Discover more from Score Secondary
MLS Watch Grid for 3/18/2023
Conflicts of Chaos Agents, Moxies, and Auras This Weekend
Major League Soccer last week brought us a number of low-scoring defensive affairs. I must say that I don’t see a ton of obvious fireworks coming this week, but MLS has a tendency to deliver something crazy when we least expect it — and even if it doesn’t, maybe we’ve had so much heart-pounding panic from the last three days of college basketball that turning the TV to a nice, honest 1-0 win decided on a Franco Fragapane deflection in the Commerce City altitude will feel like slipping into slumber in your coach-class airplane seat on a red-eye flight back from Vegas on a Monday morning. For further explanation of the whole idea here, consult the Week 2 guide.
Window 1 (3:00 PM)
Window Winner: LAFC at Seattle Sounders FC
This could be the most exciting match of the week, but I worry that the four matches they’ve played in the past twelve days may leave LAFC behind a step. That team is deep enough that they shouldn’t be out of any match, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them come out sluggish and give up two or three goals up on that damp turf after the gauntlet they’ve just gone through.
Window 2 (6:30 PM)
Free Window Winner (By Default): Inter Miami at Toronto FC
Free viewers, I apologize, you guys are getting the scraps here for the first window. The most intriguing aspect of this match, especially with Lorenzo Insigne out for an extended period, might be the question of whether Miami’s surprising dynamism in attack will translate in the cold of Ontario in mid-March. It’s not even going to get that cold, forecast currently only calls for 32 degrees fahrenheit tomorrow, and their coach is English, so we can’t even get them with the “Oh my god the thermometer says it’s zero degrees out there!” gag.
Window Winner: Nashville SC at New England Revolution
I might have to sell you on this one. Nashville has started strongly, with two wins and a draw to begin the year, and the combination play of Hany Mukhtar and Jacob Shaffelburg proving unexpectedly fruitful. New England got shit-stomped on a Sunday night last week in LA, and had a short week to travel back home. NSC looks like they might not have quite the fall-off that we thought they would, The Revs look like they aren’t as good as their first two weeks might’ve indicated. Carles Gil is out for this week, according to The Blazing Musket, and my normal must-watch agent of chaos, Tommy McNamara, is as well.
But my god, did you see the name on their bench last weekend? 33 Years Old, from Livingstone, New Jersey, and with the USMNT Striker position in as much flux as ever, I call on Mr. Josmer Volmy Altidore to make this a match worth watching. Jozy. Hany. Gillette Stadium. I think it’s still Gillette Stadium.
Every match in this window appears to be lopsided at first glance as well, but I could see something interesting come out of DC United and NYCFC and Charlotte-Orlando.
Window 3 (7:30 PM)
Free Window Winner: Sporting KC at FC Dallas
I went very deep into why I think this match will be worth watching in my Sporting thoughts post earlier this week. We might see Nemanja Radoja, Remi Walter, and Erik Thommy, which I’ve deemed The Eliminator Midfield for reasons listed in that post, start together for the first time. We might see Alan Pulido play for the first time this year. We will definitely see Dallas’s attack against a defensive backline that’s been playing well above its head over the past few weeks. Sporting has been able to get into goal-scoring positions but hasn’t been able to convert. This has the potential to get goalsy, but as there are no guarantees, I cannot promise you anything. At the very least, there is the potential to see Sporting get desperate to score, and if you’ve grown to disdain me for any reason, you can take solace in the knowledge that I will be suffering if SKC doesn’t convert.
Season Pass Window Winner/Game of the Week: San Jose Earthquakes at St. Louis CITY SC
St. Louis is getting the ballyhoo it deserves for three straight winning weeks of high-scoring, high-effort, high-drama soccer matches, but San Jose’s now racked up two weeks of winning matches with late goals of their own. We have San Jose reigniting the Goonies Never Say Die spirit and St. Louis living the Goonies Never Say Die spirit without recognition of what that phrase references in MLS terms because it happened more than a decade ago and St. Louisans probably weren’t paying attention to it.
Outside of the sheer moxie we’ll see at CITYPark on Saturday evening, the contrasting styles between San Jose’s well-controlled ground-pass heavy attacking and St. Louis’s SPEED SPEED SPEED PAIN PAIN PAIN FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU defensive style should be something of a unique dance.
Window 4 (8:30 PM)
Window Winner (By Default): Minnesota United FC at Colorado Rapids
For The Record: The ‘By Default’ tag will not always be there when there’s only one match in a window. If I think the match will be entertaining and it happens to be the only match in a window, I won’t say it’s a Winner By Default. By Default implies some degree of disappointment, I suppose I’m saying.
For those of us appreciating the game on a level deeper than Artisanship implies, there is an interesting sort of race breaking out here in Matchday 4: The Last to the Post Race. Who will be the last team to score their first goal of the season? Currently, we have a three-way tie between Montreal, Kansas City, and Colorado. Interestingly, according to American Soccer Analysis, these three teams are all about middle-of-the-pack in terms of Expected Goals so far, even among the teams who have played three matches. Colorado’s been unluckiest so far, with 3.33 xG over their zero actual goals. The Loons have only given up a single goal in two matches.
Regardless, there will be a period of about fifteen minutes in the second half, while the one Pacific Time match is at half, in which we’ll enter The Rapid Zone and be forced to watch this one on MLS 360. I predict that we’ll see the Rapids’ first goal of the season scored during The Rapid Zone window, and I’m sticking by my Fragapane deflection prediction from earlier. In fact, I think both teams will score off of Fragapane deflections.
Window 5 (7:30 PM)
Artisan’s Choice: Vancouver Whitecaps at LA Galaxy
What’s really pushing this to be the Artisan’s Choice (for those uninitiated, it’s a fancy way of saying “Could Get Weird!”) over St. Louis and San Jose, is the conflicting auras around these two teams.
Vancouver did something odd in 2021. With their team skirting the playoff line despite a harrowing early-season stint subletting in Sandy, Utah, they fired their coach, Marc Dos Santos, after a loss to Pacific FC in the Canadian Championship. They were set up for their best MLS season since 2017 with him at the helm, but prioritized his Canadian Championship failure over their league success. I would like to see them carry this to its logical extent: Disregard MLS, prioritize all other competitions. I want to see Vancouver finish 24th in the league this year with three trophies lifted: Canadian Championship, Leagues Cup, and Concacaf Champions League. They looked phenomenal in attack against Honduras’ Real Espana, but haven’t been able to score more than once in their three league matches so far. I want them to lean harder into that. I want them to play with the same cool, disinterested flair we associate with the people of… well, Seattle mostly, but Vancouver to some extent as well. You are not above MLS, Vancouver, but you are somewhere outside of it. Bring Jouissance to Major League Soccer.
The Galaxy, on the other hand, are in flux. They have one goal in two matches, saw their season-opener in their first home postponed, Chicharito’s out, and they’ve had to watch LAFC win three trophies and finish as CCL runners-up in their short time so far in MLS. With all of this swirling, the fact that their supporters still seem to be out on attending matches in protest of Chris Klein’s appearance will not help the aura at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday evening.
I think we will have a desperate, yearnful, hot-blooded Galaxy team against a Vancouver team wearing a black turtleneck and beret and smoking a cigarette out of one of those long tube things. If the intense yearning of the Galaxy fails to bear fruit in this match, it’ll be a fascinating thing to watch.
The Odd Team Out:
Real Salt Lake is off this weekend. I would recommend that the Utahns sit back and enjoy the NCAA Tournament, but the Utes and BYU didn’t qualify, and the Aggies got knocked out by Missouri early on Thursday. They must either:
A) Go out and enjoy the natural beauty of their state on a Saturday
B) Embrace their roots in the Mountain West Conference and throw themselves fully behind the final hope of the Mountain West, the San Diego State Aztecs. S-D-S-U AZTECS FIGHT
Everybody else, enjoy the soccer this weekend!