Jordan Morris scored how many?! MLS Winners and Losers as Sounders star makes USMNT statement
- Seattle Sounders
- Club football
- Columbus Crew vs Atlanta United
- Columbus Crew
- Atlanta United
- Sporting KC vs Seattle Sounders
- Sporting KC
- Philadelphia Union vs Orlando City
- Philadelphia Union
- Orlando City
- Real Salt Lake vs St. Louis City
- Real Salt Lake
- St. Louis City
- Los Angeles vs Dallas
- Los Angeles
- J. Morris
- D. Bouanga
While the U.S. men's national team had all eyes on the Nations League, one of their World Cup squad members took it upon himself to put in a superstar performance in MLS.
Jordan Morris was far and away the star of the MLS weekend, as the Sounders star score four against an overwhelmed Sporting KC.
It was another reminder of just how good Morris can be on his day and, make no mistake, Saturday was his day.
He wasn't the only big winner this weekend, though, as St. Louis SC continued their miracle run, while several clubs slipped up during a tricky international break weekend.
Here's a look at the biggest winners and losers across MLS...
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WINNER: Jordan Morris
We'll start with the obvious one, your player of the week Jordan Morris.
Sometimes, you have those days when everything goes right, and Morris very much had one of those days on Saturday. Morris himself could hardly believe it; he'd never scored this many in this fashion.
"I think in my professional career, I've had a couple braces and one hat-trick," Morris said. "But never ever in my career had four goals. Maybe as a youth player, but it's been a long, long time and it means a lot."
Morris started centrally with the Sounders shorthanded at striker due to Raul Ruidiaz's absence and Heber's injury. It's safe to say it worked!
With the USMNT currently gathered in camp for the Nations League, Morris made a big statement. He's a player that is very much on the fringes, with the recent introduction of Alejandro Zendejas adding even more competition on the wing.
But goals talk, and four-goal games talk even louder. Morris may have to play his way back into the USMNT picture, and there aren't many better ways to do that than with occasional outbursts like this.
LOSER: Atlanta United
Atlanta United with Thiago Almada this season: really, really good. Perhaps the best team in MLS.
Atlanta United in their first game without Thiago Almada this season: Oh my goodness, what happened?
The Five Stripes were crushed by the Columbus Crew, losing 6-1 in an absolute beatdown that no one could have seen coming. Obviously, you can't blame too much of a five-goal defeat on the absence of their World Cup winner, and it's fair to say that Atlanta were bad at just about everything imaginable on Saturday.
The Crew, meanwhile, absolutely swarmed in what was far and away their best performance so far under Wilfried Nancy. He worked wonders in Montreal, and this is the type of performance that Nancy can certainly build on now that he's figuring things out in Columbus. Making it even sweeter? Basically everyone that contributed to the win is a U-23 player, which gives Nancy plenty to work with as this team develops.
Back to Atlanta, though. They'll write this one off quickly because these things happen in MLS. However, let it serve as a humbling for a team that had, until this past weekend, had everything going their way.
WINNER: Denis Bouanga
It's one of the quirks of MLS: playing through the international break. Teams are often shorthanded, missing their stars. Or, sometimes, the stars arrive just in time, as was the case of Denis Bouanga.
On Thursday, Bouanga started and played all 90 minutes in Gabon's African Cup of Nations qualifying win over Sudan. He then boarded a 13-hour flight from Turkey to Los Angeles, arriving just one hour before kickoff of LAFC's match against FC Dallas.
And then, wouldn't you know it, he scored the game-winner in the 84th minute, leading LAFC to a 2-1 win.
“It speaks volumes for his character and his attitude and, you know, I guess his love for LAFC,” head coach Steve Cherundolo said, adding: "You can see he loves being here and playing here, and he was able to contribute once again.”
Bouanga, who signed from Saint-Etienne midway through the 2022 season, has now scored three goals and provided two assists in MLS while scoring three more in the CONCACAF Champions League.
His latest goal, though, was definitely the wildest of the bunch, though, with Bouanga's cross-continental heroics etching his name into the latest chapter of MLS lore.
LOSER: Philadelphia Union
Are we worried about the Philadelphia Union yet? Probably not. Right?
It's getting harder and harder to not at least have a few concerns about the Union, who haven't played anywhere near their potential just yet. Their latest result is a 2-1 loss to Orlando City, taking their record to two wins and three losses so far this season.
That is... not what we expected. This is a team that could have, and maybe should have, won MLS Cup last season, and then brought back every major contributor. Yes, Andre Blake's injury doesn't help and they had some big absences for this one, but they're still too talented to be losing games like this.
“It’s early, it’s five games in," head coach Jim Curtin said. "We’re pissed and we’re going to get better.”
It's a safe bet to say they will. They're too good not to. There's a chance we just look back at this start as the Union limping into a season before figuring it all out when it really matters.
We'll see, though. Curtin is right: it's early, but the Union sure do need to be a lot better.
WINNER: St. Louis City SC
Is it still deja vu if it happens five times in a row?
St. Louis City SC are certainly past 'fluke' territory and have now moved into "How long can they keep this up?' territory. MLS' newest team is showing no signs of slowing down, as they've now won their first five games in team history thanks to their latest triumph: a 4-0 beatdown of Real Salt Lake in Utah.
It's absolutely incredible how much Bradley Carnell has molded this team in such a short time. Just five games into their existence, St. Louis already has a clear identity centered around high-energy pressing, which tends to do well in MLS.
Teams are constantly making mistakes against St. Louis, at times totally handing them goals that they have no business scoring. Multiple times this season, defenders have simply passed St. Louis the ball and, at this point, you have to credit St. Louis for making it happen so often.
Up next? A return home to face Minnesota United. If they survive that, they'll face their biggest test in Seattle against the Sounders the week after. How long will this go on? Who knows? But it seems safe to say that St. Louis is for real.