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Monday Kickback: October 21st

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Earthquakes are enjoying the 2019 MLS playoffs from the comfort of their homes, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to talk about. The first round of the playoffs was entertaining and set up a major battle between L.A. Galaxy and LAFC that is sure to exciting. Also, the league, finally, announced Sacramento as the 29th team, and all of a sudden, I am looking at Sacramentoans with a little more caution.

Playoff Weekend starts with a bang

This season MLS adopted a new playoff format that got rid of the two-game series that would push the playoffs from October to early December. This would cause boring matches that saw teams playing for a one-round draw and conserving their energy for the second game. This season the league moved to a “one-and-done” system that sees the higher-seeded team hosting a winner take all match, and it has created instant classic matches after the first weekend.

The Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas played over 120 minutes of the most intense, edge-of-your-seat soccer that you will ever see. Even the weekends most one-sided scoreline, Toronto F.C.’s 5-1 defeat of D.C. United, was tied at the end of 90 minutes. Then Toronto removed any doubt about whether they are a legitimate MLS Cup contender.

Hopefully, the second round on Thursday and Friday can meet the expectations set in the opening week.

Wondo wants to play one more season

Chris Wondolowski had a resurgent season in 2019. The 36-year-old veteran scored 15 goals and played every match with a fire and energy that led the Quakes turnaround. As soon as the season ended Quakes, fans immediately wondered whether their leader would be back on the pitch next season.

A recent article by Robert Jonas seems to have answered the question, and people in San Jose will be happy to hear that Wondo plans to play at least one more season. He led the team with 15 goals and now sits at 159 goals in his historic career. The squad may look different in Matias Almeyda’s second season, but whatever it looks like, you can expect that Wondo will be a big part of the strategy.

Welcome to MLS Sacramento

In an announcement that has been several years in the making, MLS finally awarded a franchise to Sacramento set to start play in 2022. The team will be the leagues 29th and fourth based in California and will be a natural rival to the Quakes. Because they play in the USL Championship and only play the Quakes in friendlies or the U.S. Open Cup, I have no strong emotions about them, but it is exciting knowing there will be an MLS team a train-ride away.

MLS: Press Event at The Bank D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento Republic used to be an affiliate of the Quakes, and that is where Tommy Thompson spent a couple of seasons early in his career. The affiliation ended, and the Quakes made a deal with Reno 1868 FC, but Sacramento kept its sights on MLS. And now they have a team. Congratulations Sacramento, I look forward to getting to know your team these coming years.