Youngsters highlight MLS mid-week slate

by Travis Clark
October 8, 2020
Youngsters highlight MLS mid-week slate

The Major League Soccer season continues through the COVID-19 pandemic, and in an attempt to cram in as many games as possible, is playing in the middle of the week through October.

The silver lining for those trying to track young domestic players and clamor for their involvement in MLS, it creates chances.

Last fall’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Aidan Morris, was able to work his way into his first start for the Columbus Crew as a result. Despite his side losing 2-1, the rookie acquitted himself well in a 78-minute shift.

The Florida native completed 89% of 38 passes attempted, and for the most part, was secure with possession. There were a couple of stray passes and duals lost in midfield, but each time that Morris lost the ball (which he did just twice in the match) he worked his tail off to get back in position to make sure the Crew weren’t exposed.

He won 80% of 10 tackles – the highest number attempted on the team – including a couple in his own penalty area where a mistake would open up the door for the referee to whistle him for PK. Between Morris and Sebastian Berhalter, the Crew have an intriguing pair of young central midfielders to compete for minutes.

Philadelphia rolls past FC Cincinnati

The Homegrown contingent continues to lead the Union, as they scored a barrage of second-half goals to best FC Cincinnati by a 3-0 score.

Brenden Aaronson looks like he is heading out the door, as the energetic midfielder has been strongly linked with a move to RB Salzburg in Austria. He was a frenetic force once again – didn’t see a ton of the ball with just 25 passes attempted (completed at an 88% clip) – but left his mark on the game with an assist on Alejandro Bedoya’s third goal. Mark McKenzie locked down a shutout, while Anthony Fontana remained in the starting lineup.

Frankie Amaya started on the other side for FC Cincinnati, and Zico Bailey came on as a sub in the 30th minute to make his MLS debut.

Fernandez grabs goal for New York Red Bulls

The New York Red Bulls lost by a 2-1 score against Inter Miami CF, but did get a goal from one of its Homegrown players. Omir Fernandez nabbed the opening tally for the Red Bulls, which eventually squandered the lead and fell thanks to a free kick goal from Gonzalo Higuan.

Outside of the goal, Fernandez struggled to see much of the game, attempting just 13 passes in 63 minutes.

Young D.C. lineup falls at NYCFC

It’s hard to fault D.C. United too much for another poor result. Considering a teammate had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day, it seemed irresponsible to go forward with the game.

Head coach Ben Olsen did start his cavalcade of teenagers, with Kevin Paredes, Griffin Yow and Moses Nyeman starting the game. Nyeman went the full shift, and the former two exited as D.C. United lost 4-1. James Sands started and went the full 90 on the other side for New York, as he continues to quietly lock things down in the midfield for NYCFC.

Homegrown glut for the Earthquakes

Given that nearly every team in MLS makes the playoffs, it’s no shock to see that the San Jose Earthquakes are now above the line after a 3-0 win against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

After being trounced in several games earlier in the year, the Earthquakes have now won three in a row. One addition to the lineup has been J.T. Marcinkowski, who has started all three of those wins. While the goalkeeper is only one part of a team’s defensive equation, he did make five saves against the Whitecaps.

At the whistle, five Homegrown signings were on the pitch for the Earthquakes, as Cade Cowell and Gilbert Fuentes entered the game from the bench, while Tommy Thompson and Nick Lima had joined Marcinkowski in the starting lineup.

Wild goal fest between Timbers, Galaxy

The Portland Timber attack cut the LA Galaxy to ribbons, winning by a 6-3 score in Southern California.

Jeremy Ebobisse scored a brace, while Eryk Williamson continued to cement himself as a breakout player during the 2020 season. The central midfielder setup one of Portland’s six goals, and impressed with a 93% pass completion rate on 58 attempts. Williamson made 15 challenges, winning 67% of them, making seven tackles and five interceptions. In many ways, he’s been the breakout star among younger American players during 2020.

On the other side, Efrain Alvarez started and played 90 minutes for the Galaxy. But it was right back Julian Araujo that created the eye-popping highlight, lacing home a shot from range to open up the scoring for LA.