Who's hot in MLS, Juventus controversy, Real Madrid courting, and more: Starting Lineup, Sept. 26
by Jason Longshore
1- Since the Leagues Cup tournament ended, Atlanta United is tied for being the best team in MLS averaging 2 PPG at 4-1-2. Portland is 5-2-1 (guess the Timbers did get it right by firing Savarese and installing Miles Joseph as the interim, it will likely pay off in a playoff berth). Houston, Orlando, and Miami all have the same record as Atlanta, while Kansas City is 4-2-0 since the restart. The 5 Stripes have scored more goals than anyone else in MLS since the restart. (📷 @photosbyysofia)
2- The flipside of those performance is the two teams still looking for their first win since the Leagues Cup tournament ended. Chicago had been hot after installing club legend Frank Klopas as the interim manager, they have come back to Earth since the tournament with a 0-5-2 record. Austin is also winless since the the Leagues Cup ended, and that tournament didn't go well for them either. It's been a really difficult year for Los Verdes and their offseason could get really interesting as new sporting director Rodolfo Borrell gets to work.
3- Great update from Paul Kennedy at Soccer America on the USWNT coaching search, which has been relatively quiet. The team will play two matches in their October international window against Colombia and the plan is for interim coach Twila Kilgore to remain in charge for those. The target is for the newly hired coach to take the team for the Nov. 27-Dec. 5 international window as preparation for 2024 Olympics will start in earnest then.
4- This story is emerging out of Italy and it's one to pay attention to when it comes to Juventus. An investigation has been opened into the club's relationship with agents, allegedly paying them for deals that they weren't involved in. The accusation is that they were being paid back previously agreed upon debts. More at Football Italia.
5- Will Real Madrid be partnering with Apple in the near future? Tim Cook was hanging out at the club's training yesterday, shaking hands with Carlo Ancelotti, taking photos alongside Florentino Perez, and more. Cook also met with Bayern Munich last year, one of the topics was how youth teams are run and how they use Apple device to track things like GPS data. According to the Athletic, Real Madrid want to partner with Apple in a sponsorship deal, something Apple has never done with a club. Stay tuned...
6- Speaking of Ancelotti and Madrid, Carlo said that he hopes Xabi Alonso one day coaches the club. Of course, this is a day after rumors linking Alonso as Ancelotti's successor. Carlo's contract with Real Madrid ends in June and he is supposed to be headed to manage Brazil's national team along their journey to the 2026 World Cup. Alonso has been doing well with Bayer Leverkusen and is a fascinating case study as a manager, one of the few players who spent significant time with both Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho and could be the one to weld together different aspects of their game models.
7- The US soccer media is converging on Fort Lauderdale as Inter Miami prepares to host Houston in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final on Wednesday night. Lionel Messi has only played 30+ minutes since the last international break, what can he give in the match? Jordi Alba has also missed the last two Miami matches, Busquets skipped Sunday night in Orlando. Both teams have the same record in league play since the Leagues Cup restart, 4-1-2, but both come in after disappointing results on the weekend. The Dynamo lost to 10-man Kansas City, while Miami blew a lead to draw in Orlando.
8- Canada's women's national team will try to seal their spot in the 2024 Olympics tonight in Toronto in front of a sold-out BMO Field as they host Jamaica. They earned a 2-0 win in Kingston in the first leg and just have to avoid a catastrophic loss at home tonight to advance. Jamaica has lost ten straight matches to Canada. Nichelle Prince and Adriana Leon scored the Canadian goals in Jamaica last week.
9- The abandoned match between Ajax and Feyenoord will resume on Wednesday behind closed doors, the KNVB said on Monday. It was called off Sunday with Ajax trailing 3-0 in the second half as fans threw flares onto the pitch and tear gas was used to disperse fans who were rioting outside the stadium. Ajax has never been in a bigger crisis than they are now.
10- On this date in 1967, registration for the Soccer Youth League of Georgia took place at the Decatur Recreation Center. This, along with the league hosted by the Decatur YMCA, were the first organized youth soccer leagues in the state of Georgia and were the building blocks of the Georgia State Soccer Association.
11- "Abbey Road" was released on this day in 1969, the final full album recorded by the Beatles. "Let It Be" came out the following year after the group's break-up. The group wasn't sure that this would be the last record, but George Harrison later said, "it felt as if we were reaching the end of the line." My favorite song from the album is one of Harrison's all-time best songs, enjoy your Song of the Day: