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How San Diego and Portland returned to core values in a dramatic draw – Equalizer Soccer



(Photo Copyright Abe Arredondo-USA TODAY Sports)

Since the San Diego Wave entered the National Women’s Soccer League last year, every match with the Portland Thorns has been close, with only one game decided by more than one goal. Heading into Week 9 of the 2023 NWSL season, both West Coast teams sat at 15 points, one behind current table leader NJ/NY Gotham FC. Both squads were coming off slight rough patches, so their matchup on Friday was going to test their resilience.

Earlier in the week, San Diego and Canadian national team goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan told The Equalizer, “I think there’s always [an] edge when you play Portland. They’re consistently a top-level team, and you always want to beat the top. They’re coming for us just as hard as we’re coming for them. But yeah, definitely a little edge there. And I’ve got a bunch of my Canadian crew over there, so it always feels good to hand them the loss.”

Portland came out aggressive early, maintaining possession and using its press to keep San Diego away from the ball and out of the Thorns’ defensive third. In response, San Diego did what it’s been known to do well: It absorbed the attack, defended well, and tried to use its speed and counterattack to create chances.

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Sydney Martinez, goalkeeper heroics, and the déjà vu of Concacaf – Equalizer Soccer




Puerto Rico celebrates a win over Haiti

Photo Copyright Concacaf

Watching Puerto Rico goalkeeper Sydney Martinez in Saturday’s Concacaf W Gold Cup play-in game brought the memories flooding back. Here was a heroic performance between the pipes from an unlikely and largely unknown protagonist, her performance undeniably the catalyst to a huge upset by Puerto Rico — ranked No. 103 in the world — over 2023 World Cup participant Haiti.

Puerto Rico advanced to the final stage of the tournament with a 1-0 victory on Saturday, sending Haiti home in the one-and-done play-in game. Haiti was without several players — most prominently Melchie Dumornay — but was the favored and more experienced side. Everything but the final score suggested as much, but Martinez was the difference on the day. Her 15-save performance and singular heroics were reminiscent of Panama goalkeeper Yenith Bailey, then a 17-year-old, playing the game of her life against the United States at 2018 World Cup qualifying. The difference this time was that Martinez led her team to victory.

The theme was similar, however. Here was a young goalkeeper who had carved a path for herself at the reputable University of South Florida program, then in the USL W-League as a champion with South Georgia Tormenta FC, which earned her a pro contract in the second tier of Norway. To the general public, she was still relatively anonymous prior to Saturday, but a performance like that is one that catches the attention of scouts and teams who will be on the lookout at this Gold Cup for valuable talent they could sign before the rest of the world takes note in a player transaction economy that is skyrocketing before our eyes.

There are other parallels to be drawn, too, which further point to the need for more programming and development within the Concacaf region. Rewind to 2018 again, and a month before Bailey became an internet sensation for her saves against the U.S., and Puerto Rico had come under an international spotlight of its own. Players took advantage of a record home crowd for a friendly against Argentina to stand in protest of their federation for its lack of funding and match programming, which they felt hindered the team’s development.

Martinez was not on the field for that; the Georgia native just joined Puerto Rico’s senior national team in the past year. There has been plenty of turnover in the five and a half years since that protest, which serves as necessary context to what Martinez did on Saturday, and what Bailey did in 2018. Puerto Rico is in this tournament after years of fighting for their own worth, a journey they share with most competitors in the region.

Mismanagement and underinvestment of women’s teams are rife in Concacaf. Bailey was a reminder then that talent exists beyond the confines of traditionally scouted regions or countries, and Martinez serves as another reminder. No, one incredible performance does not make Martinez an all-world goalkeeper; that sentiment held true for Bailey in 2018, too.

Still, there is potential there both in the individual and the collective. Puerto Rico just pulled off an upset that already makes this Gold Cup — the first edition of the new competition, although tournaments by similar names were played two decades ago — memorable and worthwhile. Here is a largely overlooked team suddenly defeating a dark horse of the tournament before group play even begins.

Haiti, and the team’s abundant individual talent, is proof that the investment matters. A decade ago, Haiti was a team with talent but no support. Players relied on donations to purchase food, lodging and equipment ahead of a 2014 Concacaf tournament, a trend that would continue and was not in isolation (at one point they donated what they had to Trinidad and Tobago players going through similar struggles).

Fast-forward nearly a decade, and Haiti is a team with globally recognized talent in Dumornay. Haiti gave the United States’ defense nightmares in group play at 2022 World Cup qualifying, and put in respectable performances in its World Cup debut last year despite losing all three games.

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Whether Puerto Rico — or El Salvador or Dominican Republic, who also won play-in games on Saturday — will follow the same rise as Haiti is a guessing game. Haiti has some exceptional players who were successful at the youth national team level. Whether Puerto Rico becomes a formidable force within Concacaf isn’t the point, of course; what matters is that Puerto Rico or any other team is given the opportunity to do so. That was always the point with Bailey, too.

Even today, in a world far more progressive in its view of women’s sports than a decade ago, federations stand in the way of their own teams. Jamaica is not even participating in this Gold Cup. The Reggae Girlz failed to qualify for the final round or preliminary matches after their 2023 World Cup players boycotted important qualifying matches over a pay dispute. They largely qualified for last year’s World Cup, their second straight, in spite of their federation. Jamaica was the last of six Concacaf teams standing at the 2023 World Cup when the team took the field to play Colombia in the Round of 16.

So, yes, watching Martinez’s performance on Saturday was poetic and triggering all in one. Many of her 15 saves were spectacular, none more memorable than her late-game save of Nérilia Mondésir‘s penalty kick to preserve a 1-0 lead (a lead established by Jill Aguilera first-half penalty conversion). Martinez got some help from the post late, the ball bouncing back toward her in a fateful way.

This is the point of the Gold Cup: competitive games for federations that might not otherwise schedule them for their women’s teams, and the opportunity for previously unknown players to shine and leave their mark. Maybe Puerto Rico won’t have nearly as much fortune against Brazil, Colombia, or Panama in the group stage. Maybe Martinez will look more mortal in those matches.

Or maybe she will continue to shine, and other players on a roster composed mainly of college kids (or younger) and unattached players will be discovered as opportunities — including the launch of the USL Super League, a new, competing first division in the United States — increase.

The challenge, as it has been for decades, is to make that magic last for more than a couple of weeks during a Concacaf tournament.

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Bev Priestman looks to integrate youth as Canada prepares to defend gold in Paris – Equalizer Soccer




Bev Priestman

Photo Copyright Anne-Marie Sorvin for USA TODAY Sports

As the reigning Olympic champions prepare to defend gold in Paris this summer, they’re at a crossroads. Canadian national team manager Bev Priestman already has the next generation of footballers knocking on her door. But can they earn their spots on a limited, 18-player roster?

“The 18-player roster for the Olympics really hampers you in some ways,” Priestman explained to The Equalizer ahead of the 2024 Gold Cup. “If you take a 23-player roster then you’ve got three or four roster spots that you’re really investing in for the future. I think with an 18-player roster it’s very much about the now. What I am pleased to say is we’ve got some very young players that are performing and that helps.”

Midfielders Simi Awujo, Olivia Smith, and centerback Jade Rose are three players Priestman is really high on as part of that next wave. Awujo and Smith were on Canada’s roster at the 2023 World Cup. Rose was forced to withdraw due to an injury. 

“You talk about the under-20s going to a World Cup,” Priestman said. “We had Simi and Jade. It’s really staying aligned with the pipeline and bringing in players where we can for training camps when it’s not so tournament-focused. I do know after the Olympics it’s very much about casting the net a bit wider to invest in terms of cap accumulation and getting to understand the way that we work.” 

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Season Previews: Orlando, Philly, St. Louis City




Will Orlando’s Outliers Overperform Once More?

By Matt Barger

How do you follow-up your best-ever season? Orlando City might have the answer. Orlando finished 2023 second in the East (and second in MLS) with a club-record 63 points, scoring a club-record 55 goals along the way. After a best-ever playoff finish in the Eastern semifinals, the Orlando front office may have had a best-ever off-season:

Can the Lions ride this positive momentum to another best-ever finish in 2024?

Replicating McGuire’s Magic Is Unsustainable

Orlando’s 2023 campaign saw them finish second on the table with a club-record 63 points, smashing their previous best by 12 points. The Lions demonstrated commanding efficiency in attack, scoring 55 regular season goals (7th in MLS) off chances expected to score 42 (16th in MLS).

Top-shelf performance off of bottom-tier underlying numbers? Welcome to Orlando, where analytics doesn’t exist.

This incredible attacking execution was led by a breakout rookie Duncan McGuire, who scored 13 goals off a mind-boggling 5.6 xG. In other words, McGuire scored seven-and-a-half goals more than he should have, an over-performance placing him in third all-time on a list with some hefty names. Not bad for a rookie. Luckily for Orlando, even his underlying numbers are totally solid production for a league minimum Super Draft pick.

After reviewing his mixtape, McGuire’s outstanding shooting comes less from amazing individual talent and more from an elite reading of space in transition. McGuire effectively attacked space left by defenders drawn to one of Orlando’s prolific attacking midfielders. This outstanding receiving is noted in McGuire’s g+ wheel, where receiving stands out especially compared to the rest of his front four. There are a few points to take away from this:

Mathematical improbability aside, there are two reasons why Orlando should not count on another expectations-defying season like this.

First, McGuire is likely not staying long. Time is not on Orlando’s side: McGuire’s outstanding proficiency is bound to revert to the mean soon enough. As a 23-year-old rookie with a $4 million valuation, McGuire’s agent is making noise for a move as soon as possible. Hopefully they and Orlando can find a club with a front office that can locate the “Submit” button.

Second, Luis Muriel has a significantly more on-ball skillset.  Outstanding receiving requires an ability to lurk in the shadows and strike open space with speed. Luis Muriel can do this, he’s a 99th percentile progressive passes received guy. But that’s not all he is. According to his scouting report and his season mixtapes, Muriel commands attention on the ball with his 98th percentile touch-count and shot-creation skills. This profile reads more as a forward as likely to feed McGuire (or Facundo Torres or Martin Ojeda) as running on the end of through balls. 

Duncan McGuire 2023 Orlando City SC.png

Facundo Torres 2023 Orlando City SC.png

Martín Ojeda 2023 Orlando City SC.png

Designated players Facundo Torres and Martin Ojeda also seem like willing receivers, and will be called upon to increase their attacking output in 2024.

Instead, Orlando Will Need To Pump Up The Attacking Volume

The best way Orlando can hedge against expectations is to rack up more shots. Orlando scored their 55 goals off 402 created shots. This is 20 shots below the 2023 MLS average, and actually fewer than their 410 shots conceded for 2023. Headline transfers Nicolas Lodeiro and Luis Muriel will be instrumental in turning up the Lions’ attacking volume.

With 48 shots and 62 key passes in 2023, Nicolas Lodeiro matched designated player attackers Facundo Torres and Martin Ojeda in terms of shot involvements. He will be a demonstrable improvement over outgoing Mauricio Pereyra, who struggled to get shots off. Lodeiro’s increase in quality also nets two more goals in terms of both shots (xG) and key passes (xA) as well. 

Nicolás Lodeiro 2023 Seattle Sounders FC.png

Mauricio Pereyra 2023 Orlando City SC.png

More worrying, however, is Luis Muriel’s differences in quality over the past three years. After peak output seasons in both 2020/2021 (where he had a similar explosion of 22 goals off 15.5 xG) and 2021/2022, Luis Muriel struggled to find the field in 2022/2023 (1,000 minutes) and this current Serie A season (408 minutes). Orlando does have a deep glut of creative attackers, but only one at the striker spot. They will need him to be healthy. 

Can Robin Jansson Get Some Help in Defense?

Orlando had an outstanding 2023 defense, conceding 39 goals off 41 xG and 410 shots. Robin Jansson headlined the defense, turning in a defender-of-the-year caliber performance at center-back. 

Having a standout individual defender can be a backhanded compliment of sorts, especially when that defender is the last line before the goalkeeper. It naturally asks what vulnerabilities across the team defense required one of  the best defensive efforts in the league.

Using ASA’s defensive goals-subtracted metric, the Orlando defense was a relatively average team without Robin Jansson. 

Antonio Carlos acquitted himself well as Jansson’s center-back partner, but injury saw him struggle to see the field. He has also departed for Fluminense in the offseason.  Cesar Araujo and Rodrigo Schlegel performed admirably to cover for Antonio Carlos during his injury, but both also hover around the expected average for their position groups. 

New signing center-back David Brekalo will have his work cut out for him. The Slovenian was a regular starter in Norway’s top flight for fourth-place Viking FK, but his individual scouting report remains thin.  Orlando’s defensive performance in the 2024 season may very well depend on how he adapts to MLS, especially if Jansson were to fall injured.

Verdict: Can Orlando Hold Onto Its Best-Ever Momentum?

Orlando City definitely reads as a playoff contender on paper, maybe even an Eastern Conference finalist should the stars align. However Orlando’s outstanding performances relied too much on individual outliers, which is a risky bet. Whether Orlando can keep the best-ever momentum going will be up to how they answer the open questions in their attack and defense.

Forget it, Jake, it’s the Union

By Jared Young

Robert Towne’s Chinatown is considered one of the great movie scripts of all time. The closing line in particular is a classic in subtext. A policeman icing-ly tells Jack Nicholson’s character Jake to “forget it, it’s Chinatown”. What is really being said is that the common man, despite best efforts, is powerless against the evil forces that rule the world. 

And while it goes without saying the Philadelphia Union aren’t remotely evil, their actions confound fans who seem powerless to understand, let alone influence, their activity. 

Before exploring the Union’s offseason subtext, let’s recap a solid 2023 campaign. The Union completed a grueling 51 game schedule and acquitted themselves well in all major competitions. They made three semifinals – CONCACAF Champions Cup, Leagues Cup and MLS Eastern Conference – and qualified for this year’s version of the Champions Cup. They came up short in those big matches but showed their top team has enough quality to compete with anyone in the region.

So, the Union are right there. They have a great starting XI but very little in terms of experienced depth. Heading into 2024, that would be an obvious place to start. It didn’t happen. In fact, something else entirely happened.

The Text

At the end of last season’s press conference, Sporting Director Ernst Tanner noted that the Union have the 4th lowest salary budget in the league. He then remarked, “We are constantly outperforming this, and that is something we need to acknowledge and respect.”

The Subtext

While Tanner spun this in a positive light, he let everyone know right away that the salary budget issue is not about to magically disappear. But that still leaves the key question on the table: why is the Union spending so low? Philadelphia is not only one of the largest cities in the country but a massive sports town. Forbes recently ranked them as the 13th most valuable franchise in the league, which hints they must have more going for them financially than most clubs. 

Image from steve fenn (@stathunting on twitter)

They’ve also been much more of a seller than a buyer. They’ve made nice gains on Brenden Aaronson, Mark McKenzie, and Paxton Aaronson over the years and currently have the league’s lowest “highest ever transfer fee paid,” which went for forward Michael Uhre. They’ve taken in a fair amount of fees, and haven’t sent much out.

Financially they seem to be doing just fine. But no one gets to know why they are unwilling to spend on the senior club. I took a crack at trying to rationalize it, but fans are told to acknowledge and respect that this is just part of Union life.

The Text Part 2

In the same presser Tanner spoke about the plan for 2024:

“What makes us strong is basically our player development, and in particular our young players. The next wave of homegrown players is now knocking at our doors, and we need to do our best job with them. That’s what we are going to stick with, and that’s what we’re going to foresee for the next season as well.”

The Subtext Part 2

What Tanner might have otherwise said: Despite an excellent starting squad, an amazing opportunity in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, and another grueling schedule, we are not going to materially invest in the squad and add experienced depth.

Fans naively expected the Union to act differently, but Tanner was true to his word. The Union were certainly active this offseason, but what they did was further cement the foundation of a youth movement. It’s startling when you look at the numbers.

Here’s a very fast run down of the new players signed since last July – Olwethu Makhanya (19), Tai Baribo (26), Sanders Ngabo (19), Nick Pariano (20), Isaiah LeFlore (21), Jamir Berdecio (21), Oliver Semmle (25), and Markus Anderson (20).

Hold out Baribo for a second, as he’ll be talked about below. Looking at the remainder of the activity, there’s practically zero top division, first team experience. 

Here is the age distribution of the 15 players who will be competing for starting or bench minutes.

The average age off the bench is now 22.6. That outlier at the age of 30 is Damion Lowe, who was critical to last season’s success and remains the most senior reserve on the team. Removing Damion, the remaining bench has a total of 284 MLS matches under their belt, or about 20 per player, and almost all of that experience is tied up in five players.

Outside of amassing a strong starting XI, Tanner has since built an extremely young pipeline for the future. It smacks of a long term strategy, which any fan can appreciate, but what about this team now? The starting XI that has the skillset to compete at the highest levels. Shouldn’t there be some short term strategy? These questions can be asked, but there won’t be an answer.

The Keys to the Season

The Union have one of the strongest top 3’s in league with Michael Uhre, Julian Carranza and Daniel Gazdag. Carranza took a step forward last season, while Gazdag and Uhre took a step back from their 2022 campaigns, which brought the offense down to earth. Goals scored dropped from 72 to 57 between 2022 and 2023. 

The key to the 2024 offense’s success sits with the second oldest bench player Tai Baribo (26). He averaged .45 goals per game in the Austrian Bundesliga, and is paid in excess of $700K per year, but had an odd opening season with the Union. He only saw the pitch five times for a total of 151 minutes and managed a single shot on target. He seemed disconnected from the club and never really integrated. Given the level of investment and the grueling schedule ahead, he’ll need to be a difference maker for the offense to succeed. He is an important, if unknown, commodity.

The lower part of the midfield in the Union’s 4-4-2 diamond formation should continue to be a source of strength. Jose Martinez, Jack McGlynn, and Alejandro Bedoya offer a great mix of youth and experience, and this is where there is some solid, if unspectacular, depth. Leon Flach and Jesus Bueno are the most seasoned reserves, and will get significant minutes throughout the year. Homegrown Quinn Sullivan (19) also stands to get shuttler minutes and has shown an exciting array of skills at a young age. He is clearly one of the “young players” that Tanner was referencing.

The Union’s defense is very good. Just how good they will be will come down to how great Andre Blake performs. During the Union’s terrific 2022 run, the Union allowed just 26 goals, the 2nd lowest per game total in league history. They dramatically outperformed their expected goals allowed of 38, largely on the back of Blake’s best ever post shot expected goals allowed of 10.0. That means he saved 10.0 more goals than an average goalkeeper would have saved. 

In 2023, Blake came back down to earth, but was still great. The team regressed and gave up 41 goals with an expected goals against figure of 44.2. Again, Blake drove that difference with a post shot expected goals against benefit of 4.1. 

Expect the Union defense to be very solid again. But their level of greatness will be determined between the pipes. Blake has been one of the most inconsistent keepers by xG data across his time in MLS, holding both a top five and bottom five shot stopping season.

Andre Blake Philadelphia Union 2021 (1).png

Andre Blake Philadelphia Union 2019.png

Here’s What We Know

The Union have a potentially great offense, a potentially great defense, and a grueling schedule. The concern is they just have two reserves that have proven they can contribute in critical moments – Damion Lowe and Leon Flach. Rather than solve that problem the Union have doubled down on their youth movement, signing six players under 22 years old since July.

Here’s What We Don’t Know

We don’t know why the Union are pushing toward youth when the senior team has the potential to push for trophies. We don’t understand why the owners insist they must have one of the lowest budgets in the league. We are simply told that player development is an important pillar of their strategy, when it’s hard to imagine that any club wouldn’t take that seriously.

At the end of last year, Union players complained about the length of the schedule and called for change. They were clearly tired as the season wound down. Purely conjecture, but the players might have offered a little subtext of their own in those comments. Perhaps that was a message to the ownership group as well: Get us more experience on the roster. We’re tired. The fans are powerless against the thick cement walls of the old Delaware County Power Plant, now Union headquarters. But perhaps the players are too.

There’s one more line from Chinatown that comes to mind, another one delivered to Jack Nicholson as he tries to unravel the mystery. “You may think you know what we’re dealing with, but, believe me, you don’t.”

And so it goes for the Union faithful as the 2024 season kicks off.

Don’t Call Me Austin

By Kieran Doyle

Hello Austin fans, it is I, your favourite team hater. Author of tweets such as “SCOREBOARD”, and “Dread it, run from it, the xG arrives all the same.” You remember me. I hope you’re all well. I’m here today to talk about your beloved Austin FC and their 2023 hopes, shall we?

Wait, this isn’t the Austin 2022 review and 2023 preview? It sure looks like it is! St. Louis City put up the 7th highest xGD overperformance in the entire ASA dataset, Austin were 4th. Much like Austin, they ran extremely hot the first half of the season, before finishing with three wins in their last twelve and being unceremoniously dumped in the playoffs. Regression comes for us all.

Unlike Austin, I don’t think St. Louis City have bought into the smell of their own farts particularly as much. Austin doubled down on a bad roster and Driussi being the second coming of Christ, and stayed bad. STL dumped Stroud and Bartlett for DCU’s Chris Durkin, sold Gioacchini for $2M to Como (who they got for $0 in the expansion draft, smart), and added fullbacks Nikolas Dyhr and Tomas Totland. It’s not exactly a statement of intent, but selling high and adding around the edges is a fairly safe, if underwhelming path. 

How bad can it really be?

Let’s talk about regression. There are firstly, two sides of the ball to consider. STL were beating xG like a drum on both sides of the ball. On the defensive side, we can point at Roman Burki for that. Burki was the consensus pick for goalkeeper of the year, and smashed his PSxG/xGK/xGOT by somewhere between eight and ten goals depending on whose model you ask. That is awesome. I’m not going to tell you it’s not real and actually Burki is bad, what I am going to say is that Burki was about a career average Bundesliga goalkeeper. Now, Matt Turner and Djordje Petrovic have gone the other way to England and declined from unbelievably amazing MLS goalkeeper to something close to league average, and Gaga Slonina went from roughly league average to a somewhat bad Belgian league goalkeeper. Maybe that just is the league translation. Just something to keep your eye on in 2024.

On the flip side of the ball, I can say with extreme confidence that St. Louis will not have the attacking overperformance they did in 2023, again in 2024. They beat their xGF by 15 goals and there is no clear pattern or trend, not some career plus finisher milking a specific kind of chances, or some tactical plan to get more open chances than the xG models can infer. Just every single attacker beating their xG by one to four goals across the board. That sort of broad scale overperformance is a gigantic St. Louligans red flag waving in your face, it’s just not real. Add in teams actually and consistently passing your strikers the ball for breakaways, I would be remiss if I didn’t sound the regression klaxon here. Without some material change in how these players play (or the quality of their performances), don’t be surprised if that 60 goal attack is more like a 45 goal attack in 2024.

xPlace is the difference between post shot and pre shot xg models

Projecting for 2024

One reason to be optimistic for 2024 is that many of St. Louis’ best players were unavailable for big chunks of the season. Noted CB Jedi Mind Tricker Joao Klauss only racked up about 1500 minutes, Celio Pompeu and Aziel Jackson 1200 minutes, supposed-to-be-star CB Joakim Nilsson only 644 minutes. Jake Nerwinski put up a team worst -1.5 g+ above average and was a top three outfielder in minutes. Getting your best players on the field more often will obviously help (duh). 

Another plus is the arrival of Dyhr and Totland from Mydtjylland and Häcken, respectively. Totland has been a Europa League level starter for a Häcken side that lost three times in two years at both fullback spots. Dyhr is more of a potential play, having been mostly unable to really break into the rotation at Mydtjylland, but it’s not like the bar to clear here is Anton Tinnerholm and Ryan Hollingshead. Here is the cavalcade of fullbacks St. Louis played more than 500 minutes in 2023: Anthony Markanich, John Nelson, Kyle Hiebert, Akil Watts, and Jake Nerwinski. That is not a list of good MLS fullbacks. Upgrading in these spots should offer a big benefit on both sides of the ball. 

A nod to organizational structure

If those fullbacks don’t hit, it’s not a big deal. Their wages are low, and their fees were in the mid six figures. STL Sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel, somewhat famously by this point, talked about “Designated Team” and not having loads of expensive DPs. 

“The only reason our two DPs are DPs is because of the transfer fees, otherwise we wouldn’t have DPs. We believe in DT – Designated Team! Eleven players must make a difference, not one or two.”

One of the underrated upsides of this is the ability to move on from misses, and add on new attempted hits, extremely easily. Yes, they are returning nearly 80% of their raw goals added in what was a fine but not particularly good team who overperformed. But they’re not locked into any big salaries, there is no Insigne contract weighing them down. If the right player becomes a free agent in the summer, can they make the right move? If the right MLS name becomes available for a trade, are they in the mix? If in the two days between this coming out and Miami playing, they need to dump more salary are STL there to pick up a free lunch?

That’s what I will be watching for 2024. Yes, regression etc. but where do they go next? 

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