Thoughts from MLS Week 14: Toronto's meltdown, Dallas impresses and more
So what are the stories from the last weekend in MLS? Brian Sciaretta looks at Toronto's tailspin, the Red Bulls' self-inflicted wound, the FC Dallas surge, top Rookies, and the struggles of the new foreign coaches this year.
BY Brian Sciaretta PostedTHE DUST HAS settled on the first week of June in MLS and there is a lot to digest because of so much unexpected stories that are floating around.
June 05, 2018
June 05, 2018
With that said, let’s get right into it.
How do you fix Toronto right now? As fans of the league well know, Toronto blew a 3-0 lead against Columbus on Saturday and finish with a 3-3 draw. Now 12 games into the season, it sits in the 10th place out of 11 in the Eastern Conference with just 11 points.
At one point, Toronto’s skid had a lot of explanations. First, the team was resting players during its CONCACAF Champions League run. Then there were injuries. Then it was a Champions League “hangover.”
Saturday’s collapse suggests something worse. Yes, Michael Bradley isn’t a central defender and he was bad in the second half. But no matter what tactical and personnel decisions were made, a decent team should have been able to preserve the three goal lead for the final 23 minutes.
“We didn't do a good job dealing with some plays at the end of the game - and that starts with me,” Michael Bradley said. “The ability to handle what is being thrown at you at the end of a game, to be able to make sure that the good things you've done over the course of a game count for more at the end, that's our biggest challenge right now. Things haven't been easy but the mentality has to be: keep going. That's the only way you pull out of a situation like this.”
Toronto is stuck in a mental rut and poor results are self-inflicted. The team will probably still find a way to rally to the playoffs but there is no question the team is in jeopardy.
USMNT cooperation sinks Red Bulls
The Red Bulls lost to the New England Revolution on Saturday night by a 2-1 score. Michael Murillo was already departed due to the World Cup, which is was known. But it is very easy to see the Red Bulls having achieved a better result had the team been able to play Tim Parker and Tyler Adams.
But the release of Tim Parker and Tyler Adams to the U.S. national team was not required as the U.S. is not at the World Cup. So why did the Red Bulls do it when it didn’t have to? Was it to keep the players happy?
This doesn’t happen in other countries with their top domestic league. Typically clubs do not release starting players, unless they are required to do so (especially for friendlies). They’ll release bench players because it is often mutually beneficial to get players minutes. But voluntarily releasing starters to miss league games for friendlies is strange and it might have cost the Red Bulls points.
Dallas is back
FC Dallas is the most improved team in MLS and things are trending the right way for Oscar Pareja’s team. Kellyn Acosta is playing well again after surgery, Reggie Cannon is a breakthrough among its academy, and a USL team appears to be in the plans for next year.
A 2-1 win over LAFC has moved FC Dallas into second place in the Western Conference and playing solid soccer again.
But how willing will the team be to sell Acosta should offers come in this summer?
Rookie of the Year: Baird or Mueller?
It is early to seriously talk about it but the rookie of the year award is likely going to be between two American attacks this year.
Orlando midfielder Chris Mueller has shown a lot early in the season with three goals and three assists but Real Salt Lake’s Corey Baird is entering into the mix with his fourth goal against Seattle in a 2-0 win. The Stanford product now has four goals and an assist.
Right now, it’s too close to call
Food for thought
There are six new coaches in MLS this season in 2018 and three are domestic (LAFC, Portland, and New England) and three are foreign (Montreal, Colorado, and San Jose).
The record so far among the domestic hires is 18-10-11 (W,D,L) and the record among the foreign hires is 8-5-26.