MLS 2024: It’s Leo’s league, we’re all just playing in it

67YAZ

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Congrats to Columbus & all that.

But the trade window is open! A new season is just over the horizon and with it, optimism for every club.

Maybe not Chicago. They did make two moves today, though, and in a shocking twist, both for established MLS players. Heitz is really willing to try anything to keep his job!

The Fire traded Navarro and $450k GAM (spread over 2 years) for Andrew Gutman. That’s an upgrade at LB. Not a world beater, but cutting down on killer mistakes and playing with some sense of tactics will be a big improvement.

The Fire also nabbed Tom Barlow from RBNY for $250k GAM + 150k in performance clauses. Seems steep for a guy who is likely a depth signing since Barlow is somehow even less clinical in front of net than the current options.

But at least Chicago is getting MLS quality players here! There’s going to be a lot more to come. Rumor is they’ll waive Przybylko if no offers are forthcoming. Carlos Teran already publicly asked for a move to Europe - a low 7-figure sum should get it done - and Guti has had scouts sniffing around.

I’d actually argue that a physical, athletic league like MLS is perfect for Guti’s development needs. But he also has to play in roles that fit his game, and I don’t know how that happens with Shaq on the roster. At $8m+ in salary due, Alpine Messi ain’t going nowhere.
 
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Titans Bastard

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The Revs have begun the offseason with a badly-needed boost to their fullback depth, acquiring Nick Lima from Austin FC. I think he'd be a very creditable third fullback on the depth chart behind Jones and Bye, but he'll also fill in at RB for at least a good chunk of the season as Bye works his way back from a torn ACL. No more Matt Polster deputizing at fullback.

Gustavo Bou has departed; he's a good player, but I always felt his presence in the squad complicated things tactically because much of the midfield & attacker group are suited to a 4-2-3-1 whereas he's suited for a two-forward formation.

This clears the way for an obvious 4-2-3-1 with Chancalay, Gil, and Borrero forming an imposing trio across the attacking midfield space.

The biggest questions are:

1) The manager. The technical staff seemed to have an incredibly toxic relationship due to the fallout of whatever the Arena business was about and that spilled into the locker room. The atmosphere around the team needs a reset, and we also need a manager who can get the most out of a team that has a lot of young, developing players. There are a lot of rumors regarding managers with extensive MLS experience, though none of them are especially exciting to me. We'll see. Hoping I don't have to root for Caleb Porter.

2) GK. After Petrovic was sold, the team brought in the highly experience Czech international Tomas Vaclik, but something was very strange about the signing. I don't know if it has to do with his actions or if he's a casualty of all the front office / coaching chaos, but he barely even made the squad. The team needs a starting keeper, it shouldn't be Edwards or Jackson, and it doesn't seem clear whether or not Vaclik is the guy.

3) Center forward. Giacomo Vrioni doesn't look like a good use of a DP spot. If there's a way to dump his contract and DP spot and replace him with a higher performing forward, the Revs should jump on it.

Other angles to consider:

3) The Revs' academy has never been in such high standing as it is right now. Noel Buck was the revelation last year, and hopefully he'll take another step forward in 2024. There are a lot of other young guys who could possibly have an impact. Winger Esmir Bajraktarevic is the most likely candidate. Left back Peyton Miller is a top prospect, but 2024 might be a little too soon for him to play much in MLS. They've also got Jack Panayotou, Malcolm Fry, and Tiago Suarez in the mix.
 

ThePrideofShiner

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Nico Lodeiro is officially done in Seattle and is a free agent. He is really good friends with Luis Suarez and has posted a ton about Inter Miami in the last few months, so I could see him taking a discount to go there if they will have him.

That said he's easily the best player in franchise history and one of the great Seattle sports icons.

75020
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Feels like there's no reasonable judgement to make until someone eventually inevitably leaks what the hell Bruce was saying or doing, but this is another datapoint that maybe points away from "Arena said some truly unforgivibly heinous shit" and towards The Assassination of Bruce Arena by The Coward Richie Williams or whatever.
 

Senator Donut

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Arroyo Con Frijoles

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Maybe an unpopular take in fan circles, but no issue for me officially running out the reserves. I'd probably rather see them than a heavily rotated side with a questionable level of motivation anyway.
 

Theodoric

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I understand that we'll never get promotion and relegation. But this is spitting in the face of football tradition at a time that many Americans are getting into the sport and embracing that tradition.

It also seems epically stupid. At the precise media time that millions of people are tuning in to follow the adventures of Wrexham, some genius said "I want to deny Sioux Falls FC the unlikely chance at a one-off match against an MLS club."
 

Titans Bastard

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MLS should have just leaned into what LAFC did last season, which is having clubs run out more and more reserve team players for USOC matches. That allows teams who want to take it seriously the ability to do so, while other teams can treat the cup the way a lot of Euro clubs do: play backups and reserves until/unless you get deeper into the competition.

I don't think MLS will face a huge backlash for this. There is a vocal group of fans who are extremely mad. Some of them are genuine fans of American soccer who love the USOC, some of them are bad-faith USMNT fans who are relentlessly negative about everything about domestic soccer and never watch it anyway. The issue is that the large majority of American fans don't care about the US Open Cup all that much.

It's a bit of a chicken and egg problem. The competition has a lot of history, but a lot of matches are poorly attended. The USSF hasn't marketed and developed it well, so MLS at this point seems to view Leagues Cup as a competition that has a lot more potential. And FWIW, I think they're right.

I'd still like MLS to reverse course. A domestic cup competition like the USOC is a unique quirk in the American sports landscape.
 

Titans Bastard

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Jimy Hendrix

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NYRB has signed Emil Forsberg, the first big DP signing of the offseason. This feels like a more ambitious signing than we've been accustomed to seeing from the club lately, even if its someone coming from with the Red Bull umbrella.

https://www.newyorkredbulls.com/news/emil


Orlando managed to sell their 30 year old backup CB Antonio Carlos to reigning Libertadores champions Fluminense for a modest fee.
I mean, Forsberg is a name, but he's also a 32 year old who seems to be fading out of prominence in Leipzig. It's definitely a change of approach for sure.
 

67YAZ

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On the Twitters, Tom Bogert is saying Caleb Porter is on his way to the Revs.
 

Titans Bastard

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TB, I hope you're fucking happy about speaking this into existence.



Ever consider using your powers for good?
Excellent pull. I still love this gif.

I'll see if I can find any Berhalter gifs that can karmically push the USMNT in the right direction.
 

67YAZ

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it’s the MLS Super Draft, baby! I’m becoming a real sicko.

At #6 the Fire selected Bryan Dowd, GK from from Notre Dame. The kid actually came up through the Fire academy, and realizing he was behind Slonina & Brady, took a scholarship offer. But he has great tools and played superbly for the Irish. Dowd was also back up punter & placekicker for the football team, but doesn’t look like he ever got into a game.

Dowd will fill a key gap in the Fire’s GK pipeline as a potential long term starter after Brady inevitably & lucratively transfers to Europe & before one of the Pats (2 ‘07 keepers named Patrick & Patryk who have been involved with the US youth national system) hopefully emerge.

Dowd probably starts the season as the Fire II starting GK. If/when injuries hit, we’ll get to see him with the big boys. Too bad there isn’t some kind of cup competition for him to get some burn…

The Fire also drafted my favorite name in the draft, Jason Shokalook, a winger from University of Akron. He put up some nice numbers and was written up as a top-10 pick, but fell into round 2. Should be a fun kid to root for.

The club released & didn’t renew a bunch of Fire II players this month, so I expect all of these kids to get a chance to make that team.
 
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Titans Bastard

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The club released & didn’t renew a bunch of Fire II players this month, so I expect all of these kids to get a chance to make that team.
Do you have a link for this? The offseason roster decisions of Chicago Fire II was one of the MLS Next Pro teams I couldn't track down.
 

67YAZ

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Do you have a link for this? The offseason roster decisions of Chicago Fire II was one of the MLS Next Pro teams I couldn't track down.
Some of them here, namely the kids who also got some time with the senior squad. The rest I reckoned from comparing the updated roster with last season’s stats.

Pulling out the senior players making rehab/fitness appearances, I think the Fire released 14. Though Javier Casas remains in negotiations, probably trying to find a club willing to offer a senior roster spot.
 

Arroyo Con Frijoles

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I can't handle any more of the hand wringing over this USOC thing, much of which basically reads to me like concern trolling from MLS-hating USMNT fans or people writing in the Guardian. I understand that it's a bummer in general terms, but I'm finding myself turning into an Alexi Lalas contrarian and it's making me question everything I thought I knew about myself.
 

67YAZ

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I can't handle any more of the hand wringing over this USOC thing, much of which basically reads to me like concern trolling from MLS-hating USMNT fans or people writing in the Guardian. I understand that it's a bummer in general terms, but I'm finding myself turning into an Alexi Lalas contrarian and it's making me question everything I thought I knew about myself.
Well, US Soccer has flipped on the issue. From the US Soccer twitter (spoilered for large image):

75348
 

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rguilmar

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The statement from MLS

https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/mls-statement

I can't handle any more of the hand wringing over this USOC thing, much of which basically reads to me like concern trolling from MLS-hating USMNT fans or people writing in the Guardian. I understand that it's a bummer in general terms, but I'm finding myself turning into an Alexi Lalas contrarian and it's making me question everything I thought I knew about myself.
I admit that I was very frustrated by the MLS decision. I considered it short sighted and honestly kinda petty. But I think your sentiment is spot on (except for the Alexi Lalas thing- don’t sell your soul like that). Most of the people bashing the decision now have long standing hatred of MLS and are just piling onto the league. There is a difference between constructive criticism and constant criticism. Many of these folks fall into the latter category.

Personally I did briefly consider dropping my Apple TV sub over the issue but ultimately decided to keep it.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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I can't handle any more of the hand wringing over this USOC thing, much of which basically reads to me like concern trolling from MLS-hating USMNT fans or people writing in the Guardian. I understand that it's a bummer in general terms, but I'm finding myself turning into an Alexi Lalas contrarian and it's making me question everything I thought I knew about myself.
I dislike it in principle (I went out to see Pittsburgh knock out Columbus and it was a ton of fun), but I get it from the MLS perspective too. US Soccer has done a miserable job with that cup, the prize is $300,000 and it took the prospect of untelevised Messi games to get last year's addition viewable anywhere. US Soccer has had years to make the cup something and MLS drummed up a more profitable and exciting tournament easily with the Leagues Cup.

I like that US Soccer is pushing back and I hope that they couple that with some more investment into the cup to make it better for everybody involved.
 

ThePrideofShiner

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Apparently, US Soccer keeps 50 percent of the gate at all Open Cup competitions. I bet that is the biggest reason MLS wants to pull out.

Also, the schedule for next season just dropped. Seattle hosts Portland (!) on Decision Day. That's wild.
 

Senator Donut

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I can't handle any more of the hand wringing over this USOC thing, much of which basically reads to me like concern trolling from MLS-hating USMNT fans or people writing in the Guardian. I understand that it's a bummer in general terms, but I'm finding myself turning into an Alexi Lalas contrarian and it's making me question everything I thought I knew about myself.
The breakdown of the online outrage over the Open Cup can probably be portioned as follows.

5% USL fans who are losing their only chance to face-off against the best of the best in American soccer

5% MLS fans genuinely upset about the issue

90% Premier League fans who thought Steffen was better than Turner because he played for Pep and are clinging to this because it fits their agenda.

Like a lot of people, I think this was a bad decision. USSF is running this tournament into the ground, but I don’t think withdrawing is the correct decision. I certainly voted with my wallet not to attend any Open Cup matches in Foxboro last year. (If Bruce didn’t care about the result, why should I?) despite attending more than a dozen league matches.

Maybe this was some sort of power play to exert more control? I would like to see the Open Cup improved instead of abandoned. The league taking control of the competition would not be a bad idea.
 

Titans Bastard

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My first thought was...but why? There are plenty of cromulent goalkeepers in MLS including the LAFC incumbent Maxime Crepeau (who is a free agent), so spending big on a declining big-name GK doesn't make a lot of sense in the context of MLS salary rules. But the LA Times says he's here on a one year, $350,000 contract. The LAFC announcement says there are option years on the contract for 2025 and 2026, but the risk level is shockingly low here.

View: https://twitter.com/LAFC/status/1741172161833017456


Context on salary here:

View: https://twitter.com/tombogert/status/1741212244799578559
 

SocrManiac

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Gigi Buffon hung on through his decline in skills in part because he could set his defense up more effectively than a better shot stopper. Fewer effective shots, fewer shots he could no longer stop. Net win for everybody. He also had three Italians playing in front of him with a long-established chemistry, which was no small asset.

LAFC might be banking on something similar here. Maybe it’ll work. Lloris was certainly a strong captain at the back, though less so toward the end. His English is good, if I recall his interviews correctly. At that salary, i think it’s worthwhile for all involved. I bet there was a bigger Saudi payday waiting somewhere.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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It feels non-coincidental that they lost Chiellini and picked up Lloris. I suspect Cherundolo or Thorrington likes having guys who've started the hugest finals in world football and even won some of them (insert Spurs joke here, fine, but man has a World Cup winner's medal).
 

Titans Bastard

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I dislike it in principle (I went out to see Pittsburgh knock out Columbus and it was a ton of fun), but I get it from the MLS perspective too. US Soccer has done a miserable job with that cup, the prize is $300,000 and it took the prospect of untelevised Messi games to get last year's addition viewable anywhere. US Soccer has had years to make the cup something and MLS drummed up a more profitable and exciting tournament easily with the Leagues Cup.
Just to underscore the point you made in the bolded...

View: https://twitter.com/jaimeor96/status/1740449434834518191
 

67YAZ

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More reports that Djordje is pushing for a return stateside, but that his preferred destination - sweet home Chicago - is out due to AZ’s asking price.

Given current roster construction, this makes sense, but it would also be worth bringing Djordje in and then trying to move a winger if - big IF - Djordje is willing to play out wide and not though the middle.

I’m assuming Shaq at $8.25m salary is immovable, so we might get a “rolling rebuild” season in Chicago as they wait to get Alpine Messi off the books.
 
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Titans Bastard

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The Revs re-signed Ema Boateng and the Blazing Musket has been reporting that they are close to signing Slovak goalkeeper Henrich Rivas. It seems that the Tomas Vaclik Era is over before it ever began.

Tom Bogert reports that Troy Lesesne will be hired as D.C. United's next coach. Lesesne is a former manager of New Mexico United in USL, who left to take an assistant job with RBNY. He was elevated to head coach in May when Gerhard Struber was sacked, but his contract was not renewed this offseason. That would leave Minnesota and Montreal as the final managerial openings.

Nashville SC picked up one-time USMNT winger Tyler Boyd from the LA Galaxy.

DC signed 22 year old Brazilian attacking midfielder Gabriel Pirani from Santos as a U22 initiative signing. Santos just suffered the first relegation in club history, so I imagine there's a bit of a feeding frenzy on the better parts of their roster.

LAFC lost 24 year old Ecuadorian international left back Diego Palacios, who was a free agent this offseason and just signed with Corinthians in Brazil.
 

Senator Donut

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The DC United Job has been open so long that Wayne Rooney was both hired and fired by Birmingham City during that time period.
 

Titans Bastard

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Titans Bastard

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The Connecticut Nutmeggers
The Bridgeport Ballot Stuffers


But seriously, it's gotten extremely tiresome that at all levels of domestic pro soccer, every single team uses boring-ass Anglophile names that have no character.

In 2011, the Portland Timbers and the Vancouver Whitecaps joined MLS.

Since then we have:

CF (formerly Montreal Impact)
FC
City SC
United FC
United FC
FC
FC
CF
SC
FC
FC
City SC