MLS Wrap-Up

Buy or sell? Minnesota, Portland & Vancouver as Western Conference contenders

Minnesota United FC, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC all have eye-opening wins to start the 2024 season. But are they contenders in the Western Conference?

That was discussed by the MLS Wrap-Up panel of Andrew Wiebe, Sacha Kljestan and Kaylyn Kyle following Matchday 6.

Minnesota United FC logo
Minnesota United FC

A combination of now-assistant coach Cameron Knowles and new manager Eric Ramsay has the Loons atop the Western Conference with 10 points from four matches (3W-0L-1D). Is this a new coach bump or a sign of things to come?

WIEBE: I’m buying because the Western Conference is so unpredictable and Minnesota have the top-end talent and now the organization and belief it’s going to take to stay there. I’m going to buy top five.

KYLE: I’m on the fence, but I’m going to sell as of right now because they haven’t played with Emanuel Reynoso in the [starting] lineup. I feel like if you have Emanuel Reynoso in your XI, tactically you need to change something that’s working so well right now.

KLJESTAN: I’ve got to buy and it’s because of the chaos of this Western Conference. I don’t know where to predict where anybody’s going to be at the end of this Western Conference. In the East, I feel like I can name five really strong teams. In the West, I can’t. So, so far what I’m seeing from Minnesota, I’ve got to buy.

Portland Timbers logo
Portland Timbers

The Phil Neville era started with a stunning 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids, but Portland have won just one of their next four games.

This follows a 3-1 home loss to the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, when Jonathan Rodríguez scored on his debut after signing last week from Club América.

KLJESTAN: I’ve got to sell because I don’t know what I’m getting out of everything. They have their DP [striker], he gets the goal, Jonathan Rodríguez. But other than that, I just don’t know. So I can’t buy right now.

WIEBE: I’m selling as well. That win against Colorado I think was a little bit unfair in terms of actual chances and the way that match went. Outside of that, it’s the variables.

KYLE: I feel like Phil Neville needs a good year of implementing a little bit more structure there.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC logo
Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Vancouver (2W-1L-1D) suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday, a 2-1 defeat to Real Salt Lake at BC Place.

Was that a blip or a sign of storm clouds on the horizon for a Whitecaps side sitting third in the Western Conference table?

KLJESTAN: They had a big opportunity against RSL\] and I don’t like what I saw in the second half of that game. They had a big win last week, but that’s at [Dallas who is in a really weird place right now. I’m not sure tactically that I’m enjoying everything I see from this Vancouver team.

KYLE: The biggest loss is a Julian Gressel, a Richie Laryea in wide areas where Vancouver, they could build through the midfield or get service from those wide areas. So that’s why I’m selling.

WIEBE: I’m going to buy because of the international break. \[Andrés\] Cubas in this team, he changes them tactically, and they threw out their entire game plan in the second half. It appeared that way.