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MLS Analysis

Rooney shines, Seattle surges, Altidore loses it, and Philadelphia hanging in

What happened over the weekend in MLS? A lot. Rooney made a play for the ages while Orando lost its cool, Altidore blew it, Seattle continue to surge, and Philadelphia is exceeding expectations. ASN's Brian Sciaretta with a lookback. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
August 13, 2018
7:20 PM
THE PAST weekend was an interesting one in MLS. Everyone was understandably talking about the Rooney goal but there was plenty more to discuss - ranging from good, bad, and ugly. Here is a breakdown. 

Rooney delivers, Orlando crumbles

There really isn’t anything else to be said about Wayne Rooney’s play on Sunday night that hasn’t already been said. It wasn’t the greatest goal scored in the history of MLS but it might be the league’s best ever goal scoring sequence.

It had an unbelievable run, an unbelievable tackle, an amazing pass to Acosta and a nice finish. Combine that with it being a tie game and in the fifth minute of stoppage time, that is an unbelievable scene. Some people were critical of DC United’s acquisition of Rooney but plays like that will make him a legendary designated player.

Meanwhile, Orlando is an absolute dumpster fire right now and it’s hard to see where this team goes. They’ve tried coaching changes, front office changes, player overhauls and nothing has worked.

Then you have this:

The organizational culture at Orlando is coming across as toxic. This season is virtually unsalvageable but massive changes are needed this offseason.

Red Bulls and Atlanta

The Supporters’ Shield race has five teams that are in the running but it really seems like it will come down to Atlanta or the New York Red Bulls and the matchup between the two things on September 30 in New Jersey looks like it could decide it.

The Red Bulls won ugly against Chicago on Saturday but the 1-0 victory was deserved. The Red Bull defense completely limited the Fire’s offense and all it took was one opportunity from Bradley Wright-Phillips to win it.

At this stage, the Red Bulls look like a complete team. Bradley Wright-Phillips continues to be a first-rate forward, Luis Robles is in the running for goalkeeper of the year, and Aaron Long and Tim Parker are the best central defense tandem in the league. The Red Bulls do not have as potent of an offense as Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez but Kaku, Daniel Royer, and Tyler Adams are impressive.

Altidore costs Toronto

Toronto pays a lot of money to its three designated players: Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Sebastian Giovinco. In 2017, these three players delivered a title but in 2018 the team is in danger of missing the playoffs.

If needs even a chance of making the playoffs, it needs to win and players need to step up. If Toronto falls short, it will because of plays like this: Altidore’s needless 9th minute red card which essentially cost Toronto a 3-2 decision at home to New York City FC.

Of course it was the right decision from the referee.

Afterward, Vanney gave a nonsensical and deflated response.

Of course talking about these self-inflicted wounds is important. It shows a pattern of exhibited by a team that is vastly underachieving and is not showing the ability to fight through adversity.

Right now, don’t be surprised at all if there is a major overhaul in Toronto in the offseason and that management takes the position this group has gone as far as it can go. The newer approach in MLS is with younger designated players and Toronto might be served better making a major switch to that direction.

All over the place in Cascadia.

The most puzzling soccer in the league comes from the Pacific Northwest.

The Portland Timbers saw its 15 match unbeaten run snapped by Vancouver in a 2-0 home loss on Saturday. Portland is still in a good position at it is in third place but trails Sporting Kansas City by just two points while also having two games in hand. Even better, five out of its next six games are against teams outside of the playoff positions and with Diego Valeri playing like an MVP again, it’s always dangerous.

Will the Seattle Sounders make the playoffs? We like their chances. With a 2-1 win over Dallas on Sunday, Seattle has won five in a row (and hasn’t lost in eight). The team is still in eighth place and three points out of the playoffs, but no team in the league is hotter.

The problem for Seattle is that its schedule is going to get really challenging for its next six games: Galaxy at home, Portland away, Sporting KC at home, Vancouver away, Philadelphia at home, and the Galaxy away.

But its defense is red hot – conceding just three goals in its last five games. While the team was frustrated earlier in the season, it is now confident.

Meanwhile, Vancouver is in seventh place – two points out of the playoffs. It is neither hot, nor cold and is one of the hardest teams to figure out. The win over Portland was key and its success always depends on the league’s streakiest players in Brek Shea, Kei Kamara who can either be among the best or worst in the league any given week.

Philadelphia is overachieving

If the season were to end today, Philadelphia would make the playoffs as the fifth team in the East. It’s grip on a playoff spot is not firm and it has just a one point cushion separating it from seventh place New England – which it defeated 3-2 away on Saturday in Massachusetts.

Regardless of what happens, the team is overachieving this season and Jim Curtin deserves a lot of credit for getting the most out of this team – which includes two young American central defenders in Mark McKenzie (who has been injured the last two games) and Auston Trusty. Even with David Accam playing a minimal role for Philadelphia (having scored just one goal), the Union have hung on this season.

Alejandro Bedoya deserves a lot of credit for helping the team win midfield battles and he is emerging as the player Philadelphia hoped he would be and Borek Dockal finally now looks comfortable in the league

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