Another Hany Mukhtar MVP campaign, Galaxy reality check and more

NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 28: Nashville SC midfielder Hany Mukhtar (10) takes a shot during a game between Nashville SC and Columbus Crew on May 28, 2023 at GEODIS Park in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Hany Mukhtar, reigning MVP and winner of the Golden Boot, seems determined to make MLS history a little more. (Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The action is starting to pick up again in Major League Soccer as we rapidly approach the halfway point of the season. It may seem like struggling teams have plenty of time to catch up, but points and some games are starting to get a bit more important. Here’s a look at what happened in week 15.


Hany Mukhtar: What Mukhtar has done since joining MLS is nothing short of spectacular. The reigning MVP and Golden Boot winner finished last season with 23 goals and 11 assists, and it doesn’t look like he has any intention of slowing down. In just 15 games this season, he already has nine goals and seven assists.

The German closed out Nashville’s 3-1 win over Columbus with another highlight-worthy goal to add to the collection. While it’s good for him to get help from the attacking end, watching him dominate like that is great too. No player in league history has ever won back-to-back MVP awards, and Preki is the only one to have won it twice (1997, 2003). Mukhtar seems intent on making a little more history.

Toronto FC and Bob Bradley: To say last week was chaotic for Toronto would be an understatement. It all started with Federico Bernardeschi criticizing the Reds’ style of play, or lack thereof, after the latest loss to Austin. It was a direct jab at head coach Bob Bradley for piling on an already messy start to the season. Bradley responded with a “coach’s decision” to bench Bernardeschi. A briefing from The Athletic on Friday revealed shocking reports of the top-down dysfunction, players not being united and dissatisfaction with Bradley.

So how would Lorenzo Insigne and his underachieving peers react? Only with their best game of the season, of course, securing the 2-1 win over DC United. Insigne delivered his most compelling performance in a Toronto shirt, finishing with a pair of assists and looking genuinely engaged throughout. While most of the attention will be on the Italians, the fact that both scorers turn 20 on Saturday is a fresh change.

There is no doubt that there is still a lot to do and settle in Toronto, but maybe it can be a spark after facing so much adversity. Defender Matt Hedges told ‘MLS 360’ crew after the win that tough week lit a fire for the Reds. This win was more than just 3 points.

Houston Dynamos: Hector Herrera finally looks like the star player the Houston Dynamo have been waiting for, and unsurprisingly, that leads to winning futbol. Smashing Minnesota United 4-0 in the US Open Cup to start the week was nice, ending it with a 2-1 win over rivals Austin FC was even nicer. The Mexican star scored the opening goal in the first half and helped set up the winner in the 87th minute. Houston has put on a nice little streak as they have only lost two of the last eight. They haven’t put one on the road yet, but the 5-1-1 home record has Dynamo right in the mix in a crowded West.

Miguel Perez: Town native Miguel Perez just turned 18 a month ago and is living the good life. On Thursday, he graduated from high school. On Saturday, he scored his first career MLS goal in stoppage time in a 3-1 victory over Vancouver, which threw CITYPARK into utter chaos. St. Louis continues to exceed expectations by becoming the fastest expansion club in league history to reach 25 points. Homegrown talent making such an impact at a young age is a testament to how St. Louis has enjoyed success from early academy development to building a competitive roster. And out of all his friends he said he’d probably hang out with after the game, there’s no way anyone has a better graduation present.

“It’s our job now as coaches, as parents, as people, teammates in the locker room to keep him guided and focused as he continues his journey,” head coach Bradley said. Carnel. “Who knows where his ceiling is. But we are thrilled to be around Miggy and to guide Miggy on this path.

Gyasi Zardes: Zardes became the 13th MLS player to reach 100 goals in the regular season. Historic achievement aside, his finding the net is crucial to Austin FC’s success this season. Unfortunately for him, the moment came in a losing effort for the club, but was monumental nonetheless.


The Galaxy : The emotions of beating this young LAFC team at the US Open Cup were short-lived for the Galaxy. Saturday was a reminder of the nightmare they live in as they fell 1-0 at home to Charlotte.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, who hasn’t been good this season, was sent off after receiving his second yellow card following a nasty cleats challenge. His first card for kicking the ball and wasting time out of frustration was easily avoidable, as many of the Galaxy’s self-inflicted wounds seem to be.

CARSON, CA - MAY 27: Javier Hernandez #14 of the Los Angeles Galaxy is knocked down during a regular season game between Charlotte FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park on May 27, 2023 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Michael Janosz/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Javier Hernandez and the LA Galaxy continue to struggle this season. (Photo by Michael Janosz/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Not much changes week by week and the mentality of the club is just muddled. Head coach Greg Vanney says it’s not about tactics or a split dressing room, but it doesn’t go well when you’re at the bottom of the standings and you keep losing games.

“It’s our job. If you’re not fully focused, why are you doing this? asked midfielder Mark Delgado after the loss.

Delgado also mentioned that players need to be able to not let their egos get in the way. It is not difficult to read between the lines. It’s a burning house and right now no one is safe.

Portland Wood: It looked like the Timbers were finally starting to turn the corner a bit after a bumpy start, but without a win in the last three games with just one goal scored, that’s tough.

Getting to Kansas City is never an easy task, and it was certainly one they weren’t ready for as they were outplayed and beaten down in the 4-1 loss to SKC on Sunday. This lack of consistency is going to haunt this team as it is not the Timbers of the past who can rely on Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco to solve the problems.

The good thing for Portland is that nine teams are in the playoffs now and head coach Giovanni Savarese is more than proven to deal with tough situations in this league. The bad thing for Portland is that their next game is a trip to visit rival Seattle, who currently sit atop the Western Conference.

InterMiami: Inter Miami and Montreal surprised many in mid-April with a trade that sent Kamal Miller to South Florida in exchange for Bryce Duke and Ariel Lassiter. Since then, Miami has dropped to the bottom of the standings while Montreal has stayed afloat, with Duke playing a big part in improving their offense.

Arguing over who won the trade isn’t necessary, but with the teams facing each other this weekend, it was a perfect opportunity for a little encore. Lassiter took full advantage as he went into a scoreless game to start the second half and instantly netted a shot on target. A few minutes later he fired a superb ball into the box to assist the only goal in the 1-0 win. Advantage: Montreal.

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