Error message

  • Notice: Undefined index: nid in views_handler_field_term_node_tid->pre_render() (line 98 of /var/www/html/docroot/sites/all/modules/views/modules/taxonomy/
  • Notice: Undefined index: nid in views_handler_field_term_node_tid->pre_render() (line 98 of /var/www/html/docroot/sites/all/modules/views/modules/taxonomy/


Red-hot Real Salt Lake and NYCFC’s unwanted record: 5 takeaways from MLS Matchday 22

The summer transfer window is almost here, and we’re about to see some real changes. There’ll be new faces and some returning aces, but they aren’t allowed to take the field just yet. For now, teams are still struggling with players out on international duty in a stretch that can make or break a team’s season.

5 takeaways from MLS Matchday 22

#1. Red-hot Real Salt Lake

Among the noise kicked up by the likes of LAFC, Seattle and St. Louis City, there's a quiet team in the West that deserves just as much attention. Real Salt Lake sits just five points off first place and has not lost since May 31, outscoring opponents 10 to five in the process. 

Head coach Pablo Mastroeni has his team playing a smart brand of soccer that focuses on creating good scoring chances. As a result, RSL ranks among the best in the league when it comes to expected goals (xG), with 1.89 accumulated per game. 

Even better news for the club is that the team is massively underperforming in front of goal. RSL is scoring just 1.24 goals per game, meaning the team averages a staggering 0.65 fewer goals than it would be expected to score. So how do they fix it? 

New signing Cristian “Chicho” Arango is about as good as it gets when it comes to putting a ball in a goal. The former LAFC man was an integral part of the club’s MLS Cup triumph last season and has scored 32 goals in 54 MLS appearances. If RSL can keep creating chances, Chicho will score them. 

Goals change games, and if RSL can begin scoring anywhere near its xG value, they will win a lot more than they already are. Keep an eye on this space because things could get interesting in Utah. 

#2. What happened to the Earthquakes?

Remember when San Jose was being mentioned in the same breath as some of the league’s best sides? Exciting soccer, lots of goals and a talented roster ensured that it was never difficult to watch the Earthquakes. Those days feel like ages ago now, don’t they?

Luchi Gonzalez’s side is in the midst of a thoroughly frustrating run of form. Just two wins in its last 10 games is a far cry from what many would have expected from this club in March or April, but the numbers back this slump up. The Earthquakes are among the worst in the league when it comes to xG creation, but even worse are their expected goals against (xGA). 1.60 xGA per game is the third worst in the league, only behind New England and Inter Miami. 

Individually, the club has missed its attacking superstars for various reasons. 19-year-old Cade Cowell has missed a host of games for the U-20 World Cup and now the Gold Cup, while Cristian Espinoza seemingly went missing. After a stellar start to the season, the Argentine winger went on a nine-game run without a goal that finally ended this weekend when he scored to seal a 2-2 draw against the LA Galaxy. 

There is more than enough talent in this team to qualify for the playoffs, but at this rate, that will be all it achieves. The side is quickly losing its chance of home-field advantage, and with its shocking away record, important road trips could be its undoing. 

#3. The Crew is must-watch TV

They play the game the way it should be played. Wilfried Nancy’s side has brought beautiful soccer back to Ohio, and after months of finding ways to lose, they’ve developed a habit of putting teams to the sword. 

Five wins in its last six games speak to the effectiveness of his style. His surgical soccer tempts teams out of their shell to create faux counter-attacks that exploit gaps and vulnerabilities in the opposition. The combination of savvy coaching and on-pitch brilliance creates a must-watch experience. During this run, they’ve scored 14 goals and conceded seven, while Cucho Hernández, Lucas Zelarayán and Christian Ramírez have set the pitch alight. 

The club is among the best in the league for both xG and xGA while scoring the most goals of any team in MLS. So what’s wrong? Despite the Crew’s massive improvement, they’ve suddenly become the younger sibling in their own house. 

Columbus sits a whopping 10 points behind FC Cincinnati and lost the most recent Hell Is Real derby 3-2 on the road. They say the best revenge is living well, but is it? If you’re living well but your rivals are living better, is that enough? 

#4. Reynoso’s revival in Minnesota

This weekend was another step on the long road that Minnesota United hopes will lead to the playoffs. With the return of Emanuel Reynoso, the Loons have continued to struggle, but against Portland, the training wheels came off. 

The Argentine bagged a brace as his side chopped down the Timbers, winning 4-1 at home. Starting with an Olimpico, Reynoso scored straight from a corner before finding himself on the end of a well-worked team move to tap home his second of the night and his team’s third. It was an impressive and enjoyable night for fans up north, but the question remains: what is this side capable of? 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look promising. Minnesota is painfully average when it comes to goals scored and goals against, making for a team that is, overall, aggressively mid. Reynoso and new signing Teemu Pukki might help them win games here and there, but the issues look to be too much for two forwards to fix. Add in Dayne St. Clair, who is having an uncharacteristically atrocious season, and you have a team that is destined to either lose early in the playoffs or miss them entirely. 

#5. NYCFC’s unwanted record

A mediocre start to 2023 gave way to a nightmare in New York. When NYCFC walked off the pitch on Apr. 29 following its 1-0 loss in Toronto, it was a blip. A disheartening and exhausting blip, but a blip nonetheless. 

The club still had more wins than losses and was sitting near the top end of the table, so in theory, a loss in the 10th game of the season shouldn’t have mattered too much. On the surface, it didn’t, but the team quickly began to snowball, and pretty soon, NYCFC was winless in its last 11 matches. 

On Saturday, that streak came to an end with another trip to Canada. Against Montréal, the visitors found a breakthrough thanks to a moment of brilliance from Matías Pellegrini. The 23-year-old found space in the box and contorted his body to meet a cross and send it flying past Jonathan Sirois in the host’s net. 

The goal gave NYCFC the win that ended its unenviable streak, as well as its first road win all season. It also moved Nick Cushing’s side within touching distance of the playoffs. With a decent run of form, it could seriously happen, especially given the inconsistencies Montréal, DC and Charlotte have displayed. 

Videos you might like