OT: 2018 MLS Season

There was at least a little interest in another thread for me starting a thread to discuss MLS here with fellow Hokies. Several folks, like myself, are currently suffering through another season of supporting DC United, but the league has a lot of fun to offer! Anyone interested in checking out a game on TV or in person is welcome to join us here.

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DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.

Comments

I cheer for New York Red Bull... Only because I like the drink /s

Red Bull fan as well. Really happy overall with all the young talent coupled with BWP and Robles.

Jesse's biggest screwup was the gameplan at Guadalajara. Still not over that.

BWP has played really good. Seems like every year around playoff time we get knocked out. I felt like we had a really good showing at the CONCACAF, even though the loss against Guadalajara

It'll be very interesting to see how the Wayne Rooney to DC United saga ends... since there's now reports that Big Sam getting the ax may keep Rooney around at Everton.

I know most DC United fans are down on the team right now, but I remain pretty optimistic. This long road trip they're on is going to be pretty brutal, but I think they've got a chance to steal some points and maybe even a couple wins.

If we pick up Rooney (or someone else at his quality) and a couple other pieces this summer, we may just sneak into the playoffs and hit the postseason hot. I love Benny and would love to see him succeed.

Also, once Canouse comes back from injury, I think that will completely change the tone that we see on the field.

Agreed. I think Benny gets unfairly attacked by vocal portions of the fanbase, since he's proven that he can win games in this league. People quickly forget that DC United was banging in goals left & right at the end of 2016. This team has more talent but is drastically younger, which I think people overlook in the struggles this year & last.

I think Durkin has held down the fort remarkably well for an 18-year old and he's got a bright future. But yeah, Canouse should definitely help this team when he's back.

Durkin absolutely has a bright future, and I'd like to see what a DC United with Durkin and Canouse behind Acosta looks like.

Any other Atlanta United fans? Stealing 3 points from Orlando last week was fucking great.

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SKC fan here. Stealing 3 points in Atlanta last week was AMAZING.

Growing up in the upstate of South Carolina, a straight line down 85 less than 2 hours to Atlanta, and most of my family living in or around Atlanta, has made it something of a second home to me all my life. I have never really cared about MLS but I have thoroughly enjoyed watching ATL United the last two years. They are creating a truly amazing atmosphere and culture for soccer in America. Other teams like Portland have done this well also, but given how United has blasted onto the scene and is playing in such a large beautiful stadium it's really noticeable. It may fade a bit, but Atlanta United home games might be the best "atmosphere" in American sports right now.

Another big thing about Atlanta United that is that they play very exciting, skillful attacking football, a product that is often not found in the MLS (though it is getting better). The way they are going about doing this is the real key though, breaking the mold of MLS as a retirement league for aging European stars. I believe they have set the standard that will help move the MLS into a more respectable league by going after and developing young South American talent. Guys like Miggy Almiron, Josef Martinez, and Barco are some of the best players in the league and they are all quite young, way younger than most other MLS stars. All three of those guys may leave to better leagues in the future, but they will bring big money to ATL that they can shuffle back into more young SA talent.

Also, I think Almiron is the most exciting player in the MLS by some distance.

It's great to see. I live in midtown, and see ATLUTD jerseys daily. 1 out of every 5 homes has an UTD flag on it. I honestly see more ATLUTD gear daily than Falcons or Braves gear, and it's not close. Also, right now MLS is the hottest ticket in town. If a good team (NYC, orlando, etc) is in town AND they don't open the third deck, you can't find tickets for less than $80. That's what the cheapest Falcon's tickets cost. I know that's hardly an apples-to-apples comparison - the cheapest NFL tickets of the season are comparable to the cheapest MLS tickets for one of the best games - but it's still cool to see.

The way they are going about doing this is the real key though, breaking the mold of MLS as a retirement league for aging European stars. I believe they have set the standard that will help move the MLS into a more respectable league by going after and developing young South American talent. Guys like Miggy Almiron, Josef Martinez, and Barco are some of the best players in the league and they are all quite young, way younger than most other MLS stars. All three of those guys may leave to better leagues in the future, but they will bring big money to ATL that they can shuffle back into more young SA talent.

This. Barco still has braces lol. Also, the best case, mildly realistic, long term scenario for American Soccer is that the MLS can become a premiere 'developmental' league for North/South American players that are destined for Europe. Hopefully that spikes interest in the states, and we can actually compete for a world cup title in a few decades.

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Also, the best case, mildly realistic, long term scenario for American Soccer is that the MLS can become a premiere 'developmental' league for North/South American players that are destined for Europe.

Exactly this. We need the MLS to become a competitor with Portugal, Russia, Netherlands, Belgium, France, etc. as the middle man step for young SA talent.

The way they are going about doing this is the real key though, breaking the mold of MLS as a retirement league for aging European stars. I believe they have set the standard that will help move the MLS into a more respectable league by going after and developing young South American talent.

I respect what Atlanta is doing, but I think every team & market will have to look at their own individual challenges.

I think the LA & NYC markets in particular will still need to rely on using star players to bring in fans. I think it's telling that the Galaxy's attendance sagged last year when they were bad and had nobody on the team who really enthused the fanbase. Gio dos Santos ain't cutting it when you suck, but Zlatan has moved the needle even if they aren't that much better so far this year. LAFC seems to be mixing both models effectively so far - Vela is a big name for that market and Rossi has been as good as advertised and worth the money they spent to bring in a talented youngster.

Additionally, while I like what RBNY is building through their academy & USL teams and playing young guys... their attendance isn't any different than when Thierry Henry was there. The stadium location doesn't help, but the winning product on the field isn't filling the stands either.

And even if Atlanta decided to go with younger South American talent, they still spent a boatload of money to bring those guys in. The transfer fee for Martinez was about $5 mil, Almiron's transfer was around $8 mil, and Barco's transfer fee is in the $15 mil range.

Point being, not every team in MLS has the checkbook of Uncle Arthur, so what may work for some teams might not work for others. Chicago was ridiculed last year for bringing in Bastian Schweinsteiger, but he's probably been their best player and helped sell some jerseys at the same time.

I think it will be a mix, for sure. Teams will have to do what is best for their markets. Also, I'm not saying getting older European stars is a bad thing, but we need to kill the stigma as a retirement league. I think the MLS would benefit from more a blend of the two styles, and a trend towards seeking out young South and Central American talent so that the league can become a prominent selling league to European ones.

we need to kill the stigma as a retirement league

Personally, I think they've already hit that point to be honest. That it's perpetuated at this point is a result of poorly-informed media & fans.

Guys like Villa, Zlatan, Basti & Rooney (if he signs) are all still capable of playing in top European leagues, just not with big clubs. I think that's where the narrative gets a little silly. Mid-table Premier League clubs will love to have those guys on their teams for their quality, but their professional egos won't allow that.

I think the last signing that really fits the "retirement league" stigma was Pirlo, even if it was awesome to see him play in the US. At least Villa, Zlatan & Basti have shown they're not liabilities when they're on the field.

The transfer fee for Martinez was about $5 mil, Almiron's transfer was around $8 mil, and Barco's transfer fee is in the $15 mil range.

So, I'm new to professional soccer and haven't quite figured out how FIFA works in general, but I think the goal (no pun intended) is that we develop these players, so when they leave for Europe, the transfer fee we receive is greater than the transfer fee we paid to acquire them.

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This is how 98% of football clubs in the world survive. American sports being full of safety nets and no relegation skews the perspective of how football clubs operate around the world. The European market is, somewhat ironically, far more capitalistic in their function than any American sports league. Players are purchased and sold as assets and smaller clubs buy younger or unproven players and hopefully develop them into better players who can be sold for profit to bigger clubs. In world football there are "buying" clubs and "selling" clubs, the buying clubs are very rich clubs who need top players who can slot into the team and help compete for titles right away. Selling clubs benefit by getting these talented younger players during their development years to help their team win, and eventually sell them for profit. The closest comparison in American sports is baseball, where smaller teams develop players only for the Red Sox and Yankees to come in and drop huge money and snipe those players with big contracts that the smaller teams can't compete with.

So yes, your assessment is correct. The model Atlanta is using is much more similar to a European feeder club, splurge on some talented young prospects with a plan in mind to sell them to bigger clubs to recoup the cost of the player while profiting enough to keep buying more young talent and keep the cycle going.

The European market is, somewhat ironically, far more capitalistic in their function than any American sports league.

There's a really good Freakonomics podcast on how European Sports and American Sports are designed completely opposite of our respective economies. I think it's this one, need to relisten and confirm.

Anyways, thanks for confirming my understanding.

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The European market is especially more capitalistic than MLS, which was formed just 10-15 years after a previous professional soccer league went bankrupt in the US. They've been building carefully to protect investors and growing much more slowly.

Sure, that's absolutely the goal.

It's still a significant financial gamble though, and not every team in MLS has the financial wherewithal to get in bidding wars for a young player's services. There's always the risk that you overpay, or injuries derail a career. That's all I'm saying.

I envy Atlanta's success & the way they're doing it, but it's not completely without risks.

Georgia native here - I love what they are doing. Also, I love that the city has totally embraced the team. Maybe one day people will realize the narrative of Atlanta as a bad sports town is BS.

Hadn't seen that, thanks for sharing.

Hokie fan | W&M grad

I'm not an Atlanta fan. Yet. I was hoping the NC team would be up in the league by now so that I could easily transfer my fandom there once Precourt kills the Crew... but as of this moment I'm more likely to hop over to Atlanta's train when that happens.

No way I'll continue to follow the Crew in Austin. Such BS.

VT Class of '12 (MSE), MVBone, Go Hokies!

Ugh, I don't know what to do about the MLS. NCFC has been pushing for MLS inclusion for long enough that I feel like there might still be a possibility there, so why waste time getting invested into another franchise if we're about to be promoted in a couple years here? But then again, it certainly appears we aren't anywhere close to being towards the top of the teams that are going to be invited up (Miami, Cinci, Sacramento, Nashville all appear to be locks/already invited).

"Some days you’re a horse and some days you’re a horse’s ass. I’ve been a horse’s ass for a little while." - Roy Halladay

I think MLS will eventually bring a team from North Carolina into the fold. The appetite for soccer is there, they produce some great players in the region and it's a market that they're not currently serving.

I think Sacramento's bid is actually in a challenging spot right now, since they're supposedly having some issues putting together an ownership group with enough capital to get the whole thing moving forward. We'll see though.

I know MLS has said they're stopping at 28 teams, but I don't buy it. I think they'll end up closer to 32 teams like the majority of pro leagues in the US & Canada.

Miami was never competing against the Raleigh bid (I still hate the name NCFC). They were still working on Beckham's contract from 2007 which said he would get a team.

NCFC should be a front runner in the next round (teams 27 and 28), especially if they can get the downtown stadium they've proposed! I would LOVE to see a team there. Would instantly jump to my 3rd favorite team (Grew up with DC and my wife's from Colorado)

Week 12 Preview
Each week, I'll post two or three games that I'm particularly interested in checking out, and probably a preview of D.C. United's game for those of us in the DC area

Friday, May 18, 8:00 ET, ESPN+
Toronto FC (10th in East) vs Orlando City (4th in East)
This game is very intriguing to me, mostly because there are big questions about both of these teams. Toronto dominated the league last year and came up just short of winning the CONCACAF Champions League a few weeks ago. Through injuries and focusing on CCL, they put themselves in a big hole in the East. Will this be the week they turn it around and start playing the quality of soccer we know they're capable of? They're playing without Giovinco this week after he picked up a silly red last game. Orlando completely rebuilt in the offseason and had a very impressive 6 game winning streak broken last weekend. Are they for real? This test against Toronto will give a good indication of that.

Saturday, May 19, 3:00 ET, FOX
Portland Timbers (5th in West) vs LAFC (2nd in West)
This game is going to be nationally broadcast on FOX, so it'll be a big stage. In this one, the league's newest team (LAFC) takes on another team with a hot hand (Portland). This game features the battle last year's league MVP, Diego Valeri for Portland and the best new player in the league Mexico's Carlos Vela (LAFC). Portland is undefeated at home, but LAFC has already beaten several good teams on the road. Should be very exciting to watch.

Saturday, May 19, 10:30 PM ET, ESPN+, News Channel 8 (DC)
San Jose Earthquakes (10th in West) vs DC United (Damn Last in the League)
DC is bad. That much we know. Ulises Segura got injured on Tuesday after finding out he didn't make Costa Rica's World Cup team on Monday - rough week. The good news is that San Jose is also bad, AND they just played a midweek game on Wednesday, tying Vancouver 2-2. Hopefully they'll be tired. This is game 3 out of an 8 game road trip before the new stadium opens. Can we just... win one?

Sunday, May 20, 7:00 PM ET, Fox Sports 1
Atlanta United (1st in MLS) vs New York Red Bulls (5th in East)
This is the game I'm most excited to watch this weekend. Both of these teams play very exciting styles and are two of the best teams in the league. Atlanta has so many lethal weapons on their team that run the offense so fast. 18 year old Ezequiel Barco has now scored twice in the league and seems to be settling in. Dang, Atlanta, you scary! The Red Bulls, meanwhile, have developed their own cast of young talent rather than importing it from South America. They play a high press, forcing turnovers from the opposing defense and capitalizing on the opportunities. They just beat NYCFC in the Hudson River Derby 4-0 a couple weeks ago. I hate that team from New Jersey, but they're really darn good. This should be a great game to watch.

EDIT: I gave DC the wrong opponent. Whoops! Fixed now.

EDIT 2: AND I got the the Saturday afternoon matchup wrong. Geez, I really whiffed on my first weekend preview post. It's Portland vs LAFC Saturday at 3pm on FOX. It's all updated now.

Saturday, May 19, 10:30 PM ET, ESPN+, News Channel 8 (DC)
Real Salt Lake (6th in West) vs DC United (Damn Last in the League)
DC is bad. That much we know. Ulises Segura got injured on Tuesday after finding out he didn't make Costa Rica's World Cup team on Monday - rough week. RSL is traditionally very good at home, but they have a young team and just played on Wednesday. Hopefully they'll be tired. This is game 3 out of an 8 game road trip before the new stadium opens. Can we just... win one?

Sorry bud, you're a week behind here... DC just played (and lost to) RSL last Saturday. This week it's DCU After Dark in San Jose.

You know, I knew that. I watched that catastrophy. This is what I get for not double checking. The comment about the midweek game does apply to San Jose. I'll edit the original.

He proved me wrong...2 or 3 great saves in the first half to keep rb in it.

I hope kemar is okay. Scary.

Saw 20 mins of the first half, but he looked good.

Hokie fan | W&M grad

I'm honestly amazed at the fact that there's already so many comments on this thread! A lot more MLS fans on here than I expected.

The MLS probably feels the same way!

I am an EPL fan and since ESPN+ has kicked off I decided to subscribe and start watching MLS this summer before the world cup. The one thing that has blown my mind so far is the number of red cards and crazy tackles. Seriously, what is going on here? There were seven games on Saturday and five red cards!

It has felt like a particularly rough season to me with regard to red cards and crazy tackles. Oh my goodness, so many red cards! I think that the refs are getting a little carried away with VAR, but it's been brutal.

Well, well, well... funny that we were having the discussion about teams developing young international players this very morning, because check it out:

MLS is about to introduce "YTF," a new pool of money to purchase young international players

Major League Soccer is in the final stages of adding a new pot of money intended to incentivize teams to identify and sign young international players who could be sold at a profit in the future. The "Youth Transfer Fund," as it's being called by people familiar with the discussions, would give teams a large chunk of money to sign young players from outside the league—either international or young American players with non-MLS affiliated clubs, multiple league sources told The Athletic.

Sources said the new rule, which is in the final stages of development, will allow teams to use $3 million through the end of the 2022 season. The fund would be restricted to players aged 20 or younger, and the goal is for those players to come to the league, develop, and potentially be sold for a profit in later seasons.

A source confirmed the fund is expected to go into effect when the secondary transfer window opens on July 10.

Fantastic. People give the league a hard time for how they make up rules, but each one has had the desired effect on the league and has helped it grow to a fantastic place. The DP rule brought star power to the league and turned heads as we brought superstars near the end of their careers. The TAM rule raised the overall quality of the league by bringing on high quality players in their prime. I'm excited to see what teams are able to do with this new rule.

Hey, DC United got a win last night!

Really good performance against a bad Quakes team - the experiment with Arriola as a CM is seemingly working out so far through two games.

Not only did we win, but we looked really good doing it! Yes, San Jose is bad, but the passing was excellent and it was so fun to watch.

Shocked by DC's win last night, hopefully this starts a positive trend.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

San Jose is so bad, but it's tough to win on road in MLS.

Always choose joy.

DC United actually looked good this week! Picked up a key win over the San Jose Earthquakes

Big update in the Wayne Rooney case he was spotted in DC looks like to wrap up talks to join DC which would be a great coupe yes hes not his young 17 year old self flying around feeding ronaldo but his vision and finishing are still top notch with younger legs around him he could thrive in MLS for a year or two.
One of the most criminally underatted players of this generation the england fans have little appreciation for what he achieved its pretty sad really.

Directions from Blacksburg to whoville, go north till you smell it then go east until you step in it

sauces: been a done deal for awhile now.

Always choose joy.

That's what I've heard too.

I think Goff (The WaPo journalist who's reporting this) is just being extra cautious in case something blows up the deal at the eleventh hour. Goff is well plugged into DC's front office.

Rooney underrated?????????????????????????????????????????????

Chem PhD '16

Haven't said much about it on this board, but I am pretty openly opposed to using VAR for anything other than goal-line technology and offsides, and this past weekend was a great example. Atlanta United had their second goal (should have been 2-0) disallowed minutes after the fact for incidental contact between Josef Martinez and the defenders feet, 25 yards from the goal. The defender was beaten (out of position) and would not have recovered even without any incidental contact. I'm telling you right now, if VAR disallows a goal like that in the knockout stages of the World Cup, people will die in the stands or a ref might get killed after the match.

Yeah. I do feel like they made the right call there under the current rules, but I don't know that I want that reviewed. VAR has gone a little overboard recently. I think that by-the-book definitions of red cards (like Zlatan smacking someone in the head when hands to the face is explicitly a red card offense) should be allowed as well, but I tend to agree: let calls that can be subjective, like Martinez's foul and penalty decisions, be subjective on the field. Let clear offside (>1 foot or so) and goal line decisions be reviewed.

At the same time, if they don't call that foul in the World Cup and someone scored, there would be a huge reaction as well.

I have a different issue with VAR. My biggest issue with it is how much it's disrupted the flow of the game, especially in the case of red cards.

Technically, the incident you referenced IS a foul, but it's extremely soft. Heck, Tim Parker didn't even protest after it happened.

The guys on the Total Soccer Show podcast had a good discussion about it on Monday's podcast, starting at their review of the Atlanta vs. RBNY game at 49:20.

LargeFood's Week 13 Preview
Each week, I will try to preview a few MLS games that I am most interested in for those who may want to tune in over the weekend, but before I start,

Congratulations to Cincinatti!
FC Cincinatti, which averages over 30,000 people per game for a minor league soccer team is going to be announced on Tuesday as the next MLS Expansion team. They join Miami and Nashville as the league expands to 26. MLS does plan to expand to 28 teams, and Phoenix, Sacramento, and Detroit seem to be front runners at the moment.

Houston Dynamo (4-3-3) vs. NYCFC (7-2-3)
Friday, May 25, 8:55 PM - UniMas, Twitter
This is a matchup that I'm very intrigued by. MLS teams tend to perform much better at home than on the road, and Houston has shown flashes of being a pretty good team. Keep an eye out for 22-year-old speedster Alberth Elis, who already has 6 goals and 5 assists this season. New York City, on the other hand, is just one point shy of first place in the league, led by superstar David Villa who just celebrated his 400th career goal. NYCFC has never lost to Houston in their short history, but this may just be Houston's chance.
Side note: if you're watching this game in English, be prepared for the worst announcers you have ever heard. They're terrible.

LAFC (6-3-2) vs. D.C. United (2-5-2)
Saturday, May 26, 10:00 PM - ESPN+
D.C. stayed in California this week after defeating San Jose 4-1 (I still can't believe how fun that game was) and heads down the freeway to take on expansion team LAFC for the first time. Carlos Vela and LAFC are scarily good, making it to 2nd place in the Western Conference so far despite having played 7 of their 11 games on the road. Could D.C. be the team to give LAFC their first ever home loss? Probably not, but it would be pretty fun, wouldn't it?
Also worth noting: Wayne Rooney is currently in D.C. touring the facilities and negotiating a contract. Crazy, right?

Sporting Kansas City (7-2-3) vs. Columbus Crew SC (7-3-3)
Sunday, May 27, 6:00 PM - Fox Sports 1
This is the heavyweight fight of the weekend and one that I'm very excited to check out. Both of these teams are tied for 2nd in the league (along with NYCFC) and just one point out of 1st. Both teams are MLS originals with a lot of talent but no particularly famous players led by fantastic coaches. This midwestern matchup should be a great one.

no particularly famous players

Yet. If Berhalter keeps them going at this rate there's going to be some big names. Zardes and Higuain already shouldn't be a stretch.

VT Class of '12 (MSE), MVBone, Go Hokies!

Absolutely. Zardes would be famous to National Team fans, and Higuain's famous for his brother. I hadn't realized until I just checked, but Zardes leads the league in goals right now. I knew he was doing well, but... damn!

I meant it more as a compliment to the y'all's overall strength. The Crew and SKC are two of the best teams in the league without having a guy like Giovinco, Valeri, or Villa.

I hadn't realized until I just checked, but Zardes leads the league in goals right now. I knew he was doing well, but... damn!

Just goes to show you that a great coach can get the best out of certain players.

USMNT fans bag on him 'cause his first touch is pretty poor, but he's been played out of position a lot for both club (at the Galaxy) and country.

Carlos Vela and LAFC are scarily good, making it to 2nd place in the Western Conference so far despite having played 7 of their 11 games on the road. Could D.C. be the team to give LAFC their first ever home loss? Probably not, but it would be pretty fun, wouldn't it?

Glimmer of hope - LAFC will be without Walker Zimmerman on the back line, since he's been called into the USMNT against Bolivia. Additionally, Marco Ureña is with Costa Rica & Omar Gaber is with Egypt in preparation for the World Cup. So, two of LAFC's usual back line will be absent, plus their first-choice forward.

Unfortunately, Vela & Ciman will be joining their World Cup squads after this game, so their best playmaker/goal-scorer and defensive anchor will still be playing against DC.

I'll take what we can get! If we get going on the attacking foot, we could do well against a poor backline. Ureña is also a pretty big missing piece for them. From what I've watched, he does a lot to stretch the field and open space for Vela. Then again, I don't have the most faith in our back line at the moment. This could be a high scoring game, actually.

Yeah, it's really hard to gauge.

Ureña might not be there, but they just signed Adama Diomande from Hull City and he's sure to play (and probably start) after getting some run in LAFC's friendly against Dortmund. Plus, he played for Bradley when they were both at Stabaek so Bob knows how to use him.

This DC team has been good at getting off to fast starts, so hopefully that happens again and we can avoid the bad spells in the middle of the game that have doomed this team in previous losses.

Crazy game for DC United!

Even though some fans may be disappointed that we couldn't steal a win after the LAFC red card, I'm happy with getting a result on the road against a very dangerous team.

4 points on this west coast swing is good progress. Hopefully they can keep this momentum going as the team looks forward to the opening of the new stadium.

I really just want a NC expansion team in Raleigh.

Mitch (2)

Me too...

NCFC does get to play DC United in the US Open Cup on June 6!

Not to beat a dead horse, but if anyone (myself included) really want an MLS team in NC, we should be hoping for Pro-Rel. There are 2 teams in NC right now in the USL. Let them earn promotion instead of gifting it to them.

I would love a pro-rel system. I just don't see it happening any time soon... Could be wrong though.

Mitch (2)

I agree, I don't think it will happen anytime soon either unfortunately. The number of teams in the system is getting pretty big though -> 23 MLS, 33 USL.

It's not going to happen until there's some stability in lower division soccer in the US.

I would love to see it happen and I do think it will eventually happen.

There won't be stability as long as MLS keeps poaching lower division teams

I think this is becoming less & less of a problem every year.

Sure, FC Cincinnati will start in MLS next year so USL loses a marquee franchise, but they're also adding teams in Birmingham, El Paso, Memphis & Albuquerque next year. On top of that, USL is starting a Division 3 league with founding members in Statesboro, Tucson, Greenville (SC) and Madison.

The rate of USL expansion is far outpacing the teams being plucked by MLS. Lower division soccer is the healthiest it has ever been in the US.

One of the major issues with pro/rel in the US is that business owners don't want to risk their club dropping down to a lower division.

Don't get me wrong, I think pro/rel is the vastly superior model, but it's a hard sell when these owners are putting millions on the line when they go in on or start a new franchise/club. Especially those that bought in with the understanding they would be guaranteed a spot in the MLS under the current format.

Whereas in Europe/South American, the clubs knew what they were getting into as they have long had pro/rel institutionalized in their league structure.

FC Cincinnati has been officially announced as an expansion team. They will begin play in 2019!

Obligatory, #SaveTheCrew

I was in a wedding this weekend and wasn't able to do a weekend preview. Sorry!

Here's an interesting Twitter thread on MLS participation in this summer's world cup, though:
https://twitter.com/JogaBonito_USA/status/1003620132663517184

19 MLS players will be in the World Cup from 11 different clubs representing 6 different nations. Tied for 2nd most of all time, and by far the most non-US players:

6 for Panama
6 for Costa Rica
3 for Mexico
2 for Peru
1 for Egypt
1 for Sweden

Laurent Ciman is also a stand-by for Belgium

Well, DC United played in a bonkers game last night at Toronto.

DCU takes a 3-0 lead into halftime, then gives up 3 goals in the second half. DCU takes a 4-3 lead right at the start of stoppage time, then concedes a few minutes later to settle for a 4-4 draw.

Coming away with 1 point at Toronto doesn't seem all that bad, but given the chances were there to take all 3 points from this one, it stings a bit.

That game was absurd. First time we've blown a 3-0 lead since... last season!

At the end of the game I was both disappointed and relieved that we left with a point. Such a confusing game. Entertaining as hell, though.

To be honest, part of me wishes instead of Rooney we'd spend that 3 million/season on some upgrades defensively. Also it feels like the players failed to realize you're not supposed to leave your mark wide open in your own box. So many free runners/easy goals given up in that 2nd half.

The goals felt inevitable watching that 2nd half. Having DeLeon back from injury would've really helped last night. Justin Morrow just abused Fisher on the wing.

Uhhh..goood try, good effort, DC.

Read that yesterday. The whole DC front office is such a shit show these days. Can't recommend following Pablo Maurer (the author of the article) enough, though. He also does the photography project of abandoned buildings that I've seen shared around the internets random places.

Since we were just having a discussion about lower division soccer the other day, I thought this might be an interesting read for folks:

Q&A: USL president bullish on league's present and future

There's a ton of juicy tidbits in there, but from a youth development perspective I thought this was an intriguing part of the back & forth:

You mentioned one of the more immediate ventures, USL D3, which is set to launch next season. How does USL D3 fit within that wider strategic plan that I referenced before? What function does it serve, not necessarily in the wider American soccer landscape but [rather] the USL ethos?

It's a critical piece of the structure for us. It gives us some flexibility to have another division. It's also, as I'm viewing this, the foundation for professional soccer in the U.S. We're going to be taking these professional clubs to markets that are perhaps underserved and building the footprint of professional soccer, and opportunities for players coming to the game at a professional level ... The players are going to skew a little bit young. We're looking at players in the range of 16, 17 up to about 22, 23. So, on average it's going to be a younger age group and exciting young players just starting out their professional career.

We'll start the league with about 12 teams, and it will grow significantly over the next few years ... We can work with these clubs to start putting academies and youth development programs together, and professional coaching down through all of those clubs. We've got a phenomenal chance to build something special and really identify all the real talent we have in this country ... A lot of players we're losing because they don't have that touchpoint with a professional club and professional coaching, and I think that will solve a major gap for us.

I hadn't seen this. Good find! USL also has the PDL in the 4th division, which is more of a semi-pro situation for college players in their offseason.

USL is growing. And improving in quality. (and being on ESPN+, they're more likely to pick up a few extra fans along the way). They have more turnover, with teams closing up show as others open, but they have established some real stability and strong team cultures of their own.

I love the possibilities for USL and USLD3 to grow some solid regional rivalries, like having Richmond, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Charleston all in the same league for the first year this year.