make in Mexico City. Just wondering. Figured there'd be some amount of crossover with MLS fans.
 

ThePrideofShiner

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I have nothing to add, but I read this morning that Cruz Azul is after Raul Ruidiaz. That is the extent of my Liga MX knowledge.
 

Senator Donut

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Wasn't sure where to put this, and maybe it could be its own thread if there's interest, but does anyone watch Liga MX? Now that I'm in Mexico, I've been catching a fair amount of matches, and going to all of the Club America and Cruz Azul matches I can make in Mexico City. Just wondering. Figured there'd be some amount of crossover with MLS fans.
English TV coverage has improved dramatically in the past few years, but I’ll seldom watch outside of the playoffs, which can be wildly entertaining. The late night start times can be pretty fun on a Saturday evening if I’m staying in. There’s not much soccer on at that hour of the day, maybe some west coast MLS wrapping up.

I did watch all of the Club World Cup final and Tigres played Bayern about as well as a mid-table Bundesliga club would, but much like in MLS, it’s really hard to sustain success. Liga MX has its super clubs like America and Chivas, but it’s pretty easy for others to break through, culminating in Cruz Azul winning a rare title last summer. It’s a super fun league that ought to get more worldwide respect.

/r/LigaMX has probably the most English discussions about the league (the site is bilingual though). The #LigaMXen hashtag is usually pretty dead, but picks up in the playoffs.
 

PseuFighter

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/r/LigaMX has probably the most English discussions about the league (the site is bilingual though). The #LigaMXen hashtag is usually pretty dead, but picks up in the playoffs.
Cool! I'm active on that sub, and, bonus it's helping me with my Spanish. It's a super fun league, yes, and it's definitely one of the more fun things to keep up on down here. The games are awesome live (the beer pic in my avi is from the America/Chivas match in September). I'm for now rolling with Cruz Azul, but my knowledge of the league/players is extremely limited.
 

Senator Donut

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Grant Wahl published his arbitrary but entertaining annual "ambition rankings"

https://www.si.com/soccer/2019/06/10/mls-ambition-rankings-2019

Last year, Columbus saved the Revs from being in last place. This year, it's Stan Kroenke and the Rapids!
The bottom two teams in Wahl’s most recent ambition ranking have now qualified for Champions League as the clubs with the records in both the east and west conferences. Shockingly, this was published after Bruce Arena was hired.

Also, his bottom club from 2018 is the reigning champion of MLS with a sparkling new stadium, though circumstances have certainly changed!
 
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ThePrideofShiner

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I take that as less that Wahl was off base and more on how quickly things can change in MLS.

I don't think anyone expected the Rapids to win the West.

Frankly, the Sounders making the playoffs seems to be the only thing guaranteed year in and year out.
 

Titans Bastard

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Wasn't sure where to put this, and maybe it could be its own thread if there's interest, but does anyone watch Liga MX? Now that I'm in Mexico, I've been catching a fair amount of matches, and going to all of the Club America and Cruz Azul matches I can make in Mexico City. Just wondering. Figured there'd be some amount of crossover with MLS fans.
Liga MX is a fun league and is the most popular soccer league in the United States. However, Liga MX fandom is largely limited to Mexican-Americans and there isn't a ton of overlap outside of that group. I'm not sure how many Mexican-American Liga MX fans also follow MLS; given that he's had prostate cancer it would be in poor taste to say that Don Garber would give his left nut for there to be more crossover support from Liga MX fans, but you get the idea.
 

Titans Bastard

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I take that as less that Wahl was off base and more on how quickly things can change in MLS.

I don't think anyone expected the Rapids to win the West.

Frankly, the Sounders making the playoffs seems to be the only thing guaranteed year in and year out.
The correlation between salary spending and results in 2021 is absolutely bonkers. Four of the top five clubs in terms of payroll did not even make the playoffs(!!!!). That would be LAG, Toronto, Miami, and LAFC. Miami is 4th in payroll but would actually be first if you discounted Matuidi's fraudulent $1.5m listing and counted his actual $5.2-$5.6m compensation (lol — what an awful signing).

The Rapids are dead last in salary spending, and they don't spend much — if anything at all — on transfer fees either.
 

67YAZ

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The Fire are set to hire LA Galaxy legend and long-time assistant manager Ezra Hendrickson as manager. While he may lack head management experience, he knows MLS with a superb coaching pedigree. Contract not final yet, but I’m hopeful about this hire.
 

Titans Bastard

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The Fire are set to hire LA Galaxy legend and long-time assistant manager Ezra Hendrickson as manager. While he may lack head management experience, he knows MLS with a superb coaching pedigree. Contract not final yet, but I’m hopeful about this hire.
He's one of those assistants who is connected with a lot of jobs, so it felt like it was only a matter of time before someone hired him. It's going to be boom times for people like him, as the pendulum is swinging aggressively against foreign hires and toward domestic hires.
 

Titans Bastard

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The playoffs begin today. Philly vs. RBNY at 2:30 (ET) and SKC vs. Vancouver at 5pm.
 

ThePrideofShiner

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I'm a little surprised by how easily SKC dismantled Vancouver. That sets up an epic quarterfinal in Seattle assuming the Sounders take care of business on Tuesday.
 

67YAZ

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I missed this back when the news broke in August - Joe Mansueto purchased FC Lugano of the Swiss Super League. And he put Georg Heitz as director of football for both clubs.

This is paying off now as it appears Ignacio Aliseda will be transferred from the Fire to Lugano in January, which opens up a Young DP slot. Aliseda came in 2 seasons ago looking like a classic Heitz move - a young player who flashed tremendous skills, but was physically under-developed and in need of more playing time than he was getting in Argentina.

But it hasn’t quite panned out as well as hoped. Aliseda landed in the US and a week later the country shut down due to the pandemic. Only 19, he knew no one in Chicago and barely spoke English. It was a tough transition. When matches resumed, he was pushed around a good bit and doesn’t seem to fit well into Wicky’s system (if we can call it thag).

This last season was a lot more hit or miss for Aliseda, who fought injuries and got bounced between being an in cutting left wing, a #10, and a wide right winger. Still only 21, he could blossom with good structure and coaching.

The transfer fee will be minimal, if anything at all. Mostly this opens up a DP a lot and salary for Chicago.

Clearly the Man City and a Red Bull clubs are part of international networks to clubs, but they are also clearly feeders up to larger clubs. Is there anything similar to the Fire-Lugano relationship in MLS where the MLS club is an equal or maybe even the bigger club in its network?
 

ThePrideofShiner

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Heading up to Seattle to go to the Sounders-RSL match tonight. This will be the sixth playoff game I've been to. Seattle is 4-0 in my previous playoff appearances.

2006 MLS Cup Houston 1, New England 1 (4-3 PK)
2014 Western Conference Finals Seattle 2, LA Galaxy 1 (Galaxy advanced on away goals)
2015 Western Conference semifinals Seattle 2, FC Dallas 1 (Dallas later won on aggregate)
2016 Western Conference Finals Seattle 2, Colorado 1 (Seattle won on aggregate)
2019 MLS Cup Seattle 3, Toronto 1