Thursday, June 13, 2024
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DeAndre Yedlin’s fit with Cincy and a missed call in Kansas City: MLS takeaways

The second weekend of the 2024 Major League Soccer season is in the books. A full weekend slate of 14 matches brought us new data points and new narratives forming early on in the campaign.

We covered Inter Miami’s dismantling of Orlando City here and Real Salt Lake’s 3-0 win over LAFC in a snowstorm here. Here are a few takeaways from the rest of the weekend.

The biggest news to come out of the weekend may have come off the field, as The Athletic reported on Sunday that FC Cincinnati is finalizing a deal to acquire U.S. national team right back DeAndre Yedlin from Inter Miami for $172,000 general allocation money (GAM).

The deal plugs Cincy’s biggest remaining hole in its starting XI and continues the club’s roster evolution following a Supporters’ Shield-winning season. Yedlin will slot in immediately as the starting right wingback and is expected to be available for selection in the club’s CONCACAF Champions Cup round of 16 leg one match against CF Monterrey on Thursday.

The 30-year-old made 82 appearances with Miami since returning stateside in 2022 and hasn’t exactly set the league on fire – but that’s also not entirely his doing. Defenders are difficult to statistically assess, as so much of what they do is dictated by game state, teammates and opponents. Shifts logged for one of the league’s poorest defensive sides will often fail to flatter a player, and that’s what Miami has been for most of the last two years.

Among the 30 right backs and right wingbacks who have logged at least 1,800 minutes since the start of 2022, Yedlin is in the bottom third for chance creation, the bottom fifth for how often his carries progressed at least five yards towards the opposing goal, mid-tier with his rate of attempting a tackle, and bottom-third in being beaten by opposing dribblers.

Cincy believes Yedlin’s underlying numbers will vastly improve in their 3-5-2 system as a wingback rather than a right back in Miami, especially as he was the more defense-minded one with Jordi Alba bombing forward on the opposite side. The club is hoping Yedlin can turn in the types of performances that helped him land on the 2014 and 2022 USMNT World Cup rosters.

As for Miami, it’s essentially a salary cap dump. The move opens a senior max slot plus whatever GAM they were using to buy down his budget charge. In the interim, Julian Gressel is likely to slot at right back while highly-rated Argentine youth international midfielder Federico Redondo comes straight into the starting XI in the midfield. Redondo is expected to be available for Miami’s CCC match against Nashville this week. – Tom Bogert & Jeff Rueter



Inter Miami finalizing trade of Yedlin to Cincy

The end-of-game officiating left Vermes frustrated (Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports)

Controversy in Kansas City

Mikael Uhre’s body language said it all. Having come off the bench for a rotated Philadelphia Union side following a midweek CONCACAF Champions Cup clash, the designated player was unable to collect a rushed pass from Daniel Gazdag and the ball clanged off of his calf. The bounce could have spelled the end of the game, as the ball rolled out with the clock at 94:03, seconds beyond the prescribed four minutes of stoppage time.

Sporting Kansas City was up 1-0, and the hosts were in no rush to collect the ball for a formality of a throw-in. Alejandro Bedoya saw a window to test the replacement referee crew’s mettle, rushing to the ball to, at minimum, force Kansas City into action. Instead, center official Rafael Bonilla trusted the Union captain’s judgment and gave the throw-in to the visitors. Nearly every fan in Children’s Mercy Park had both arms raised in disbelief, as did most of Sporting’s roster. Boos echoed throughout the venue as Philadelphia progressed up the field, ultimately winning a corner with possession they never should have enjoyed. Then Bedoya scored off that corner.

1-1, two points dropped for Kansas City, all thanks to an elementary call missed by Bonilla and the failure of his assistant referees to correct the error.

Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes was quick to find the officials after the final whistle blew, but took a more congenial tone after the game, saying he thought “the referees that have been doing the games all have done a good job” before addressing the missed call directly.



MLS execs ‘pleased’ with replacement refs

“I think you have to calm down in the moment,” Vermes said. “It was a mistake. I don’t know what to do about it. I do have a problem with the fact that the time went as long as it did based on the fact that nothing happened in the game in that four minutes (of stoppage time before the throw-in). It wasn’t like there was a VAR check or a major injury. Four minutes is done. It’s over. That’s why you give four minutes. To go all the way to almost five minutes, it makes no sense.”

This sequence took place days after Miami midfielder Sergio Busquets admitted that Sunday’s equalizer by Lionel Messi would likely have been impossible if not for a poorly issued second-yellow to Mark Delgado minutes earlier.

With talks between PRO and the PRSA still in a stalemate state, one has to wonder how many more results will be impacted by the replacement referees. – Jeff Rueter



MLS instructed broadcasters to limit ref commentary

It’s too early to declare it definitively, but man, two games into the 2024 MLS season it sure seems like the LA Galaxy might be back.

A successful offseason saw star winger Joseph Paintsil arrive for a fee of around $9 million from Genk. Through two starts, Paintsil seems to have been worth the outlay. Paintsil scored his first MLS goal and registered his first official assist in the Galaxy’s 3-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, after a strong debut against Miami in which he won a penalty.

The rapid winger has been direct, goal dangerous and intelligent with his movement. He fits snugly around star No. 10 Riqui Puig, as his vertical running provides a primary passing option plus more space to operate between the lines.

His 13 carries of 10+ yards is tied for fifth in the young MLS season, only four behind league leader Lionel Messi with 121 fewer minutes played.

“He’s a whole new threat or game-changer that we haven’t seen or had,” Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney told media after the match.

There is still worry for this group, though: a defensive unit that was among the worst in the league last year has just one addition, and Saturday’s center back pairing of Martin Cáceres and Maya Yoshida was a combined 71 years old.

Still, it’s so far, so good in Los Angeles, and Paintsil is talking the talk.

“We did everything together and if we keep playing like this, we are really going to kill a lot of clubs, a lot of clubs,” Paintsil said. “Trust me.” – Tom Bogert



Portland Timbers offer $15 million for Monterrey’s Germán Berterame: Sources

A power ranking

In the first two games of the weekend, home teams dominated as Miami beat Orlando 5-0 and RSL took down LAFC 3-0.

After that, away teams earned results in nine of the next 10 games, with just three of the weekend’s 14 home teams winning.

We’re taking it as a given that home losses by San Jose, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and New England are disappointing, but not all draws are created equal. As such, we present a definitive ranking of the six Western Conference sides that were held level by their visitors this weekend:

Home draws ranked from most to least disappointing for the home team

1. Kansas City 1, Philadelphia 1

See above. If the Western Conference table is as closely congested as it was in 2023, those two dropped points could have an outsized impact on Sporting’s final standing.

2. Seattle 0, Austin 0

Seattle outshot Austin 23-2 and owned the match’s momentum throughout the night. However, only three of those nearly two dozen shots went on target, and the Sounders faithful were instead treated to a whopping 20 errant or blocked attempts. The end product of left-sided tandem Nouhou Tolo and Leo Chu continues to leave something to be desired — particularly compared to the right-sided Roldan brothers — after NouChu struggled in last year’s conference semifinal against Los Angeles FC.

3. Portland 2, D.C. United 2

The Timbers were up 2-0 in the 70th minute thanks to goals by Dairon Asprilla and Santi Moreno. However, Troy Lesesne’s D.C. United pulled one back from the spot and completed a point-saving comeback in the 82nd minute thanks to 18-year-old homegrown Kristian Fletcher.

It was a just result for a D.C. side that created far better chances, leading the xG ledger 2.0-0.8. After starting the season so well with a 4-1 win last week, Phil Neville’s Timbers still have work to do.

4. Vancouver 1, Charlotte 1

After being the only team not to play in the season’s first matchweek, the Whitecaps came back from an early 1-0 deficit just before halftime thanks to Ryan Raposo. Playing under assistant coach Michael D’Agostino as Vanni Sartini began serving his six-game suspension, Vancouver was involved in the kind of back-and-forth game that’s typical of a 1-1 scoreline. Not ideal, but not that disappointing.

5. Colorado 1, Nashville 1

Nashville fought hard to overcome a self-inflicted hurdle, as a bizarre headed own goal by Shaq Moore gifted the Rapids a narrow lead in the 47th minute.

Although Zack Steffen still looks to be shaking off some rust, the defense in front of him fared well against a capable Nashville side, with Sam Vines and Moise Bombito looking particularly sharp. In total, it’s hard for Colorado to dwell too much on the penalty given after a Jonathan Lewis handball considering their lead was gifted to them.

6. Minnesota 1, Columbus 1

A comeback against the defending champs? In stoppage time? When your head coach still hasn’t arrived in the country? This was as feel-good as a draw at home can get — especially considering the goalscorer, Tani Oluwaseyi.

Coming on in place of Teemu Pukki in the 60th minute, the 23-year-old dramatically opened his MLS scoring account in the final seconds.

By scoring, Oluwaseyi made good on a golden chance to make his case as the team’s ‘Plan B’ striker behind Pukki. Drafted 17th overall in the 2022 SuperDraft, the striker spent last year on loan with San Antonio FC, where he scored 17 goals for the USL Championship side. It’s the same second-division club that provided Loons goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair with additional seasoning before he took over as their first-choice netminder. Minnesota will hope to enjoy a similar boost from Oluwaseyi further afield from St. Clair’s domain. – Jeff Rueter

(Top photos: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports; Naoki Nishimura-USA TODAY Sports)

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