Goals aplenty in the MLS playoffs, Kansas City surprise, and more: Starting Lineup, Oct. 30
by Jason Longshore
1- The goals have been flying in so far in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs. So far, with five games played, games are averaging almost 4.5 goals. Say what you want about the format, but the game thus far have had more goals than you'd expect in the first match of an aggregate series.
2- The biggest surprise thus far came last night in St. Louis as Peter Vermes (in a kind of evil looking hood) led his zombie Sporting Kansas City squad into town and won 4-1. They were the first team to score 3 goals in a match from outside the 18 this season as they bombed St. Louis from distance. Those bombs came in a 12-minute span in the first half as the visitors added more rain to the hosts' parade on a rainy night. Now, the expansion darlings have to go on the road and win in game 2 to bring the series back home.
3- The home teams won the other two matches last night, led by the Supporters' Shield winners Cincinnati. The Orange & Blue had complete control of their match over wild card winners New York Red Bulls and took a 3-0 win. Alvaro Barreal scored twice and Luciano Acosta scored and added an assist.
Perhaps the most surprising thing in the match is how Dominique Badji avoided a card of ANY color when he punched Sean Nealis in the chest at the end of the first half. Not sure how much would have changed, but the Red Bulls should have had a man advantage for the second half. Referees manage games different in the postseason, but this was egregious.
4- Houston handled RSL in front of a great crowd 2-1, but it wasn't an easy win to open the series. Amine Bassi scored the winner in the 79th minute after Diego Luna leveled the match early in the second half. 17,508 made tons of noise at Shell Energy Stadium, hopefully it's a moment that becomes more common in H-Town.
5- Two more first round series kickoff tonight as Orlando hosts Nashville at 7pm followed by Seattle hosting Dallas at 9pm. The Sounders are a bigger favorite at home than the Lions of Orlando. If there's a team to ruin the high scoring playoffs so far, it's Nashville with their defensive prowess.
6- Atlanta United continues to prepare for Wednesday's match in Columbus and Gonzalo Pineda will speak to the media again today after training.
I spoke to Columbus' radio commentator Chris Doran for his radio show, and we both were in agreement about looking forward to the chess match between Gonzalo and Wilfried Nancy in this series.
7- The FIFA Disciplinary Committee announced this morning that it has banned Luis Rubiales, the former president of the Spanish Football Association, from all football-related activities at national and international levels for three years for his unwanted actions towards Jenni Hermoso during the medal ceremony after the Women's World Cup final.
8- The US women's national team defeated Colombia 3-0 in a friendly last night in San Diego. Mia Fishel and Jaedyn Shaw scored their first goals for the national team, Lindsey Horan added the other USWNT goal in the win. While still waiting on a new full-time head coach, the team has two more matches scheduled for 2023 in December against China in Florida and Texas. The expectation is that the new manager will be named before those games as the USWNT prepares for next summer's Olympics.
9- The Olympics will be held in Paris next year. While the violence surrounding the French club game shouldn't crossover to the Olympics, it is nonetheless a huge black eye to have another game (I've honestly lost count over the past few years) postponed due to pregame violence. Lyon's bus was attacked by Marseille "fans" and manager Fabio Grosso was injured "after being hit in the face and scalp by shards of glass when rocks were thrown at the bus, according to the club and media reports."
This is not new and the lack of true actions from the French clubs, leagues, and federation is maddening. Criminal activity hiding under the mask of supporter culture or fandom is a black eye on the sport as a whole.
10- Great time calling the Atlanta United-NYCFC U17 match yesterday at the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground. The Pigeons took the win 2-1 with two early second half goals. Rocket Ritarita put Atlanta into the lead from the penalty spot. Some great performances on both sides, two very talented teams played at a very high level in the match. Check it out on-demand on the Atlanta United YouTube channel and be on the lookout for more academy broadcasts in the future.
11- On this date in 1968, Marvin Gaye released the song that would become his first #1 single in the US. Enjoy your Song of the Day from the legendary Marvin Gaye: