What happened this past weekend in soccer? We’ve got three stories to help you stay on top of the headlines around North American soccer.
Three-headed NWSL MVP Race
At this stage in the season, about 14 games in, it looks like the NWSL MVP race is down to three players: Seattle Reign’s Megan Rapinoe, Orlando Pride’s Marta, and Sky Blue FC’s Sam Kerr. It’s an interesting list because it includes perhaps the best women’s player of all time in Marta just crushing it in her first NWSL season, seemingly grabbing her team by the collective neck and moving them up the standings, and Rapinoe, finally getting a full season to play in NWSL, and with Jess Fishlock injured she’s had to take the mantle of main attacking option and ultimate leader on the field.
— NWSL (@NWSL) July 13, 2017
But it may be Kerr who’s upending things the most. Marta and Rapinoe are in their 30s, and while they are showing they have many good days of soccer ahead of them, Kerr, who’s only 23, is settling in as a clutch game-changer for Sky Blue, and she’s got her team in the Top 4 right now with Seattle and Orlando still looking up. The Australian international has 10 goals, just ahead of Marta and Rapinoe, on 41 shots, so her scoring rate is pretty, pretty good at the moment. All three women are making a good case for MVP at the moment, but don’t be surprised if the upstart Kerr takes the prize come season’s end.
Group stage ends at Gold Cup
The 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup has been a strange tournament so far. It’s got something for many people, especially those who are fans of minnows or middling nations in the confederation. Tourney favorites Mexico and the U.S. have looked lousy for more than two-thirds of their group stage games, but each won their respective groups anyway. Canada is no longer abject, they were actually quite solid and have perhaps the breakout star of the tournament in Vancouver Whitecaps 16-year-old midfielder Alphonso Davies.
So now four teams are going home and the remaining sides are meeting in the quarterfinals midweek. Costa Rica square off against Panama in probably the best match-up of the round, and the U.S. face El Salvador in a game that should be easy for the Americans but probably won’t. Canada take on Jamaica, in a game that really could go any way but turned out to be a good draw for Les Rouges, and Mexico meet Honduras in another game that will likely be closer than it should be. Will there be any upsets? Any blowouts to burnish title credentials? Here’s hoping the knockout rounds will help raise the level of the tournament overall compared to the uneven group stage.
Miami FC is hot, hot, hot
They’ve gotten some wider press this summer due to their U.S. Open Cup run (with their quarterfinal match against FC Cincinnati rained out last week, to be played early next month), but Miami FC are on their way to becoming the NASL juggernaut they set out to be. Winning the Spring Season title, which wrapped up over the weekend, Miami is officially in the Soccer Bowl playoffs and get a bit of time to rest before embarking on the Fall Season. Beating the San Francisco Deltas 3-1 in San Francisco over the weekend, the road win followed up a 7-0 pasting they gave the expansion Deltas the week before.
— NASL (@naslofficial) July 17, 2017
There’s still a lot of soccer to be played this NASL season, but Miami appears to have control of things at this point in the year, and they seem to be sending a message to 2018 expansion teams in Orange County and San Diego that they’ll need to build smart their debut seasons to be competitive in the league.