Week 25 of the 2022 MLS season is in the books and we’re almost on the home stretch in the Playoff race.
LAFC tightened their grip on the Supporters’ Shield with a 5-0 demolition of Charlotte FC, but the Black and Gold are one of a very select group who can count themselves safe in the off-season places.
Yael Averbuch West hosted none other than Christian Fuchs for the latest episode of Football Americana. The Charlotte FC captain provided insight into the creation of Major League Soccer’s newest expansion team, and bringing European culture into the American side.
In the East, Inter Miami moved into seventh with a 3-2 win over reigning champions NYCFC and are one of 10 teams in the conference separated by just eight points. Out West, the LA Galaxy jumped back above the line with a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. From third to 11th in the West, the gap is just nine points.
Who are the players pushing hardest for their teams? Let’s rank the top five from Week 25:
Speculation regarding a move to the Premier League is hotting up for Jose Cifuentes and no wonder with performances like this.
The Ecuador international put LAFC 2-0 up in the 59th minute against Charlotte, with the Black and Gold eventually running riot, while Cifuentes provided the assist for Carlos Vela to make it three shortly afterward.
Cifuentes is such a valuable player right now, though, because of his all-round game and he proved that with three tackles, nine recoveries, and two interceptions.
Total midfield domination.
Cifuentes wasn’t the only star in LA on Saturday, though. In the other half of the city, Samuel Grandsir was the architect behind the Galaxy’s 5-2 thrashing of the Whitecaps at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Grandsir scored goals one and four in the rout. He arrived at the far post to profit off some shoddy ‘Caps defending for the first, while for his brace Grandsir controlled the ball on the edge of the box, picked his spot, and dispatched his shot perfectly.
All too often Grandsir has failed to live up to expectations with the Galaxy but on Saturday, the Frenchman was a menace and ruthless in the final third.
Alan Velasco’s debut season in MLS can best be described so far as exciting yet steady. On Saturday, though, he came to life and showed us all what we can expect in the future.
Right from the start, Velasco got at the San Jose Earthquakes, firing a shot just over the crossbar in the opening seconds. Moments later, he took advantage of a mistake to get behind the opposition defense and set up Jesus Ferreira for the opening goal.
Dallas pressed their advantage from there and, in the 57th minute, Velasco put the game beyond all doubt with a wonderful 30-yard effort to make it 4-0.
Four shots, four chances created, one goal, one assist, three points.
By his own standards, Carles Gil has had a pretty quiet couple of months but he was back to his very best on Saturday.
The Spanish midfielder was on hand to fire home Brandon Bye’s delivery after just 18 minutes to give the New England Revolution a 1-0 lead that they’d protect until the end. In all honesty, he should have made it two in the second half when he got behind the DC United defense and rounded goalkeeper Rafael Romo, only to hit the post.
But that didn’t take away too much gloss from a performance that saw Gil attempt nine shots, complete seven of his nine attempted dribbles, and 15 of his 17 attempted long passes.
A maestro at work.
Alejandro Pozuelo really is Inter Miami now.
In just his sixth competitive appearance for the Herons since signing from Toronto FC, the Spaniard was electric as he helped Miami beat NYCFC 3-2 at DRV PNK Stadium.
Pozuelo combined brilliantly with Bryce Duke to fire Miami level at 1-1 shortly before half-time, leaving Sean Johnson helpless with his powerful finish. Then, in the final few minutes, Pozuelo intercepted a terrible back pass from Alfredo Morales and beat Johnson again to give Miami a 3-2 win after battling back from 2-1 behind.
On another day, the 30-year-old could have had an assist, too, creating two chances and generating 0.44 xA.
This was prime TFC Pozuelo and exactly what Inter Miami have been crying out for.
Honorable mentions: Thiago Almada, Andrew Brody, Jesus Ferreira, Julian Carranza, Justen Glad, DeJuan Jones, Richie Laryea, Dayne St. Clair.
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