The long international break is over, and the USMNT’s MLS-based contingent has returned to their clubs, so we’ll return to our weekly look at how they performed in last weekend’s league play in the shrinking build-up to the World Cup in Qatar.
Typically, the first week back to normal action for international players after such as long break – including a total a four games this time around – can be expected to be a bit of a dud for both playing time and production on the field.
For USMNT players, this weekend’s MLS action didn’t disappoint in this regard, as several were kept out of the starting lineup or out of uniform all together, and the main performances of note came from those fringe players who were not a part of the latest international group.
We will still mention a few players who were not in the USMNT roster for the latest round of games, either due to the fact that they suffered an injury within hours of their call-up, or can be counted amongst the league’s elite at a certain position that is still somewhat uncertain – despite an unforgettable four-goal explosion by the current favorite against lowly Grenada.
As always, if you have any tips for excluded players who are making a strong case to earn a spot in the narrowing window of chances before November, leave a note in the comments or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll give them a nod.
Saturday night’s 1-1 draw between Seattle Sounders and the visiting Los Angeles FC saw a total of three familiar USMNT faces on both sides of the ball. Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan both started in their usual wing slots for Seattle, while Kellyn Acosta had a short, 25-minute outing for the guests.
Both Morris and Roldan were active participants in Seattle’s attack, although neither played a role in their team’s lone goal of the game in the 58th minute. Morris missed with his one shot of the game, a header off of a corner, however did set up five chances over his 88 minutes of play. Roldan did force one save from the LAFC keeper amongst his three shot attempts, however had trouble crossing the ball, with all five of his attempts off the mark.
For LAFC, Acosta only had 16 total touches in his 25 minutes of play in the midfield, with no shots or chances created on the offense.
Aaron Long, who seems to be Gregg Berhalter’s current favorite option alongside Walker Zimmerman in central defense, was in the New York Red Bulls’ starting lineup in their 2-0 home victory over Toronto. He put in a solid performance as the team held on for the shut-out.
In 82 minutes before being subbed out, he had 49 total touches, completed 79% of his 38 passes, blocked a pair of shots, made two clearances, 13 recoveries, won nine of his 13 duels, however did commit three fouls.
The FC Dallas super-duo of Paul Arriola and Jesús Ferreira both started in the team’s 2-0 loss at home to the Vancouver Whitecaps, a game which saw Dallas’ plodding dominance done in by Vancouver’s lethal opportunism.
Both players were active while playing the full game. Arriola took four shots, none of which forced saves, while Ferreira’s three shots did include one on-target attempt. Overall, Dallas held two-thirds of possession and outshot Vancouver by a 16-4 margin, but could not find their way into goal in the end.
Despite missing out on the international window, even with Zack Steffen’s late withdrawal from the roster, Gabriel Slonina finally broke free of the slump which has plagued his season so far, helping Chicago to hold visiting DC United scoreless in the 1-0 win.
While not forced to make any saves from DC’s 11 total shots, the confidence-building victory could go a long way to kick-start Slonina’s summer push for an inclusion in the upcoming September friendlies, and a shot at the third keeper spot in the final roster headed to Qatar.
Sticking with USMNT hopefuls, Brandon Vazquez continued his fine season at center forward for FC Cincinnati, striking his eighth goal of the season in their 1-1 draw at Philadelphia. His equalizing goal came late in the first hall, and was an alert, lunging header at the left post following a corner.
Overall, he had three shots, set up a pair of chances for teammates, drew three fouls and was an active presence in the middle with 50 total ball contacts over 90 minutes.
DeAndre Yedlin started at right back for Inter Miami in their 2-0 road loss at Atlanta, performing solidly with an 87% completion rate, one chance created, and no fouls committed. More importantly, he did his part to keep Atlanta from running up an embarrassing scoreline after Miami were reduced to ten men on the field before the half hour.
Sean Johnson finally saw his six-game shut-out streak come to an end, giving up a single goal in New York City FC’s 1-1 home draw against the Colorado Rapids. The goal was effectively a gift from the NYCFC defense, who otherwise dominated Colorado with approximately two-thirds of possession.
Jeremy Ebobisse likely move down the list of possible USMNT #9 options with a tepid performance in the San Jose Earthquakes’ 2-0 loss at Real Salt Lake. Ebobisse was generally shut down, with only 25 touches and a pair of off-target shots before being pulled in the 69th minute.
He is still joint top-scorer in MLS, and like Vazquez, could push his way into the picture with a strong summer.
Elsewhere in the league, Montreal’s Djordje Mihailovic is still sidelined with an ankle injury that forced him to withdraw from the latest USMNT roster, missing his team’s 1-0 home loss to Austin, Matt Turner was rested on New England’s bench in their 2-1 win over visiting Minnesota, and Walker Zimmerman was also rested in Nashville’s 2-1 home loss to Kansas City.
In the upcoming week, Long, Johnson and Zimmerman will all potentially be involved in US Open Cup quarterfinal matches.