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Midweek MLS Mini-Grid for May 17th, 2023
You can't really tell but I used a smaller piece of legal pad paper for it
This is a trial run. I am unsure of my capability to do two of these posts each week while also working my actual jobs and not going insane, but I’m gonna try! I wanted this to be shorter than its weekend brethren, and it is, but I can’t help but be a little verbose. I’m adapting the Window Winner and I’m Interested In This that I tried a few weekends ago here. There are many other games happening off of the grid, but I’m going to stick to what I recommend with these midweek ones. This is, of course, subject to change.
Window 1: 6:30pm -
Game of the Weeknight: DC United at Philadelphia Union
Both of these teams keep playing in eventful matches. DC feels like the least predictable team in the league right now (with Portland and Charlotte creeping right up behind). I don't just mean that in a win-loss sense, I mean it feels like a different DC United team comes out every match. They might limit the hottest attack in the East to two shots on target, they might look completely defensively inept, they might appear to have a perfect midfielder/striker combo in Fountas and Benteke, and they might also need a defender to score off of a setpiece -- they'll get goals from anyone, their fifteen goals at the moment are spread across eight players. I never know what we'll get from Wayne Rooney's team, but it's tended towards the dramatic in recent weeks.
The MLS website lists DC/Philadelphia as their only designated 'rivalry' of the midweek. This is a rivalry only if we consider the white-hot humiliated fury of DC that developed from the -13 goal differential they racked up against Philadelphia last season to be enough angst for both sides. Philadelphia cannot take matches off at this point in the season due to their slow start, either, so I'm hoping we see some real mid-week intensity from both sides.
I'm Interested In This:
Chicago Fire FC at Charlotte FC
We will need a few more weeks to truly know if Chicago's changed for the better under Frank Klopas, I'm rooting for him because I like the idea of Klopas going from assistant to interim to full-timer twice with the same team with an twelve year gap between instances. Charlotte is scoring finally, and everyone is getting in on the fun! The big money guys, the veterans, the castoffs, it matters not. Charlotte's defense might be just what Chicago's ailing attack needs, too.
Feet Club of Montreal at FC Cincinnati
Were the season to end today, this would be a first round playoff matchup. This would be the 2-7. I'm not kidding. Montreal's gone from near the bottom of the league to playoff contention in mere weeks, and they're looking genuinely good while doing it! The obvious criticism of their rise is that it's happened against teams either slumping or actively bottom-dwelling, and Cincinnati is not one of them, particularly on defense. Can Montreal get their streak of deux-a-zeros up to five?
Artisan's Choice: New York Red Bulls at Toronto FC
There will be a combined TWENTY players out with injuries, card accumulation suspensions, and racism suspensions among other things between TFC and the Red Bulls in this match. We are going to see two truly unique lineups out there, even if neither team's particularly that great at full strength to begin with.
Window 2: 7:30pm -
Window Winner: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at FC Dallas
These two teams have to have the most potential attacking energy of anyone in MLS, though they've struggled to bring it consistently to this point. Dallas, with Arriola, Lletget, Velasco, Cerillo, Pomykal, and Ferreira in tow, they have all that attacking talent – but they've scored three goals in a single match just once all year! Yet, they keep showing the flashes that make me really believe in them (just look at Tsiki Ntsabeleng's through-pass to Jesus Ferreira for the winner in Austin last weekend!). Vancouver's the same way, especially with the passing acumen of the Schopf-Cubas-Gressel midfield. There's also some hope deep within me that Folarin Balogun's announcement of intent to play for the United States will light something under each of the American strikers in his league, Brian White and Jesus Ferreira included, prompting more prolific scoring from them over the rest of the year.
I'm Interested In This:
Inter Miami CF at Nashville SC
Miami very loudly upset Atlanta two weeks ago and then somehow fairly quietly upset league-leading New England last weekend. Josef Martinez has three in the last two matches. They don't look nearly as listless as they did in April, which seems to be the case with a large chunk of the teams that seemed listless in April. Unfortunately, they'll be without the exciting young midfielder David Ruiz, who scored, assisted, and got a red card against New England. Nashville will continue to have Hany Mukhtar for goals, though they'll be missing one half of the Donovan Pines/Alex Muyl's Pectoral combo that gave them their lone goal in DC on Saturday.
Window 3: 8:30pm -
Window Winner (By Default): Portland Timbers at Real Salt Lake
Three weeks ago I would've had a ten minute long Angry Video Game Nerd-style rant about things I'd rather do than watch this match (assorted products of assorted animals in assorted bodily orifices, et cetera), but Portland's actually been entertaining over the past few weeks, especially Evander, who's finally starting to look like he was worth the record amount. I cannot say the same for Salt Lake. Can they bring their zero-goals streak up to four matches?
Window 4: 9:30pm -
Window Winner: Sporting Kansas City at Los Angeles FC
No, you're reading me right. I not only wrote the team's name, but I'm telling you to watch them with no hint of artisanship or ironic detachment. Sporting Kansas City has looked like the team they want to be over the last two Saturdays. Five goals from five different players (including all three of the DPs and both of the DPs who missed the entirety of 2022), effective defensive midfield and center-back play, a young right back who absorbed every shot taken at him by Minnesota... And now they go on the road to play the best team (by points per match) in the Western Conference. Sporting KC is at their highest high yet this season, and this could be a knock right the hell back down to the pits. It's also an opportunity to give people a reason to believe in the team's chances for a potential playoff spot.
I'm Interested In This:
Seattle Sounders FC at Austin FC
I noticed that I completely forgot to write about Houston/Seattle last weekend, which was actually a good thing – partially because Saturday's post was 2000+ words long already, and partially because I was pretty high on Houston as a pragmatic defensively-minded team, especially with the leadership of the unflappable veteran Hector Herrera... and then they got two red cards and lost at home. Anyway, this is about Seattle and Austin, and as I type this, I realize my primary justification for recommending this is that the blowout potential seems less likely here than it does in the other 9:30 window match. Maybe we see Will Bruin score in his return to Lumen Field. If that is enough for you, then so be it, and if it isn't, then... well, so be it.