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MLS Eastern Conference: Cincy’s injury woes, crucial transfer action & more on each team

We’re dissecting every MLS team in the Eastern Conference.

16 min read

Welcome back our two-part weekly MLS column here at Backheeled where we break down all 29 teams in the league.

I’ve got the East. Joe Lowery's got the West. We’ve got band-aids. We’ve got tactical tweaks. And we’ve got goodbyes. Let’s get to it. 

To read up on the West, check out Joe’s rundown.

MLS Western Conference: LAFC explode, Vanni Sartini’s tactical misstep & more on each team
We’re dissecting every MLS team in the Western Conference.

Atlanta United

Result: 1-1 draw at St. Louis City

The hits keep coming for Atlanta United. First Gonzalo Pineda, then Giorgos Giakoumakis, and now Thiago Almada?

But, also, maybe not Thiago Almda? Curveball, baby.

This specific sale may not materialize, but it sure seems like Almada’s days in Atlanta are numbered. Leaving Atlanta was always the plan with him eventually, right? But not like this. He was supposed to come in and light up MLS en route to multiple trophies, maybe an MVP, and leave with his legacy cemented. He was supposed to go out with a bang. 

Instead, he's been… fine on the field in 2024, mixing a few impressive performances with a lot of mid. When he’s on his game, he’s been unplayable. But he’s also shown a proclivity for going missing and drifting out of games over his time in MLS. On paper, this Atlanta team was supposed to be one of the most exciting and trophy-ready teams in the league, but now it just kind of feels like they’re blowing it all up halfway through the year.

I didn’t have a full rebuild from Atlanta United on my 2024 bingo card, but we’re heading that way.

FC Cincinnati

Result: 2-1 loss vs New England Revolution

The most recent set of midweek matches around MLS was all about Lucho magic. Acosta was unreal in a ridiculous 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday. He’s probably my 1B vote for MVP at this point behind Chico Arango and Cincinnati will be a contender as long as he’s healthy.

The weekend, though, was all about injuries. This backline is decimated. For starters (literally), Matt Miazga’s injury looks close to the worst case scenario. The latest reports sound like he’ll be out until close to the end of the regular season.

I was still bullish on Cincy’s Supporters’ Shield status on Extratime this week, even without Miazga, because I think Miles Robinson is good enough to steady the ship when he gets back from Copa America. And then this happened…

Robinson can steady a ship, sure. But can he steady a ship’s husk? 

Cincinnati were already scrambling to start Saturday’s matchup against New England. They started a makeshift back three of Alves Powell, Ian Murphy, and DeAndre Yedlin as a left center back. Yamil Asad started at left wingback. 

Now Hagglund’s injury leaves them with zero center back depth until Robinson returns from international duty. I still think they’ll be a top four team in the East, but the Supporters’ Shield looks really, really tough now. Chris Albright has to be on the phone looking for a couple starting-quality CBs to hold things over until the end of the year.

Charlotte FC

Result: 2-0 win at Philadelphia Union

Me to the Patrick Agyemang hive this weekend:

A brace in Philadelphia from my favorite young striker gave one of the many Queen Cities another three points. He’s such a dynamic player and can beat you in so many ways, but his first goal was such a great No. 9 goal.

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