Friday's soccer news starts with what's becoming a recurring theme for the 2018 MLS season. Will the Seattle Sounders or Toronto FC become the first of the MLS Cup finalists to turn things around? 12 weeks into the season, Seattle is in last place in the Western Conference and Toronto is 10th in the East. There are very good reasons for both teams' situations, but there's also the expectation that both should be better right now.
Seattle's 2018 story is about injuries. MLSsoccer.com's Ari Liljenwall has the Sounders needing to work around another one. This time, it's Will Bruin who replaced the injured Jordan Morris in the Sounders' attack. It's a situation that once again stresses an old problem for all MLS teams. Even in the era of allocation money, depth is a serious issue.
The Sounders are home to Real Salt Lake on Saturday coming off their win at Toronto and loss at Portland. It would be harder to send more of a mixed message in this league. Seattle won the 2017 MLS Cup rematch and followed that up by losing to their biggest rival.
It seems like a long time ago when Toronto put their focus fully on the Concacaf Champions League at the expense of MLS. Why not? They had a solid chance to lift the CCL trophy and MLS is usually salvageable into the last weeks of the season. Parity is a benefit here, with Toronto playing the odds that they have the quality to get back into contention quickly. They haven't, making two points already this season. The first is prioritizing anything else over the MLS schedule. The second is that this is still a league of parity where any team can produce a quick turnaround.
Toronto hosts Orlando on Friday night with their own absence issue. Seb Giovinco saw red late in their 3-2 loss at New England on Saturday and is suspended for the Orlando game. Toronto having to rework is nothing new, but Giovinco isn't replaceable in this league. He's a unique talent that changes the scope of what Toronto can do. Compounding that is the continued absence of Jozy Altidore due to foot surgery.
So which is it right now? The easy answer is neither of them, but that downplays the quality of both teams. It might take Toronto until after the World Cup break to get back to full strength, giving them the edge over Seattle who won't have full use of their squad until next season. That's the edge for Toronto.
Moving on in the soccer news, John Brooks and Wolfsburg won the first-leg of the Bundesliga relegation playoff 3-1 at home over Holstein Kiel. Divock opened the scoring for Wolfsburg in the 13th minute with Holstein Kiel equalizing in the 34th. Josip Brekalo put Wolfsburg up in the 40th with Yunus Malli scoring in the 56th. The series concludes on Monday.
The Guardian's Sid Lowe talks to former Barcelona and current Alaves player Bojan Krkic. FanSided's Clemente Lisi previews the relegation scenarios in Serie A. AP's Rob Harris has Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward expecting a lot from streaming soccer games.
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