Doug McIntyre’s MLS column, 24 Thoughts, parses through the latest insights and central advice from about American soccer.
The final weekend of the 2019 MLS division promises to be abounding of drama, accurately in the Western Conference, area four teams — the Portland Timbers, FC Dallas, San Jose Earthquakes and (somehow) the Colorado Rapids — are allusive for the league’s final two playoff spots.
Decision Day will additionally mark the aftermost approved division bout for four MLS legends who are backward this year: DaMarcus Beasley of the Houston Dynamo, Colorado’s Tim Howard, Michael Parkhurst of Atlanta United and longtime Real Salt Lake backstop Nick Rimando.
Beasley and Howard should be accepted first-ballot Civic Soccer Hall of Famers. Rimando is apparently the best babysitter in alliance history. “Obviously those guys accept had amazing careers — abundance isn’t absolutely on that level,” Parkhurst told Beast Sports in his archetypal chaste appearance beforehand this week. “But it’s nice to be aggregate in with them for sure.”
The Rhode Island built-in shouldn’t advertise himself short. The undersized and bookish centermost aback bankrupt into MLS with his hometown New England Revolution in 2005, extensive three afterwards MLS Cup finals afore abrogation for Europe, area he spent seven seasons and played in the UEFA Champions league (with Danish club Nordsjaelland) and German Bundesliga (with Augsburg). He was one of the final cuts from the U.S. Apple Cup agenda Shortly afterwards signing with the Columbus Crew in 2014, and assuredly won his aboriginal MLS Cup on his fifth attempt, captaining Atlanta United to the title last year.
“I had abhorrence that I would never win it,” Parkhurst said. “It absolutely makes it easier to airing away. But I’d adulation to go out with back-to-back ones.”
1. While Beasley, Howard and Rimando revealed their affairs to retire beforehand this year, Parkhurst didn’t accomplish it official until backward September. “I was in abnegation a little bit — that’s allotment of why I didn’t advertise earlier,” the 35-year-old said. “I had anticipation about it afore the division started. There’s aloof canicule aback the anatomy is struggling, the knees don’t feel good, and it takes a little added to get through. This preseason was the best difficult by far for me.”
2. Parkhurst fabricated his aboriginal alpha aback July in aftermost week’s 1-1 draw in Montreal. “I acquainted appealing acceptable about my performances aboriginal in the year, but the aftermost two months has array of caked [the decision] for me. How it’s been the aftermost two months, I absolutely don’t appetite to do addition abounding year of that. I’d rather go out a little bit aboriginal than a little bit late. I don’t appetite my aftermost year to be article that I attending aback and I’m abashed of how I played. I anticipate it’s the appropriate time to footfall away.”
3. One of the affidavit MLS adopted a new, abridged playoff architecture this division was to abstain the November all-embracing break, which about fell amid the appointment semis and finals. But while MLS Cup will now be captivated afore players address to their civic teams, the about-face didn’t breach the botheration entirely. Because of October’s FIFA window, there’s now a huge gap amid Accommodation Day and the postseason opener. The delay is alike best for the appointment champs. Afterwards accepting first-round byes, LAFC and New York City FC will be abandoned from Oct. 6-23.
4. Asked Atlanta drillmaster Frank de Boer about the continued blow afore the playoffs. “I adopt commonly one week,” he said. “It’s the all-embracing week, of course, and I accept that. Some players with baby injuries can absolutely be recovered.
“But you see a lot of times afterwards the all-embracing breach [the players] accept to alpha the agent again, you know? The accent of the bold is different. Normally, aback you’re in that accent anniversary to week, they are added lively.”
5. De Boer and Montreal midfielder/fellow Barcelona alum Bojan Krkic had a continued babble in the alley amid the two bathrobe apartment afterward Sunday’s contest. Afterwards all these years, I’m still addled by how baby the soccer apple is.
6. If you haven’t apprehend it yet, Matt Pentz’s contour of Beasley is a masterpiece. I ambition I’d accounting it.
7. Howard Webb, the allegorical English referee-turned-general administrator of North America’s Professional Referee Organization, is authoritative the circuit at MLS stadiums speaking to reporters and broadcasters about MLS officiating. Two absorbing tidbits from his aboriginal such presentation aftermost weekend: MLS has been agilely testing offside-detection technology this season. The aboriginal signs, Webb said, are positive. The alliance is additionally because application a centralized area for video abettor referees. Aback the accomplishing of video analysis amid through the 2017 season, VARs accept been housed central stadiums.
Howard Webb, accepted administrator of the Professional Referee Organization, is accomplishing the media circuit about the latest developments in MLS officiating. (AP)
8. “The advantage of that actuality that we can abrupt them afore every game, we can again do a hot catechize immediately,” Webb said. “We can use a hardly abate accumulation of bodies as well, so that would aid the consistency.” Webb didn’t accommodate a timeline for the accomplishing of either change.
9. Heading into the penultimate weekend, Webb said that VAR had absolute 24 calls over 378 amateur in 2019. “We don’t get them all right,” Webb said, acceptance that as with the affection of play, the officiating in MLS still lags abaft the actual best leagues in the world.
10. This isn’t absolutely MLS-related, but it needs to be said to those clamoring for European-based bifold civic adolescence players like Ajax’s Alex Mendez or PSV’s Richard Ledezma to be cap-tied by the chief aggregation this month: Fielding youngsters afore they’ve becoming it (Mendez and Ledezma accept never played a first-team minute for their clubs) artlessly to ensure that they can’t comedy for Mexico would be a huge disservice to those players.
11. Expect both Ledezma and Mendez to be on the U.S. U-23 agenda aback it’s appear on Friday.
12. Can’t delay to see the U.S. and Canada bang it out in their Oct. 15 CONCACAF Nations Alliance bout in Toronto. The MLS-heavy American side will accept their assignment cut out for them adjoin a aggregation badly aggravating to ascend up FIFA’s rankings and affection for the final annular of 2022 Apple Cup condoning as one of the region’s top six sides. Canada’s agenda appearance 10 MLS players additional above Vancouver Whitecaps/current Bayern Munich accompaniment Alphonso Davies.
13. According to U.S. Soccer’s Jeff Crandall, Toronto FC’s Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley would become the aboriginal U.S. players to booty the acreage in their home amphitheater in an abroad or neutral-site match. Cool stat.
14. LAFC’s Carlos Vela active into Accommodation Day defective aloof one ambition to top the almanac 31 strikes Atlanta’s Josef Martinez managed aftermost year. There’s still an alfresco adventitious that with 29 goals, the Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic — who already has two hat tricks this division — could cull it off, too.
15. Martinez returned to training this anniversary afterwards an abrasion scare. He has 26 goals in 28 amateur this season. Anyone abroad bethink aback Eddie Johnson and Brian Ching aggregate the 2004 Golden Boot with aloof 12 apiece?
16. Anticipation 16 aftermost week read “Don’t be abashed if [Mathias] Almeyda isn’t aback in MLS abutting season.” This week, TUDN reported that Mexican juggernaut Monterrey is acquisitive to allurement the San Jose Earthquakes drillmaster aback south of the border. The Argentine ahead managed Chivas Guadalajara, arch them accomplished Toronto FC for the 2018 CONCACAF Champions Alliance title. The Quakes beneath to comment.
Matias Almeyda ability be about to drillmaster his aftermost bold for the San Jose Earthquakes. (Getty)
17. San Jose needs at atomic a point in Portland to authorize for the playoffs. Usually, you’d anticipate that account of a drillmaster potentially abrogation on the eve of a acute bout would be insurmountable to overcome, abnormally for a ambagious aggregation that’s absent eight of its aftermost 10. Again I anticipate about how Atlanta tore through the postseason acreage aftermost year afterwards Tata Martino appear his departure. Maybe this wakes The Goonies up.
18. As a neutral, it’s adamantine not to basis for Robin Fraser’s Colorado Rapids to clasp into the playoffs on the final day of the approved season. On the added hand, I’d additionally like to see LAFC (the Rapids’ foe Sunday) breach the single-season credibility almanac afterwards the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC did aftermost year and in 2017, respectively.
19. LAFC charcoal the prohibitive admired to elevate MLS Cup admitting its late-season swoon. (Bob Bradley’s aggregation has one win over its aftermost seven.) I still anticipate they are continuing aloft that belvedere on Nov. 10. History isn’t on LAFC’s side, though. The Supporters’ Shield champ has pulled off the Shield-Cup bifold aloof seven times in the league’s aboriginal 23 seasons.
20. One affair alive in LAFC’s favor? Thanks to the new playoff format, acceptable the approved division appellation ensures that Bradley, Vela, et. al. will host every one of their playoff amateur at Banc of California Stadium. LAFC is 13-1-3 at the Banc in 2019, the best home almanac in MLS.
21. I about achievement that New York City FC ends up accepting to host MLS Cup as karmic abuse for somehow not reserving Yankee Amphitheater for the finale.
22. Would adulation to apperceive what Montreal Impact buyer Joey Saputo — whose aggregation absent the playoffs for the third beeline division this year — was cerebration watching above Impact manager Jesse Marsch’s FC Salzburg almost abduct a tie adjoin European champs Liverpool at Anfield this week. Pride that he gave Marsch his aboriginal arch apprenticeship job aback he best the abstruse American to advance his amplification accomplishment in 2012? Or affliction that he beggared means with Marsch afterwards that more-than-respectable beginning season?
23. It’s adamantine not to admiration area the Impact ability be today had Marsch been retained for addition brace of years.
24. As always, 24 Thoughts will be on USMNT assignment during the all-embracing break. See you in two weeks.
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