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MLS Week 4: RBNY, Philly, LAG on the rise, problems for Minnesota and more

The Red Bulls and the Quakes are way up - on the basis of some great performances from American players. ASN's Brian Sciaretta walks you through his observations from Week 4
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
May 10, 2021
7:55 AM

THE FOURTH WEEK of the 2021 MLS season is in the history books and while it’s early in the season, we are starting to see some reoccurring patters and trendlines that gives an early indication as to who is good, who isn’t – and why this is the case.

It was necessarily as fun of a weekend as the first few weeks of the season, but it was a bit more revealing. Here are a few of my takeaways from the weekend’s games.


Are the Quakes legit?


San Jose has won its last three games and have nine points from four games. In the West, they are second to only Seattle – which has 10 points.

In Friday night’s thrilling 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake, the Quakes rallied for two late goals from Chris Wondolowski to secure the three points.

The Quakes shouldn’t have needed to rally in this one as they had 60% of the possession in this one – but Wondolowski can move so well in the box even at his age that he is still quite a weapon in the box.

In this game, from an American perspective, Jackson Yueill and Cade Cowell continued to show a lot of value and both were the two best starters in the entire game for either team.

Cowell, 17, only had 24 touches over 90 minutes. For a team that had 60% of the possession, Cowell will eventually have to get on the ball more and he has a lot of room to grow – but for now, he’s developing well.

As for Yueill, he’s playing terrific soccer for San Jose right now and has been consistently good in the early stages of the season.


Philly downs Chicago


The Philadelphia Union are in a transitional phase at the moment after the sale of Mark McKenzie and Brenden Aaronson – two of the league’s best XI. The team is a bit of a step down from last season but it still has a lot of things going for it, starting with the coach. Jim Curtin has a nice system and a nice culture of winning.

In Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire, the team looked like it was continuing to grow nicely. Leon Flach has been a very welcome newcomer in the league and has fit the Union’s style and midfield like a glove. This is, unfortunately, the time when he should be preparing for the U-20 World Cup but that team won’t be the case due to its cancellation. What’s good about Flach is that he’s physically strong and handles that side of the game well. He’s also fast and smart.

Jack McGlynn, another rated member of the American 2003-birth year, made his debut for Philadelphia in a starting role and played pretty well.

In 61 minutes, McGlynn got 32 touches and was 13/16 passing. He missed a couple of very good opportunities but was involved. Overall, it was a promising debut.

It will be interesting to see how the new signing of Hungarian international Daniel Gazdag affects the Union. It might seem to be that it will hurt the opportunity for Anthony Fontana to play meaningful minutes. If the club is not going to rely on Fontana much, the best thing to do would be to sell or trade him as his value is pretty high – but that will drop if he doesn’t play.

Meanwhile, Chicago simply isn’t a good team on many fronts. It just seems like this team is very easily beatable and is weak in too many areas.


Minnesota’s blues


One of biggest areas of disappointment so far this season has been the struggles of Minnesota United which appeared to be heading to its first victory (and first points) of the season after taking a 2-0 lead on Colorado. But then it completely collapsed and stumbled to a 3-2 loss. A team many (including ASN) had as one of the better teams in the league is now 0-4.

We know this league is forgiving but the team now has a six-point deficit to make up – but that can only start once the team figures out what is wrong.

Adrian Heath is probably on the hot seat right now. He has one of the best playmakers in the league in Emanuel Reynoso, but he’s not dominating right now. Plus, you have a long list of players carrying over from the 2020 team who are not playing nearly as well this season – Lod, Finlay, Dotson, Gaspar, Boxall, Gregus. Wil Trapp, meanwhile, can hit nice passes but doesn’t really solve the team’s ability to breakdown opponents with dribbles and defensively win balls back.

The team is not built perfectly but it is playing well below the sum of its parts. A loss to Vancouver an Heath might be in a position he won’t survive.


RBNY is back


The New York Red Bulls are in good shape with a second straight win – this time a comfortable 2-0 win over Toronto FC.  The RBNY was the better team throughout the entire game and the team is improving each game under Gerhard Struber.

For one, most American fans will want to talk about Caden Clark – and why not? The 17-year-old attacking midfielder scored again and he now has three goals in four games to start the season. He seems to always have a knack of being in the right place at the right time.

There is also the talk about Aaron Long as the national team defender is back in fine form that resembles his 2018 level.


Frankie Amaya has been a critical addition and it is no coincidence that he began starting for this team as it has begun to win. He forces turnovers, completes a high percentage of his passes in the attacking half, and can score. His ability to score was on display on Saturday when he bagged his first goal on a play started by Clark, set up by Fabio, and drilled home by Amaya.

One of the key elements of the Red Bulls rise has been the form of Kyle Duncan who has been exceptional. When looking at his numbers the past two games,



Chicharito leads Galaxy in El Trafico.


MLS was in Prime Time on Saturday on FOX when the Galaxy hosted LAFC in El Trafico. FOX was hoping that it would pit Chicharito against Carlos Vela but Vela is still out from his injury that forced him out of a confusing substitution in the first week of the season.

In this game, Chicharito scored the opening goal of the game on a nice finish off a “slide tackle assist” from Derrick Williams. The second goal came from Chicharito’s Mexican teammate Jonathan dos Santos.

Julian Araujo had a great game for the Galaxy and he won 11/12 duels – including a perfect 5/5 on aerials. He also had four interceptions, six clearances, and was a perfect 6/6 on his tackles. If he can continue that form, it will be a very impressive story that could affect his value as a player.

U.S. national team midfielder Sebastian Lletget returned from his suspension and was also a big difference maker for the Galaxy where he won 8/10 of his duels, drew three fouls, and had 10 crosses.

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