So many of the early Rookie of the Year candidates have done that familiar fade; as MLS rookies are prone to do over such an uncommonly long and taxing campaign.
But not Chicago Fire rookie Austin Berry, who has remained remarkably consistent as the Chicago Fire has positioned itself for a potential top three finish in the East.
With Darren Mattocks’ hamstring injury and the Whitecaps’ recent struggles (this week’s 4-0 breakout over Chivas USA notwithstanding), the runway is clear for a Berry takeoff.
He could pretty much wrap up the honor Saturday at Red Bull Arena. There’s just this teeny-tiny little matter of shutting down one of the game’s all-time greats. But, you know, details, details.
Berry and veteran German center back Arne Friedrich will have their paws full, dealing with Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper, who is a major beneficiary of playing alongside … Thierry Henry.
Berry doesn’t actually have to shut down the Red Bulls pricey French DP. With 14 goals and 12 assists, Henry is among league leaders in both categories. And that’s despite missing nine games this year through injury, distaste for artificial turf and occasionally for being a naughty, naughty boy.
Berry just cannot have a stinker. If he can hold his own in one of the high profile games of the MLS season (it’s on NBC), then Berry can cruise into MLS awards week later this fall.
Oh, by the way, here’s what breakfast looked like around ProSoccerTalk HQ this morning. Just sayin’ …
Arsenal reportedly set for $69 million double Friday buy
The tumult that is an MLS season means only one team is more than two wins out of a playoff spot right now, and that’s Houston (7 points back of Western No. 6 Portland).
Here’s who is feeling the heat of their matches this weekend:
Portland and Seattle: The Cascadia Cup rivals tangle Sunday in Oregon, with the Timbers holding a one-point edge on the Sounders for the West’s final playoff spot. Seattle has played one fewer games than Portland, and a win on Sunday would be a double-whammy for PDX; The Timbers would be level on points with Seattle and Vancouver in the Cascadia Cup standings with just one match to go (compared to their opponents’ two).
Vancouver: The ‘Caps don’t have a Cup game this weekend, but will face an L.A. team which hasn’t lost at home. Vancouver is in real danger of moving more than one win behind in the fight for a playoff spot. If they lose to L.A. and both San Jose and Portland win, the Whitecaps will be five points back of a playoff spot. Of course, this being MLS, a win and help could see Vancouver in sixth when the smoke clears.
Columbus and New England: No one likes to comment on job status, but Revs’ boss Jay Heaps and his Columbus counterpart (Gregg Berhalter) have to be a bit concerned at this point. New England is a total mess, opening up a goalkeeping controversy, and is pinning its hopes on some Open Cup final karma. The Crew was supposed to contend for a title after last year’s final run, but is currently in the East’s cellar with just three home wins from 13 matches.
Friday Colorado at Real Salt Lake — 8 p.m. EDT
Saturday Chicago at DC United — 7 p.m. EDT
Sporting KC at Philadelphia — 7 p.m. EDT
San Jose at Columbus — 7:30 p.m. EDT
Montreal at Toronto FC — 7:30 p.m. EDT
FC Dallas at Houston — 9 p.m. EDT
Vancouver at LA Galaxy — 10:30 p.m. EDT
Sunday New England at New York Red Bulls — 2:30 p.m. EDT
Seattle at Portland — 5 p.m. EDT
New York City at Orlando City — 7 p.m. EDT
The Bundesliga opens another season Friday, and the first question on many minds is simple: Will anyone come close to dethroning Bayern Munich?
Bayern has four-straight Bundesliga titles, giving them a league-best 26 German Championships. And USMNT fans have legit reason to be excited about Julian Green’s season with the Bavarians, as his new coach is interested in seeing the 21-year-old at work.
But this could be the year for the last team with a different name to win a title, as at least one team has added a load of proven strength.
Let’s dig into Bundesliga 2016-17:
Who went down? Stuttgart and Hannover 96
Only two? Eintracht Frankfurt finished 16th, but beat Nurnberg in the pro/rel playoff.
Who came up? RB Leipzig, Augsburg
New faces to know: Renato Sanches (Bayern Munich), Marc Bartra (Borussia Dortmund), Ousmane Dembele (Borussia Dortmund), Aleksandar Dragovic (Bayer Leverkusen), Nabil Bentaleb (Schalke), Baba Rahman (Schalke), Coke (Schalke), Breel Embolo (Schalke), Benjamin Stambouli (Schalke), Jhon Cordoba (Mainz), Allan (Hertha BSC), Jeffrey Bruma (Wolfsburg), Borja Mayoral (Wolfsburg), Alen Halilovic (Hamburg), Florent Hadergjonaj (Ingolstadt), Alfred Finnbogason (Augsburg), Takashi Usami (Augsburg), Lamine Sane (Werder Bremen), Alexander Milosevic (Darmstadt), Victor Obinna (Darmstadt), Guillermo Varela (Eintracht Frankfurt), Jesus Vallejo (Eintracht Frankfurt), Michael Hector (Eintracht Frankfurt), Omar Mascarell (Eintracht Frankfurt), Timo Werner (RB Leipzig).
Gone from the league: Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Southampton), Mehdi Benatia (Juventus), Ragnar Klavan (Liverpool), Alex Manninger (Liverpool), Dantre (Nice), Lorius Karius (Liverpool), Younes Belhanda (Dynamo Kyiv), Leroy Sane (Manchester City), Joel Matip (Liverpool), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Havard Nordtveit (West Ham), Omar Damari (New York Red Bulls), Caleb Stanko (FC Vaduz), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew), Carlos Zambrano (Rubin Kazan), Russell Canouse (VfL Bochum), Anthony Ujag (Liaoning Whowin), Gerard Tremmel (Swansea City), Papy Djilobodji (Chelsea), David Yelldell (Sonnenhof Großaspach e.V.)
Old league faces, new league places: Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund), Andre Schurrle (Borussia Dortmund), Kevin Volland (Bayer Leverkusen), Christoph Kramer (Gladbach), Naldo (Schalke), Jakub Blaszczykowski (Wolfsburg), Mario Gomez (Wolfsburg), Marco Hoger (Koln), Max Kruse (Werder Bremen), Lukas Rupp (Hoffenheim), Kevin Vogt (Hoffenheim), Sandro Wagner (Hoffenheim),
Americans Abroad: Bobby Wood (Hamburg), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen), Fabian Johnson (Monchengladbach), Timothy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Terrence Boyd (RB Leipzig), Ken Gipson? (RB Leipzig).
We’re at the point where the United States could put together a halfway decent XI from Bundesliga sides if a goalkeeper and second center back hit the scene.
Yeah, but which ones will factor? Every name on that list should have an opportunity to make an impact this season, not just club stars like Johnson, Brooks, and Morales.
Who scores the most goals between Wood, Pulisic, Johannsson, Green, and Boyd? We’ll let you answer that in the comments.
Why will Bayern win? The giants also have a new coach in Carlo Ancelotti, and minimal roster tumult. As usual, though, they’ve added superstars to replace superstars. Gone are Mario Gotze and Mehdi Benatia, and arriving are Mats Hummels and Renato Sanches. Bayern won the league by 10 points last season, and it’s hard to imagine someone closing that big of a gap.
Make me a case they don’t: That’s easy. Borussia Dortmund. Thomas Tuchel’s bunch have brought back Gotze from Bayern, added Andre Schurrle from Wolfsburg, Marc Bartra from Barcelona and Rennes dynamo Ousmane Dembele. After a horrific start to last season, BVB played as well as anyone in the second half. Maybe they do it for a whole season.
Who else could thrive? Schalke has made some significant additions in the wake of selling Leroy Sane to Manchester City, and Olympic hero Max Meyer could be primed to take the next step in his career. Wolfsburg has added some big names like Borja Mayoral, Jakub Blaszczykowski, and Jeffrey Bruma, and Borussia Monchengladbach could be good again if it can deal with the loss of Granit Xhaka to Arsenal. Don’t sleep on Bayer, either.