MLS winners and losers: Jordan Morris explodes for 4 goals
St. Louis City SC is still chugging along, and the East is looking as competitive as ever.
With Matchday 5 in the books, we’re starting to see just how chaotic the 2023 MLS season is shaping up to be. Despite the league playing during an international break, there was still a lot of quality soccer that was played and just as many classic MLS moments.
The cream will inevitably rise to the top, but there is still a mix of teams that have both surprised and underperformed, leading to a deliciously unpredictable Supporter's Shield table. With all this chaos, winners and losers emerge every week; here they are after this weekend's slate.
Winner: The power of friendship
For the second time in MLS history, a player scored four goals, all assisted by the same player. Jordan Morris and Leo Chù scored and assisted four times respectively during the Seattle Sounders’ 4-1 drumming of Sporting Kansas City. Technically, Chù’s help on the third goal may have been secondary assist, but MLS is one of the few leagues that counts them, so who cares about Opta assists. Hats off to Jordan and Leo.
Another goal for Jordan Morris and another assist for Léo Chú! @SoundersFC take the lead. pic.twitter.com/ainz0PtMYp
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 26, 2023
Loser: “Wait and see” offside calls
As assistant referees, you’re always taught to show patience before calling a player offside. You must first be 100 percent certain that the offside player is the only one that can get to the ball before raising your flag. With the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee, that delay has extended even more, with officials not raising their flag at all until given the green light by the video booth, much to the annoyance of players and fans alike, as this could allow play to go on for several seconds before being called back.
This time, the consequence to this new habit was more than just a few players rolling their eyes. In the dying moments of LA Galaxy’s game against the Portland Timbers, Preston Judd was played through on goal but was clearly offside. Timbers keeper David Bingham was quick off his line since the flag stayed down and ended up injuring his hamstring while clearing the ball. This could have been avoided if assistant referees were encouraged to make offside calls when — you know — there are players offside.
Winner: The hunt for history
With the title of "greatest ever start by an MLS expansion club" already secured, St. Louis City SC are setting their sights on the historic 2012 Kansas City side that won their first seven games. Currently sitting at a perfect 5-0-0, this win against Real Salt Lake was arguably their best one yet, dominating play and forcing mistakes that were mercilessly converted into goals en route to a 4-0 win. They have to beat Minnesota United and Seattle in order to tie the record, which would make this seem like more of a movie than a real MLS season.
Alm 4️⃣ CITY pic.twitter.com/l6Sau8HTSI
— St Louis CITY SC (@stlCITYsc) March 26, 2023
Loser: Father time
With all the trade drama surrounding his departure from CF Montreal and the Chicago Fire’s difficult start to the season, some people may have forgotten that Kei Kamara is one of the greatest to ever do it in MLS. In stoppage time, on the road, and all tied up at two, Kamara did what he does best, coming up clutch once again and scoring for his league record 10th team. The goal was also the 140th of his career, moving him to within five of second-placed Landon Donovan on the all-time list. While the record of 171 goals by Chris Wondolowski may be a bit out of reach, there is no doubt that Kamara will go down as one of the greatest MLS players ever.
Kei Kamara scores his 140th MLS goal to win it for Chicago at the death 💥
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 26, 2023
Winner: Wild Wild East
The Eastern Conference is a bloodbath right now and it’s absolutely awesome. No team is safe because everybody is beating everybody, which could lead to an amazing playoff race should this level of competition continue. Even by MLS standards — which have been known to be unabashedly chaotic — the East is unpredictable. Philadelphia was supposed to run the table and crush all opposition, but currently sit eighth after starting the season a disappointing 2-3-0 and losing to last placed Montreal by blowing a 2-1 lead in stoppage time last week. This chaos will surely die down (it has to, right?), which is why we recommend enjoying the show before it’s over and Philly starts winning 7-0 every few games again.
Loser: Mourinho masterclasses
Prior to Los Angeles FC and Seattle’s matchup last week, MLS had gone 115 consecutive games without a 0-0 draw. Since then, we’ve seen three 0-0 games and another four 1-0 games. MLS has always been an offense-dominant league and, while that still appears to be the case, more and more teams are finding success by playing low defensive blocks and frustrating opponents. Many seasoned soccer fans can appreciate the tactical acumen and defensive competence needed for such a performance. However, in a continent where soccer is still a growing sport, reinforcing the unfair stereotype that soccer is a dry, low-scoring affair could have some unforeseen consequences.