Thanks to a rescheduled World Cup, this MLS off-season has been a lot more interesting than usual. It’s been a drama-filled few days, and it is nice to be able to get my thoughts in writing. I highly recommend it, and it’s something you can also do if you join The Mane Land staff. It is a lot of fun. I promise, if you can talk about soccer, you can write about soccer. For now, let’s get to it.
There is only one choice here for the top “good” of the week, and that is the USMNT advancing to the Round of 16 in the 2022 Men’s World Cup. This was one of the biggest matches in USMNT history, and the young squad stepped up in a must-win game against Iran to win on Christian Pulisic’s 38th-minute goal. Indeed, Pulisic put his body on the line to make that goal, and paid the price with a “pelvic contusion.”
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 29, 2022
This is very likely the most talented roster the USMNT has ever fielded, but it’s good to see the passion and willingness to get physical is there as well. For his part, Pulisic said he’ll be ready for Saturday’s match against the Netherlands. I have my doubts, but I’m no doctor, so we’ll see. Even if he can’t play Saturday, there are players like Brenden Aaronson and Gio Reyna who are very talented and are able to step into that role.
The other good thing that happened this week was Orlando City re-signing Adam Grinwis to a one-year contract. The Grinch is a perennial backup — or number three — keeper in MLS, and that is fine. He gets paid pretty well for such a position, and occasionally gets to come in and make saves that ensure he is a legend with this club. There is no downside to keeping him on the books for either the club or the player. Whether you call him Grinny, the Grinch, the Ginger Ninja, or any other excellent nickname, you know he’ll be there when he’s needed.
As good as it is to have Grinwis back, it is even worse to lose João Moutinho. Though there is nothing official from the club, Moutinho said goodbye to Orlando City and its supporters on his personal social media. As Michael Citro pointed out in his recent article, this was not unexpected but that doesn’t make it any easier to lose the best left back the club has ever had. It’s not yet clear where Moutinho is going — seemingly Spezia in Italy — but there has been plenty of interest from European clubs, and I think soon enough we’ll know his official landing spot.
I’m going to cheat a little with this one, as it is an ugly that results in a good. An Iranian reporter from a state-sponsored outlet posed a tough question to USMNT captain Tyler Adams. He tried a “gotcha” question regarding how Adams, as a person of color, could justify representing the United States given this country’s history with the Black community. Adams’ answer was a masterclass in dealing with dishonest actors with class and thoughtfulness. We are all better for having heard it.
I can't tell you how impressive Tyler Adams was facing questions from Iranian media at today's press conference.pic.twitter.com/YUlvrVEfud
— Subscribe to GrantWahl.com (@GrantWahl) November 28, 2022
Of course, that one incident was just the most visible of many non-soccer-related storylines surrounding the match against Iran. The geo-political elements seemed to overshadow the match right up until it started. After that, it was all about soccer.
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or if you have another topic you think works.