Voices: Sacha Kljestan

Stock Up, Stock Down: Red Bulls are clicking, Earthquakes need a spark


After the first few weeks in MLS, are we starting to see trends? Or is it just early in the season and some of these things are a mirage? It's a little bit of both.

Sporting Kansas City showed us last season, after not winning a single time in their first 10 matches, the ability to turn it around and still finish strong and make the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

As a call back to my column last week, Toronto FC and CF Montréal continue to rise while New York City FC and Orlando City SC continue to drop.

The rest of Stock Up, Stock Down following Matchday 4 this past weekend:


A perfect hat trick in your home opener in front of 67,000+ fans at the Benz! It was just what the doctor ordered for Giorgos Giakoumakis and Atlanta United after a quiet opening week at Columbus.

GG tore it up in the second half of a 4-1 rout over New England – he scored a penalty with his right foot, smashed in a beautiful header for his second, and finished off his hat trick in style with a banger of a left-footed volley to the upper corner. This is why I picked Giakoumakis to win the Golden Boot presented by Audi this season.

He has a hunger for goals unlike anyone else in MLS, he can score in all types of ways, and he's got great players surrounding him to set up chances. This is only the start for GG.

New York Red Bulls logo
New York Red Bulls

Seven points from three games to start the season and DP attacking midfielder Emil Forsberg has looked fantastic.

Head coach Sandro Schwarz has got the Red Bulls clicking early on, but he wanted to see his team be more dynamic in transition. We saw that on display in last weekend's 2-1 win over FC Dallas when Forsberg got on the run behind the defense and set up Lewis Morgan for the game-winner.

The 4-2-3-1 formation could be back for the Red Bulls, as that puts Forsberg at the heart of all the action and gets Morgan to run that left side with talented left back John Tolkin behind him. Things are looking bright so far for RBNY.

Minnesota United FC logo
Minnesota United FC

MVP (Most Valuable Person) for MLS so far has to be interim head coach Cameron Knowles, overseeing two road wins and a draw to start the season without Minnesota's best player Emanuel Reynoso. Nobody saw that coming!

Knowles was thrust into the spotlight just seven weeks before the season kicked off and he has done a tremendous job before Eric Ramsay takes over. He's got buy-in from the players to press the game higher up the field and has pulled contributions out of players from up and down the roster.

Just look at the game-winning goal from Saturday's 3-2 win at Orlando: a flick-on header won by Jordan Adebayo-Smith to Tani Oluwaseyi, who slips it through to Bongi Hlongwane for the finish. That's three substitutes connecting to steal the three points. Well done, Loons!


Zero points from three games, including two at home. Yikes. It's ugly in San Jose at the moment with no signs of things getting better.

The team is healthy and outside of Cristian Espinoza, I don't see anyone else on this roster being dangerous or able to strike fear in the opponent. The team lost Jamiro Monteiro and did not sign anyone to replace him. They brought in Amahl Pellegrino after transferring out Cade Cowell, but we haven't seen much from the veteran yet.

Will the bad start get the Earthquakes to go out in the market and try to find more talent before the Primary Transfer Window closes on April 23?

Another team with zero points after three league games.

What's concerning for new head coach Caleb Porter is the Revs have only scored two goals and both have come from brilliant finishes from Carles Gil. You can't depend on Gil to produce a world-class goal week in and week out – that is just not feasible, as incredible as he is.

Tomás Chancalay and Giacomo Vrioni have to step up and start putting the ball in the back of the net. Porter also needs to figure out how he wants the midfield to play and who his best pairing is in there behind Gil.

It's still early days for Porter in New England and there are a lot of talented players on their roster, but they won't want to let things slip too far.