Thursday update

Breaking down Miami's classic win, CCV Shelved, Cannon's saga, Balogun update, & more

ASN's Brian Sciaretta walks you through an epic night in the Open Cup, a big breakthrough with Folarin Balogun where he seems likely to join Monaco, tough news for Cameron Carter-Vickers, the latest with Reggie Cannon and Caden Clark. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
August 24, 2023
1:00 PM

THE U.S. OPEN CUP final is set after a classic between Inter Miami and Cincinnati saw Messi and CO. advance yet again while Houston deserved its win over Real Salt Lake. Meanwhile, there is plenty of news to unpack abroad with big updates on Folarin Balogun and Cameron Carter-Vickers.

Let’s start in Ohio.

Miami wins classic over Cincy


Inter Miami defeated Cincinnati on penalties after a wildly intense and entertaining 120 minutes ended in a 3-3 stalemate. This game had everything you would want. It started with Luciano Acosta nabbing the opener early off a deflection. Things got crazy in the second-half and Lionel Messi was front and center.

U.S. national team forward Brandon Vazquez, 24, was terrific on the day and his 53rd minute goal put Cincy up 2-0.

But that is when Messi took over and provided a masterclass on what makes him great. Like all great players, when he is down, he has a response. It requires an effort that goes from the opening whistle to the final whistle. Messi will expose even the slightest of lapse, particularly at the end of the games.

In the 68th minute, Messi’s free kick found Leo Campana to pull it back. Then Messi made his play of the game deep into stoppage time with a pass for the ages – again to Campana for the finish.


As Tata Martino put it: Messi was “more as a conductor and not a finisher” on the night. And that is sometimes when he is at his best.

When the game went to extra time, it seemed as if Miami would win. Four minutes into extratime Ben Cremaschi, 18 assisted to Josef Martinez to move in front. Even when Cincy equalized towards the end, it always felt Miami had the edge.

Sure enough, in penalties it turned over two a pair of Americans who are breaking out. In the 5th round, goalkeeper Drake Callender made a save on Nick Haggelund and Cremaschi won it with the final take.

Here are a few thoughts

Miami wins in Cincy: To show you just how good Miami is right now, they became the first team to win in Cincinnati this season after Pat Noonan’s team had a 15-0-3 record before last night’s game. If Miami can win Leagues Cup and then roll into Cincy and win, who exactly is going to beat them now.

Miami heads to NJ: It’s important to note that Lionel Messi still hasn’t played an MLS game. Once that happens, Miami has a huge climb to make the playoffs. It’s still unlikely and it requires no off days. But now they head to New Jersey to face the Red Bulls on Saturday after going 120 minutes on Wednesday. It’s yet another tough test for Messi and Co.

Martino’s doing a great job: Tata Martino has done a great job. “A lot of our wins have been more due to our character than our game and, obviously, due to having the best player in the world playing with us,” he said after the game. He’s right. Messi is one thing. But making it all work is on Tata. What he’s done in a short time frame is impressive.

Cremaschi and Callender: Both of these players are likely on Berhalter’s list to get into camp. Cremaschi is a top duel national and the obvious ties to Argentina are becoming stronger with him in Miami. Argentina wants him for their U-20 team. The U.S. will have to work harder to keep him in the system. A September call-up won’t ensure Cremaschi stays with the U.S., but it would be a nice signal of confidence. Meanwhile, Callender has been very strong over the past few months and the lack of playing time with Zack Steffen and Ethan Horvath have opened the door for him.


Houston gets past RSL


While the game took 120 minutes, Houston clearly deserved its 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Wednesday. It was a disappointing performance from RSL who badly misses the injured Pablo Ruiz. For long stretches, it seemed as if RSL was trying to hold on, maybe muster a chance off a counterattack, and try to get the game into penalties. Houston was clearly better.

Ben Olsen
has had a great season and he’s surpassed my expectations. Getting into the Open Cup final also helps because Inter Miami is already in the Concacaf Cup due to the Leagues Cup. As a result, Houston is now assured of entry next year.

Houston is going back to the playoffs this year. They’re going to the CONCACAF Cup next year. Things are trending in the right direction. But does anyone really think they’re going to go to Miami and win the Open Cup final?


Carter-Vickers shelved


According to Scottish journalist Gavin McCafferty, Cameron Carter-Vicker will be out longer than expected with his hamstring and is now expected to be shelved for eight weeks. That means the next two international windows. Even worse, he will miss key Champions League games for Celtic (who are now scrambling for centerbacks in the remaining days of the window).

It's unclear who Berhalter will call-up in central defense next month. Carter-Vickers is out but there is a long list of players who are not playing including Chris Richards, Auston Trusty, and Erik Palmer-Brown. It is also unclear how long Berhalter will continue with Tim Ream, who turns 36 in the fall.


Balogun to Monaco?


Sky Sports is now reporting that U.S. national team forward Folarin Balogun is nearing a transfer from Arsenal to Monaco.

Monaco is not in Europe this year after a late three-game collapse to end 2022/23 saw them tumble to sixth. But the club is expected to contend for Ligue 1 this year and has six points from the first two games of the season.

Balogun, 21, scored 21 goals last year on loan with Stade de Reims. Keeping him within Ligue 1 makes this a safer bet for Monaco as he has proven himself within the league.


Cannon’s saga


What is going on with Reggie Cannon? He’s still without a club after terminating his deal with Boavista when he claimed lack of payment. But that issue is apparently unresolved legally and that makes Cannon a difficult player to sign on a free deal since it is not clear.

On top of that, FC Dallas still claims it has not been paid any money from selling Cannon to Boavista. The Portuguese club might be short on funds, but they’re still buying players. Dallas has taken its case to CAS (Court of Arbitration and Sports) and won. But Boavista still continue to ignore the ruling and are continuing to operate business as usual.

The entire matter is strange.


Caden Clark sighting


Former New York Red Bull and U.S. U-20 midfielder Caden Clark is training close to home with Minnesota.

Clark, 20, is still owned by RB Leipzig after a weird start to his career that involved him starting his career with the Red Bulls (who had to pay Minnesota for his rights), getting sold to Leipzig, and getting loaned back to Red Bulls. At the end of the 2022 season, the Red Bulls decided not to exercise its option to extend his loan for 2023 and he moved to Leipzig where he made the bench for a few Bundesliga games but didn’t play. Clark ended up not making the U.S. U-20 World Cup team and wasn’t part of the important March camp and instead he went back to the USA. Now, it appears he hasn’t been with Leipzig at all in preseason and now he’s training with Minnesota. He was set to join Colorado earlier this month, but Leipzig couldn’t’ seal the paperwork in time.

Clark hasn’t played a game in over 11 months. It is fine he is training with Minnesota, but he can’t sign for them since it’s past the MLS transfer window and he’s not a free agent. It now looks as if he is going to go all of 2022 without playing.

What level he will be at when he returns is anybody's guess.

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