Hello everybody! All of us here at Total MLS hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend. We're glad to be back on a more normal MLS schedule this week. Any time the transfer window is open, there's an extra bit of excitement around the league as you see players elevating their game as they hope to catch the eye of a bigger suitor or to keep the job they have. We've had another coach exit stage left and wish Adrian Heath well. We'll miss his sideline antics. Here's to the week ahead. Let's get started with the questions!
The important thing to remember when answering this question is how rare it is for MLS coaches to be let go mid-season. That's what made Adrian Heath’s dismissal so jarring despite the long-standing whispers about organizational issues. Taking that into account, the two possibilities I see for early dismissal are Sigi Schmid in Seattle and Jay Heaps in New England.
The Sounders are suffering through their worst start in the franchise’s MLS history. Sigi is definitely not the only problem, but blame in these situations often (almost always) falls to the head coach. Thing is, even if the Sounders continue to struggle, I can't see Sigi leaving before the end of the year. The team would probably ride it out and then give Sigi the chance to retire after the season.
Which brings us to Jay Heaps. The former Revs defender has been in and out of the hot seat during his tenure as New England manager. The highs include a great run to the 2014 MLS Cup, the lows include, well, what we’re seeing right now. A team with Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe, Diego Fagundez and Kei Kamara should be better than scrapping for the final playoff spot in a bad Eastern Conference. I still think losing Jermaine Jones hurt the Revs more than anyone thought it would, but not having a contingency plan is another black mark on Heaps’ record. It wouldn't surprise me if a change is made in New England.
For those that aren’t aware, there were some folks that were a little irritated at the Emerald City Supporters (ECS - a major Seattle Sounders supporters group) for not showing up en masse to this week’s friendly match between the Sounders and West Ham. As a result the supporters’ section behind the south goal didn’t have the usual chanting and flag waving.
My thoughts on the matter are pretty simple. ECS or any supporters’ group in the league has every right to not show up to any match that they choose. ECS doesn’t work for the Sounders and the individuals involved in the SG pay for their tickets every year out of their own pockets.
Furthermore, my understanding is that ECS did try to get something organized, but weren’t able to find enough interested parties so they took the opportunity to donate their tickets to the local Boys and Girls club. It looks like the tickets were appreciated and some deserving kids and hard working staff got to enjoy a nice evening at the stadium.
Would it have been cool for people who had never been to the stadium to watch the Sounders see what it looks like in full voice and atmosphere? Sure, I guess so, but I think the outcome was pretty great.
Mid-season friendlies aren’t something that have universal appeal amongst MLS supporters. While it’s undeniably cool to see some of the biggest clubs in the world jog around for a bit on your home pitch, the fact is that it’s just needless wear and tear on your team’s legs in the middle of their season.
Many MLS fans choose not to attend these matches in hopes that the clubs stop scheduling them. I can’t say whether they are a good or bad thing for the clubs as I’m not sure exactly how much money these matches bring in. It must not be insignificant because they keep doing them.
Anything that boosts the overall profile of the league and increases global awareness for the brand is very good for Major League Soccer as a business. As for the individual teams involved… I think ideally they’d stay focused on actual competitions.
I don't know about you guys, but yesterday I spent two hours chasing Pokemon around downtown Austin with my phone in hand. I also ran into about 10 people doing the exact same thing. Pokemon go is one of the most revolutionary apps of the smart phone era, and judging by Twitter you are all loving what seems like the only good in the world right now as much as a I am.
But if we were chasing MLS players around our neighborhoods, cities and parks in augmented reality, I think Giovinco would be pretty tough to catch. Imagine you finally get that MVP edition Giovinco to pop up, but you can only flail pokeballs at him as he roulettes and nutmegs around you in augmented reality. Heartbreaking, isn't it?
An honorable mention goes out to Fabian Castillo as you would probably never be able to physically catch him if he's running away from you. Unless you are faster than Fabian Castillo. You are not faster than Fabian Castillo.
Yes. Lloyd Sam absolutely makes D.C. United’s offense better. He brings a spark in from the wings, where it seems they desperately need it. Reports are swirling that Chris Rofle may be done for the year (or even longer), so they needed help. Sam is at his best with the ball and taking on defenders, and that’s the type of player DCU needed to get. If they can figure out their central midfield, and possibly snag another forward, they’ll be very dangerous in the last half of the season.
...and to think his star once shone so bright. It’s long (if long for you is the past two weeks) been rumored that Mix is on the out at NYCFC. His youthful, Scandinavian face was at one point plastered in the largest scale possible in Times Square.
The sad thing is we did witness Mix at Yankee Stadium in 2015 and 2016, and things haven’t gone...well.
His locker’s gone. He hasn’t been included in a game day roster in four matches.
Mix, despite being the most youthful and perhaps attractive of our national team’s center mids, has issues. He’s barely featured in NYCFC’s new campaign under Patrick Vieira, scoring one and assisting two across twelve appearances (nine starts). What is a bit crazy is that production is actually set to outpace his statistics under Kreis at three goals and one assist over 27 appearances (23 starts).
But who will take Mix at roughly $700,000 of cap space?It’s a situation that requires a team with TAM or DP money lying around and the need for a severely out of form box to box, and/or creative midfielder.
Greg Berhalter has a creative midfielder issue that could potentially be solved by Diskerud. Higuain’s sports hernia surgery put him out for 5-7 weeks beginning in mid June, obviously still ongoing. Given the awful state of Columbus’ 2016 campaign (three wins), Berhalter may need to make a move and hopefully salvage a playoff spot. As of now, Jimenez at attacking midfielder hasn’t quite worked for the Crew. Consider the form Ola Kamara is in for a moment, and then consider that he has netted seven in seven. Could Mix potentially improve that?
The Sounders don’t have a creative midfielder. Clint Dempsey is getting older by the day. Clint, and Jordan Morris for that matter, need service. Schmid recently has made it clear that they need Dempsey closer to goal (a bold stance if there ever was one). So playing Dempsey deeper seems less likely of an option. Diskerud solves that issue, if only by the fact that he is in fact a creative midfielder. Given the club’s pledge to continue their 4-3-3 formation despite their lackluster form it might be a punt they can take.
The biggest takeaway from the Mix drama is this: he is horribly out of form and favor. His name improves a team on paper at the moment. He is a poisoned chalice, and given his salary demands many teams will take a quick look and pass. And to think, how many of us, this writer included, thought he was a shrewd, exciting pickup for NYCFC.