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Lorenzo Insigne finds calm amid chaos and the LA Galaxy go from bad to worse: 5 takeaways from MLS Matchday 15

What is form but a spell to be broken? What are records but standards to be rewritten? Comfort and predictability have no home in MLS, especially not during Matchday 15. Across the league, teams and players alike found ways to buck their trends of frustration while others gave frustration a chance.

5 takeaways from MLS Matchday 15

#1. NYCFC’s home run comes to an end

They say all good things must come to an end and for NYCFC, their unbeaten streak at home has finally succumbed to that inevitable fate. Philadelphia came to Citi Field and staked their claim on the Eastern Conference top spots by pulling off a 3-1 comeback win thanks to goals from Julian Carranza and Daniel Gazdag. 

Truthfully, the term “home” feels inadequate. For a team that has reached incredible highs while surrounded by foul poles and dugouts, it’s shameful that NYCFC will have to wait until 2025 to play in their own purpose-built stadium. The team and the fans equally need a place where they can fully express themselves and not feel like tenants hoping to get their deposit back at the end of their lease. 

Even Union coach Jim Curtin said as much when asked about the win.

 City have looked like a completely different team in New York compared to road games. Nick Cushing’s side has earned 13 points at home but just three on the road and sits 11th, two points off the playoff spots. 

The club’s home record helped distract from the rest of the results but losses happen; it’s about how NYCFC responds. More losses would massively hurt the club’s chances of a postseason appearance, and back-to-back games against FC Cincinnati and the New England Revolution are certainly not making life easy at the ballpark. 

#2. Jordan Morris breaks his goal drought but gets injured in the process

Every single ex-player knew exactly what happened the second the camera closed in on Jordan Morris. Seconds after scoring what should have been a huge goal for Seattle against the Red Bulls, Morris winced. A tense, scared look crept across his face through his half-hearted celebrations. It was his groin, and it wasn’t going to get better. 

He tried to soldier on, as any player who despises the thought of admitting defeat to their own body will understand, but just seconds after New York resumed play the Seattle native fell to the ground, his agony palpable as he pounded the turf with his fist in frustration.

Morris began the season in electric form, scoring goals for fun as Seattle reigned supreme atop MLS. But this nirvana was short-lived as the Sounders faced several injuries that shifted the pendulum as Brian Schmetzer and his side began to drop points left, right and center. 

For Morris specifically, injuries have been his Achilles Heel. The 28-year-old is a tremendously talented finisher with a knack for being in the right spot at the right time, but injuries have been the ever-present bane of his existence.

There’s no debate, Seattle is better with him on the field and his presence takes them from being a solid team to a genuine contender in the Western Conference, so it’s good that he’ll only be out for two weeks as announced by Schmetzer in a post-game press conference. 

#3. Lorenzo Insigne finds calm amid chaos in Toronto

If you haven’t heard about the drama surrounding Toronto FC right now, you're missing out on some incredible accusations of nepotism, grade-A dysfunction and one severely petty Italian. 

In the aftermath of this story’s release, head coach Bob Bradley made a "coach's decision" that Federico Bernardeschi would not be playing against DC United.

Bernardeschi has taken to Instagram to post his own stats from this season, and likely only made the situation worse for himself as he adds to the laundry list of issues the club has faced with him. 

In the American capital, however, his compatriot Lorenzo Insigne stole the show as he put his teammates in the spotlight. Two assists to two different teenage goal-scorers helped Toronto earn their first win since Apr. 30, and all without the former Juventus man. 

Listen, sometimes locker rooms just need to clean house. Get a player or two out and rebuild because a recognizable name doesn’t mean they’ll win you games in the long run. It’s genuinely conceivable that his presence could actually cost Toronto points if the situation continues to be as much of a distraction as it is. 

For now, though, it’s definitely not a bad sign that Toronto got a win against a DC side that has been difficult to beat.

#4. LA Galaxy go from bad to worse

Greg Vanney and his side have had an atrocious start to 2023. From sending out letters to the fans essentially telling them to trust the process, to sitting dead last in MLS after 15 matchdays, the Galaxy have undoubtedly seen better times. 

This week has been a mixed bag, however, as the Galaxy beat LAFC in the US Open Cup midweek, ending their neighbor’s chance at what would have been an unprecedented treble. The match was not without its controversy, just as you would hope from any rendition of El Trafíco. 

After Riqui Puig’s stunning, slaloming run that culminated with a tidy finish, the former Barcelona man did his best Messi impression as he took off his shirt and showed it to the 3252. 

After the game, Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini walked past Puig and yelled “payaso!, which translates to “clown.”

All this was made more entertaining by the fact that the Galaxy fielded a near-best lineup while LAFC sent out some academy players. 

Despite the midweek victory, weekend triumphs remain elusive. Following their 1-0 loss at home to Charlotte this week, the Galaxy faced their supporters and took the criticism for their performances. 

Vanney then can be seen arguing and gesticulating towards the fans before being told to walk away after far too long. Yeah, losses suck, but this is a terrible look for an organization that has struggled to get fans to turn up to games. Arguing with the few fans who did show up to support you cannot help in any way, shape or form. Add in Chicharito’s first red card for the club in league play and you have a night that felt like no steps forward and three steps back. 

On pace for just 22 points all season, it’s hard to see how the Galaxy can salvage anything in MLS, so Vanney’s one chance of possibly saving his job may just rest on the Open Cup and the tournament’s automatic qualification for the subsequent CONCACAF Champions League campaign. Earning continental competition for next year would be nothing short of remarkable for this side and, naturally, would likely be rewarded handsomely. But it must be said, without the Open Cup, there really are no positives to take from the rest of the season. 

#5. Has Sporting KC really turned it around?

A week removed from a 4-0 battering at the hands of St. Louis City, Sporting scored four goals of its own in a statement win over Portland. Four different players found the net on a night when it very well could have been more, but after the start to the season that Kansas City endured, Peter Vermes won’t complain. 

On May 7, Sporting still didn’t have a win. After 10 games, the club sat in last with just three points to its name and was playing a phenomenally uninspired and dull brand of soccer that neither drew fans nor won games. Since then, Kansas City has completely turned the tables, winning three of its last five games and drawing against the mighty LAFC in that span. Perhaps more interesting is the new style of play, not just the results. 

KC is fun to watch again, and perhaps through divine intervention, it's bringing the results with it. Similar to Wilfried Nancy’s Columbus Crew who aim to play attractive soccer regardless of the result, Sporting’s newfound freedom and audacity in front of the net has been consistent and with the confidence in front of the net, the shots that were being saved last month are starting to go in. Erik Thommy’s thunder-strike from a distance against the Timbers is a prime example of this. 

What seems to have changed is the attackers are being given more freedom to roam and fill space and grab the match by the scruff of the neck. They’re playing with more patience, better ideas and more clinical finishing. At least for now, even after a humiliating result in the “Derby-que” Sporting found the strength to fight back and win. The real question will be if they can keep it going from here and maybe even find a way to make a run for the playoffs.

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