Here's the weird thing about New York City Football Club in the Year of Our Lord 2019: after all the autumnal sturm und drang, the late-season slide, the second-round playoff bounce, and Domènec Torrent's desastre of a postseason presser, the club had a whole offseason to clean house and bring in Torrent's team and they just kind of ... didn't. What you'll see on opening day is more or less the same lineup you know and love (or used to love last summer but now hate with a burning passion because they lost some soccer games). Even my boy Ben Sweat's still out there, which can be a beautiful thing as long as a foul pole’s obstructing your view of the defensive third.
So, uh, what gives? Allow me to resubmit to you the possibility that Dome’s team was maybe actually not that bad at soccer last season. That in fact their +0.55 expected goal differential per game was the second best in MLS during Torrent’s tenure, a marked improvement from under Patrick Vieira. And that their best run of games came without David Villa or Yangel Herrera, this offseason’s two major departures. Maybe Claudio Reyna wasn’t crazy to think all this team needed was a few new pieces for things to fall into place. Read More
I suppose that by Seattle’s lofty standards you could consider last season to be a bit of a disappointment. For the first time in three years, they weren’t contesting the MLS Cup final, having been knocked from the competition in heartbreaking fashion by Portland on penalties after 120 minutes of what can very reasonably be called the most exciting playoff match in team history. So how do you bounce back? Is there actually anything to bounce back from? Why don’t teams have long-sleeved jersey options all of a sudden? What’s actually going on with Adidas anyway? If the Seattle Sounders were a character in Game of Thrones which one would they be? We shall endeavor to answer some of these questions within. Read More
To Minnesota, or to Atlanta, that is now the question for an MLS expansion team. The 2017 MLS expansion teams took divergent paths to roster building. Atlanta supplemented their young expensive South American signings with older proven MLS veterans. Minnesota relied on a corps of players brought up from their NASL squad and a more journeyman group of MLS players, sprinkled with some lower profile international imports and no Designated Players. FC Cincinnati has answered the question with an emphatic “Minnesota.” Read More
Los Angeles Football Club was, according to points total, the best expansion side in the history of Major League Soccer. They’re hoping to improve on that in 2019.
2018 in Review
LAFC’s 57 points surpassed the 56 earned by the 1998 Chicago Fire and the 55 by 2017 newcomers Atlanta United. They scored the second most goals all-time of an expansion side, with 68. By all accounts, it was a very good debut season. Read More
Despite winning the Supporters’ Shield, 2018 was a bit of a letdown for the Red Bulls. Still, more trophies are on the table in 2019 if they’re able to take the next step. Read More
The opening of Audi Field and the addition of Wayne Rooney at the halfway point of the 2018 season propelled DC United into an unlikely playoff appearance after a 11-2-4 run in the second half of the season. With a balanced schedule, a brand new home stadium, and an even more talented squad, the black-and-red have set their eyes on the possibility of winning silverware in 2019.
2018 In Review
In last year’s 2018 season preview for DC United, we generally predicted that it could be a season of two halves, and it was! (It feels good to be right once in a while, doesn’t it?) Up until the grand opening of Audi Field in July, the black-and-red played 13 away games and just 4 home games in the first half of the season. Two of these four home games were at alternate venues in the DMV area. Not surprisingly, DC had a 3-9-5 record and just 14 points at the half-way point of the 2018 season. Read More
Join me for a moment in a Lovecraftian horror in which time is an illusion and the events of life as we know it, or the meaningful events at least, (soccer matches) progress not sequentially by the steady consumption of the present as measured in minutes and seconds but by the experience of passes being attempted from open play. In this nightmare, as the fates dictate the average MLS team experiences 900 such passes attempted during a match (the total of both teams over 90+ minutes), and using passes experienced as the unit of account, the average 2018 MLS team spent 46% of its matches with a level score line (27% leading and 27% trailing). Read More
2018 In Review
The “wooden spoon” award has its roots in the University of Cambridge. It would be awarded to the student who had the lowest marks but still earned a third-class degree. There are also three degrees in MLS: Those who win silverware, those who make the playoffs, and those who do not make the playoffs. Given MLS does not have relegation, obtaining (I almost said “winning” there) the Wooden Spoon just means one still gets to play the next year at the same level. In 2017, the Independent Supporters Council, who instituted the Wooden Spoon award in 2015, renamed it the Anthony Precourt Memorial Wooden Spoon.
This is not the trophy San Jose Earthquakes General Manager Jesse Fioranelli had in mind at the beginning of 2018. He attempted big splashes, signing Allsvenskan Golden Boot winner Magnus Eriksson as a designated player, a fellow Swede to go along with a “real” manager Mikael Stahre (replacing not-interim/interim first-time coach Chris Leitch), also from the Allsvenskan. In keeping the attacking core from 2017 who helped the team snatch the final playoff spot despite a -21 goal differential, plus adding Eriksson, finally getting Panamanian international Harold Cummings healthy, and adding two more young defenders, Fioranelli bet that would be enough to catapult San Jose higher in the Western Conference. It seems he underestimated the MLS talent level compared to middle-of-the-road European leagues and the ability of a foreign coach to quickly integrate a team. Read More
The Portland Timbers in 2018 were like a well-built pickup truck. They weren’t anything special, but they were sturdy. Without ever feeling like it was the best vehicle out there, one day you looked down and saw that that baby had 250,000 miles on it and was still going strong. Similarly, the 2018 Timbers were a decidedly average team that just kept truckin’ along until they found themselves playing for the MLS Cup. To get back there in 2019, they will need their aging midfield to continue to drink from the fountain of youth, overcome some depth issues, and solidify the attack, but as long as they keep getting their oil changed every 3,000 miles, they could find themselves vying for another trophy. Read More
Going into the 2018 season, Real Salt Lake’s success depended on a few key signings and the growth of their young talents. Both were mixed bags. Heading into 2019, that mix will tilt more heavily toward their youth, as RSL furthers their dependence on an ability to raise and develop young prospects. Read More