Category Archives: Major League Soccer (MLS)

Content covering Major League Soccer (MLS), the top flight, domestic soccer league in the United States.

Armas to TFC: A New Era Begins



Chris Armas is the new head coach of Toronto FC. The same coaching carousel that took Greg Vanney to LA has brought another familiar MLS face north of the border. While the MLS Cup still eluded the Red Bulls under Armas, Vanney managed TFC to historic heights. Will Armas be able to meet the expectations Vanney set?

What kind of coach is TFC getting in Armas? First and foremost, Armas knows the MLS. As a player, he spent twelve seasons in the league (‘96-’97, Galaxy; ‘98-’07, Fire), with a lengthy list of accomplishments. As coach of the Red Bulls for three seasons, he put together a resume of 29 wins, 21 losses, and 11 draws – a near .500 record. However, his best season came in his first season (2018), where the Red Bulls went 22-7-5, winning the Eastern Conference, but bowing out in the MLS Cup Semi-Finals.

Tactically, Chris Armas followed the typical Red Bulls style – high press. They relied on turnovers, speed, and counter-attacking. It worked for a time, but the MLS rapidly changed. Defenses have improved in talent and tactics, and the quality of offenses has improved, partly nullifying the press’ reliance on turnovers. Armas tried changing his tactics and adapting, but the Red Bulls just didn’t have the talent to make it work.

Toronto, however, has a much more talented roster, at least on paper. Armas gets to turn loose the potential of Ayo Akinola and Tsubasa Endoh, and help mold the careers of homegrowns Jayden Nelson, Jordan Perruzza, and Jacob Shaffelburg. He can lean on the experience of MLS veterans Michael Bradley, Nick DeLeon, and Jonathan Osario. And he has the playmaking of reigning MVP Alejandro Pozuelo and Auro Jr.

So what can we expect from Armas’ version of TFC? First, results will be tied to the talent. All indications are that sporting director Ali Curtis will keep the bank account open to bring in the best talent available – and he’s already looking at a new defender to shore up the back-line. Next, given the experience already on the roster, Armas will only need to groom the young players and make a few tactical tweaks to get good results for the club. It’s entirely possible to see Toronto as a top-four club in the East. However given everything the club already has and will be doing from a talent perspective, it’s entirely possible to see Armas without a job if the squad starts the season flat and the organization falls into old habits of quickly kicking coaches to the curb.

On a personal note, having watched Armas for so many seasons in Chicago, I really want to see him succeed. I also caught an autographed soccer ball from him at a bar during a World Cup 2010 watch party…but we’ll save that story for the podcast. So to the fans, organization, and new head coach himself, we at the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast wish you best of luck.

Nick
Host, The Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast


Do Something, USMNT! and Fire Youth Movement



Hey, soccer fans! Welcome back to the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast. We’ve got a real treat tonight as we continue talking USMNT. We look at their January camp roster, possible friendly vs. Serbia, and what we expect with a possible competitions they’ll play during 2021. We also get to know Matthew Hoppe, the young American taking Schalke 04 and the Bundesliga by storm.

In the second half, we look local, breaking down the Chicago Fire’s latest signings of four players 21 years old and under. We keep up with the Crew’s moves, and discuss the latest striker to join LAFC. Stay tuned for all this and more in tonight’s episode!

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I’ve Got Your Force Majeure!



Hey, soccer fans! The Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast is back talking all things Major League Soccer (MLS). It’s the offseason, but the MLS is never off, we bring you all the latest transfer news, including:

  • Mark McKenzie from Philadelphia Union to KRC Genk
  • Brendan Aaronson from Philadelphia Union to RB Salzburg
  • Joe Scally from NYCFC to Borussia Mönchengladbach
  • Tanner Tessman of FC Dallas training with Bayern Munich
  • Greg Vanney to manage LA Galaxy

In the second half of the show, we look at the potentially huge impact of the the MLS invoking the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s force majeure clause. In short, this could kill the CBA. Stay tuned for our takes and what this means for the future of the league.

Be sure to check out our LinkTree to find us on social media, support us with donations, and purchase your swag.


CCL: A Reflection, MLS Moves



Hey, soccer fan! The Sons of a Pitch are back, reflecting on all things Concacaf Champions League. LAFC was so close to being the first MLS team to bring home the CCL trophy in it’s modern iteration, but ultimately fell short vs. a determined Tigres team. Tune in for our takes on:

  • How big is the loss for club and league?
  • Can we measure MLS by CCL standards?
  • What’s holding back MLS sides from winning CCL?

In the second half, we discuss the various moves from around Major League Soccer, including:

  • What Wondo’s extension means for the San Jose Quakes
  • How BWP can help the Columbus Crew repeat as MLS Cup Champs
  • New England Revs upgrade their midfield attack

We also touch on some USMNT news surrounding Ayo Akinola’s CanMNT call up and the rumored friendly vs. Serbia. Tune in for all this and more in tonight’s episode of the Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast.

Be sure to check out our LinkTree to find us on social media, support us with donations, and purchase your swag.


CCL Gone Wild!



Hey, soccer fans! You’ve heard of CCL fever, but this is full blown Mad CCL Disease! Theatrics and hard fouls, red cards and suspensions, coaches throwing punches…you’ve never witnessed anything like this before! (And if you have, where did you grow up?) In tonight’s episode we recap all the highlights and lowlights from LAFC’s stunning, come-from-behind-victory over Club America. We break down the aftermath of the game, and then look forward to the final: LAFC vs. Tigres.

Turning locally, we ask the question: do you want Miguel Herrera to coach in MLS? There are advantages to having an experienced coach with a winning pedigree, but certainly disadvantages to hiring someone like “El Piojo.” (Translation: louse) We conclude the show by discussing the latest moves from around the league, including:

  • Greg Vanney to LA Galaxy: A done deal?
  • The retirement of Kyle Beckerman: How much of an MLS legend is he?
  • FC Dallas sign CB Jose Antonio Martinez: Are Los Toros poised for playoff success?
  • Austin FC roster update: How are they building?

Be sure to check out our LinkTree to find us on social media, support us with donations, and purchase your swag.


MLS Cup Recap, CCL Preview



Hey, soccer fans! And welcome to The Sons of a Pitch: An American Soccer Podcast. Tonight, we recap the 2020 MLS Cup Final and congratulate the champions: the Columbus Crew. We recap what they did right and what Seattle did wrong. Would anyone have guessed that Etienne, Jr. and Aidan Morris would have played so well, or that Zelarayan would’ve bagged a brace?

Next, we examined the sustainability of each franchise. The Seattle Sounders dynasty is a near perfect model, and with Tim Bezbatchenko at the helm in Columbus, he could be building the next dynasty with the Crew. They’re already making moves! To close out the first half, we review the 2020 MLS season award winners and review our own picks from February (a lifetime ago).

In the second half, we preview the Concacaf Champions League with special guest Ryan Anderson. Stay tuned in for our picks and predictions, and hear our thoughts on how the adapted tournament format and the other factors that could finally favor an MLS club. Tune in to the end, as our final picks will not disappoint.

Check out our LinkTree to find us on social media, support us with donations, and purchase your swag.


MLS Cup 2020: The Morning After



What a season, what a finish! The Columbus Crew are the champions of Major League Soccer. In a season marred by Covid-19, the Crew proved themselves worthy champions. Full disclosure: I had predicted the Seattle Sounders would repeat from the pre-season all the way to the MLS Cup Pregame. So how did Caleb Porter and Crew – without stars Darlington Nagbe and Pedro Santos – dethrone the defending champs? It came down to three things: System, Pressure, and some MAPFRE Magic.

System

Porter and the Crew employ a system where every player knows the responsibility of every other player on the pitch. When they begin to build possession from the back or when they turn over an opponent, the ball can be played to a specific area of the field given the situation. If the opposing team presses, play a ball over the top. If they hang back, take the space in the middle of the field. If they use zonal marking, overload and get a numbers advantage.

The Crew’s system allowed them to more easily overcome the loss of two starters than most other teams. (Imagine Seattle trying to play without Joao Paulo or Nico Lodeiro.) Derrick Etienne, Jr. and Aidan Morris filled in superbly, playing with the confidence that comes from this system. Continue reading MLS Cup 2020: The Morning After


2020 MLS Cup Preview



Hey, soccer fans! It’s trophy time! We break down the 2020 MLS Cup matchup between the Seattle Sounders and the Columbus Crew. We bring you our keys to the game, players to watch, and our final predictions. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section and join us on social media!

Keys to the Game

Columbus: Composure out of the back, Prevent the counter.

Seattle: Press, Score early

Players to Watch

Columbus: Jonathan Mensah and Lucas Zelarayan

Seattle: Nico Lodeiro and Jordan Morris

Picks

Mike: Columbus Crew, 2-1

Nick: Seattle Sounders, 3-2

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Wrecking Crew and MLS Cup Final Preview



Hey, soccer fans! We’re back talking the latest results from the MLS Cup Playoffs. Tune in for our takes on:

  • Seattle def. Dallas 1-0: Despite their dominance, the Sounders only find the back of the net once. Dallas failed to capitalize on their opponents scoring drought, and on this night, one goal was all it took to advance.
  • Minnesota def. Sporting KC 3-0: On one of Minnesota’s best offensive nights, Kansas City played perhaps their worst game of the season. They were completely out of sync, and the Loons took full advantage.
  • Columbus def. New England 1-0: Columbus returned to their wrecking crew ways from the begging on the season, as they make the MLS Cup Finals for the third time in club history. They did just enough to edge an evenly matched Revolution squad.

We also discuss the latest USMNT news, including their December 9, 2020 friendly against El Salvador. With a young, MLS based line-up, there’s lots to discuss and lots of names to learn.

Tune in for all this and more in tonight’s episode!

Be sure to subscribe on YouTube to join the next live broadcast and get in on the conversation.