How The International Break Can Help MLSWith many national team players gone for international break, MLS teams must strengthen within
by Katherine Rupp | Wednesday, September 02, 2015
International break is here, and even though Major League Soccer still does have a few games, many eyes will be on friendlies that the United States will be playing, as well as Euro 2016 and World Cup Qualifiers.
With more and more of a playoff push for MLS teams, who will miss players from their roster most? It must be said that the US men’s national team is calling up nine players – although Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, and Sean Johnson will only be available for the friendly against Brazil – while the US U-23 team’s coach Andi Herzog has called up 9 other players and US U-20 coach Tab Ramos is planning on bringing in 8 players all from Major League Soccer.
Additionally, there are 23 other countries’ teams who have called up MLS players ranging from Euro 2016 Qualifiers in Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco for Italy (although he withdrew), to the Galaxy’s Robbie Keane for Ireland and Sporting Kansas City’s Kristian Nemeth for Hungary, to World Cup Qualifiers – of which Portland’s Will Johnson and Tesho Akindele of FC Dallas will take part in for Canada and Columbus Crew SC’s Justin Meram will suit up for Iraq, among a handful of other players.
MLS has games scheduled for the next couple of weeks and though there aren’t many huge rivalries or matchups that for teams that hinge upon the results of these games here in early September, how the MLS teams perform that have lost players to international callups could mean a rise or a steep drop in standings before playoffs.
Two teams looking to make their gradual ascent to topping the red line (that indicates what teams make the playoffs and which ones don’t) are Montreal and Chicago. To add to that, the teams match up at Toyota Park on September 5th with a couple of jigsaw pieces missing for Chicago (David Accam, Joevin Jones, Sean Johnson – just for the Brazil game, and Matt Polster to name a few) while Montreal will be without Laurent Ciman, Kyle Bekker, and Johan Venegas. This battle royale between the Fire and the Impact could most definitely have implications for playoffs and seeding purposes.
Also in the East, the New England Revolution and Orlando City SC are just above the cut for playoffs and they have a game upcoming. With Orlando in the team’s first year in MLS, and another inaugural team – NYCFC – wanting to make playoffs, the Lions look to making the cut. But switching to the Western Conference, Sporting Kansas City – who hasn’t been playing its best soccer recently by any means (with a three-game losing streak) – play the Timbers at Providence Park during the international abscences. Both teams should be vying for playoff seeds than anything else.
Although many have their opinions on Major League Soccer games being played during an international break for other leagues, this is an important time for the teams to get down to the fundamentals of each squad – especially with many vital players missing for their respective national teams – and grind it out. Regardless of how each of the games and results end up or how the teams perform, it’ll be an interesting time to watch for how the teams that are missing players strengthen themselves from within.