Welcome to Pulso Sports for the fifth 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 have gotten 9 points in three matches in a week! Not only does it keep them in first place but it gives them the lead atop the Supporters Shield Standings. The team’s resilience was certainly tested last Wednesday at San Jose, when midfielder Jordy Delem and goalkeeper Stefan Frei went down with injuries. Delem went out with a season-ending ACL injury and Frei is out likely 4-6 weeks with a knee sprain suffered during a collision with a teammate while punching away an incoming set-piece ball late in stoppage time. With backup goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland getting the nod against LAFC on Sunday, the Sounders held their ground beating LAFC 2-0. The win Sunday gives them a record of 5W-1D-0L tying their best start to a regular season.
The month of May has shown favorable odds for the Burgundy and White of Commerce City Colorado. The Rapids took down the Houston Dynamo this past Saturday at Dicks Sporting Goods Park 3-1 for the third consecutive victory of the month. Perhaps the thing that’s going for this club in recent weeks is their midfield spine that consists of Kellyn Acosta, Michael Barrios, Jack Price, and Andre Shinyashiki. While Head Coach Robin Fraser uses a 4-4-2 formation that doesn’t rely on a midfield playmaker, and while the most goals scored by a player on the team so far is two, as the wins have come down to the overall effort of the entire team. This effort in recent weeks has seen the Rapids move into fourth place of the Western Conference.
Sporting Kansas City
While the Sounders and Galaxy got off to a flying start being the top two clubs in the Western Conference Standings, it was unclear who’d be the holder of third place. Sporting KC struggled out of the gate this season considering they were able to keep most of the core roster from 2020 intact. They dropped a match midweek to the Houston Dynamo 1-0 but rebounded yesterday suffocating the lowly Vancouver Whitecaps 3-0. The club has gotten their money’s worth in Alan Pulido who scored a brace in yesterdays match. Hungarian striker Daniel Salloi has been lethal behind Pulido as well. Did I mention Russell and Melia were injured?
For the first time in 2021, the Loons make it to the “Hot” category of “Hot or Not”. After dropping a 2-goal lead to the Colorado Rapids in an embarrassing 3-2 defeat on May 8, luck favored them midweek on May 12 when they got a 1-0 victory at Allianz Field over the Vancouver Whitecaps. Tyler Miller made his return to goal since his decision to have season-ending hip surgery in August of 2020. The euphoria continued into the weekend where they beat FC Dallas in second half stoppage time with Robin Lod scoring in front of the supporter’s section. Sure, the team’s two victories this season so far have been 1 nil margins, but for a team that’s struggled the first four weeks of the season achieving back to back wins is certainly a much-needed confidence booster for the players and the fan base.
I don’t mind Nashville remains unbeaten. What I do mind is the draws. The team took a 0-0 draw to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium last Saturday. Draws are better than no points at all, but draws help when the team also wins. I could say two of the four draws Nashville SC has had this season could have been wins. Fortunately, because the Eastern Conference is not as competitive as the Western Conference, a win for Nashville on May 23 against Austin FC could move them into third or fourth place into a playoff spot depending on other results from other clubs. It doesn’t help a team move up the standings who draws when losses begin to surmount.
Toronto may have gotten their first victory of 2021 midweek against the reigning MLS Cup Champions but took a 1-1 draw to NYCFC on Saturday May 15. While the team didn’t loose it was a match that they needed to win. Altidore may be back in the fold, experienced MLS veteran free agent Dom Dwyer and their new DP winger Yeferson Soteldo may have been recently brought in, but the absence of Alejandro Pozuelo seems to have taken toll. It’s looking harder so early in the season for Toronto to climb into a playoff spot. Facing Orlando City next weekend is going to make 3 points very hard to come by for TFC.
I don’t think anyone would have EVER imagined uttering the sentence “LAFC in last place.” But it’s happened. Their 2-0 defeat to the Sounders at Lumen Field yesterday maybe perhaps their lowest point in their existence so far in MLS. The fact that their defeat dropped them into last place after their incredible start in the league has left many pundits shocked how a team that took the league by force could decline so suddenly in such a short period of time. Carlos Vela made his second appearance of the season yesterday, but the loss signals far more concerning underlying problems that have plagued the Black and Gold the last two seasons. It’s too early to accuse Head Coach Bob Bradley responsible of the club’s poor performance, but if things don’t turnaround in the coming matches, it may turn out that way. That would be catastrophic for the club. What is clear is that LAFC has hit rock bottom and things aren’t working which the players clearly are unhappy about.