In another sign of the growing maturity of all things MLS, it is getting harder for me to notice anything from the weekend slate of games before I see the same thought already posted on a blog or website. Media is catching up with analysis of soccer in America.
I've linked a pretty cool blog below, American Soccer Analaysis, which specializes in Expected Goals, but last week's article was a really nice smattering of topics.
Fun fact: FC Cincinnati (the F is seriously futbol) drew 23,000 fans to their home opener in the USL. The Columbus Crew, in first place in the MLS, drew 12,000 for their home game a mere 102 miles away.
My goal from the week comes from Chicago who are seeing improved results and attendance since the arrival of Schweinsteiger. Skip ahead to 2:36 to see the most beautiful pass you'll ever see from David Accam.
The big news, becoming obvious this week, has been the emergence of young players in the MLS:
Alex Crognale (age 22)...Columbus was terrible on defense last season, finished second to last and gave up 58 goals in 34 games, also second to last. This year they plug in Alex Crognale, the 2016 Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year from Maryland at Center back. With Crognale in the lineup, Columbus is 4W-1L with a +5GD. Without Crognale they are 0W-1L-1D with a -2GD.
Marco Farfan (age 18)...His Portland USL teammates referred to him as Marco Villafarfan based on his uncanny resemblance to the playing style of now USMNT and former Timber Jorge Villafana. This kid has started 4 games for Portland this year and has been solid as a rock. I think he may still be going to high school during the week.
Alfonso Davies (age 16)... I tuned in to watch the Vancouver-Seattle match. (My upset predictions went 2 out of 3 last week with only Philly letting me down). The announcers kept talking about this 16 year old kid. What was remarkable about his play is that I couldn't tell who the 16 year old kid on the field was. He wasn't spectacular, but he looked like a solid MLS squad player at the age of 16. Manchester United scouts were in the stands checking this kid out. He was playing wide midfielder, but not really as a winger, but rather a defensive holding player. This kid is Canadian, so no USMNT hopes for this one.
Giovanni Reyna (age 14)...All of the talk from last week's Generation Adidas Cup was the play of NYCFC academy player Giovanni Reyna. Claudio Reyna's kid will soon be the #10 on the USMNT U-17 team by all accounts.
And of that U17 team heading to the CONCACAF tournament, three of the players are from the Atlanta United academy. And somehow I forgot that Brad Guzan has signed with Atlanta and will come over as soon as the Premier League season with Middlesbrough is over. These guys may be pretty good for a while. The U17's have 4 players from Georgia (is the soccer center of gravity heading south?), 2 from Texas and 3 from NY/NJ. It also includes a kid from my new hometown on the Timbers academy team (who I hadn't seen play but I will be looking out for now...Adrian Villegas).
Oh, and we'll get to see Cristiano Ronaldo in Chicago at the MLS All-Star game with Real Madrid this summer.