What better topic to talk about than soccer?
Cliff notes for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup
While it might not be considered the definitive test, the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup is certainly an introduction to the United States Men’s National team under the direction of new MNT head coach Gregg Berhalte. It’s also the MNT’s initial competition of the 2022 FIFA World Cup cycle. There will be “high stakes” matches in which Berhalter and his staff can better judge the players on the pitch and where the team’s strengths are and what areas need shoring up. It’s also a chance to gain not only momentum but confidence against some of the better teams in the region.
What do you want to see from the American team in the Concacaf Gold Cup?
Southern Accent: What is going on in Atlanta?
Atlanta United FC is the defending MLS champions. They kicked their way into the 2019 season as favorites by some to repeat despite having a new coach in Frank de Boer. But they have looked anything like a defending champion or favorite to win anything. Atlanta’s home opener before 70,000-plus at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday against expansion Cincinnati looked like an easy opportunity to pick up their first win of the young season after falling in the opener last weekend at DC United. Instead, the game ended in a 1-1 draw that left some of those 70,000 folks expressing their displeasure. “Hopefully that’s the last time we have a performance worth booing at home,” said Atlanta United captain Michael Parkhurst after the game.
Atlanta advanced to the quarterfinals of the Concacaf Champions League with an impressive 4-0 win against Costa Rica’s Herediano at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw. Three days later came a 2-0 loss on the road to DC United in their MLS opener. Last week, Atlanta managed just one shot on goal in a 3-0 loss to C.F. Monterrey, one of the best teams in North America, in the first leg of Concacaf quarterfinals. Then came the draw with Cincinnati on Sunday.
Atlanta turns around now and a do-or-die match against C.F. Monterrey on Wednesday, followed by another home MLS match against Philadelphia on Sunday. It’s a lot of soccer in short amount of time. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan even admitted that it’s been a “rough few weeks.”
And what about the coach?
De Boer was already on the firing line by some fans by his recent history. He was fired in his two most recent coaching roles: lasting just 85 days with Italian club Internazionale and 10 weeks with Premier League’s Crystal Palace. So the grace period was being measured in steps, not miles.
Some blame the Concacaf Champions League schedule. Some blame the 3-4-3 alignment De Boer insists on playing. Some point to Toronto’s struggles last year as an example of how difficult it is to manage two schedules at the same time – although Manchester City has done well managing four schedules (sorry, City fan here – couldn’t help myself). Some suggest Cincinnati is a decent side. And some boo the fans for booing their team just two games into the season.
There is little chance they will recover against C.F. Monterrey so the schedule should lighten up and they can turn all their attention to the MLS. That’s when fans and critics car fairly start to judge them.
What do you think the problem – if any – is with Atlanta?
St. Louis scoring big goals in attempt to land MLS team
MLS Commissioner Don Garber is in St. Louis this week kicking around the strong possibility of expansion. Garber visited the Gateway to the West hoping to find a gateway to adding another team to ever-growing MLS family.
The commissioner met with regional business leaders and told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that a local ownership group is just steps away from securing an expansion team. Garber dined with more than two dozen chief executives and business owners from some of the largest companies in St. Louis, and called the show of support for a local franchise “fantastic and remarkable.”
“I think it’s fair to say that it was among the largest or, certainly, the most prominent group of ‘C-level’ leaders in any visit that I’ve had,” Garber told the Post-Dispatch, speaking of the chief executives.
LET’S TALK: OK, now you’ve read what’s on my mind…what are your thoughts on the above or any other “football” happenings?