MLS is Back
We’ve waited a long time for sports to arrive since the world was devastated by COVID-19. MLS is Back serves as the name of the tournament but also a sentiment that we finally have some semblance of sports back in our lives. COVID-19 is still making its rounds through society and with Baseball, Basketball, and Football coming back, all eyes will be on MLS to see how they handle ongoing coronavirus complications.
I can’t help but think if the MLS is Back tournament can be completed without too many hiccups then optimism should be felt for the other major US sports. Unfortunately, FC Dallas and Nashville SC have pulled out of the tournament and DC United’s match with Toronto FC was delayed following inconclusive coronavirus tests. There’s no skating around the coronavirus as it’s unclear nature poses many obstacles for the major leagues and proves to keep everyone on their toes and ready to take action at any moment.
Atlanta United vs New York Red Bulls
Atlanta United faced off July 11th against rival New York Red Bulls to kick off Group E and lost 1-0. The starting lineup looked more like a tryout/experiment than what we’ve seen from Frank De Boer’s team this season. Matheus Rossetto and Manuel Castro started for the first time in their Atlanta United careers. George Bello made his return to the pitch after struggling with injuries the past 2 seasons. Also, Mo Adams saw his first start outside of the Champions League for the Five Stripes this season.
Without Josef Martinez, the question would become who will be our primary scorer? We’ve seen Brandon Vasquez try and step in last year and, for a small sample size, Castro/Rossetto try this past match and both examples led to less than desirable outcomes. Finding goals isn’t easy in soccer or there would be many more.
One of the main ingredients to performing offensively is chemistry and timing, something Atlanta clearly lacked on Saturday. George Bello had the cleanest shot on goal and metaphorically bounced right off the top of the goal. I can’t blame Castro for some of his misses as the passes into the box for him seemed like rocket shots and he had very little reaction time to place a good shot on the ball. Outside of scoring, you could hear the announcers talk about the middle of the field being full of defenders and not enough Atlanta players to be found when progressing up the field.
Whether it was the strategy of attacking the outside and crossing into the box, seeing 4 new faces to the starting regular season lineup, the long layoff, humidity, or general oddness to life, Frank De Boer has his work cut out for him in Group E if we want to navigate ourselves to the 2nd round.
What in the world is the deal with this schedule?
Generally, I defer my opinions to experts but I think this question is very important, What in the world is the deal with the scheduling?
Why are we playing games at 8:00pm and 10:30pm EST with EVERY game being played in Orlando (Which is EST)? On Saturday, for instance, a match was scheduled for 9:00am and then Atlanta United was scheduled for 8:00pm. There wasn’t another game in between. They could’ve easily scheduled the 8pm and 1030pm games for the afternoon or at least 6 and 8:30.
The biggest issue with some of the game times are exampled in Saturday’s slew of games, neither team’s fanbase or city is based on the west coast. Atlanta, New York, Columbus, and Cincinnati are Eastern Standard Time. There’s no need to run those games so late and on a Saturday no less. I can understand trying to play San Jose or Vancouver games at 10:30pm for instance but not for east coast teams.
I understand wanting to keep the games out of the hot Florida sun. Maybe another location could’ve been pinned down in a more complementary climate so the fans could get regular scheduled programming.
Let’s look at today’s (7/14) schedule:
- 9:00am Chicago vs Seattle (Central Time vs Pacific Time or 8:00am vs 6:00am)
- 8:00pm NYCFC vs Orlando (Eastern vs Eastern)
- 10:30pm Philadelphia vs Miami (Eastern vs Eastern)
Ultimately, I’m just upset I didn’t get to watch as much of this as I really wanted to see.