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MLS/USL Review

otieno MLS/USL ReviewMusa Otieno (leftmost) captained Kenya to a critical World Cup Qualifying win yesterday. But the insistence on the American leagues, MLS and USL to play through international breaks meant Otieno was not available for his club side Cleveland City who lost twice at home in three days to Miami FC.

  • ESPN 2 achieved it’s highest MLS rating in two seasons on Wednesday night. That was because the College World Series ran late and many decided to stick around for an exciting conclusion to Seattle versus DC United.
  • Real Salt Lake seems to be finally playing up to the level expected to them before the season. Four road points in the last two weeks against Western Conference rivals is a good start to try and climb up the table.
  • Gary Smith has done a remarkable job with the Colorado Rapids this year. Once again a manager with some sort of tactical gameplan and an actual coaching license from someone other than the USSF is needed in MLS. USL to their credit has a number of imported coaches which is why while I’d argue the talent in USL is inferior, the tactics and organization when you watch a USL match blow most MLS games away.
  • Jamaica did well under John Barnes and Omar Cummings got a few run outs. But now the striker is really excelling in Smith’s British tactical system. Expect Cummings to emerge as a key figure for Jamaica in the coming years.
  • Puerto Rico is re-emerging as the team to beat in USL after two victories over Charleston. Colin Clarke’s ability to field two full teams had its drawbacks early in the season due to a lack of continuity and understanding among the side. But now Clarke’s team is rising to the top due to its depth.
  • Miami FC is on a tear having won three straight league matches after going winless in six. The reason: young playmaker Paulo Junior brought in from the Brazilian league by Miami FC’s owners Traffic Sports who own his registration. For those paying attention Traffic Sports has been in negotiations with Manchester United about importing some players they own from South America.
  • FC Dallas is playing some solid football lately. Not that anyone in the Metroplex noticed.
  • I had the great pleasure of speaking with Misha Sher of Soccerex and Derby County FC TV this past week. Misha played in USL for several years before relocating to the UK and entering the football business and commentating realms. Some of his memories in USL are discussed in the current EPL Talk podcast and will be released as an add on in a future MLS Talk podcast.
  • Martin Rennie’s Carolina Railhawks side is beginning to hit a midseason swoon. The Railhawks are settling into a pattern of struggling on the road, but grinding out points while making Wake Med Soccer Park a virtual fortress.
  • As good a statement as Seattle-DC United was about MLS in front of a national audience, San Jose-LA was the type of match that turns traditional football fans against MLS. A sloppy match full of bad giveaways and players out of position, it was the wrong match for ESPN to schedule to get a lead in audience from the more sophisticated football audience that was watching the Confederations Cup.

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
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