Here are the main winners and losers from another dramatic week in Major League Soccer…
This team was once synonymous with agony, struggle, and life at the bottom of the leaderboard. The turnaround has been nothing short of spectacular in Ohio, with FC Cincy currently the best team in Major League Soccer.
Despite being without Brandon Vazquez and Matt Miazga due to international obligations, Cincy managed to salvage a 2-2 draw on Saturday against the Revs, remaining unbeaten at home this season. Although they didn’t claim a historic 11th consecutive victory at TQL Stadium, they still remain in charge of the Supporters’ Shield. For a team that’s only used to winning wooden spoons, this trophy should be high on the priority list. They are also in the semi-finals of the US Open Cup and will only continue to improve once new signing Aaron Boupendza joins the mix.
Give full credit to Pat Noonan and his coaching staff for what they have been able to accomplish in this first half of the season.
A little over a month ago, we had no idea what was going on with Emanuel Reynoso. Now he’s back in Minnesota and already managed to score a brace on Saturday in the Loons’ 4-1 loss at Portland. The Argentine Designated Player is the driving force behind this team and it’s no surprise that form has changed drastically with his return. Minnesota is just on the cusp of that playoff line and will get a huge boost from its newest rookie and Finland’s all-time leading scorer, Teemu Pukki.
Simply put: watch out for the loons.
Real salt lake
RSL are one of the top 5 teams in the West, both in terms of ranking and quality, so if you haven’t been paying attention, now might be the time to do so.
It took a stoppage-time goal from Anderson Julio to steal the 1-0 win for Toronto, but those 3 points continue to prove the resilience Real Salt Lake have shown away from home this season, improving to a league-best 6-3-2. the road.
The club struggled at home with just two wins, but that added to the impressiveness that catapulted them to third in the table. If he starts scoring at America First Field, RSL is going to be a headache and start to solidify as a legitimate contender.
RSL’s next game will be at home against Orlando City and it takes on even more significance as Cristian ‘Chicho’ Arango will make his debut. The team also has another Colombian newcomer, Nelson Palacio, who is getting up to speed and will be on the pitch soon. RSL is not only good, it has an array of attacking weapons. Given a little time, this could become the most dangerous front in MLS.
It’s a perfect setup for a team who are also in the US Open Cup semi-finals and have a chance to test themselves in the upcoming League Cup. RSL wants to win material and seems equipped to do so.
Sequences are meant to be broken, and NYCFC is surely thrilled to break this one. The 1-0 victory in Montreal ended an 11-game winless streak that lasted 10 weeks for the Cityzens. Thanks to a superb goal from Matias Pellegrini, NYCFC are back in the win column for the first time since April.
Nick Cushing isn’t naïve to sweep away the slump in which his team found itself, but a weight was certainly lifted by snatching 3 points in a stadium where Montreal has won its last six league games. New York even had to experience a rain delay.
“It doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win against Charlotte,” Cushing said of their next opponent, with whom they happen to be tied in the standings at 24 points.
City of St. Louis
Beating the worst team in MLS isn’t that impressive. Being an expansion team at the top of the West absolutely is.
We are far from the doubts and skepticism surrounding the departure of Saint-Louis. One thing that was obvious early on was that CITYPARK was a tough place for the visitors, and St. Louis improved to 7-3-1 at home following the 2-0 win over Colorado. SLC receives contributions from every part of their roster and puts numbers on the board even without João Klauss. While he was integral to early success, everyone picked him up in his absence. They are currently the second-highest scoring team in MLS, just behind Columbus. And while it may seem like Cincy is trying to run away with the Shield, there’s still a long way to go in this race.
Bradley Carnell and Co. deserve a shout out because they’ve built something special and got their foot on the accelerator.
Texas has not been a kind place for the Black and Gold. So far this season in the Lone Star State, they are 0-2 and have allowed six combined goals without scoring any. Last season was a clean sweep as Austin, Houston and Dallas all beat LAFC at home in late August and early September. We have to go back to October 2021 for the last time the Black and Gold had a victory in Texas. Other than that, frustration is mounting for the defending champions, who haven’t been able to find consistent form in an extremely busy schedule. While teams and coaches hate to use fatigue as an excuse, it’s clearly a factor for Steve Cherundolo’s side.
“It was our 29th game of the season,” he said after the 2-0 loss to Dallas. “I’m not sure any other club has had so many games in MLS history until July 1.”
And the road ahead doesn’t get any easier with a quick turnaround for an El Trafico scheduled for Tuesday at the Rose Bowl.
At some point, Wayne Rooney has to realize that his tactic isn’t working. In fact, they’re the reason teams score against DC United and put goalkeeper Tyler Miller in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. The idea of setting up a high defensive line and having Miller play sweeping keeper is respectable, but neither the backline nor the keeper himself seemed to get it. Forwards slip in easy passes near midfield (when they’re not trying to chip Miller from 60 yards out) and basically head for runs with defenders desperately trying to get back. The crazy part about this is that Rooney himself recognizes the vulnerabilities of this setup while sticking to it. And when you face players of the quality of Hany Mukhtar and Randall Leal, they are going to feast.
Somebody please tell Rooney that’s not it. And to make matters worse, DC will be without DP striker Christian Benteke next week in Dallas due to an accumulation of yellow cards. One step forward, three steps back – DC United’s motto and a seemingly defensive game plan too.