Weekend breakdown: Messi dazzles, transfers heat up, more leagues open
August 07, 2023
THE WEEKEND IN AMERICAN soccer was a fun one depends on your perspective. If you’re a die-hard USWNT supporter, you might be bummed, or you might see that this is a healthy time to hit the reset button. After that, it was a fun set of days and we can largely thank Lionel Messi for that.
Of course, more of Europe is getting underway. The Championship and the Scottish Premiership had their opening weekend and that league joins Belgium’s First Division, the 2.Bundesliga, Austrian’s Bundesliga, and the Danish Superliga as being the Fall-Spring leagues now open for business.
But let’s start domestically.
Messi show continues to dazzle
There was only one Leagues Cup game over the weekend, and it was one of the most entertaining of the tournament. While Messi scored the opening goal of the game, it seemed as if Dallas was going to hand the new-look Inter Miami its first loss and eliminate them from the tournament. Dallas had a 4-2 lead with 10 minutes remaining.
But then an own goal from Marco Farfan, and an unstoppably brilliant free kick from Messi sent the game into penalties.
This is absurd pic.twitter.com/anwRpKcnd7— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) August 7, 2023
Then in penalties, Inter Miami made every attempt. Messi went first. Argentine-American Ben Cremaschi went last. Dallas missed just once when Paxton Pomykal skied an attempt over the crossbar.
Next up for Miami is hosting the winner of Charlotte-Houston in the quarterfinal.
At this point that seems like a very likely Inter Miami win. Messi is living up to the billing and then some. People are trying to make this an indictment of defending here. Sometimes he will score goals because of defensive mistakes. But more often than not, he is going to score goals because he’s the greatest player of all time. While he is past his peak, he is still only months removed from his greatest accomplishment. The free kick he scored to equalize against Dallas was not going to be saved by anyone.
Why not? pic.twitter.com/cRcVmxye4X— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) August 7, 2023
Online discourse over Messi is mostly terrible but away from the internet, people are captivated.
Inter Miami has gone from a bad team to a team that is going to require a flawless performance to defeat them. Even if they don’t make the MLS playoffs, they have a real chance now to start 2024 in the CONCACAF Champions League through either Leagues Cup or the U.S. Open Cup.
It begs the question – what is 2024 going to look like? I hope everyone is enjoying this.
Leagues Cup on Monday
The rest of the Round of 16 will get underway on Monday night.
The Red Bulls will visit the Philadelphia Union in a game that heavily favors the Union. RBNY is still struggling mightily to score, they never win in Philly, and the Union are playing well.
Meanwhile, the New England Revolution host Queretaro, the lone remaining Liga MX team on the East/South half of the bracket. While Bruce Arena is still on leave from the Revs, goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic is back with the squad.
Both Chalotte and Houston have had surprisingly strong Leagues Cup while defeating Liga MX teams en route. But both are competing to be the next Messi victim.
Americans in Europe
It was a rough week for Americans in the Belgian First Division as all four players lost.
Fresh off a terrible ouster from the Champions League to a Servette team that played 117 minutes down an man and also managed two equalizer, Genk dropped a 1-0 decision at home to Eupen. Mark McKenzie went 90 minutes for Genk.
Anderlecht defeated Antwerp 1-0 with Sam Vines playing the last playing the last 18 minutes for Antwerp.
Westerlo dropped a 1-0 decision at home to Club Brugge. Bryan Reynolds went 84 minutes.
On Friday, Marlon Fossey played all 90 minutes for Standard Liege in a 1-0 loss at home to Union SG.
In the Championship opener, Duane Holmes picked up an assist for Preston North End in a 1-1 away draw against Bristol City.
Josh Sargent went 90 minutes for Norwich City in a 2-1 win over Hull City. Sargent played well but did not pick-up a goal or an assist. He had four shots but didn't factor into the winner where Hull City's defense collapsed.
Lynden Gooch saw the last three minutes of Sunderland’s 2-1 loss at home to Ipswich.
Haji Wright was active off the bench and looked promising but he couldn’t do anything in his 16 minutes of his Coventry debut to prevent a 2-1 loss to Leicester.
In the 2.Bundesliga, American-born manager Fabian Hurzeler and St. Pauli drew Fortuna Dusseldorf 0-0.
Greuther Furth dropped a 2-1 decision on the road to promotional contenders Holstein Kiel. Julian Green went 90 minutes for Furth as did German-American defender Maxamillian Dietz, 21, who was on the right side of a three-man backline.
Terrence Boyd played the final 16 minutes for Kaiserslautern in a 3-0 loss to Schalke.
In Denmark, the only American who played was Jonathan Amon who played the final 10 minutes of Lyngby's 4-1 win over 10-man Midtjylland.
In the Scottish Premiership, Celtic defeated Ross County 4-2 in a very lopsided game. Cameron Carter-Vickers played the distance for Celtic.
Cameron Carter-Vickers went 90 minutes in this game.— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) August 5, 2023
- he competed 111 passes but he was just 0/1 in long balls (35+ yards attempts)
- Celtic had 75% possession and completed 729 passes (CCV was 15% of those)#USMNT pic.twitter.com/TCvjEisE4A
Livingston played Aberdeen to a 0-0 draw at home. Scott Pittman played the second half for Livingston. Dante Polvara returned from his loan to Chalreston and played 90 minutes for Aberdeen.
Dundee played Motherwell for a 1-1 draw. Joe Efford played the last two minutes for Motherwell.
Matt Turner is set to join Nottingham Forest where he will play ahead of Ethan Horvath. From Turner’s perspective, there isn’t anything not to like. He’ll finally play and even make his Premier League debut. As for Horvath, he needs to move ASAP and it’s getting late.
Folarin Balgoun is in limbo after Arsenal declined a bid from Inter Milan. It’s a game a chicken for Arsenal who feel confident they can get their asking price while decline anything else lower. But if they don’t sell him this window, he will rot on the bench and lose his value.
Rumors are circulating from Koln to Vallecano about Reggie Cannon. But given that Cannon is a free agent, he runs the risk that clubs could be looking at him as a flyer. It is always tough to gauge the nature of the interest.
While it looks like Weston McKennie is going to stay at Juventus given the movement at Juventus, there are still a lot of question marks remaining. Sergino Dest is fading at Barcelona and needs to get out. Zack Steffen is still out at Man City. Malik Tillman is apparently close to a PSV move. Caden Clark was rumored to move to Twente, but that was a while ago.
Then we have Tyler Adams. Can Leeds United move an injured player? Aston Villa is reportedly interested, but is it serious and will Leeds United agree to a discounted price?