MLS notebook: Secondary transfer window closes (sorry, no Lionel Messi); new team tops power rankings

·10 min read

Major League Soccer's secondary transfer window closed Thursday, and a number of players are on the move into and outside of the league.

Sorry folks, but Lionel Messi wasn't one of those players coming to America - yet - after his announced departure from FC Barcelona.

But, there were some notable moves announced on deadline day:

Gianluca Busio, who made MLS debut with Sporting KC at the age of 16, in 2018, is heading to Serie A side Venezia FC.
Gianluca Busio, who made MLS debut with Sporting KC at the age of 16, in 2018, is heading to Serie A side Venezia FC.

Here is what you need to know for the weekend in MLS:

MLS game of the week

New England Revolution vs. Philadelphia Union (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+): Two Eastern Conference contenders square off at Gillette Stadium. The Union have dominated the series in recent years, winning 10 of the last 14 league meetings between the two teams. But, this is a different Revolution team, led by former USMNT coach Bruce Arena, and powered by the goal-scoring prowess of players such as Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa, who are both in the thick of the MLS Golden Boot race.

MLS player to watch

Tajon Buchanan, New England Revolution: Buchanan – one of three MLS players to be named to the Concacaf Gold Cup Best XI alongside the USMNT's Miles Robinson (Atlanta United) and Matt Turner (Revolution) – was a breakout star for Canada as it made a run to the Gold Cup semifinal, where it was defeated by Mexico on a late stoppage time goal by Héctor Herrera. Buchanan had his coming-of-age moment in the 2020 MLS playoffs and has emerged as one of the league's most electric players during the 2021 season.

With Arena confirming interest from European clubs (with Club Brugge of Belgium closing in on the Canadian star, per a MLSsoccer.com report), the time is now to enjoy the rapid career ascent of the dynamic winger. Buchanan and Turner return to the Revolution from the Gold Cup as they embark on the second half of the MLS season looking to deliver New England its first-ever MLS Cup triumph.

Tajon Buchanan (17) has been a key contributor for a New England Revolution team that currently atop the Eastern Conference standings.
Tajon Buchanan (17) has been a key contributor for a New England Revolution team that currently atop the Eastern Conference standings.

MLS news and notes

MLS All-Star team unveiled: On Wednesday, Major League Soccer announced its 28-player squad that will take on the best of Liga MX in an All-Star game between North America's premier soccer leagues on Aug. 25 (9 p.m. ET on FS1/Univision) at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. Here are the players named to that squad:

  • Forwards/wingers: Gustavo Bou (New England Revolution), Tajon Buchanan (New England Revolution), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Chicharito (LA Galaxy), Nani (Orlando City), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas), Diego Rossi (LAFC), Raúl Ruidíaz (Seattle Sounders), Dániel Sallói (Sporting Kansas City), Carlos Vela (LAFC)

  • Midfielders: Eduard Atuesta (LAFC), Carles Gil (New England Revolution), Damir Kreilach (Real Salt Lake), João Paulo (Seattle Sounders), Emanuel Reynoso (Minnesota United), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Lucas Zelarayán (Columbus Crew)

  • Defenders: Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), Jesús David Murillo (LAFC), Nouhou (Seattle Sounders), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), Alex Roldan (Seattle Sounders), James Sands (NYCFC), Kai Wagner (Philadelphia Union), Yeimar (Seattle Sounders), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

  • Goalkeepers: Pedro Gallese (Orlando City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

USMNT builds momentum for World Cup qualifiers: If the U.S. men's national team rises to prominence on the world soccer stage, it can point to the summer of 2021 as a turning point. On Sunday, the USMNT defeated its rival Mexico in the Concacaf Gold Cup final. That victory marked the second time in two months that the USMNT defeated Mexico for a major continental trophy, with the team also prevailing in the Concacaf Nations League final on June 6.

With the USMNT's premier players taking part in preseasons for their upcoming European club team seasons, coach Gregg Berhalter relied heavily on players from Major League Soccer for the Gold Cup; of the 23 players on the USMNT's roster, 19 represented MLS clubs. Berhalter's starting lineup in Sunday's Gold Cup win included nine MLS players. That lineup also had an average age of 24 years, 236 days, the second-youngest USMNT lineup for a final since ... yep, the Concacaf Nations League win on June 6 (24 years, 206 days). The future is bright for this USMNT, which has serious momentum going into qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, which starts next month.

Leagues Cup kicks off Tuesday: Debuting in 2019 and taking 2020 off due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 edition of the Leagues Cup – the (possibly) annual competition between teams from Major League Soccer the Liga MX – kicks off Tuesday. Eight teams will be participating in the competition. For MLS, the top two teams from each conference that did not qualify for the 2021 Concacaf Champions League qualified: New York City FC, Orlando City SC, Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City. The top four Liga MX teams from the 2020-21 season aggregate table that did not compete in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League semifinals or the upcoming 2021 Campeones Cup qualified: Club León, Pumas UNAM, Santos Laguna, Tigres UANL.

On Tuesday, Sporting Kansas City hosts Club León (8 p.m. ET on ESPN2/TUDN) and the Seattle Sounders host Tigres UANL (10 p.m. ET on ESPN2/TUDN). New York City FC hosts Pumas on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET on ESPN+/TUDN), and Orlando City hosts Santos Laguna on Thursday (7 p.m. ET on ESPN+/TUDN). The semifinals will take place on Sept. 14-15. The final will be on Sept. 22 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Hope arrives for Austin FC's stagnant offense: Austin is tied with Inter Miami CF with a league-low 13 goals scored this season, but the recent addition of forward Sebastián Driussi, the team's third designated player alongside Tomás Pochettino and Cecilio Domínguez, gives the club hope for an improved attack. The 25-year-old Driussi comes to Austin by way of Zenit Saint Petersburg from the Russian Premier League, where he scored 21 goals in 95 games for the club.

By the numbers

28: Through a fan vote, and selections by LAFC coach Bob Bradley and MLS Commissioner Don Garber, the league's 28-player All-Star team for its game against Liga MX All-Stars on Aug. 25 was released Wednesday. Those 28 players represent 15 different MLS teams and have ties to 14 different countries (Argentina, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, El Salvador, Hungary, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Spain, U.S., Uruguay). The Seattle Sounders had the most selections with six players; LAFC and the New England Revolution each have four. There are three teenagers on the MLS All-Star team: Cade Cowell of the San Jose Earthquakes (17), Ricardo Pepi of FC Dallas (18) and Julian Araujo (19).

The San Jose Earthquakes' 17-year-old forward Cade Cowell (44) was the youngest player named to the MLS All-star team.
The San Jose Earthquakes' 17-year-old forward Cade Cowell (44) was the youngest player named to the MLS All-star team.

MLS rankings: Top 10 power poll

1. New England Revolution: For the first time since early May, there's a new No. 1 in these rankings. The Revolution managed to vault to the top of the Supporters' Shield standings despite the absence of two of their key players, goalkeeper Matt Turner and winger Tajon Buchanan, who were among the most impressive players in the recently completed Concacaf Gold Cup.

2. Seattle Sounders: After setting a league record for games unbeaten to start a season (13), the Sounders have just one win in their last five games.

3. Sporting Kansas City: SKC has kept pace in the Supporters' Shield race with New England and Seattle thanks to one of the league's most prolific goal-scoring attacks.

4. Nashville SC: Nashville's "Big Three" of CJ Sapong, Hany Mukhtar and Randall Leal has combined for nine goals and seven assists in their last six games.

5. New York City FC: After piling up a combined nine goals in the span of six days against Eastern Conference contenders Orlando City and Columbus Crew, NYCFC somehow couldn't score Wednesday night against a Chicago Fire team that has a minus-10 goal differential.

6. Orlando City SC: For his efforts in Orlando's come-from-behind win over Atlanta United last week – game-winning goal plus an assist – Nani was named MLS Player of the Week.

7. Los Angeles Galaxy: On Sunday, the Galaxy will face the Vancouver Whitecaps for the third time this season, with the two teams splitting the previous meetings at the Whitecaps' temporary home, Sandy, Utah.

8. Colorado Rapids: One of the season's surprise teams gets a rematch against one of the league's premier teams, Sporting Kansas City, on Saturday. The last time they met, SKC rolled to a 3-1 win at Children's Mercy Park, extending their unbeaten streak in the series to four games. The Rapids will look to end that Sunday in Commerce City, Colorado.

9. Philadelphia Union: The 2020 Supporters' Shield winners, the Union, square off against the 2021 Supporters' Shield leaders, the Revolution, in a high-octane Eastern Conference showdown Sunday in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

10. Los Angeles FC: Reinforcements are on the way for underachieving LAFC in the form of forward Cristian Arango, whose long-rumored signing was announced Monday. Unfortunately for LAFC, key central defender Eddie Segura will miss the rest of the season after having knee surgery.

Others receiving votes: Columbus Crew, Minnesota United

USA TODAY Sports Network MLS top 10 power poll voters: Pat Brennan, Cincinnati Enquirer; Mike Craven, Austin American-Statesman; Drake Hills, The Tennessean; Jacob Myers, The Columbus Dispatch; Jim Reineking, USA TODAY.

MLS schedule: What are this weekend's games?

(ABC/ESPN games available to be streamed on Watch ESPN; FOX games on FOX Sports Live. Games also available on fuboTV. Odds according to BetMGM)

Saturday

FC Cincinnati vs. Orlando City, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: CIN (+135), Tie (+250), ORL (+170)

Columbus Crew vs. Atlanta United, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: CLB (-110), Tie (+250), ATL (+270)

Minnesota United vs. Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: MIN (-160), Tie (+275), HOU (+400)

Toronto FC vs. New York City FC, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: TOR (+260), Tie (+270), NYC (-115)

FC Dallas vs. Austin FC, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: DAL (+115), Tie (+240), ATX (+210)

Colorado Rapids vs. Sporting Kansas City, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: COL (+130), Tie (+230), SKC (+190)

Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: POR (+110), Tie (+240), RSL (+220)

Sunday

Chicago Fire FC vs. New York Red Bulls, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: CHI (+115), Tie (+240), RBNY (+210)

Inter Miami CF vs. Nashville SC, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: MIA (+145), Tie (+210), NSH (+185)

New England Revolution vs. Philadelphia Union, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: NE (-115), Tie (+275), PHI (+270)

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Los Angeles FC, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: SJ (+270), Tie (+310), LAFC (-130)

DC United vs. CF Montreal, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: DC (-125), Tie (+250), MON (+320)

Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

  • Odds: LAG (-175), Tie (+320), VAN (+400)

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLS games this weekend: How to watch on TV, streaming info, odds