Voices: Sacha Kljestan

Stock Up, Stock Down: LA Galaxy are legit, Toronto FC magic fades


Another crazy week of MLS was highlighted by nearly 73,000 fans at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City as Lionel Messi and Inter Miami came to town. The show did not disappoint!

In 2007, my sophomore season in MLS, we visited Arrowhead Stadium for a playoff game in front of 12,000 fans... look how far we have come.

This week we saw some big-time performances from big-time players: Messi, Josef Martínez, Joseph Paintsil, Mateusz Bogusz and Rafael Navarro.

Stock Up, Stock Down – Matchday 9 edition!


It was a statement 3-1 win for LA Galaxy away at Vancouver. In a matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the Western Conference, the Galaxy showed they are the best team in the West so far this season.

They controlled the game through possession and good tactical play, but their best moments came through transition attacks, where we have seen them dominate. Paintsil was the difference-maker, Puig pulled the strings and Dejan Joveljic put himself in the right place at the right time... again. The play of the game had to be the outstanding line-splitting pass from Puig to Paintsil for the game-winner.

After a very difficult schedule to start the season, LA sit on 15 points and are tied for the Supporters' Shield lead. The Galaxy still give up too many chances and Greg Vanney will work hard to fix that, but with this midfield and attack, the Galaxy are back and poised to challenge for trophies again.

Orlando City SC logo
Orlando City SC

Orlando gave up a terrible early goal at D.C. United, then fought and clawed their way back into the game to win 3-2. Duncan McGuire finished off a beautiful pass from Nico Lodeiro to prove the difference late in the match.

This felt like a statement result for Orlando as well. They showed resilience and character, proving they have the quality to compete for a top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese has not looked the same player from last season, though, and was at fault on Christian Benteke's opening header. He will have to find his best form again soon for the Lions to reach their potential.

Houston Dynamo FC logo
Houston Dynamo FC

The Dynamo continue to impress me almost every week. Two DPs out (Héctor Herrera and Sebastián Ferreira) and an attacking midfielder (Sebastian Kowalczyk) playing striker, but this team still finds a way to win.

Full credit to head coach Ben Olsen for building belief and being a tough team to play against; we have never heard any excuses from this club during this early part of the season.

Thirteen (13) points from these opening seven games will go a long way toward the playoff race, especially when this team gets their best players back from injury.

Colorado Rapids logo
Colorado Rapids

Another Western Conference club that continues to impress every week is Chris Armas' Colorado Rapids.

Yes, it came against the lowly Earthquakes this week, but it was a 3-0 win on the road. That is never easy in Major League Soccer.

DP Striker Rafael Navarro got a brace and Cole Bassett showed his quality while putting the icing on the cake. Some of my colleagues called me crazy when I said this could be a playoff-level team. But it's been a bright start to the season and there's another good opportunity for a win Saturday at home vs. FC Dallas (9:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).

Toronto FC logo
Toronto FC

Has the early-season magic worn off?

After a good start, especially on the defensive side of the ball, Toronto have shipped 10 goals in their last three matches – including a 3-2 loss at Charlotte on Saturday. That's nowhere near good enough. But the injuries you say... yes that's a valid excuse, but other teams are dealing with their injury problems much better than Toronto so far.

John Herdman needs to get this group back to basics and be that tough team to play against that we saw in the first few weeks of the season. That is their recipe for success right now until everyone gets healthy, or new signings arrive in the summer.

Sporting Kansas City logo
Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC seem to be teetering on the edge of almost greatness where if a few things went differently early this season, they could be in the Supporters' Shield race. But the table doesn't lie and they end up on the down list this week because of their home results.

Through five home games, they have collected five out of a possible 15 points. In those five games, they have had leads of 1-0 and drawn, 2-0 and lost, 3-0 and drawn, and 1-0 and lost.

There is something eating this team right now at home, and Peter Vermes needs to solve it quickly. Is it character, mentality or naivete? They must manage their leads better and start taking care of business at home.