Concaclusions, Ep. 7: MLS Mayhem & Violence In Liga MX's San Luis-Queretaro

Club soccer is back in full swing on the heels of the second international break of the season, and there were plenty of storylines to digest, both within the region and across the pond. 

Christian Pulisic altered the game for the better as a substitute in Chelsea’s 1-0 win following a rough week for the U.S., while Raúl Jiménez converted a penalty to salvage a point against Southampton.

There were several other Concacafers to make waves in Europe, but the latest installment of “Concaclusions” highlights the chaos — albeit in very different forms — on display in the region’s top leagues over the last few days.

New MLS Playoff format delivers on opening weekend

It may not be the most ideal structure for crowning the best team over the course of a season, but the new single-elimination MLS postseason brought unprecedented drama on the opening weekend. Home teams are rewarded for their work in the regular season by hosting, and no longer can teams play conservatively from the outset or manage the run of play with the knowledge they can compensate for any lost ground in a return leg.

The opening six fixtures resulted in a whopping TWENTY-SEVEN goals. Yes, you read that correctly. Franco Escobar continued his playoff heroics for Atlanta in a 1-0 over the New England Revolution in the only game in which a team failed to find the back of the net. Out west, Seattle and Dallas shook things up with an enthralling 4-3 extra time result with the men in green coming out on top thanks in large part to a Jordan Morris hat trick.

Two other battles needed more than regulation to settle the score, as Toronto exploded in extra time to top D.C. United 5-1 and Philadelphia topped the New York Red Bulls in yet another 4-3 thriller. Jefferson Savarino propelled Real Salt Late to the next round with his 87th-minute winner in a 2-1 win over Portland, and the LA Galaxy became the only team to win on the road as they held off Minnesota United’s comeback effort after Sebastian Lletget and Jonathan dos Santos got on the scoresheet.

Hungry for more action? Never fear, because the postseason kicks back up in midweek and is capped off by what is sure to be another blockbuster 'El Trafico' in the City of Angels. Buckle your seatbelts.

Liga MX makes headlines for all the wrong reasons

South of the border, there was a much different flavor of uncertainty and disorder. Dorados home match against Atlante was suspended due to the violence in Culiacán, Veracruz players staged a mid-match protest that ended in a lopsided loss to Tigres, and San Luis-Queretaro was suspended due to violence in the stands. Not exactly the best week for Mexico’s top flight.

It’s no secret by now that Veracruz are a club in complete disarray on and off the field, and the latest twist came when reports surfaced during the week that Veracruz would refuse to suit up for their bout with heavyweights Tigres due to unpaid wages stretching over several months. Nevertheless, the players showed up for business as usual — only if “business as usual” entailed not moving during the opening minutes of the affair. The Veracruz players were indeed ready to carry out a protest, and they did so by not playing after the official blew the opening whistle

According to post-match statements, there was a misunderstanding between the two clubs with regard to how long the protest was supposed to last. Tigres began moving the ball around and put two past Veracruz ‘keeper Sebastian Jurado in a hurry, and the Tuca Ferretti’s men ended up catching no shortage of flack following the 3-1 result. Veracruz owner Fidel Kuri was not a fan of his players’ defiance, calling their act “an embarrassment.”

In the final unfortunate episode for the league, all hell broke loose in the final minutes of Atlético San Luis versus Querétaro. Violence broke out between supporters and spilled onto the field, causing the match to be suspended with the score 2-0 to the visitors.

Liga MX released a statement condemning what transpired at Estadio Alfonso Lastras and pledging to take the proper measures to bring justice and take preventative measures in the future. North America’s top league has plenty of work to be done in the near future if they are to clean up their image and truly become the global league they aspire to be.

Roma Defender Chris Smalling Has Been Stellar In Italy

As if he’d not made enough of an impression since joining AS Roma on loan from Manchester United in the summer, defender Chris Smalling really stood out as an exceptional talent on the week of his 30th birthday. 

Hofstra Coach Simon Riddiough Doesn't Need The Power 5 To Define Success

By Jerry Beach

Simon Riddiough, the head coach of the Hofstra women’s soccer team, spent about two minutes of a 21-minute interview Tuesday afternoon discussing why he’s content at the Long Island school and not planning to see if he can replicate his success with a higher-profile Power Five school that would offer the resources and opportunities to make a deep NCAA Tournament run that are generally lacking in the mid-major arena.

Carlo Ancelotti, Aurelio De Laurentiis & Napoli Are In Complete Chaos

It’s hard to believe that only as far back as April 22, 2018, Napoli beat Juventus 1-0 in Turin to move top of the table with only four games remaining. Maurizio Sarri — himself now in charge at Juve — had broken the club record points total in each of the previous two campaigns, and would do so again in 2017-18, but the Naples men ultimately finished second, albeit with yet another unseen total of 91 points.

Canada Has An Opportunity To Prove Their Standing On Friday Against USMNT

This is the moment of truth for Canada's men's national team. 

Concacaf Nations League Returns For Final Group State In November

After nearly a month of waiting for the Concacaf Nations League to kick back into gear, the tournament is finally back this week with the final two matchdays in group play. 

Seattle Sounders & Toronto FC Clash With The MLS Cup On The Line

Just over a week after the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC went on the road and upset the favorites, MLS Cup 2019 is on the horizon as the 24th season in league history comes to a close. CenturyLink Field in Seattle will be the epicenter on Sunday at 3 PM when the two sides face off in the MLS Cup final for the third time in the past four years. 

Paulo Fonseca & The Unlikely Resurgence Of AS Roma In Serie A

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Potential USMNT Contributors From The Nations League Pre-Camp

November 15 could be a day of reckoning for Gregg Berhalter and the United States men's national team. After last month's 2-0 defeat to Canada — the first loss to their neighbors in 35 years — Berhalter needs a win in Orlando to help rectify the USA's position in the first-ever Concacaf Nations League. Anything other than a win would mean that Canada will advance to the semifinals, a shocking result for the U.S.

10 Things In Italy: Mario Balotelli, de Ligt Handballs & Conte's Inter

With the action in Italy heating up both on and off the field, it’s time to get you caught up with what’s been happening in the world of Serie A and, as always, “10 Things” is here to bring you right up to date.

Concaclusions, Ep. 9: Pulisic Strikes Again, Jiménez Haunts Arsenal

Another round of club play is in the books, and several of the region’s top players were in the headlines once again through clutch goals, quality performances, and even uncharacteristic errors.