Through two weeks, Major League Soccer’s season has been a socialist-loving, parity-heavy league. An entire league with the on-field fervor of #OccupyWallSt and a Bernie Sanders rally rolled into one. The league’s rich are getting eaten alive! West coast kingpin/purported contender, Seattle is hosting Vancouver (Saturday, 10:00 pm ET, Sirius 85) in what was supposed to be the league’s marquee game, two legs of Cascadia’s hops-bitter triangle duking it out. But they have four losses combined so far. The Sounders attack is listless and the Whitecaps have yet to show they want to defend a diagonal run. It’ll either be the Jordan Morris show (finally) or no-show (again) in Seattle.

On the other side of the continent? None of the East’s bluebloods are looking good either, and Red Bulls might get run out of New Jersey by the high-octane all-of-the-sudden Dynamo. Houston’s not going to win every game 5-0, but until NYRB figure out how to defend without having to die trying, there’s no reason to think the preseason toast of the East Coast won’t get burnt. Everything else will just be pure guesses as Toronto, New England, and Montreal all try to prove their worth on the road in this notoriously home-friendly league.

Meanwhile, in gritty and overlooked San Jose, Quincy Amarikwa might be the cheesiest dude in MLS, and I mean that as a compliment. He has an endearingly earnest website, is doing the whole manbun thing, and has suddenly found himself as the face of the league. As the first half came to an end last Sunday, it took five touches for Amarikwa to get past five defenders and launch a 30-yard chip into the top corner of Adam Kawarsey’s net. 2-0 San Jose at half, and 45 minutes later the Portland Timbers found themselves with their first loss of their title defense. Thanks to the feet and guts of a goofy journeyman from Bakersfield.

The American game favors guttiness. Think Clint Dempsey in his prime, gladly jumping headfirst into any woodchipper if he thought a goal was in it. Or Brian McBride taking elbows, fists, prison shanks and Arya Stark’s “Needle” within the six-yard box in Columbus 20 years ago. Quincy doesn’t have nearly the talent (or the height) of those two legends, but he simply tries. He tries real hard, and in an incredibly antagonistic way. Because of that, the lowly Earthquakes are undefeated heading into the California Clasico against Los Angeles.

The Clasico (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET) is the season’s first derby and first real inflection point. Los Angeles ran away with their first match and then got beat up in the Colorado altitude. They’re in a weird place, still waiting for some old dudes to get their legs and/or the younger studs like Lletget or Boateng to be less deferential. For all the knocks on San Jose’s game (looking at you, LAG Confidential), the two teams kind of have the same strategy right now: get it to the star forward and hope he can bang one in. LA might be prettier about it, but they’ll find themselves on Saturday night in a bar fight with a homely Quakes squad. And in a bar fight, the uglier person has nothing to lose.

It’ll take guts. It will take grit. It will take 30-yard chips on a muddy field. Or, I dunno, whatever sheer madness Patrick Vieira will unleash on an unsuspecting Yankee Stadium tonight. I’m sure the NYCFC coach has already thought of a dozen ways to stop Orlando’s Cyle Larin. The striker is essentially Quincy Amarikwa, but born into Malcolm Jenkins’ body and with none of the entrepreneurial spirit. He’s a beast, but Vieira spent his playing career taming strikers like him. Who knows? One of his dozen ways might even work.

This post was composed by soccer know-it-all and swell guy, Asher Kohn. Reach out to him and discuss all the soccer happenings from around the world on Twitter at: @AJKhn.

 

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