Welcome to Saturday, Mane Land fam! In case you quit watching MLS after Orlando City was eliminated, this is your friendly reminder that the MLS Cup final is happening today. While I definitely wish the Lions were playing in the match, soccer is soccer — so I’ll tune in nonetheless. I’m going with a scoring frenzy prediction of 3-2 to LAFC. Philadelphia Union will take an early lead, but LAFC’s bench will fight back and get the job done at home.
Before we head into the links, I would like to take a moment and wish my wife a happy anniversary! It’s hard to believe that it has already been 365 days since we teamed up for life. Here’s to many, many more. Now, on to today’s links!
Predicting the MLS Cup Winner
For the first time since 2003, the MLS Cup will be contested between the top seeds of each conference. The two clubs will battle it out in one final match today at Banc of California Stadium starting at 4 p.m. While many experts have given their predictions, they are fairly split on which club will wind up on top.
Historically, the home-field advantage has been a massive help to the team that earned it. The last time visitors won without needing a penalty shootout was in 2015 when the Portland Thorns beat the Columbus Crew at Mapfre Stadium. If you are wondering who the oddsmakers and bettors have their money on, BetMGM’s odds has LAFC as the favorite to win. Be sure to let us know in the comments below how you think this match will play out.
Two American Coaches Square Off in MLS Cup
No matter how the MLS Cup final plays out, both Steve Cherundolo and Jim Curtin have had strong seasons as coaches for LAFC and the Union, respectively. It will surely be a rough loss for whichever team falls short, but both coaches retain reputations as part of a rising generation of American coaches. Cherundolo and Curtin were both nominated for MLS Coach of the Year, with Curtin claiming the honor.
Curtin’s tenure with the Union over the past eight years has not always been filled with success. Winning today would be the magnum opus on his resume after years of building a squad that could compete at the highest level. Meanwhile, Cherundolo has reached the MLS Cup final in his first season with LAFC. Unlike Curtin, Cherundolo inherited a squad with enough talent to immediately compete and he evolved much of the tactical framework that made LAFC so successful.
As the United States Men’s National Team features some of the best players in its history, it needs a strong manager to guide the team. Current USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter will likely be on the hot seat during the World Cup later this month. Should the position become vacant, both Cherundolo and Curtin could be in the conversation to coach the USMNT.
U.S. Soccer Announces Members of Safety Taskforce
The United States Soccer Federation announced the members and immediate priorities for the Participant Safety Taskforce, which will help drive change across all levels of U.S. soccer.
Former U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Shannon Boxx and Maryland State Youth Soccer Association Executive Director Greg Smith will join Taskforce Chair Mana Shim as the group’s leadership. The group’s membership includes both current players, former players, and experts in fields such as human resources, law, and player safety.
“I am excited to work alongside these athletes, experts, medical professionals and advocates, who I know share my passion for action and change,” said Shim. “There is much to do, but I am confident we have a team with a wide range of experiences and viewpoints to change the culture in soccer from the ground up. Together, we will be defining new standards, policies, reporting systems and educational programs with the goal of eradicating abuse altogether from our sport.”
Keeping Up With the Americans Abroad
Players will have one final weekend of action before Berhalter names his World Cup roster on Wednesday, Nov. 9. If you are looking to catch any of your favorite national team players make one last case, there are plenty of opportunities to see them in action this weekend. Today, Fulham’s Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson will play on the road against Manchester City at 11 a.m. Giovanni Reyna, Tyler Adams, and Brenden Aaronson could also be in action today. Tomorrow could feature Christian Pulisic, Jordan Pefok, Yunus Musah, and Timothy Weah.
Not every American playing abroad is in the best of health though. USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner missed his third straight match Thursday for Arsenal due to injury. AC Milan right back Sergiño Dest is another worry for the USMNT ahead of the World Cup. These are just two of the latest in a string of injuries plaguing the Americans in the build up to the World Cup. Celta Vigo midfielder Luca de la Torre, Celtic defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, and Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie are also recovering from injuries. Forward Josh Sargent missed Norwich’s match against Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday, but is available for today’s match against Rotherham. Berhalter will analyze the status of injured players on a “case-by-case basis” ahead of naming his roster for the World Cup.
- Philadelphia Union captain Alejandro Bedoya was named 2022 Humanitarian of the Year. for his efforts to end gun violence.
- According to reports, Union midfielder Paxten Aaronson is set to sign for Europa League champion Eintracht Frankfurt for an initial fee of $4 million plus add-ons and a percentage of any future sale.
- FIFA President Gianni Infantino wrote a letter telling the 32 teams participating in the World Cup not to bring attention to the politics of the event.
- Tottenham manager Antonio Conte criticized English football’s decision to resume domestic matches just three days after next month’s World Cup final.
- La Liga slammed plans of another attempt by Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus to create the Super League.
- Barcelona is set to return to its pursuit of Manchester City star Bernardo Silva.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you have a great weekend and find some enjoyment in the final MLS match of the year today. Next year, I’m sure the Lions will be on the hunt!