With two games left in the MLS season, two teams from opposite coasts lead the Fan Shield standings called Philadelphia. Union as well as Los Angeles FC went their separate ways to dominate the league. At the 64 point level, LAFC has an advantage if teams finish this way with 20 wins to Union’s 18 – in MLS the goal difference is the second tiebreak, not the first, so Union’s likely goal difference is +46. won’t count things.
The Philadelphia Union, led by Jim Curtin, has the second longest tenure as a coach in the league (after Peter Worms sports Kansas City), while Steve Cherundolo is in the midst of his first job as a head coach after spending time with the youth team and working as an assistant coach at Germany and overseeing the USL Championship’s Los Angeles affiliate Las Vegas Lights. Cerundolo hasn’t looked out of his depths while steering the post-Bob Bradley ship, which is impressive considering the collection of stars he manages that fit the LA spotlight.
Curtin crew more like workers hiding from the radar – at least that’s what would have been said before DC smashed 7:0 United July 8. Now attacking midfielder Daniel Rich is in the midst of a Golden Boot and MVP race with goaltender Andre Blake leading the league with a clean sheet chasing another Goaltender of the Year win, and the defense is so good that almost the entire backline is up for defense. year. It’s a departure from the “us versus them” mentality as the Union has been too good to be ignored this season.
But when it comes to how they did it, the teams are once again at odds. This season alone, LAFC spent $8.8 million on incoming transfers at Transfermarkt, not counting free transfers for Ilie Sanchez. Gareth BaleGiorgio Chiellini and Christian Tello. This is almost the same as the 11.6 million the Union has spent on transfers in its 14-year history (12-year history of play). The team was able to spend most recently with the trio Mikael UreJulian Carranza and Richard Odada are worth $3.5 million, but their spending pales in comparison to the rest of the league.
The reason the Union can do this is because of the 31,614 minutes recorded this season, 8,944 of them were taken by homegrown players or Union draft picks. By relying on the academy and shrewd market selection, Ernst Tanner is able to get Curtin players that fit his system for a fraction of the cost compared to what other teams spend on their rosters. While the Union could put more money into the roster as they develop a Red Bull system away from the pipeline clubs, there is an argument that the Union is so good because of the players they target.
Returning to the coast, although there were many changes at LAFC during the summer, with six players arriving and seven leaving, the overall team was worse off. When the summer transfer window opened on July 7, LAFC led the league with 36 points at two points per game.
This would put the command right behind New England In total, the 2021 season saw a record 73 points scored throughout the year. But since the window closed on August 4, LAFC has only amassed 16 points, losing four matches. During the same period, the Union scored 19 points, which is enough to close the gap.
This doesn’t mean LAFC isn’t a good team, because they are, but they have gone from a historically good team to a very good team, while the Union has taken their performance up a notch to become a very good team. With two games to go, both teams could reach 70 points, but looking at what caused LAFC to lose, there are two things that stand out. Bale and Chiellini missed three matches due to workload management, but when all their stars played together, the results were worse than expected.
Bale leaves in an hour. This year, LAFC has -7 in 375 minutes. +32 in another ~2800.
— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) September 14, 2022
This number actually gets worse when Bale, Candle Carlos, and Chicho Arrango share the field as the teams have a goal difference of -5 in the 166 minutes they have played together this season. It’s not just up to one player, as there’s so much you can do to get things up and running in a short amount of time, but it does make you wonder what would have happened this season if LAFC hadn’t been chasing stars ahead of the World Cup. For many reasons, if you can sign Bale and Chiellini, you sign them, but adding in the offseason is difficult for any team.
At this point, LAFC is still in control of their destiny to win the Fan Shield, so the additions didn’t hurt them much, but ending the season without a trophy after the path they’ve been on would be a big disappointment. In the last two matches, LAFC will go away to Portland Timbers and home clash with Nashville SC while the Philadelphia Union will go to Charlotte FC before posting Toronto on the last day. Definitely some tough matches for everyone with an eye on the prize.
Both teams have already secured places in the CONCACAF Champions League next season, while the Union only needs one point to clinch the Eastern Conference title (LAFC have already won the West). If the Union can win the Fan Shield, it will be their second win in the last three years, and it will be LAFC’s first win since 2019. The hope is that the two teams will also meet in the MLS Cup to give whoever doesn’t give the shield a chance for revenge, but the MLS Cup playoffs usually have other plans. Each team’s different approaches are good for the league as they show that there is no one right way to dominate the league and both teams are boosting their status globally by buying talent as well as creating it for foreign leagues.