OT: 2019 MLS Season

It's a new year, and MLS teams are in preseason training as we speak.

There's been a TON of news and big changes to the top teams and contenders already in the offseason. Some of the notable names that have moved:

- Alphonso Davies to Bayern Munich
- Tyler Adams to RB Leipzig
- Miguel Almiron to Newcastle (for the MLS record transfer fee, no less)
- Sebastian Giovinco to Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

Those are just the big ones that come to mind off the top of my head.

FC Cincinnati's first MLS squad has started to come together, though it looks like they're planning to roll out 5 defensive midfielders based on their acquisitions. Regardless of snark, should be interesting to see how their initial campaign goes in MLS.

And just last night, DC United's Lucho Acosta has been linked with a ten million dollar move to PSG (wtf?!?).

MLS is such a fun league to follow and it seems that teams in Europe are finally realizing the rising quality of play. Becoming a selling league is a great step in the development of MLS.

Can't wait for the season to start!

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


Atlanta has made three offseason moves that are tremendous signals for the MLS and where it's headed:

1) Frank de Boer to manage Atlanta. Getting such a respected SA manager as Tito was a huge move, but a team moving on from one great, internationally respected manager to pulling an internationally respected former player and manager from Europe is a big dog move. FdB was a very good manager for Ajax, who is one of the most historically significant clubs in Europe. However, they are currently financially restrained (some of that is self-imposed like their player salary limits), so this move suggests that MLS is becoming a bigger money attraction and talent and quality follow the money. Also, the sheer fact that FdB would want to go be a part of the soccer culture in Atlanta is huge. It's no secret that the U.S isn't exactly renowned for our love of soccer.

2) Getting the South American player of the year (Pity Martinez) from River Plate, one of the world's most historical clubs in one of the biggest soccer countries in the world is also a big signal. The MLS is not as high quality as the top level of South American club football, but we can probably compete financially with these teams and offer some QOL and exposure upgrades as the MLS continues to grow. This is a big deal that the SA player of the year wants to play for the MLS instead of jumping straight to Europe.

3) Miguel Almiron's record transfer to Newcastle. This point ties direct to the second point. This kind move is why it makes sense for some top SA players to give the MLS a shot as their launching point into major European football instead of going to play in Russia, the Netherlands, Belgium, or one of Europe's other non-big 5 leagues.

de boer is trying to resurrect his managerial career; a good hire for ATL but his last two stints were disasters

To his credit, Inter has been a disaster for quite some time. Financially they have been in a terrible spot. Crystal Palace is a tough job, I think his work with Ajax will be much more telling for how well he can translate to MLS.

I agree with you. I think de Boer will turn out to be good fit for Atlanta.

I'll be especially interested to see how he integrates the young talent in that organization since that's essentially the Ajax model. Hopefully he can accelerate Bello's growth, get something useful out of Carleton, and help Barco live up to his potential.

If you can get down here to Atlanta for a match do it. Great atmosphere, cheap food/drink prices, awesome tailgates. If you come let me know and come by my Supporters Group La12 de Atlanta!


I'd love to at some point. One of my best friends works for UGA, lives in Athens, and his wife's parents are in ATL. He's not a soccer guy, but even he said how awesome it was. So I'm hoping to eventually get down to visit and catch a game.

Still haven't been to DC United's new digs even though I'm just in Fairfax, since they opened right after my son was born last year. We're planning to make a game in Audi Field this year.

I've watched matches in the supporters section for a few ATL matches and that atmosphere is truly electric.

Can I eat chik fil a?

If it's not one of their 5 Sunday matches...

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

was really hoping NCFC would get a bid for the MLS. I have been holding out a bit because I don't want to become overly loyal to a club only to have NCFC make the MLS and then have to shed allegiances so to speak...I think, this year, I will try to follow more. I have always sympathized with many teams but I may arbitrarily follow Columbus this year...

You can thank the owners of the Cleveland Browns for the opportunity to follow Columbus still this year. If they hadn't stepped in to become majority owners, you would be cheering for the Austin (TX) Crew.

Ugh, I forgot about Haslam...Maybe I will have to reconsider and just watch the league for entertainment purposes and not follow a team.

Every move they've made since the town and the Haslam stepped in to save the team has been on point. Hiring a local and great MLS coach in Caleb Porter is a great move to replace Berhalter. Breaking ground on a new stadium in the downtown area is an even better move.

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

I hope we can at least do something in USL this year, with Sarachan here and Cinci gone.


I think they made a big mistake trying to brand themselves as North Carolina

In what way? By excluding South Carolina?

Last 6 expansion teams: New York FC, Orlando City FC, Minnesota United FC, Atlanta United FC, Los Angeles FC, Cincinnati FC. If a team wants to be marketable to expanding into the MLS they have to drop all gimmicky branding and become a "FC" "United" "Sporting" etc.

Expansions really come down to padding pockets at this point. NCFC bought out all youth soccer programs in area to form one singular pipeline from toddlers chasing a ball to the pro team. They are thought to have the largest if not second largest (heard St. Louis might be larger) youth program in the nation under the umbrella of a team. They structured this very similar to how to european teams operate. The reason being, the MLS struggles in attracting college age talent to play. College age soccer players either go to college (And spend 4 of the most important formative years not fully invested) or they travel abroad. NCFC fixed this by offering a direct route.

Second NCFC had land selected, a stadium designed, and an owner who was ready to fully fund the stadium with zero investment required from the city of Raleigh. Further, the hispanic population here is huge and haivng a state of the art stadium would attract some insane WC qualifiers and potential for exhibition games with latin american and south american teams. Even the Womens team played their qualifiers here because the home field advantage was so great.

So the MLS really didn't have to do much on their end to put a team here. But in the end we lost out to Cincinnati. MLS values money (cinci had record attendance) when NCFC really offers the whole package from top to bottom. It will be interesting to see how many times we will be snubbed.

I think the branding should have just been Raleigh. Every team in MLS is branded to reflect the local community to a degree. Minnesota and Colorado really being the only exceptions and those states only have one metro area.

Raliegh trying to claim to rep the whole state falls short for me. Not saying they are a bad candidate themselves, but they should have really steered into what makes Raleigh a great soccer community (the points you listed) and let Charlotte do their own thing.

I see your point. The only pro team in NC without a "Carolina" moniker is the hornets. I think the NCFC proposal was under the guise that Charlotte would back off their pursuit. I would rather see raleigh FC as well.

My beef was I could not believe we went with red white and blue like ever other stupid team out there. Red and black, or even green and brown (city of oaks) would have made more sense and been so much less generic

The red white and blue thing was again tied to trying to rep the state with the flag vs the city. Just lost all Raleigh identity

Railhawks was a much better brand, but NCFC is more corporate and feels more 'official'.

Supposedly, they're working on a secondary location for the stadium. I hope that's all that we really need to get a team, because we really have everything else set up, and the youth soccer pipeline would be a huge boon to MLS as a whole.

Eventually, NC is going to get a team, either in Charlotte or Raleigh. In reality, the state could likely support both, but I think we just got into the game too late to really make it work without MLS stretching too thin. Tepper is really putting the screws on to get the MLS in Charlotte, but he's trying to do it with it being played at Bank of America Stadium, and with the push for everything to go soccer specific, that's going to be a tough hurdle to get over. If NCFC can get a stadium location ironed out, they should be a great option.

That said, it really just sounds like things stalled badly here. I haven't heard any updates to the process in probably 2 years, and nothing since they failed to convince the state to allow them to purchase the out of use land that the gov't owns.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

I was pretty upset this morning when I heard the Acosta information, as I was really hoping to see what Rooney and Acosta could accomplish with an entire season together considering how they combined to resurrect DC United from the dregs of last season on a 17 game tear.

It does seem like its at least mostly a done deal, since Acosta was pulled out of training camp already and was seen boarding a flight to Europe.

Going to be tough for DC United to replace that kind of creating and scoring threat, especially one with such chemistry with Rooney. Acosta finished 2018 with 10 goals and 17 assists. His ten goals came on 60 shots, 23 of which were on goal. So essentially he was scoring almost 50% of the time his shot was on goal. His durability will be another area where he will be missed. He played in 63 of United's last 65 games.

The thing that worries me most for Acosta on this is I think PSG is just looking for a stopgap help until Neymar is healthy. So Acosta may get some early run over there since Neymar is expected to miss 2-3 months but after that he will likely be relegated to a reserve role.

Love Acosta but I don't think he's good enough to play at PSG regardless. He's good enough for a top flight team over there but I think his agent is working some magic with the PSG rumors

Supposedly PSG wants him as a fill-in while Neymar is out injured. There's already talks that the deal could potentially include a loan back for the second half of the MLS season after the European season ends.

Lucho is also extremely tight with one of PSG's new signings (Paredes), so that might be the tie-in to Acosta. Plus, $10 million is chump change for PSG so it's not a big expense for a team that is looking for a replacement playmaker.

I was thinking this morning that Lucho has the technical skills to hang with just about anyone, but I think his immediate connection with Rooney helped prove that he can probably hang in some of the best leagues in the world. He probably shouldn't crack the starting 11, but the interest doesn't necessarily surprise me.

potentially include a loan back for the second half of the MLS season after the European season ends

This would make me very, very happy.

There are potential replacements but it was a nice combination with Rooney.

I'm wondering if PSG will loan him out maybe even to dc United till spring.

Don't forget Zak Steffen to man city over the summer

Hokies, Local Soccer, AFC Ajax, Ravens

Going to be tough for DC United to replace that kind of creating and scoring threat, especially one with such chemistry with Rooney.

I don't disagree with you, but all indications are that the acquisition of Lucas 'Titi' Rodriguez in the offseason was to provide cover for a potential Acosta move. Looks like he'll get his chance sooner rather than later.

Plus, with the money they'll get from the sale it looks like the team will most likely be able to bring back Yamil Asad. If they can use some more of those sweet millions to get a quality striker, they also have the ability to drop Rooney into a more creative role.

Losing Acosta is a big blow, and he's been really fun to watch, but there's a chance they could use this as an opportunity to strengthen the rest of the squad.

It'll be interesting to see if this does impact the decision to bring back Asad. From what I recall, the rumor I saw wasn't that this was necessarily a salary issue or even a bottom line dollar issue, but Asad's team trying to renegotiate the transfer amount and DCU not willing to accept anything other than the original agreement.

From my understanding, the issue had more to due with some of the wackiness of MLS rules. The one in particular that became a sticking point is that transfer fees are included in the cap hit for a player in addition to the annual salary.

Since MLS teams are limited to 3 Designated Players (basically, players whose salary exceeds $1 mil), the issue with paying Asad's full transfer fee in one payment plus his salary would have made him a Designated Player for one year. DC United already had Rooney & Arriola on the books as DPs and the expectation that Acosta would become one... and MLS roster rules don't allow room for a 4th. ATL United had to finalize Almiron's transfer to become roster compliant, and the LA Galaxy supposedly need to figure out what to do with the Dos Santos brothers and Alessandrini to do the same.

DC United wanted to split the transfer fee into two years to ensure that Asad's cap hit didn't exceed the DP threshold. They supposedly had an agreement in place with Velez Sarsfield, who then wanted to change the terms. It was assumed that any change in the terms would have put DCU in a bind from a cap perspective.

Now it seems that paying the full transfer fee in one installment (thus making Asad a DP for one year) won't be an issue if Acosta is going to PSG. Next year, Asad goes back under the DP threshold based on his salary number.

When you read all that out... man, this league is weird. But these same quirks make MLS fun to me!


If fan excitement is any indication of success, FC Cincinnati will be storming to the finals in no time. I think they are responsible for the Reds recent free-for-all on the trade market as FC is quickly becoming the big dawg in town. Last season they would draw 25k on a night where the Reds would pull 4k fans. The Bengals have finally canned Marvin, but Mike Brown still manages to piss off half of his fans some way or another every year and he constantly seems to need some multi-million dollar taxpayer expense. People are getting tired of him around here. I can't wait for the new FC Stadium to be built and things to really get off the ground with the MLS in town!

Whatever. It was one bad year.

Seasonal Brew means High ABV for football season and standard the rest of the year.

Who else is getting to Audi Field on March 3rd? Let's go ATL!

...Aaaaaaand now the rumored Lucho to PSG deal may be off.

French outlets are reporting that Thomas Tuchel did not give his approval on the transfer even though Acosta passed his physical, and that the front office did not include him in communications. Yikes.

If true, sucks for Lucho to fly all the way to Paris only to get turned away like that. But it would be a sigh of relief for DC United fans.

Thank God Acosta didn't leave today and we can see more Rooney and Acosta link up play

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

Week 1 (and Round 1 of CONCACAF Champions League) is in the books.

DC United looked good taking down Atlanta United last night, though you can point to short rest for Atlanta after playing a midweek CCL game.

From the other games I saw, Jordan Morris looked excellent after his year-long absence for the Sounders (and may have picked up a few tricks in his time out - say hi to his previously non-existent left foot!).

The other highlight of the weekend for me was the debut of dual-national wunderkind Efrain Alvarez. He came on for the LA Galaxy at the hour mark, and was directly involved in both LA goals. Efra is one to watch, and he hasn't even hit his 17th birthday!

Atlanta and losing the first MLS match of the season is a 3/3 trend at the moment. I still think De Boer will get this team playing well consistently once the system is fully installed the squad is comfortable in it. The wingbacks are the most crucial position in any 3 at the back system, and they have been volatile to say the least in the three competitive matches Atlanta has played this season (terrible in 1st leg at Herediano, incredible in the 2nd leg, pretty bleh against DC). That isn't to take away from DC United, they are obviously one of the hottest teams heading into this season.


I think Bello has a bright future but Brek was incredible in that wingback spot in the 2nd leg at Herediano. On the very small sample size, I would like to see Brek there in our biggest games until Bello proves he can play that position consistently better.

yeah, i mean i just don't think brek shea is a very good player but understand that bello is young; I just hope he gets his chances to grow

pretty sure shea kept arriola on side for the first goal and he seemed to have his hands full all night

The jury is still very much out on that position, and you probably have a better read on Brek than I do, as I did not follow him much before he came here in the transfer window. Ultimately, if we can't get the wingbacks figured out it's unlikely we find consistent success this season. That is definitely the position I will be watching most closely in the upcoming matches.

Yeah, Arriola roasted Brek Shea pretty much all night.

Brek has always been an up and down player - he shows flashes, but he's so inconsistent from game to game you never know what you're going to get.

Used my trial of ESPN+ to catch Crew SC vs Red Bulls. Columbus looked the better team by some distance but couldn't break the deadlock. Overall a promising first impression of the Caleb Porter (and Haslam) era.

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

Beast mode last night.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

He was great but as always Lucho ran the show. Every ball played through to Arriola was lucho

No doubt. Arriola is the engine. Lucho is the pulse. Happy to have both of them wearing two bars and three stars!

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

And Arriola gets the call up to the USMNT for the upcoming friendlies. Nice.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

What Atlanta trotted out on the field last night was not their best lineup. Priority is the trip to Monterey and CONCACAF. If We has started the same lineup from the game Thursday night I think the result would have been different. Still hats off to DC United. I knew with the way they finished last season they were going to be good this season. If Arriola stays consistent this year then DC will be very successful. And screw Orlando City SC. Vamos Vamos Vamos ATL.


It wasn't their best XI, but it was darn well near it. The only guys that didn't start to round out their best lineup (Pity Martinez & Gressel) were still brought on late to chase the game. I'm surprised de Boer decided to still bring them on after Lucho scored to make it 2-0.

Everyone expected Atlanta to rotate even more than they did, so it was odd to see mostly a first-choice squad knowing they have an important game in Monterrey in a couple days.

either way, no doubt weather played a major factor. Both sides looked miserable for much of the match which I cant blame them for. Wouldnt be surprised if either side has a half dozen players suffering from colds after that game. The second goal was such a comedy to watch as the ball completely turned over and changed direction

such a comedy beautiful thing to watch

That was a PURE goal scorers goal. Complete A+. Seeing Guzan make the step based on how the ball came off his foot was like watching batters bail out of the box on a curve ball that comes back and crosses the center of the plate for a called third strike.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Any Hokies going to the Atlanta United game today? Let me know I have the hook up on the best tailgate at the Gulch. I will be sitting front row in Supporters Section for the game too.


So what channel is the dc United game on I can't watch through ESPN + cause of local market issue and I only see fusbol on the local sports network

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

Only place I am seeing it listed is MLS Direct Kick. I have been trying to find it as well.

Can't get it through ESPN+ cause of some local network carrying it which sucks cause NBCSN Washington has Baltimore indoor soccer instead lol

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

Yeah I am stuck with the same but have flipped through the locals and still dont find it

DC United partners with FloFC for exclusive streaming rights. So in market, I believe that is the only way to watch. You need to subscribe to that.

Always choose joy.

Wish they partnered with youtube TV always aggravating to keep up with all the sub services out there today.

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

ESPN+ would have been ideal. It's way cheaper than YouTube TV for those of us who still have cable and you get way more content for your money.

Issue is if you live in market the blackouts take away most games, found that out the hard way.

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

Not if the rights holders are ESPN+ like the Chicago Fire. No blackouts.

Always choose joy.

Unfortunately I'm close enough to DC we get the blackout from the DC area cause of their deal with the FloFC stuff

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

Ah gotch. I thought you were referencing Chicago, not DC. Yes, in market games are blacked out—outside of teams who have local ESPN+ deals.

Always choose joy.

wythevillian was making the point I was trying to make - if DC United had gone with ESPN+ instead of Flo as their "local provider," then nobody would be forced to endure blackouts in a geofenced area on the ESPN+ service.

Many were skeptical of the Flo deal from the get-go (myself included), and this poor showing reinforces those fears. I'm somewhere in between what you'd call a casual & die-hard fan... enough to follow the team results and carve out time to watch them if the game is on TV, but I'm not going to spend extra money on a service I'm only going to use about twice a month on average.

Thats the exact same boat im in, I'd enjoy getting into MLS and DC united but its crazy the fees I'd have to pay just to follow them when I can follow Man united with my youtube tv package with no issues.

My biggest gripe with MLS is if you want the league to gain serious support you need to make the content accessible to as many folks as you can and letting ESPN hide it on ESPN + isnt a bad deal for those already into it 6$ a month to follow isnt bad. That said to follow a local team without a major cable package is really hard and feels unnecessary. Start getting games broadcast on local FOX, ABC and other stations like that would be a great way to increase the market.

I guess my biggest gripe is its far easier for me to follow EPL and Champions league which is thousands of miles away with my regular tv package than a team 100 miles away or the local league which seems counterproductive to how it should be.

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

MLS could be the first league that moves away from the traditional local rights deals. I would not be surprised to see a national package of "local" rights deals involving ESPN+ in the future (think 2022+).

Always choose joy.

Somehow I ended up with the DC United game on ESPN+ this weekend. Wasn't expecting it, and refuse to pay FLOfc pricing, so tried on a whim. I'm inside the black-out are but it still worked. It was the Real Salt Lake feed, but "local" announcers in soccer don't mean much.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Lucky you I tried but couldnt get through the blackout as usual guess I'll have to hope they get nationally brodcasted more.

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

I actually tried a VPN, and it showed being blacked out. Then just tried normally and it worked somehow. Alrighty then...

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

You had a hell of a show then. Rooney hat trick and the best goal the one he assisted on from the corner kick. The one touch volley at the top of the key into the opposite upper 90 was amazing on that goal.

Not sure the first PK was a PK, but they missed one 2 minutes later that should have gotten one, so I felt better. And yeah, it was a fantastically fun game to watch. Completely outclassed RSL.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

Heads up for those of you who follow teams in the CCL:

CONCACAF CL games stream for free on the free app "Yahoo Sports." It works great on the phone and on an Apple TV for me.

Wayne Rooney!!!!!!!!

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

What a goal.

Yeah, the placement of that ball was amazing. The replays showed it was very close to goalkeeper interference. Glad it went DCs way with no call. That gives him four goals and three assists so far this season in four games.

Being an engineering/math nerd, the Audi Index fascinates me. In a sport where there are basically zero stats other that shots/goals/saves, they have found a way to assess ones play on the field. There aren't batting averages, passing percentages, ave yards per, shot percentage, rebounds, etc to go on...

So I started poking around, looking at it. Specifically the DC United stats. I remember watching the first game of the year and saying how Arriola was the driving force on the team that game. While Acosta is the best player and the flashy one, and Rooney is the cagy old vet, Arriola, to me, is the one that is the heart of the team.

So, first game, his Audi index was 634. Second on the team, second on the pitch for that game.
Second game he sat out with the thigh bang to prep for the USMNT camp.
Third game he sat because he played the majority of the USMNT game.
Since he's been back in the DC lineup, he's been trash on the field. Visually. It was there, present, just not "right." Missing passes, out of position, missing cut-offs. Just plain meh on the pitch.
Fourth game in a 2-1 win over Orlando he was -23, third worst on the pitch.
Fifth game, a 4-0 loss to LAFC, he was DFL with a huge negative in the first half. Then stepped up in the second half and had several scoring chances and managed to pull out the tip rating on DC at 601. Huge flip from half to half.
Last nights game, he looked uninspired and out of position. Lost. Lazy. Frustrated. Yup...DFL on the pitch at -253. MINUS two hunded fitty tree.

Man. I sure hope Ben Olsen is peeking the Audi Index...and having a chat with Paul. Soon.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank

While I'm not sure if there exists a similar system that compiles all the stats into a point based system, soccer players around the world are judged on stats beyond shots, goals (and assists), and saves. Tackles won, aerial battles won, passes completed, "chances" created, touches on the ball, clearances, etc. are all tracked in a lot of leagues.

I'd wager that most teams have someone on staff compiling those stats already, so even if the coach isn't looking at the Audi Index in particular, he probably has the same information.

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

I'm sure the Audi Index is used, but also the visual sniff test. The games he's been bad in my eyes (I've coached travel showcase soccer for several years now) it's showed up in the numbers. And I trust the guys with the clubs that they have way better spidey senses than I do.

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
@BuryHokie #ThanksFrank