MLS The Kickoff

By Anonymous (not verified), November 14, 2022
MLS Soccer
MLS Soccer
Good morning, y'all. Your pal Sam here. Let's soccer.


  • St. Louis CITY make expansion draft picks before inaugural season: St. Louis CITY SC further built their inaugural roster before their 2023 debut, selecting five players in the 2022 MLS Expansion Draft on Friday evening. St. Louis made five selections from the list of eligible players revealed on Thursday, including Nicholas Gioacchini from Orlando City, Indiana Vassilev from Inter Miami CF, Jonathan Bell from New England and John Nelson from FC Cincinnati.
  • St. Louis land center back Parker in trade with Houston: St. Louis CITY SC boosted their backline in the immediate aftermath of Friday's Expansion Draft, announcing they've acquired center back Tim Parker in a trade with Houston Dynamo FC. Houston will receive $500,000 in General Allocation Money split evenly across the next two seasons. The Dynamo will also retain a portion of Parker's salary budget charge over the same time span.
  • Canada names World Cup roster: Canada officially have their final roster for the FIFA 2022 World Cup, with head coach John Herdman announcing his 26 selections Sunday. See the full roster here.
  • MLS roster decision day: The club deadline to submit bonafide offers and exercise player options is today at noon ET. Some teams have already made decisions but we'll learn about a whole lot more today. Should be fun. And should let us know exactly how good (and crazy) this year's free agent market will be when it opens on Nov. 16. Lots to take in here.


MLS Kickoff Story
Welcome back to small-sided, the section where we take a quick look at what's happening around the league. Do you get it? Small-sided like the tiny version of soccer but it sounds like "small-sighted" which is pretty close to the more commonly used "short-sighted"? Anyway, that's not what's most important today. What's most important today is that we have a clearer picture of how St. Louis CITY SC is going to approach things in year one.1. The expansion draft stays low-key except for when it got weirdIn general St. Louis had a relatively standard expansion draft. Everyone (including and maybe especially me) generally falls into the trap of saying "Wow! Lookit all these great players that can be drafted!" without considering that great players cost a lot of money and that those great players just may not fit into a team's planned tactical setup, anyway. Instead of all the top names on everyone's board going to Missouri, we ended up with some less notable names who, in theory, will fit into St. Louis' budget and system.That doesn't mean we took a straightforward path on Friday night though. Look, I don't want you to worry about the details of this because the details hurt my brain, but Tim Parker, a player available in the expansion draft, ended up in St. Louis via a trade with Houston. The nerdy explanation of that decision eventually comes down to the fact that it saved St. Louis money on a big salary while sending allocation money (which expansion teams have in bunches) to Houston. It all kind of feels like a win, win in the most MLS of ways.Anyway, don't let the weirdness distract you from the fact that it seems like a great move. Parker is one of those players who everyone immediately put at the top of their available players list. He's been one of the better domestic center backs in the league for a while, even if his form didn't quite live up to the hype in Houston. However, in St. Louis, he's going back to a Red Bulls-esque system that he thrived in with New York and he's offering the kind of veteran presence and leadership you need on an expansion team. And if none of that made any sense to you, let's talk real quick about where St. Louis seem to be going.2. Red Birds and Red BullsYou might have balked a second ago when I said Tim Parker is going back to a Red Bulls-esque system because you very well might not have known that St. Louis even had a system in place. And, yeah, to be fair, this is all only in theory. But St. Louis CITY SC's manager is Bradley Carnell, who comes to St. Louis after a five-year stint as an assistant manager with New York under multiple managers.Just like any manager that comes from the Red Bulls, there will be tweaks to how Carnell operates. However, the ethos likely won't be far removed from what we've seen in Harrison. That's right, there's going to be another Red Bulls-adjacent team in MLS, for better or worse. This time under the premise of reflecting Midwestern values.​​"Don't forget St. Louis is not Los Angeles, St. Louis is not New York," STL sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel told Extratime. "I don't believe this is what really helps us to create a star-struck culture. I think we need to come via the Midwestern approach."We want to reflect the people who actually go to the stadium. That's hard-working, that's blue-collar, that's down to Earth and that's being modest and really get out there, leave your sweat on the field, work as hard as possible and you will get something done in the end."Whoo boy. If this works, we're going to hear a lot about it aren't we? As we should I guess.It probably will work too. Because what are we constantly saying about Energy Drink Soccer? It raises your floor in MLS. It's a tactical setup that allows you to consistently pick up points in almost any situation. It's part of why the Red Bulls have made the playoffs every year since 2010.Again, I'm not sure what Carnell has planned and who knows if we'll see a carbon copy of what we've seen in New York. But I just wanted to let you know what you should at least be preparing for on some level. However, as you probably know by now, there's another side to that setup.3. The Designated TeamAs successful as Energy Drink Soccer has been, it also seems to keep your ceiling pretty low compared to the league's other top teams. It's part of why New York made the playoffs every year since 2010 without once making it to MLS Cup. From an outside perspective, it makes it a bit concerning to hear the club's philosophy on Designated Players."We will not go for a third [DP]. I don't see that happening," Pfannenstiel said on Extratime."If you look into the past, clubs that really believe that one or two people can carry them through and you're spending a massive part of the budget on it, did that really pan out or work out the way they wanted to? I'm not too convinced about it."I still believe that football is a team sport, the team needs to be the star, the team needs to be the most focused on. If you load too much responsibility, too much wages and basically all the focus on one, two, or three players, it is not good for the chemistry within a team. This is why we decided to have a different strategy."I get what we're going for here. And there's a lot of truth in that sentiment. At the same time, one of the biggest criticisms of the Red Bulls' setup has been its inability to find players at the top end of the roster capable of competing with the league's best. And yeah, you can talk about managing the budget properly and not overspending, but that's hard to reckon with when STL just gave a huge contract to goalkeeper Roman Burki. Huge contracts for MLS goalkeepers usually don't work out that well.I'm not here to say that none of this will work. I am here to say that all of this will be interesting. We've got our first introduction to St. Louis and all we really know is that we want to know more.


  • Canada draw Bahrain in World Cup tune-up: Canada's World Cup preparations continued in earnest Friday with a 2-2 draw at Bahrain, the program's second-to-last friendly before Group F play begins Nov. 23 against European powerhouse Belgium. Ismaël Koné opened the scoring with his first Canada goal before Mahdi Al-Humaidan leveled things up eight minutes later. Abdulla Yusuf Helal's second-half penalty was then canceled out by a fortuitous Lucas Cavallini equalizer to secure a draw for the visitors.
  • Inter Miami acquire forward LaCava in Expansion Draft trade: Inter Miami CF have acquired forward Jake LaCava in a trade with St. Louis CITY SC after he was taken in the 2022 MLS Expansion Draft. LaCava, 21, was selected from the New York Red Bulls by St. Louis. Miami then sent $150,000 in 2023 General Allocation Money (GAM) to the newcomers, with another $100k in performance-based GAM available as well. LaCava spent the 2022 season on loan with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the USL Championship.