Here are the ten things we learned from Week 16 of the 2017 MLS season.
1. Is Columbus’ Season Falling Apart?
It was a bad week for the Columbus Crew, who lost to Cincinnati in the US Open Cup and then were handily beaten by Atlanta on Saturday night.
This loss to Cincinnati was particularly stinging. The Crew played what amounted to a first-choice starting eleven, and were shut out in front of crowd three or four times as big as what would have shown up in Columbus. There’s an argument to be made that the Crew aren’t even the biggest club in their own state.
With the loss in ATL, the Crew have now lost six of their last eight games across all competitions, and won just three times since they put together a three-game win streak at the end of March.
Kekuta Manneh, the team’s major midseason acquisition, has barely played and is now injured. The defense is just as bad as it was last year, and blown leads continue to be a problem.
Manager Gregg Berhalter – who cuts a rather dour figure even in good times – left the Cinncinati game jawing with traveling Crew supporters, and there have been suggestions that he’s lost the locker room.
Berhalter has been Anthony Precourt’s guy in Columbus since he bought the team almost five years ago, and this is the first real test of his ownership. It will be interesting to see how he reacts.
2. How About Orlando’s?
Jonathan Spector’s stoppage time equalizer in front of The Wall on Saturday night aside, it was a terrible week for Orlando City.
First, the team was pretty well humiliated on Wednesday night – getting bounced out of the US Open Cup by NASL Miami FC in a game that was hardly even as close as its 3-1 score-line indicated.
Then, on Thursday, the club’s star player Cyle Larin was faced with a much more serious humiliation: arrest for a DUI after driving the wrong way on an Orlando highway with a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit.
That news, in conjunction with the Open Cup loss, drew players a visit from club CEO Alex Leitão on Friday morning that was described by Alicia DelGallo of the Orlando Sentinel as “stern.”
Then on Saturday, the Lions blew 1-0 and 2-1 leads at home against the Montreal Impact, getting a late goal from Spector to salvage a point against a team that is tied for the fewest wins in the league.