4231 - Week 13
Welcome to one of the weirdest weekends of the season. Weather was hell around the country and dragged out a bunch of games on Saturday and then Sunday was loaded down. Factor in some midweek games and looming US Open Cup madness and of course it was dumb. Let's see how dumb.
4 Thoughts on the Week that Was
The South (Still) Got Something To Say
This never gets old. The Southeast continues to just do fun and weird things out of what I assume is spite. Atlanta and Nashville played a weird game after waiting through three hours of severe weather and the fans showed out wonderfully despite being forced into the concourses for hours. On the field, Atlanta continued to try and survive a slew of injuries while Nashville continued to prove that they have the most effective fortress in MLS.
Elsewhere Charlotte struggled more than you might expect with Vancouver coming to town but Miguel Angel Ramirez keeps finding ways to get wins with this team. They gave up an early goal with sloppy build up and then buckled down to flip the result. I am still not convinced of a super high ceiling with this team but they keep getting results.
Finally Orlando dark arts their way to a 2-2 draw in Austin which is something a lot of teams have not been able to say in 2022. The Lions got two early goals and then survived two red cards and poor game management from PRO to escape with a draw despite ending the game with nine players. Orlando feels like they are playing above their heads still but they have somehow been getting the job done.
The point is, the four teams in the deep south continue to get things done in their own special way while providing their own unique brands of chaos.
What the hell are you?!
Look, I am exhausted by you, Colorado. I do not know what you are or what you are. You drop points last Wednesday to a broken Sporting Kansas City, then turn around and beat Seattle. (Seattle we will talk about you another time. Yes you won CCL and that banner should carry a lot of weight but I cannot wait forever for you to actually function in the league.) Meanwhile San Jose has gotten some sort of metaphorical blood transfusion and can spit out results now. Sure they still have some ghosts of Almayda that flare up every so often but they act like a functioning team for most of the time. It is weird and part of me does not like it.
The Great Spoon Race of 2022
We talk a lot about the Wooden Spoon in MLS and somehow I feel like we do not talk about it enough. This year is shaping up to be another fun race to the bottom for a number of teams. Vancouver’s honeymoon is over despite a good midweek win against Dallas and a tough fight in Charlotte. They do not have much in the way of fullback production and keep getting hit there and look, if you keep getting concussions from falling off a bike and never both to invest in a helmet, my advice is limited.
Meanwhile Chicago can barely create a happy thought in the attack unless they play in Red Bull Arena where everyone finds happiness in 2022. Their defense has regressed to the mean and they might lose their insanely talented young goalkeeper sooner than later. Other than that, not a bad rebuild for Chicago. Yeah the results have not been great but at least they appear to have a plan which is more than you could say for the last few years.
Meanwhile Sporting Kansas City has not gotten the MVP level production from their MVP candidates from last year. To go along with that, they lost their DP striker (again) and lost their defensive midfielder without the cover needed to fill that gap. Peter Vermes has fixed issues before but the summer will be very interesting if they want to get out of this particular race.
Hit the Little Red Button
As for you Toronto, you are not getting away that easily. Sure you are bringing in a great attacking talent in the summer, but that does not paper over the fact that the Reds cannot defend worth a damn. They are going to need to rack up three or more goals a game at the rate things are going in Toronto. Moving out fullbacks without actually filling the void did nothing to help their situation. But hey, teams with bad defenses have been able to function in the past. Just hang on to the ball right? Wrong. Toronto cannot do that consistently and when they do inevitably turn it over they get torn to shreds over and over. If you are going to be that team that wants to hold the ball and use that as a way to protect your defense from transition moments where they look like headless chickens, you need to make sure that possession ends with the ball out of play, not an open field turnover. End your moments with something that gives you a chance to reset things. The fact that Toronto is consistently putting their defense in transition moments is just handing someone else the knife.
Bob Bradley did not forget how to coach, but there is absolutely work that needs to be done with the build of this team going forward. Take your lumps and build for tomorrow.
2 Games to Rewatch
Orlando and Austin
I do not know what else you would want me to say about this game. There were four goals and two red cards for Orlando (who have gone down two men a total of seven times since they have come into the league. Insanity is in their blood and even Pareja has not been able to get it all out.) Austin is good though I am not sure if they are very good and they handed Orlando a two goal cushion which is not great. Thankfully for them Orlando likes to give things back because they are really really good at playing above their heads this year. I put this game here but honestly if you are a neutral, I can suggest just watching every Orlando game because one way or another you will see goals and probably some wild stuff.
Cincinnati and New England
This one ended 3-2 and I am just telling you to watch it because there were some absolute bangers in this game. Two of them will be in your immediate future in the goals of the week category. Cincinnati is fun even when they do not win and my god, that is a damn sight better than what they were from 2019 until last fall. New England cannot defend worth a damn right now and that has made them fun, as they have embraced the ‘We will just outscore you for now’ philosophy. Also Adam Buksa is absolutely the Polish attacker we should be talking about in the league on the grounds that he has produced in more than just three games and might be staring down the barrel of a really nice payday in Europe if he keeps this up. How Bruce replaces him will be interesting.
3 Goals to Watch Again and Again
Buksa vs Cincy
Lletget vs Cincy
Arriola vs Minnesota
1 Thing to Look Forward To
US OPEN CUP IS BACK THIS WEEK.
I don’t know what else you want me to say or write here. The Open Cup is back and the Cinderellas are deep in their runs. Union Omaha and the Murder Owls are taking on Minnesota, Sacramento takes on San Jose and no one ever really knows what to do with San Jose, especially after they beat Seattle. Again. You want one to really watch for the blood? Louisville and Nashville are going to have a 90 minute cage match. Louisville lost over the weekend at home and Nashville have been playing every four days for the last two weeks. They do not care for each other going back to the USL days and I have set my personal Over/Under for cards at 9. The Canadian Championship is also going on and you might get some fun upset moments but it does not usually involve the regular insanity that the US Open Cup gives us. Also we get El Trafico at 10:30. And if the players don’t like that name I will happily invite them to come up with a new one which I will use.