The soccer news starts with two candidates for the biggest shock result to open the 2018 MLS season. That started with the first game on the schedule. Defending MLS champions Toronto FC lost 2-0 at home to the Columbus Crew. With Toronto already playing games that count in the CONCACAF Champions League, the loss certainly qualifies as shocking. Then again, Toronto is focused on Tigres in the Champions League quarterfinals.
“You play a game on a day like today where obviously wind plays a big factor, the field plays a big factor,” Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley said. “And look, these aren’t excuses just realities of things that factor into the game. We gave away bad goals at bad times. You put yourself behind the eight-ball in a difficult way on a difficult day.”
The Western Conference representative in last year’s MLS Cup also lost their opener. LAFC won their first-ever regular season MLS game by shutting out the Seattle Sounders 1-0 at CenturyLink Field. Just like Toronto, Seattle also has one eye on the Champions League quarterfinals this week. Their series with Chivas is the same MLS vs Liga MX matchup with the same pressure on the MLS teams to get results.
“The team never gave up,” Seattle coach Brad Schmetzer said. “They won the majority of their duels. We got a man sent off and they continued to press forward, they continued to press to get the tying goal. There was never ever in any second of any of us sitting on that bench and I don’t think anybody sitting up in the stands that didn’t see the effort that they put into the game.”
Depth and focus are always issues when it comes to the CONCACAF Champions League. Even in the modern era of MLS, coaches have to make choices with their rosters. Fatigue is an issue with the Champions League turning into a short-run knockout tournament. If these really are the most important games on the schedule right now, the participants have to adjust accordingly. That’s still an open question for MLS clubs. FC Dallas didn’t ruin their season by dropping out of the CCL in the round of 16. They don’t have a season to ruin yet.
As for the New York Red Bulls, their MLS season doesn’t start until the 10th at home against Portland. That puts the full focus on their series with Tijuana. New York is also the only one of the three remaining MLS clubs opening their CCL quarterfinal on the road. This might be a transitional moment for the MLS approach to the Champions League. If MLS values this tournament, keeping their participants off the schedule in week 1 might give them an advantage. Instead, the league has two of its three clubs having to shake off a Week 1 disappointment in time to make sure that frustration doesn’t carryover into the Champions League.
The Washington Post’s Ryan Bacic talks to former MLS players who opted for different careers. The Daily Times’ Matthew DeGeorge asks what the Philadelphia Union’s stadium has meant to Chester, PA. Goal.com’s Jon Arnold has the changes happening to Mexican soccer at national team and Liga MX levels.
ESPN’s Mark Ogden asks if the type of tactics Manchester City is seeing in the Premier League will hurt their chances in the Champions League. Reuters’ Simon Evans on Arsenal’s issues following another Premier League loss. The Guardian’s Jonathan Wilson explains what a formation change has done to Chelsea this season. The NY Times’ Rory Smith also looks at the problems Chelsea faces. The Mirror’s David McDonnell on how Chelsea went from Premier League champions to 5th-place.
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