Voices: Sacha Kljestan

Stock Up, Stock Down: New York City meet the moment, Montréal fall flat


Rivalry Week! One of the best stretches of the Major League Soccer season has come and gone – it was action-packed and the cream is rising to the top.

The stars took center stage as Federico Bernardeschi led the way with a hat trick in the Canadian Classique, the Rocky Mountain Cup was an all-timer and dare I say the Hudson River Derby is back!!


This really should be a section on Luciano Acosta, who led FC Cincinnati to a six-point week and their sixth straight victory. He dazzled with a brilliant assist in Wednesday's 1-0 win over Atlanta United and did all the damage in Saturday's 3-1 win over St. Louis CITY SC.

This weekend, Acosta had one goal and two assists to reach 152 goal involvements throughout his MLS career and pass my colleague Bradley Wright-Philips for 14th all-time. Acosta has now scored or assisted in eight straight matches!

The 2023 MLS MVP is in the zone and cooking, as are FCC. Miles Robinson has been so solid at the back and this team looks poised for another run at the Supporters' Shield.

New York City FC logo
New York City FC

New York City FC's six-point week was emphasized by a 2-1 win in the Hudson River Derby over New York Red Bulls on Saturday night.

The best image of the weekend had to be Mounsef Bakrar celebrating his game-winning goal (and first goal of the season) with a massive hug for head coach Nick Cushing. Most strikers would be angry not to start in the biggest game of the season, but Bakrar had a good mentality and came off the bench to make the difference.

Cushing deserves a lot of credit for the wonderful turnaround, as NYCFC have now won three in a row and six of their last seven. Besides Cincinnati and Inter Miami, they are now the most in-form team in the Eastern Conference.

Another team with a six-point week was the Columbus Crew, who took 3-1 wins at CF Montréal and then at Chicago Fire FC.

This is the Columbus team we're so accustomed to seeing, dominating play through possession and change of tempo attacks, whether they're at home or on the road. No team in MLS can control the flow of a game better than Columbus.

Christian Ramírez and Jacen Russell-Rowe have also stepped up mightily in Cucho Hernández's absence this week. All before…

Charlotte FC capped off a strong stretch with a four-point week after beating Chicago away (1-0) and drawing the LA Galaxy at home (0-0).

The most impressive part is Charlotte put up four straight clean sheets, taking 10 of a possible 12 points and moving up to sixth in the competitive Eastern Conference.

With a tough upcoming stretch in the schedule, can the Charlotte defense keep them in games and continue to climb the table? The attacking boost might not come until the summer transfer window.


Things went from bad to worse for Chicago this week after they lost both games at home, 1-0 to Charlotte and 3-1 to Columbus.

It's a dire situation, especially in attack. They've lost four straight and scored just two goals in their last seven matches.

It's hard to think there is a turnaround for the Fire unless they can start creating more chances. What more can you say?

Montréal lost both matches this week and it was capped off with being demolished 5-1 by Toronto in the Canadian Classique. Four straight losses for this club and 15 goals conceded in those last four – that's not good enough.

But the way Montréal started the match against Toronto really has to be analyzed. Down 3-0 after 19 minutes was embarrassing. Toronto were ready for a derby match and Montréal were still sleeping. It looked like one team was ready for a fight and Montréal were playing in the park with their friends.

There has to be more desire and concentration in a derby match. Head coach Laurent Courtois must prepare his team to change their mentality next time out.