The MLS 2021 season is not even 10 weeks old yet, but there are already a few teams that need to start shaping up if they don’t want to be left behind in the playoff race come November. MLS is a streaky league; a team can easily put together a 5/ 6 game in a row winning streak and get into the playoffs. These three teams on the other hand are starting to show a pattern that even that might not get them to the finish line.
Inter Miami, LAFC, and Minnesota United are the three teams in question, not that they are bottom of the standings, there are worse teams in MLS this season, but because there were a lot of expectations with the clubs going into the season.
We will examine all three teams' situations, what could be the issues and what ray of hope each one has to get into the MLS Playoffs come November.
To say that season 2 of Inter Miami has not turned into a disappointment is an understatement. The team has only won 25% of their games this season, sit 11th in the East, and have been dreadful after an inspiring start. To the players credit a lot of off field antics from the front office has left the club exposed at just how untidy the situation at the executive level has been at Inter Miami.
Still, Phil Neville has one of the most expensive rosters in the league, although seeing where the money was spent is an issue to examine in another article. Gonzalo Higuaín is trying to lead by example, and he has with 4 goals, it’s the rest of his teammates that have failed to fall in line, with rumors around an exit for disappointing DP Rodolfo Pizarro, and the team relying on MLS veterans like Brek Shea who has found new life at the club, the Herons have looked very disbalanced as of late. Inter Miami has suffered defeats at the hands of teams they simply must beat in order to even think about the playoffs: DC United and the horrible Chicago Fire.
For Inter Miami it’s time to live up to their billing, if Pizarro were to be loaned out or sold back to Liga MX, it would free up a DP spot, with Pellegrini on the shelf for the whole year and questions around just how in order the clubs’ books are, if by some miracle the club can sign another DP level player, they would need to choose wisely. At the moment, with Pizzaro rumored to be leaving and Pellergini in the USL, Inter Miami has spent $21 million for 5 goals in 1.5 years. If Federico Higuaín is one of your team's main offensive pieces at 36, you have issues.
It has been a quiet start for one of the league's better teams. Bob Bradley can’t be happy being in 9th place in the West. To his credit Carlos Vela was not 100% and Diego Rossi, his two biggest weapons, are just now back to full fitness. Still, LAFC has been able to beat the beatable opponents, Austin FC, Colorado Rapids, but have looked second best against NYCFC, Seattle Sounders, and LA Galaxy.
LAFC will need to think fast in order to get the team back on its feet, a decision will need to be made in regard to Uruguayan DP Brian Rodríguez, who looks on his way out, the question is where? Francisco Ginella was one of the team's assist leaders last season but has fallen out of favor, if Bradley could find the best of Ginella he could be a spark in the middle.
The role players are there for LAFC, the spotlight falls on Rossi and Vela, who have shown bits and pieces of what they are this season, but after the international break, need to get going to get LAFC out of the bottom half of the West.
The Loons have a roster that could contend for MLS Cup, but after a rough four game losing streak to start the season, which included a schooling from the Seattle Sounders, the finger was pointed at Adrian Heath if he was the right man for the job. The team got some oxygen in a two-game winning streak against lonely Vancouver and FC Dallas, be it only 1-0 in each game.
The Loons return to action against FC Dallas on June 19th, with forward Adrien Hunou and winger Franco Fragapane in the squad plus Ramón Ábila with a few more weeks in MLS under his belt, there is no more time to drop any more points. If the Loons don’t show well in the next month Adrian Heath could be the season’s first coaching casualty.