MLS breakdown

RBNY and Colorado surging, USMNT hopefuls shine, opposites in Florida, & more

It was an interesting weekend in MLS as yourh shined and many players on the Gold Cup bubble made strong statements. On the field, RBNY and Colorado are making big strikes. Orlando still looks like it will be in good shape and a contender if Dike stays. ASN's Brian Sciaretta breaks it all down. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
June 21, 2021
6:10 AM

IT WAS THE FIRST week back for MLS after a three week break due to Nations League and there was a lot to take in from a full slate of games. There were some surprises and there were some things that went as expected – as always.

Here are my thoughts.


USMNT hopefuls raise game


Earlier this week, U.S. national team manager Gregg Berhalter named his 60-player provisional roster for the Gold Cup. One of the big things you can take away from this week in MLS is that many of the “bubble players” or the promising young MLS players who were named to the list all had great games.

The list was pretty impressive and it includes several entries of the highly rated class of the 2003 birth-year.

Caden Clark: the teenager played as the RBNY No. 10 and really ensured his team controlled the midfield while also setting up Kyle Duncan for a wonderful second goal in a 2-0 win over Nashville.

Kyle Duncan: The RBNY fullback was in top form again, was the MOTM against Nashville, scored a goal and continues to be a duel winning-machine.


Sam Vines: The Colorado left back has been one of the best left backs in the league was again very strong for the Rapids in a convincing 2-0 win over Cincinnati on Saturday.

Gianluca Busio: While Sporting Kansas City lost to Portland, 2-1, he had 108 touches and was still 79/87 passing including an outstanding 12/14 with his long balls.

Leon Flach: The Philadelphia Union defensive midfielder was once again playing the No. 6 in a way the U.S. team needs, defensively strong, closing down on attackers, etc. It really helps he is so fast. He helped Philadelphia fight back in its 2-2 draw with Atlanta on Sunday.


Kevin Paredes: The 2003-born midfielder should be on of the better U-20 players this upcoming cycle. Inter Miami was terrible and DC United was pretty average to win just 1-0. But Paredes put up outstanding numbers – including his duel winning.


Matt Turner: It’s true that Ethan Horvath made a huge statement with the national team at the Nations League. Matt Turner will certainly be named to the team of the week for his outstanding effort on Saturday in New England’s 3-2 win over New York City. He saved a penalty and two 1v1’s.

Miles Robinson: Berhalter has already tipped his hand that Robinson will be on the Gold Cup team. The Atlanta United central defender was good in a 2-2 draw with Philadelphia.


Ricardo Pepi: Another 2003-born player, Pepi scored the equalizing goal for FC Dallas in a 1-1 draw with Minnesota United.


Gyasi Zardes: With Daryl Dike and Jordan Pefok also playing this month with the U.S. team, Zardes needs to keep up and he scored two goals for Columbus in a 2-0 win over Chicago on Saturday.

The competition to make the Gold Cup team is fairly intense right now, but players are actively stepping up.


RBNY surging


The New York Red Bulls easily defeated Nashville 2-0 and Gerhard Struber’s team making big strides now. This was an easy win and Struber’s team is fun to watch. His starting lineup is youthful: John Tolken is 18, Caden Clark is 18, Frankie Amaya is 20. Kyle Duncan is playing like the best American fullback in the game this season. Fabio has been one of the league’s better newcomers and Patryk Klimala is very promising.

Right now, the Red Bulls have a bunch of versatile players – especially in the midfield – and Struber can change approaches every game, or even make adjustments during the game. For the Red Bulls, it will simply come down to how well the central defenders play. In this game, Andres Reyes was superb, but he is still yet to show he can do it consistently.


In this game, Caden Clark was extremely effective on both sides of the ball. Kyle Duncan should be named to the MLS team of the week. Frankie Amaya was also really good in the press. Fabio’s opening goal when he took a pass from Klimala was class.

The Red Bulls are fun to watch, even if they sometimes adopt to Route 1 – which is okay because they also have pretty passing sequences.


But now the Red Bulls are entering one of their toughest stretches of the season – a three game road trip with visits to New England, Atlanta, and Orlando. If they can walk away with four points from the game, it will be impressive.  That should be the goal.


Colorado among the best in the West


Robin Fraser is an early season contender coach of the year. Colorado is firing on all cylinders and Saturday’s 2-0 win over Cincinnati is reflective of that. Yes, Cincy is the worst team in the league but they are a bit tougher to break down at the moment since Geoff Cameron arrived.

“We've been battling and fighting each and every game,” Kellyn Acosta told ASN. “Games haven't been easy. We haven't had that convincing win. Even though when we beat Dallas 3-0, as a whole, we know we didn't play well. Dallas had several chances. We just need to chug away. We're not the flashiest team. We don't have the big name guys some other teams have. We have a core. We have a team. When we match up with guys that care for each other and want to battle for one another, that says a lot about all of us. And I think having that unity has helped us get those results.”

Acosta is completely right. This team isn’t build on big designated players but the team is just so competent in most areas. American fans will surely appreciate the progress that several players in the U.S. national team pool have made.


Sam Vines was once again strong and since he has returned from his injury, he has been perhaps the best left back in the league. He should be in a position to start for the national team at the Gold Cup. Cole

Acosta, meanwhile, was fantastic in this game playing as a deeper lying midfielder. He was able to push forward into the attack while connecting on 6/7 long balls.

Cole Bassett was pretty good in this game, although he’s capable of playing better. Still, he remains a player who has not stalled in his development.


DC United sneaks past Miami


Miami is in an absolute tailspin. Watching them is like watching one of the worst teams in MLS back in 2002. It’s hard to believe that this team cheated to get to this point. That makes you wonder how they’ll figure it out. It’s going to take a long, long time. It’s not Phil Neville’s fault, but do they have the guts to fire him if it gets to that point? For now, it’s going to take a long time.

This is just not something you see from serious teams. 


As for DC United, the team should have been much better and were up a man since the 57th minute and up by two men starting at the 86th.

For DC United, it’s all about finishing but the team looks like it could be turning the corner under Hernan Losada. They’ve won two in a row – I know, it was against Miami – but before that they were very competitive in losses to Orlando and Philadelphia after a win over Chicago.

This isn’t to suggest that DC United are world beaters right now. But there certainly is some progress.


Orlando is a contender


It is really scary to think about how good Orlando City might be once this team is at full strength – and we may or may not get to see that. Even now, the team is a contender.

On Saturday, Orlando got past Toronto 3-2 despite missing two players on international duty (Uri Rosell, Pedro Gallese, and Jhegson Mendez). Toronto gifted Orlando two goals with abysmal errors playing it out of the back – and this is coming from a veteran team.


It will be interesting to see Toronto’s attack when Yeferson Soteldo and Alejandro Pozuelo get to play together. But this team also has a lot of older players that might struggle in the second half of the season. Defensively, they’ll be vulnerable.

Last season, Oscar Pareja finally created an Orlando team that could compete and be fun to watch. They’re essentially everything Inter Miami wanted to be right off the bat, but have come far short.

Daryl Dike is back and made his first appearance of the season – coming in to play the last 10 minutes off the bench. He didn’t have much to do although he did draw defenders on Urso’s winning goal.

Watching Dike’s transfer window this summer will be fascinating. Orlando is in a position where they’re almost going to have to sell him to keep up the good will of the players. Refusing to sell, would be a bad look. Still, the legitimate offers have to be there and you just hope that wherever Dike goes, he’ll play.

Similar to Busio (who is also attracting interest), you have to wonder if these teams will try to sell but keep them on loan for the end of the season. It’s similar to how Ernst Tanner handled selling Brendon Aaronson and Mark McKenzie last season. He wanted to sell them – but only let them go after the season. It worked out well for all involved – the players played and Philadelphia won something.

Orlando has worked so hard to become a winner. Selling Dike would severely limit the team’s ability to actually win something. We will see.

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