Welcome to Pulso Sports for the fourth Installment of “Hot or Not. We are not determining results by club’s position in the standings but rather by the on-field result and the potential it could carry over to the following week. We won’t go through every club but rather the match results that stood out in both the good, the bad, and perhaps the ugly. Which clubs are hot or not!
The Rave Green came away with the three points in a wild wild 2-1 win at Providence Park over the Portland Timbers on Mother’s Day. While it wasn’t the most well played match as it is usually filled with tempers and emotions flaring when these two rivals face off, the match certainly tested the Sounders resiliency and resolve as a whole. With the win, the Sounders become the first team ML this season to reach ten points and for now stand above everyone else in the Western Conference with possession of first place. The club continues to defy expectations that was made about them at the start of the season.
Entering the league in 2020, many forgot about Nashville joined MLS with the hype mostly surrounding Inter Miami. Heads were turned when Inter Miami struggled and Nashville found relative success. They even gave the eventual 2020 MLS Cup Champions Columbus Crew SC a good fight in the playoffs even though they lost. In a season unlike any other thanks to a pandemic, Nashville SC was a feel-good story for the year as the loveable underdogs. This year, the team drew it’s first three matches of the regular season. Much like how Orlando started off their 2021 campaign, Nashville didn’t give up on themselves and on Saturday May 8, they earned their first victory of 2021 at Nissan Stadium over the New England Revolution 2-0. You really can’t hate this club and wish more great things come to them.
Columbus Crew SC
The reigning MLS Cup Champions caught a lucky break on Saturday May 8 at MAPFRE Stadium beating a weak DC United 3-1 for their first win of 2021.The team was held scoreless in their first two MLS matches while also competing in CONCACAF Champions League having recently been knocked out by C.F. Monterrey midweek. While the season didn’t get off to the start the Crew would have liked, they didn’t squander an easy three points playing against a very weak conference rival. Great teams that go to the playoffs potentially even winning MLS Cup and the reigning champion, know that regardless of the opponent if their top or bottom of the standings, every match is important and the opposition can’t be taken lightly. Their 3-1 win over DC United demonstrated just that.
New York Red Bulls
Gone are the days of Mike Petke, Luis Robles, Thierry Henry, and Bradley Wright Phillips, as the team has opted for youth movement in recent seasons. What’s working for them is 17-year-old Caden Clark and the addition of 20-year-old Frankie Amaya from FC Cincinnati. Clark has been a joy to watch as Red Bull fans once again flock to Red Bull Arena. He has three goals in the first four matches. For Amaya, the move to New York is the right move in the next step of his professional career. The 2-0 win over Toronto FC last Saturday slingshots the Red Bulls into third place of the Eastern Conference with a record of two wins no losses and two draws. They’re not taking the league by force but they are in a position they feel rather content with for the time being.
Sporting Kansas City
Okay, this is a team I’ve wanted to write about and I’ve got the chance to do so. Sporting Kansas City claimed their second win over Austin FC 2-1 on Sunday moving them into 5th place of the Western Conference. So far this season, they have 2 wins, 1 loss, and 1 draw. This team is like the San Francisco Giants in the 2010’s. One year they’re good next year not great. They aren’t horrific though. Last season they held first place in the Western Conference only to be defeated to Minnesota United in the Western Conference Semi-Final. They still have Graham Zusi, Tim Melia, Johnny Russell, and Alan Pulido making up the core of roster. Sporting Kansas City is the wild card in the Western Conference and their certainly not a team to tread lightly on. They will make you work. Now they aren’t a juggernaut but they are one of the better teams in the west. There’s no reason why they can’t finish year after year in the top of the western conference.
The rebrand and return to Soldier Field hasn’t been enough to change their fortune. The Fire were doused with a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union last Saturday. The Fire have some experience in Bobby Shuttleworth in goal as well as Francisco Calvo in centreback, as well Jonathan Bornstein at leftback, but the team is missing a lot more pieces that are needed to compete and likely won’t be brought in by management anytime soon. They currently hold 13th place in the Eastern Conference just above FC Cincinnati. This team certainly needs more on field personality.
I think it’s time that we need to be a little honest with ourselves about this team. Beckham and company promised that Inter Miami would be a juggernaut brining in world class talent in players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar. Also included would be world -class coaching talent. Think of an LAFC equivalent for the Eastern Conference. A nationally televised 1-1 draw to Atlanta United last Sunday afternoon with a team plagued with mounting injuries reflects only the failure from the ownership’s execution from the success of their promotion. A lot has been promised of a roster filled with world class talent, but in reality, due to the financial practices that are unique to MLS, you can’t build a franchise in MLS like that under those circumstances. Just at the start of the season, Inter Miami couldn’t get the number of DP spots allowed on the roster correct having four DP’s instead of the maximum three spots allowed per team mandated by league rules. Now bringing Chris Henderson in as technical director and having proven MLS veterans on the roster such as Joevin Jones, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Kelvin Leerdam, and having a midfield playmaker in Rodolfo Pizarro around is a good start to build the overall foundation of the roster. However, if ownership continues to believe in building a roster in a way that isn’t practical due to the financial regulations implemented by the league, will hurt the club only further.
The absences of Alejandro Pozuelo and Jozy Altidore due to injury have really put TFC under strain. A 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena last Saturday afternoon raise worries that TFC may revert back to their mediocrity which plagued the club from the start of their existence in MLS until the mid-2010’s. Now Chris Armas uses a 4-2-3-1 that still benefits the team abilities and the club just signed Venezuelan winger Yeferson Soteldo to a DP contact in late April but the move and all the other actions come too late. Toronto has zero wins, 1 draw, and two losses and their upcoming matches against Orlando and Columbus certainly don’t help their cause either.
For the first time this season LAFC is handed their first loss coming against their inner city rivals Los Angeles Galaxy in the latest installment of the derby formerly called El Trafico. This seemed inevitable. The team may have won their first match of the 2021 regular season but as the years and days pass from their storied 2019 season, the further the team has slipped from the greatness that made them exciting to watch in their first two seasons. Carlos Vela was unavailable due to injury and with LAFC lacking their star man, Chicharito and the Galaxy punished them greatly. Is LAFC becoming a club that peaked too early? It seems that more frustrating times lie ahead for this club.