Bradley out in Toronto; Luna, Edelman, & Brady top MLS Youth Report; Euro Transfer Rumors
June 26, 2023
THE START OF the new week in American soccer is starting to see news on multiple fronts from the U.S. national team, MLS, Americans abroad, the transfer market, and even with FIFA.
Let’s start with the top.
Bradley fired in Toronto
Toronto FC head coach Bob Bradley was fired on Monday morning following his team’s 2-1 loss to the New England Revolution on Saturday.
In that game, it seemed something was wrong. With the score 1-1 on the road in Foxborough, Bradley subbed out Federico Bernadeschi, Cristian Gutierrez, and Matt Hedges at halftime for Shane O'Neill, Sigurd Rosted, and Themi Antonoglou. Toronto’s performance faded and the Revs went onto win 2-1.
This all came on the heels of stories of discontent in the locker room and the fact that the team is falling way short of expectations. Toronto has just three wins from 20 games this season and ownership has spent a fortune bringing in Lorenzo Insigne and Bernadeschi. It’s a result-oriented business and the leash is shorter when the payroll gets higher. With Bradley also the sporting director of the club while assistant coach Mike Sorber was the technical director. It seemed like only a matter of time before both were let go.
NEWS | The club has announced changes to the coaching staff.— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) June 26, 2023
The big takeaway is that this isn’t surprising. Toronto FC ownership did not pay top dollar for three wins out of 20 games. The fact that Bradley is also the sporting director gives him more responsibility in this mess. If he as trying to coach a subpar team, that would be one thing. If he built a subpar team, that is probably the bigger fault. At Toronto, Bradley did not have the success he had in his previous jobs where he helped develop players and increase their potential. For whatever reason, it didn’t happen.
Terry Dunfield is now the interim head coach but Toronto is probably going to take its time with the hire because it’s critical they get it right to increase the likelihood they maximize the potential of their Italian duo. They only have so many top years left and 2023 is likely a lost cause anyway.
MLS Youth Report
It wasn’t a particularly interesting weekend for young Americans in MLS. It wasn’t like the recent midweek slate, which was excellent.
One of the exceptions was U.S. U-20 captain Daniel Edelman who scored the opening goal for the New York Red Bulls in a 4-0 demolition of Atlanta United. His goal was assisted off a throw-in by U.S. U-23 hopeful Cameron Harper.
For Atlanta, it was a game to forget. Caleb Wiley was decent but didn’t stand out and the Red Bulls completely contained Tyler Wolff, who entered into the game having scored four goals in his last seven games. 2005-born centerback Noah Cobb went the final 15 minutes for United but was on the field for two RBNY goals scored by Frankie Amaya.
Philadelphia defeated Inter Miami 4-1. Union head coach Jim Curtin didn’t feel as if his team played well but the result was impressive.
U.S. U-23 hopeful Leon Flach is tough to figure out. He is a central midfielder, but he rarely gets on the ball. In his 90 minutes for Philly in the win, he was just 5/8 in his passing. But he does have talent and he scored the team’s third goal. Defensively, Flach is excellent and he fits well in Philadelphia’s system as he helps protect the team in defensive transition. But he has the talent to do well with the ball, but you wonder if his lack of involvement will hurt his transfer value? There have been reports Werder Bremen is interested.
Nice goal from Leon Flach. I’ve always loved his defense and he’s been a big part of the Union’s success. But yes, he needs to do more with the ball and help offensively. He has the ability.— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) June 25, 2023
- rumors of interest from German teams this week pic.twitter.com/t9FWksyNwB
Jack McGlynn played the final 32 minutes for Philly and did well in possession. 2005-born Benja Cremaschi went 77 minutes for Inter Miami and was credited with a generous assist in Robert Taylor’s 50th minute goal. Creamaschi is likey to see his minutes decline with the arrival of Lionel Messi, but will also have an incredible experience to learn from the greatest player of his time.
Other notes from this game: recent U.S. U-20 member Noah Allen went 90 minutes at left back for Inter Miami while U-23 eligible Nathan Harriel went 15 minutes at fullback for Philly.
In Charlotte’s 0-0 draw with Montreal, two U.S. U-23 eligible attacking midfielders met up as Ben Bender started for Charlotte and Bryce Duke started for Montreal. Both players were coming off very strong midweek performances, but neither were able to create as much in this game. U.S. U-23 eligible centerback George Campbell went the distance for Montreal in the middle of a three-man backline.
One of the best young American performers this weekend was Chris Brady. The Chicago Fire goalkeeper made four saves, two were very impressive, in Chicago’s big 1-0 away win over Sporting Kansas City. Brian Gutierrez is one of the best young American players (2003-born or younger) in MLS this year. While he didn’t match his two-assist outing midweek away in Portland, he was still 22/25 in passing for this game and was important to the Fire’s win.
St. Louis defeated San Jose 2-1 on the road – this was more impressive given that St. Louis was rotating its squad. Aziel Jackson, the U.S. U-23 attacking midfielder, was strong over his 72 minutes. Miggy Perez went 72 minutes in the win for St. Louis and played very well, creating four chances. He continues to surpass expectations this year. U.S. U-23 eligible Indiana Vassilev played the final 18 minutes for St. Louis while Niko Tsakiris went seven minutes for San Jose.
For the second straight game, Diego Luna enjoyed a strong performance for Real Salt Lake where he went all 90 minutes, was 4/5 in dribbling, was 53/61 in passing, and assisted on Justen Glad’s stoppage time equalizer in Real Salt Lake’s 2-2 draw with Minnesota United.
??#RSL 2-2 #LegionOfLoons— La MLS en Français (@MLS_FRA) June 25, 2023
???? Justen Glad ???????? : (2)-2
???? Servi par Diego Luna ???????? dont je vous parlais hier, l’enfant de Salt Lake renverse le match et sauve son club à la 98ème minute !! pic.twitter.com/zryZuSNer3
Owen Wolff went 90 minutes for Austin FC in a 3-0 win over Houston. Wolff didn’t stand out but it was a good team performance from Austin.
Tayvon Gray and Justin Haak, both eligible for the U.S. U-23 team, were solid in the backline for NYCFC in a 1-1 draw with Portland.
Finally, it was a rare game without a goal for Orlando’s Duncan McGuire. The U.S. U-23 eligible forward was dangerous but was kept off the scoreboard by Seattle in a 0-0 draw. U.S. U-20 right back Michael Halliday had a good outing and continues to be one of the more underrated prospects in the league.
For Seattle, Obed Vargas played 83 strong minutes in the draw, and he continues to cement his status as one of the league’s best 2005-born players along with Noel Buck.
The U.S. to host new Club World Cup
The first edition of the new 32-team expanded club World Cup in 2025. This would be a tremendous development that will continue to see major tournaments in the United States.
- 2024: Copa America
- 2025: Club World Cup
- 2025: Rumored U.S. tournament
- 2026: FIFA World Cup
- 2028: LA Olympics
Of course, for the U.S. team moving forward, a key is to find ways to stay involved in meaningful competitions outside of CONCACAF. The Copa America is great, but can it be a regular event – without the guest team restrictions.
Tis the silly season.
One rumor that has legitimate legs is Tim Weah and Juventus. He likely wants out at Lille and Juventus could use him. The questions is what will his role be? Right back, right wingback, right wing? His versatility helps. But this move seems to be a good one. Juventus is bringing in Weah to fill an opening and a plan for giving him time. He has plenty of experience now in big games. Weah should be able to handle this easily.
Meanwhile, other rumors continue to link Christian Pulsic with AC Milan. This is also with legs, although financing the deal is still not set. Pulisic getting out of England could probably serve him well and give him a fresh start.
Reggie Cannon is a free agent at Boavista after cancelling his contract with Boavista due to a lack of payment. It remains to be seen how much he proved himself at Boavista to attract a move upward in the soccer world.
Mix Diskerud’s time at Omonia in Cyprus is over and the former U.S. international is a free agent. His career has been quite a journey and I wonder what is next?
Speaking of what’s next? How about who is next? There are some very big decisions coming up for a number of players. Expect news on Folarin Balogun, Weston McKennie, Sergino Dest, Erik Palmer-Brown, Bryan Reynolds, and Haji Wright to pick up soon.