Kevin Molino

Minnesota United 2018 Season Preview by Ian L.

Minnesota United entered the league in 2017 to very low expectations and still barely managed to meet them. While occasional flashes of quality may rightly gives fans hope for 2018, more still needs to be done if they’re to be considered a serious contender in the Western conference.

2017 in Review

“Well, that didn't wind up being as bad as we thought it was going to be” is about as lukewarm a review that one could proffer, but it certainly fits. While I certainly don’t think many people would have given Minnesota any chance at making the postseason in their first year of Major League Soccer, the Loons sure gave us all a pretty big scare by opening the campaign conceding 20 goals in their first five matches. Minnesota’s inauspicious start led to many people wondering if they were going to be not just the regular amount of bad, but historically bad, like worse than Chivas bad.

Read More

Kevin Molino is still very good by Harrison Crow

Two years ago I first composed a list of my top under-appreciated wide midfielders. Guys like Mike Grella, Kekuta Manneh, Patrick Nyarko, Lamar Neagle, Lloyd Sam and Sebastian Le Toux painted the top of my list. Again, no, I’ve never done work for DC United.

When sifting through some old USL numbers, which long ago went extinct due to the merger between USL and MLS, I came away enamored with Kevin Molino. He sat at the top of my list of wide midfielders and I ended up getting him for a steal in our fantasy draft that year.

It seems Molino is the type of player that in a lot of ways floats under the radar of many fans in Major League Soccer. This may be partially due to a wrecked ACL during an exhibition game in May of 2015 which ended his first season in MLS prematurely. The lost season forfeited most of the “possibly interesting” stock that was seeded him coming into the league when he had blown out the scoring and assist records in USL.

Read More

The 22 Stats that Explain the MLS Season so far by Kevin Minkus

We’re a bit more than a month into the 2017 season. While that’s way too early to say anything definitive, it’s probably enough time to get a feel for where teams stand. Here are 22 stats (one per team), that explain something of each team’s season so far.

Eastern Conference

Columbus: $642,500 - combined guaranteed compensation due Ola Kamara and Justin Meram (as of September 2016’s salary release) 

For the money (equal to roughly one Nocerino), Kamara and Meram are the best attacking partnership in the league. Meram has looked good both out wide and in the middle, which bodes well for the Crew as Federico Higuain hits the wrong side of the age curve. And Ola Kamara has picked up exactly where he left off last year, with 3 goals in his first six games. 

Read More

Is Minnesota Really The Worst Defensive Team In MLS History? by Harrison Crow

Let me say, first and foremost, I have a fondness for the underdog or down and out. My first true love, the Seattle Mariners, have the longest tenured playoff drought in Major League Baseball. They've missed out on 15 straight seasons of postseason play much due to their own ineptitude.

So I don’t write this to demean what is happening in MLS to Minnesota, as the expansion club is taking body shots both on and off the field with the tremendously rough start they’ve faced over the last month.

Let me say, first and foremost, I have a fondness for the underdog or down and out. My first true love, the Seattle Mariners, have the longest tenured playoff drought in Major League Baseball. They've missed out on 15 straight seasons of postseason play much due to their own ineptitude.

So I don’t write this to demean what is happening in MLS to Minnesota, as the expansion club is taking body shots both on and off the field with the tremendously rough start they’ve faced over the last month.

After their third loss in four games, all with opponents posting five or more goals, most pundits are ready to declare the Loons on the path to having the worst MLS season of all-time. These types of narratives aren’t really anything new for the start of any particular sports season. Especially when they’re so blatant and obvious.

Read More

Minnesota United 2017 Season Preview by Phil Luetchford

Minnesota United is new to MLS, but unlike fellow expansion side Atlanta United (everyone is united nowadays) this is not an entirely new team. The Loons leave the NASL, where they have played under a few other names since 2010.  While it's a club with a solid history and strong supporters, for most MLS and USMNT fans Minnesota didn't enter their consciousness until October 2014, when winger Miguel Ibarra became the first 2nd division player to train with the national team since 2005. He was called up five times by Jurgen Klinsmann, and parlayed that international exposure into a contract with Club Leon in the summer of 2015, before returning to sign with Minnesota this season. But while Ibarra is certainly an attacking threat, he never led the team in scoring. For each of the last three seasons that’s been Christian Ramirez, who led the NASL in scoring two of the last three years (he finished 2nd in 2015).

Read More

Gold Cup Team Preview: Trinidad & Tobago by Kevin Minkus

I have pretty fond memories of watching Trinidad and Tobago's 2006 World Cup team. I remember their two spirited showings against England and Paraguay, but mostly I remember Shaka Hislop and the Soca Warriors CONCACAFing Henrik Larsson, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Freddy Ljunberg, and Sweden while down a man.

It's definitely unfair to expect it, but this iteration of the T&T national team is not a breathtaking one. This iteration enters the Gold Cup having suffered losses to Jordan, Curacao, and Panama in the last three months. They currently sit 67th in the FIFA World Rankings, and 88th in the World Football Elo Ratings, their worst Elo rank since 2013. In order to have a successful tournament, they will need to recapture the form that saw them advance to the final of the 2014 Caribbean Cup (played last November), where they lost to Jamaica on penalty kicks.

Read More

The Weekend Kick-off: Orlando City Are Good, New England Is (Probably) Better by Harrison Crow

by Harrison Crow (@Harrison_Crow)

I'm not sure that many of us knew what to make of Orlando City prior to this season. Sure, they spent some money and got some interesting talents but that doesn't always translate to something or even anything, ask Toronto.  But Kaka has turned out to be maybe the best player in Major League Soccer, Aurélien Collin is still a very good defender and it turns out that Kevin Molino (before ripping his ACL in half) was an above average MLS winger.

Right now, Orlando City looks like a potential playoff team. The big difference between them and, say, the LA Galaxy who are actually sitting in a playoff position is Orlando's horrible home record. Which is all kinds of crazy considering they're sitting second in home attendence with over 39,000.

You have to think that if they can unearth a striker--or maybe just borrow some of Phil Rawlings millions to buy one--who can take advantage of all the chances that Ricardo creates, Orlando may just be a formidable team come the end of this season. Also there is a chance that I might have "borrowed" bath salts from Rafael Ramos.

New England is picking right up where they left off last season. But this time they're doing it in a bit more sustainable fashion. Currently the Red, White and Blue are posting great expected goal numbers in both zero-gamestate situations and overall.

Lee Nguyen isn't overperforming his expected goal numbers astronomically like he did last season, but the Revs don't need him to do that this go-round. Kelyn Rowe is having a break out season, Chris Tierney stepping up to create goal scoring opportunities and Juan Agudelo (who is 3rd in expected goals) is everything they needed him to be last year to be when he went on his sabbatical to the Netherlands, driving a camper between Utrecht and various Scottish cities along the border of England with the hope some magic gate would open to... Stoke (I might have vomitted in my mouth a bit typing that).

New England has seen a once mighty generation come and go with little-to-nothing to show for it. This time around their window is open with the pieces needed to start to fill that trophy case that sits right next to the case of deflated balls that Tom Brady (the greatest of all time! I lost a bet. Don't ask.) has attempted to hide.

The real question is will they be able to keep their expected goals against so low? Don't misunderstand me; it's not as if we're really expecting regression with opposing clubs and their scoring rates. New England is still sitting in the middle of the pack, but considering how horrible they were last year (in the bottom third) and with losing perhaps their top defender... it's just a head-scratcher that they've improved in this manner. I'm going to chalk it up to Jay Heaps and his transition from the Just for Men to Just for Men Touch of Gray.

On a positive note, the team appears set to bring in local boy Will Packwood from Birmingham, England on a discovery claim (assuming they do have sole custody of his rights) which should help supplement a defense that at times has looked unsettled and needing some... well something better. Let's just see how this plays out, Cotton.

Prediction: I'm going with New England on the road with the win.

FANTASY PERSPECTIVE

ORLANDO CITY

Kaka (20.6% Selected, $11.4 Cost)

Ugh, the guy is the best player in the league. The best. Forget what he costs. Best. Player.

Rafael Ramos (12.2% Selected, $5.2 Cost)

So long as you're fine with the unmedicated outbursts that result in red cards from time to time burning your fantasy club to the ground, I'm sure you'll get along fine.

NEW ENGLAND

Bobby Shuttleworth (6.1% Selected, $5.6 Cost)
I think it's funny how much I get bent out of shape about the disparity between the cost of keepers and their points versus any other position. Most people look at Shuttleworth and think "5.6, WHOA, not made of money here" but really considering what any keeper provides versus their costs. There seems to be one right answer.

Lee Nguyen (4.7% Selected, $11.1 Cost)

He's still really good. Probably not $11 good. But good enough to where it might draw a few suckers.

THE WEEKEND MATCH-UPS

(expected goal differential in even game-states)

FRIDAY

New England Revolution (0.43) @ Orlando City SC (0.06)
Predictions: NE

San Jose Quakes (-0.05) @ Colorado Rapids (-0.30)
Predictions: Draw?

SATURDAY

Real Salt Lake (-0.35) @ Chicago Fire (-0.28)
Predictions: Draw??

Portland Timbers (0.12) @ Montreal Impact (-0.10)
Predictions: Draw???

Sporting KC (0.71) @ DC United (-0.46)
Predictions: SCREW YOU, DCU... I'm going with SKC

Philadelphia Union (-0.26) @ Vancouver Whitecaps FC (-0.06)
Predictions: VAN

Seattle Sounders FC (0.88) @ Columbus Crew SC (0.23)
Predictions: Draw

LA Galaxy (0.06) @ FC Dallas (0.14)
Predictions: FCD

SUNDAY

Houston Dynamo (-0.14) @ Toronto FC (0.13)
Predictions: TFC

New York City (-0.48) @ New York Red Bulls (0.11)
Predictions: NYRB

 

NERD IMAGERY

I've been saving this for weeks...it's all for you, Toronto.