Evening kickaround

McKennie, Weah, & CCV win silverware, Sargent's season ends, Chicago's mess, & much more

ASN's Brian Sciaretta offers up his thoughts on midweek American soccer including roasting the Fire, three Yanks winning Euro silverware, Sargent's season ends with concerns, Cincy looking great, Nashville's shake-up, and much more.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
May 16, 2024
1:00 PM

IT WAS A BUSY Wednesday in American soccer, two Americans won silverware in Europe, there was a near-full slate of games in MLS, a coaching change, and then there was a raccoon getting loose on the field in Philadelphia.

Anyway, “all roads lead to Rome.” So, let’s start there.


Juventus win Coppa Italia


Juventus defeated Atalanta 1-0 at the Olympic Stadium in Rome to win the Coppa Italia. Weston McKennie played 90 minutes while Tim Weah came off the bench in the 81st minute in the win. For McKennie, this is the second time he has won the Coppa Italia after lifting the trophy in 2021.

This comes amid speculation that McKennie will leave the club this summer despite the fact it secured a spot in the Champions League next season. The club still plays a defensive style (scoring just 49 goals this season) and doesn’t have a large budget. McKennie might be on the way out, and that made this Coppa triumph a little bittersweet.

Juventus scored early and it was McKennie who had a hand in the combination which saw Cambiaso assist to Vlahovic.


The end of the game was feisty and it saw Juve manager Max Allegri sent off just before the final whistle.

The performance overall wasn’t great from McKennie as he wasn’t on the ball much but it was good enough to help win the title.  

As for Weah, he came into the game when it started to get feisty and nasty. He played right wingback but only had three touches. Like McKennie, he is heading into the offseason with questions about his future, but a higher probability of staying.

Weah has had his ups and downs, but if McKennie leaves, it might increase his odds of being a starter fulltime. That would be a great step for a player who has never had a 2000 minute season.

As for McKennie, he hasn’t been at his best in recent weeks, but he’s had a very good season overall.


Carter-Vickers wins 3rd SPL


Celtic defeated Kilmarnock 5-0 on Wednesday to secure the Scottish title. The was a mere formality after Sunday’s win over Rangers.

For Cameron Carter-Vickers, it was his third Scottish title in the three years since he joined the club.

For the USMNT defender, he wasn’t challenged very much defensively but he was busy in the win – as he often is when Celtic dominates. He was on the ball 140 times and completed 120 of 132 passes – most of them easy and unpressured.


But Celtic will be back in the Champions League again next year, but that will present another test whether they can compete better than the recent group stage effort where they finished last.

Carter-Vickers will now likely soon head back to the United States to join the USMNT Copa America team.


Season ends for Sargent


Josh Sargent’s terrific season came to an end on Thursday as Norwich fell to Leeds 4-0 in the second leg of their promotional playoff semifinal. For Sargent, it was a difficult period. In the scoreless first leg, he was forced off the field in the 80th minute with his ankle preventing him from continuing.  Then in the second leg, he was pulled at halftime down 3-0.

Of course, Sargent missed four months this season after he injured his ankle in the second game of the season and then needed surgery. Even when he came back and was one of the Championship’s best players, his ankle continued to bother him. It was the reason why he removed himself from the USMNT Nations League roster in March.


Now in the coming days we will hope to get answers to key questions. How bad is his ankle? Can he rest and be close to 100% for the Copa America? Does he need further treatment?

Then after that, we will see if Sargent is in the transfer window or if he stays at Norwich and tries to lead David Wagner’s team back to the top flight.

Writing about injuries is very hard. We’re not given medical reports and specific details. It’s also dangerous to speculate. But right now, we need more information on Sargent because his ankle has continued to be a problem for months and the last two games only raised more questions.


Elsewhere in Europe


Johnny Cardoso came off the bench early, in the 20th minute due to injury, for Real Betis is a 2-2 draw away at Las Palmas. It turned out to be a solid, but unspectacular 70-minute shift. He completed 19/21 passes and was 9/13 in ground duels.

With two games remaining, Cardoso and company are clinging to sixth place in LaLiga – needing a top six spot to qualify for Europe.

It’s been a great six months for Cardoso who is nominated for LaLiga’s Young Player of the Season.

On the flip side in LaLiga, Luca de la Torre continues to see his minutes diminish for Celta Vigo and he was unused on Wednesday in a 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao.  The good news for him is that the Copa America roster expanded to 26 people, which should keep him on the USMNT this summer. But beyond that, he needs to keep playing because midfield competition is getting tighter.

In Scotland, Dante Polvara started and scored for the second straight game for Aberdeen in a 5-1 win over Livingston on Wednesday. Polvara scored for the second straight game and he looks to earn a spot in the team’s future. He’s doing well with that as the 23 year old out of Georgetown is showing improvement.


Meanwhile for Livingston, Scott Pittman started and the club has already sealed relegation. He is the club’s all-time leader in appearances, but is this the end for the 31-year-old at the club?


Smith fired by Nashville


On Thursday, Nashville SC’s Gary Smith became the first MLS coach sacked in the 2024 season. This came despite a 2-0 win over Toronto on Wednesday night. Toronto was without head coach John Herdman and a few players who were suspended. Even with having won two of three, Nashville was sitting 10th in the Eastern Conference.

Per the club: “Former player and current Player Development Coach with Nashville SC Rumba Munthali will step up as Interim Head Coach while the club conducts the search for the next head coach.”


There is no question things have become stale in Nashville but it’s fair to question how much of this is on Smith. For several years, the team had a formula of having Hany Mukthar run the offense and Walker Zimmerman run the defense. Then in-between was a bunch of hard-working journeymen (often former New York Red Bulls).

This isn’t Atlanta, which is underperforming despite having solid pieces throughout the lineup. Nashville’s problem are also in roster construction. That would not be on Smith.

The question for Nashville now becomes whether there are plans to evaluate how the team is put together? Unless that changes, it is hard to see the results being much different.


Chicago Blues


It’s hard to think of a team in the league more depressing than the Chicago Fire right now.

Think about it. This team was bad last year, and they decided to bring everyone (coaching, front office) back. They spend a lot of money. This isn’t an issue of being bad because of a failure to spend. To spend this amount of money and still be bad makes is actually very hard to do. Then, when the signs are that the team is bad and then still opting to not make changes. That’s quite a choice.

How much money was spent on Shaqiri and Hugo Cuypers? What’s the return?


What’s the plan?

Fire fans deserve better.

How bad are the Fire? After Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Charlotte at Soldier Field, Chicago has been shutout in four straight home games. They’ve scored one goal in their last six games.

Yes, the Fire aren’t the worst team in the league. That goes to the New England Revolution. But at least the Revs have the benefit of having been decent recently. The Fire have made the playoffs once since 2012. The one time they made it during that span, in 2017, they were out in the first round.

Frankie Klopas could be on the hot seat. But most Fire fans probably realize that the problems are so much deeper. If he goes right now, the people who would pick his replacement would be the people who have built this roster and spent so much money for so little. Even if Klopas hasn’t done a great job, he’s only a very small fraction of this team’s problems.

This team is way overdue for a complete housecleaning. There is just no leadership.


Atlanta and Philadelphia


Most people figured Chicago was going to be bad this year, but the most disappointing have been Atlanta United and the Philadelphia Union.

Atlanta dropped a 1-0 decision to Cincinnati for its third loss in a row. They’re also winless in seven games. Gonzalo Pineda might not last much longer. Garth Lagerwey hasn’t made many coaching changes at his previous clubs, but he might need to act soon. Atlanta now sits 12th.

Philadelphia lost at home 2-1 to NYCFC on Wednesday for its fourth straight home loss and a winless skid of six games.

Jim Curtin is not on the hot seat and they will probably figure it out. The Union are a little passive and sloppy lately, but they’re still creating chances. It’s a matter of being a little more clinical and tightening up defense.


Other notes throughout the league


The Red Bulls defeated DC United 4-1 in Washington and the result was somewhat flattering to RBNY. Carlos Coronel made some huge saves, DC United hit the post, and RBNY was clinical.

How clinical? This goal from Elias Manoel was special and he's getting hot.


Columbus played like Columbus should in a 3-1 away win over Montreal. Even without Cucho Hernandez out, Columbus was just better and are getting ready for the CONCACAF Champions Cup final against Pachuca.

Montreal owner Joe Saputo saw one of his former managers in Jesse Marsch take the Canada national team job with Saputo helping to pay his salary. Then he sees another former manager in Wilfried Nancy take his Crew team into Montreal and win at Stade Saputo. For Saputo, he wasn't able to make things work with Marsch or Nancy, but both have moved onto better things.

Real Salt Lake continues to impress after a 2-0 win at home against Seattle. RSL has a great home field advantage and they are really playing up to that this year under Pablo Mastroeni. Diego Luna is pushing for a spot on the Olympic team, and he scored his team's second goal.

Cincinnati is going to be a tough team to beat. Last offseason, they upgraded in defense with Miles Robinson and then DeAndre Yedlin the the early season. But they still were struggling to overcome the loss of Brandon Vazquez, but now they have acquired Kevin Kelsy and the Venezuelan teenager really looks the part. In the win over Atlanta, Kelsy scored the only goal on a great play that started with Robinson forcing a turnover.


Kelsey looks like he's going to be big for Cincy. If Cincy was a stock, I'd buy.

I am not sure if Cole Bassett has a good chance of making the Olympic team. I think he should be in the mix. He is more productive this season (an in most of his season) than many who are in the mix. But he has been Colorado's best player this season and the Rapids are making strides after their big overhaul last season. Wednesday was a 1-0 win over Vancouver and Bassett was tremendous. 103 touches, 2/2 dribbles, 10 touches in the Vancouver box, 12 passes into the final third, 2 chances created, 4/5 in ground duels.

Portland rallied for a late 4-2 win over San Jose at home despite being down 2-0 into the 74th minute. It's still early in the season, but it felt that was a must win for Portland if they wanted to have any chance of saving the season. They were lucky, but sometimes that's what it takes.

Finally, it's hard not to love this.

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