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MLS Weekly Recap: Week 3

Written by Chris Ashley

Three weeks into the 2022 season feels like the right time to start a weekly MLS Recap article, right? Better late than never I suppose. Each week, I’ll take you around the league to keep you up-to-date on everything outside of the Carolinas. I am not going to do a match-by-match breakdown. You can find plenty of those out on the interwebs. Instead, I want to give you my thoughts on the same seven categories each and every week. Without further adieu, I present to you “WEEK 3 IN MLS!”

Upset of the Week

This one was not particularly hard. It goes to FC Cincinnati taking down Orlando City ON THE ROAD! Cincinnati is bad. Orlando should be good. Orlando dominated the stat sheet in this match. And yet, they dropped three points at home. Oscar Pareja-led teams have a tendency to dip late in seasons, but Orlando is already looking lackluster three matches in. A 2-0 win at home on opening day to a bad Montreal team, a draw on the road against a mediocre (at best) Chicago Fire, and now an inexplicable loss to Cincinnati. With their next two on the road, on the west coast, against good teams, Orlando could be on a trajectory to miss the playoffs if they cannot get this thing turned around before summer.

Letdown of the Week

There’s a few contenders here. Red Bulls cooled off a bit losing to a mid-tier Minnesota team. Austin could have at least split points if even one of their 16 shots was on goal. Nashville let one slip away late to Dallas. The biggest let down of the week was that sorry excuse for an MLS Cup banner that New York City revealed, but since we need a match to break down, I’ll have to go with New England choking away a two-goal lead late. At home. In the snow.

There’s no reason New England should not have won this match which would have launched them near the top of the standings. Jozy Altidore has looked great in his minutes in New England, even snagging a goal to double the Revolution’s lead in this one. But the Revs gave up three goals after the 78th minute to choke away all three points in this one. That is something that surely won’t sit well with Bruce Arena.

Time for Concern

As a means of clarifying my qualifier for this category, I will say that concern only comes when expectations are not being met. Meaning I am not putting a team like San Jose in this mix because, well, no one had expectations for them this season. That being said, I have three teams that should be feeling a bit concerned through three weeks of the 2022 season. First, is Montreal. Not everyone had expectations for this team coming into the season, but after a strong start to their CCL campaign, many experts thought they were a team who would compete this year. Currently, they sit on zero points and tied for the biggest goal differential in the league. Montreal has played some good teams thus far, and get another in Atlanta this weekend. It’s time for the Quebecois to be concerned

The second team in need of a kick in the pants is Toronto FC. Bob Bradley has not been the immediate savior many fans had hoped for. And when you are having to rely on Michael Bradley to play centerback, you know the defensive issues run deep. With all the hype around Lorenzo Insigne’s impending arrival in the summer, Toronto needs to turn things around so that they are not too far gone by that point.

The final team who should be concerned about their post-season prospects three matches in is, perhaps, the one of these three with the highest expectations: Sporting Kansas City. A win over a bad Houston Dynamo accounts for the only points on the season thus far for SKC. Certainly, being without their DP Striker, Alan Pulido, for the season is a huge disadvantage. But this team is talented enough despite that setback. They need to get some results quickly if they hope to be contenders this year.

Coaches on the Hot Seat

San Jose’s Matias Almeyda has lived on the hot seat for the past several seasons. He’s a good coach who just hasn’t been able to put it together for long enough stretches in San Jose. But they love him out there. Which is probably why he has survived this long. Of course, there is always conversation that Almeyda could leave on his own to take another job. He’s an in-demand manager and will not be out of work for long if he is sacked.

The five-alarm hot seat at the moment is squarely occupied by Miami’s Phil Neville. Perhaps his relationship with president and co-owner David Beckham gives him a bit of protection, but the Neville experiment is not working in Miami. And now, he has taking to throwing blame onto his DP striker, Gonzalo Higuain. I don’t think Neville makes it through the season.

MVP Race

There’s only one name on this list at the moment, and that name is Lucas Zelarayan of Columbus. He leads the Golden Boot race with 4 goals, three of those from outside the 18 yard box! He leads the league in successful crosses (12) and key passes (12). He’s the unquestionable MVP through three matches.

I want to give a shoutout to a guy who won’t likely be in the race for MVP, but is having an incredible start to the season. That is Chicago Fire Goalkeeper, Gaga Slonina. The dude is only 17 years old and has yet to concede a goal this season. Three straight clean sheets. Gaga is the real deal.

Fool’s Gold

So, who are the teams currently in the playoff-race that I am not convinced of yet? Out west, I am iffy on Austin, Minnesota, and Portland. In the east, I am unsure about Chicago. But there is only one team currently above the playoff line that I feel confident saying they will not be there at the end of the season: DC United. DC currently sits in fourth place with wins over Charlotte and Cincinnati. Despite the 3-0 scoreline against Charlotte, they didn’t look convincing in either of their wins. DC is not a good team.

Power 5

Unlike some “power rankings,” I am not taking into account my pre-season predictions. I am going strictly on what I have seen through three weeks of the season. That being said, here are my top five teams.

  1. Los Angeles FC
  2. Colorado Rapids
  3. LA Galaxy
  4. Real Salt Lake
  5. New York Red Bulls

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