MLS winners and losers: St. Louis continues surge, Montreal looking for answers
A couple of youngsters rise to the occasion on Matchday 3.
Another MLS Matchday down, another compilation of this week’s winners and losers. As the weeks continue and we get a better idea of how most teams’ seasons will play out, it’s sufficient to say that this season will be full of shocking moments and massive upsets.
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Winner: Expansion season masterclass
Clearly, someone at Major League Soccer forgot to send this season’s script to the folks down at St. Louis SC. For the first time since the Seattle Sounders did it back in 2009, an expansion team has won their first three games. But wait, there’s more! On top of tying that record, every game has been a come-from-behind win, something no MLS team has ever done as they find themselves at the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings. This team had so many questions to answer at the start of this season — especially with the quality of their first few opponents — and they have answered the bell brilliantly.
2015 - @stlCITYsc is the first MLS team to record three straight come-from-behind wins since LA Galaxy in August 2015 and the first team ever to do so in the first three matches of a season. Turnarounds. pic.twitter.com/R4CbgGpckk
— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) March 12, 2023
Loser: The exact opposite
It was expected that CF Montreal were going to take a step backwards this season after losing several key players as well as head coach Wilfried Nancy, but from finishing second in the East to currently sitting 14th was not on many people’s bingo cards. To make matter worse, if they fail to score this week against the Philadephia Union, they will have the longest goal drought to open a season in league history. The only silver lining? The last two teams that lost their first three games with no goals scored were New York City FC in 2020 and Seattle in 2018, and they both made the playoffs.
Three MLS games this season for CF Montreal…
0 goals scored
Really tough start to the new era.
Positive spin? Still very early in the season and all three games were on the road. But not ideal.
— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) March 12, 2023
Winner: The kids are alright
Another homegrown MLS player is making his mark on the league in spectacular fashion. Atlanta United’s Caleb Wiley was an absolute rockstar this weekend as he led his side to a dominant 3-0 lead in just 45 minutes, netting a brace and an assist in the process. At 18 years and 79 days old, he’s the youngest player to earn three goal contributions in a single game since Alphonso Davies in 2018; pretty great company to keep.
18-year-old Caleb Wiley had himself a day yesterday. pic.twitter.com/TaExyxYpjp
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 12, 2023
Loser: Playing away from home
Home field advantage is always seen as one of the most important intangibles in sports. This season, it seems more real than ever with teams being shutout on the road 20 times out of the 41 games thus far, only picking up seven wins.
Fan culture in MLS has come a long way in recent years.
The atmosphere at Austin FC games looks amazing 😍
(via tyler.campillo/IG) pic.twitter.com/3lBm6esD0R
— USMNT Only (@usmntonly) March 4, 2023
Winner: Dad look! No hands!
Austin FC midfielder Owen Wolff didn’t just become the youngest player this season to score a goal at 18 years and 72 days old (so close, Caleb), he also created the 11th father-son duo to have scored in MLS history. To make it even sweeter, Wolff scored in front of his dad Josh, who just so happens to be his head coach. Have a bow, Owen, and make sure to tune that rocket launcher of a right leg.
Sheeeesh, Owen Wolff 🥶@AustinFC only scores bangers! pic.twitter.com/zzaOzrwEpp
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 12, 2023
Loser: The poor souls matched up against Thiago Almada
He’s just so outrageously good right now and it’ll be a massive shock if European clubs don’t come knocking in the next two transfer windows. Despite Atlanta United breaking the MLS transfer free record at $16 million, they’re in a great position to make a nice profit if the World Cup winner can keep this form. Just look at the vision and composure needed to make that pass on Caleb Wiley’s opener. Surrounded by three defenders, Almada’s vision and technical ability is just on a whole other level and is absolutely making for one of the strongest early cases for MVP.
#MLS | Asistencia de Thiago Almada para abrir el marcador entre #AtlantaUnited y #CharlotteFC.#SeleccionArgentina
— Tomás Calvo 🎙 (@TomasFCalvo) March 11, 2023