Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

2019 MLS Power Rankings, Vol. I

Leave a comment

We are bringing a bit of science to our Major League Soccer power rankings this year, but only a bit.

While dubious items like momentum and look will still play a role in where the MLS sides arrive in our rankings, we’re going to consider some items rather unique to the league:

  1. Away record – The league is infamous for difficulty to win across the country
  2. Defense – MLS’ goals-per-game rate of 3+ makes it one of the most offense-forward leagues in the world.
  3. Schedule congestion – Are you playing twice when others around you are barely breaking a sweat?

So with all teams providing us six-matches or more for sample size, it’s time we mix it up with our first MLSPRs of 2019.

24. Colorado Rapids — Twenty-three goals allowed in eight matches. 0-2-2 at home, 0-4 away. The clear No. 24.

23. New York Red Bulls — Big changes coming to Red Bull Arena?

22. New England Revolution — There isn’t an impressive enough win to overshadow losses to Cincinnati and Atlanta.

21. Atlanta United — It’s messy, real messy, in the post-Almiron and Tata era.

Frank De Boer (Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images)

20. Vancouver Whitecaps — Struggles were expected under a new coach with a big roster flip, so patience should be in long supply especially considering the recent defeat of LAFC (which included a blanking of Carlos Vela). Also worth noting the ‘Caps drew Seattle.

19. Portland Timbers — Still yet to play at home, so getting the benefit of the doubt from us despite a 1-5-1 start.

18. San Jose Earthquakes — Two wins in three could signify an early turned corner.

17. NYCFC — With five draws, are you the pessimist who says, “Only one win,” or the optimist who counters, “Only one loss?”

16. FC Cincinnati — Not quite the tire fire expected by those doubting the acumen of FCC’s lineup. The hope has to be that consistency will come with familiarity.

15. Chicago Fire — Unbeaten in four with NYCFC/Montreal litmus tests next.

14. Minnesota United — Three away wins already and have played just once at home.

13. Orlando City SC — Nani putting together some big performances, but no signature win yet.

12. Real Salt Lake — Streaky side ends four-match losing run by beating Orlando and Cincinnati.

11. Columbus Crew — The defensive record is very impressive under new coach Caleb Porter with just eight goals conceded in eight games. They’ve also only scored eight in a firepower-driven league.

Even on the doorstep, goals have been scarce for Columbus (Eric Albrecht/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

10. Montreal Impact — The 3-0 loss to Philly stings.

9. Philadelphia Union — The only loss in six is courtesy a cross-country trip to face Zlatan and The Galaxy, which is also a good name for a new band. They could tour with Jem.

8. Sporting KC — We’re here to proffer this long, CONCACAF Champions League-congestion considered leash to Peter Vermes. He’s earned it.

7. DC United — Even in MLS, we didn’t think we’d see an early 1W-2L-1T stretch, albeit with Rooney taking a red and sitting one out.

6. FC Dallas — Excited for the first Texas Derby in two weeks time.

5. Houston Dynamo — First loss of the season comes courtesy a trip to the Galaxy. Forgivable.

4. Toronto FC — Pozuelo is the truth.

3. Seattle Sounders — Carlos Vela at home is understandably where their undefeated season went for death.

2. LA Galaxy — Have allowed two goals in their last four matches, and that’s with new signing Giancarlo Gonzalez only making a token appearance.

1. LAFC — Bob Bradley doesn’t relent, having ridden Carlos Vela to wins of 4-1, 5-0, 4-0, and 4-1 (again) already this season.

Galaxy land World Cup veteran Gonzalez for back line

Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Off to a flying start and boasting one of the best strikers in the history of the game, the LA Galaxy are reinforcing their back end in style.

LA has allowed five goals in six matches, although its schedule has been rather forgiving.

[ MORE: Aubameyang, Arsenal on racism ]

Now Guillermo Barros Schelotto has added a force to his back line in the form of Costa Rican national team center back Giancarlo Gonzalez.

They almost worked together when Schelotto was hired by Palermo but could not get the appropriate paper work to land the gig full-time. From MLSSoccer.com:

“I was with [Schelotto and his staff, all now with LA] a couple of months, so that, of course, also had a play in my decision to come here,” Gonzalez said. “I know their work and I know they’re going to provide me a good environment to grow.”

Gonzalez left Columbus following an outstanding World Cup in 2014, and has spent time at Palermo and Bologna in Serie A. The 76-times capped Costa Rican has appeared in two World Cups in addition to making 12 league appearances this season.

Vancouver defender Ali Adnan has ugly Panenka penalty saved (video)

Associated Press
Leave a comment

There’s been a wave of Panenka penalty attempts across world soccer in the last few months, and when they work, they make the penalty taker look really slick.

When they don’t work, they’re U-G-L-Y.

That’s what happened to Vancouver Whitecaps defender Ali Adnan on Friday night, as he came off worse for wear after failing to capitalize on the chance to give his side an early lead at home over the LA Galaxy.

Lass Bangoura was fouled by Jorgen Skjelvik in the very first minute of the game, leading the referee to award Vancouver the penalty. Adnan stepped up and attempted the Panenka. Unfortunately, his effort was far too light and instead of tucking into the back of the net over top of a sprawled out David Bingham, the weak shot fell short, allowing Bingham to recover just enough from his dive to reach back and collect the ball before it went over the line.

*cringe*

The LA Galaxy twitter account poked fun at the miss, alluding to the daring nature of their own striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic that has become famous as his own slogan. Zlatan started the match for the Galaxy having scored three goals in the two matches he has been healthy enough to play in, bagging a brace last time out against Portland that included – you guessed it – a Panenka.

The saved penalty is another blow to Vancouver, who has collected just two points through the first five matches of the season, nestling into the bottom third of the Western Conference and finding themselves on the wrong end of a major gulf in points already. The Galaxy, meanwhile, came into this match with 10 points through five matches, having already collected three wins.

MLS preview: DCU host LAFC in possible MLS Cup preview

Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Get ready for another busy weekend of MLS action, beginning Friday night…

[ MORE: Danny Rose breaks silence about facing racist abuse in Montenegro ]

D.C. United v. Los Angeles FC — Saturday, 3 p.m. ET

Based on four weeks of results, this could very well be a preview of MLS Cup 2019. A few numbers to paint a picture of early-season dominance:

  • No team in MLS has won more points than LAFC’s 13 (from five games)
  • No team in the Eastern Conference has won more than D.C. United’s 10 (from four games)
  • No team in MLS has conceded fewer goals than United’s one — one, singular
  • No team in MLS has scored more goals than LAFC’s 15
  • No player in MLS has scored more goals than Carlos Vela’s six, or assisted more than Vela’s three, thus no player in MLS has scored and assisted more goals than Vela’s nine
  • No player in MLS (other than Vela) has scored more goals than Wayne Rooney‘s four, or assisted more than Rooney’s three

Based on the above evidence, Vela and Rooney are clear frontrunners for the 2019 MVP award. At this moment in time, most would probably call their teams the frontrunners to lift MLS Cup on Nov. 10.

Vancouver Whitecaps v. LA Galaxy — Friday, 10 p.m. ET

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has vowed to play when the LA Galaxy visit stadiums with artificial playing surfaces in 2019, beginning with Friday’s trip to BC Place to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps. Despite missing more than three weeks of action due to an achilles issue last month, Ibrahimovic says he is fully fit and ready to go.

“I’m ready,” he said this week. “No consequences [from] my issue I had a couple of weeks ago. If I feel good, I will play.”

The big Swede missed just four games upon signing the Galaxy in 2018, two of which were played on artificial surfaces and one for a “suspension” for not playing in the All-Star Game, on turf. Despite missing two games during the injury, Ibrahimovic is off to a quick start with three goals scored in the two games he has played.

Toronto FC v. Chicago Fire — 3 p.m. ET

Toronto FC have, to the tune of three wins from their first three games, bounced back from a disastrous 2018 season which saw them miss the playoffs by 14 points. The Reds have gotten key contributions from the likes of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, before the arrival — and stunning debut — of Alejandro Pozuelo.

With the Spaniard now in tow, a backline which was reduced to rubble last year back to full strength, Greg Vanney’s side has look downright dominant at times. Having scored no fewer than three goals in any game this season, the sky could be the limit once again as Pozuelo quickly acclimates to life in MLS offers his best impression of Sebastian Giovinco’s gaudy goal and assist numbers.

Full MLS schedule

Friday

Vancouver Whitecaps v. LA Galaxy — 10 p.m. ET

Saturday

New York City FC v. Montreal Impact — 1 p.m. ET
D.C. United v. Los Angeles FC — 3 p.m. ET
Toronto FC v. Chicago Fire — 3 p.m. ET
New York Red Bulls v. Minnesota United — 7 p.m. ET
Columbus Crew SC v. New England Revolution — 7:30 p.m. ET
Orlando City SC v. Colorado Rapids — 7:30 p.m. ET
Philadelphia Union v. FC Dallas — 7:30 p.m. ET
San Jose Earthquakes v. Portland Timbers — 8 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders v. Real Salt Lake — 10 p.m. ET

Sunday

FC Cincinnati v. Sporting Kansas City — 3 p.m. ET

Zlatan will not be limited by turf fields this season

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File
Leave a comment

Away box offices and fans are excited, while defenders will be less pleased at the news that LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic is willing to play on artificial turf this season.

[ MORE: Weah scores Celtic winner ]

Ibrahimovic, 37, has three goals in two matches this season and missed the other two with an achilles problem.

He posted 22 goals and 7 assists in 27 MLS matches last season so, yeah, he’s been good.

LA Galaxy insider Adam Serrano said Ibrahimovic is ready to go regardless of surface. The Galaxy are 3-1 to start the MLS season under Guillermo Barros Schelotto.