Weekend Recap: The Galaxy’s evolution, ranking the most fun NWSL teams, and Phoenix Rising’s struggles

Quick
Hits
  • MLS: It might be time for the Los Angeles Galaxy to evolve under Greg Vanney
  • NWSL: Who are the most entertaining teams in the league? Let’s rank them
  • USL: Since their rebrand, Phoenix Rising have been one of the best teams in the USL. And now…they’re not

We’re back with another edition of the Weekend Recap. Every Monday, we make it easier for you to keep up with the most interesting and important things in American soccer. 

Today, we’re taking you through some of the past weekend’s key storylines, including the LA Galaxy’s shape change, the NWSL’s most entertaining teams, and Phoenix Rising’s struggles in the USL.

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MLS

Lowery: It might be time for the Los Angeles Galaxy to evolve

Carson, Calif. — Sebastian Blanco bends over, putting his arm around Victor Vazquez at the edge of the center circle. 

There’s a visible, undeniable level of respect between the pair of No. 10s. Blanco pulls the strings in the Portland Timbers’ attack, while Vazquez is regularly tasked with advancing the ball and creating chances in the final third for the LA Galaxy. Vazquez had just run into Diego Chara – MLS’s ever-present brick wall in central midfield. While Vazquez tried to play another few minutes before coming off in the 32nd minute on Saturday with a back injury, Galaxy manager Greg Vanney had smooth midfielder Efra Alvarez start to warm up on the sideline. 

If Alvarez came on for Vazquez, LA would almost certainly keep their shape and mirror their own tactics from the game’s opening stages. But the young Mexican international didn’t step in for Vazquez. Instead, Vanney subbed on striker Dejan Joveljic, changing the team’s shape and changing bits of their tactical approach… [Subscribe]

NWSL

Cascone: Who is the most entertaining team in the NWSL?

Inspired by J. Sam Jones and his MLS entertainment rankings, I’ve created yet another “brand new, totally mathematically sound metric.” Only this time, it’s to quantify the entertainment values of NWSL teams based on their 2022 regular season performances. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, there’s no gold-standard way to define entertainment value. So, I thought long and hard about what makes games and teams exciting to me. Now, it’s totally possible that the things that make games exciting to me are different from the things that make games exciting to you, reader, but I digress. Let’s get into it.

All data courtesy of StatsPerform. Special thanks to Tony Maza for pulling the data and fielding my questions as I crunched these numbers!

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USL

Morrissey: What’s wrong with Phoenix Rising?

As they hover outside of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, it’s time to wonder if Phoenix Rising can right the ship in 2022. Since their rebrand five years ago, the club has finished no worse than third in the conference and has always been a title contender, but this year’s team hasn’t lived up to expectations. 

What’s gone wrong for Rick Schantz’s side?

Phoenix’s changing roster over the last calendar year is the first place to look for signs of trouble. In the middle of 2021, do-it-all forward Rufat Dadasov was sold to Schalke, but Phoenix didn’t suffer much with a rotating cast of strikers doing just enough to tread water. Bolstered by prodigious wing production from Santi Moar (16 goals) and Solomon Asante (10 goals), Rising never truly lacked firepower in the attack… [Subscribe]

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