MLS weekend roundup: FC Dallas keeps streak strong, Crew blank Dynamo

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Here’s a quick recap of MLS action this weekend, starting on Friday.

FC Dallas 2-1 Real Salt Lake: FC Dallas kept their wonderful run of form alive against Real Salt Lake on Friday night, extending their unbeaten streak to 10 games with a 2-1 victory at Toyota Stadium. Je-Vaughn Watson scored the opening goal for FC Dallas off of a corner kick following the ejection of Blas Perez on a second yellow card. In the 74th minute, the red-hot Fabian Castillo made a straight run into the box and picked the lower corner of the net to put the Toros up by two scores. In stoppage time, Olmes Garcia’s bicycle kick brought the Real closer, but it was not enough to preserve a point.

New York Red Bulls 4-2 Montreal Impact: Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry bolstered the Red Bulls attack, each nothing a brace to retain their spot in the East’s fifth-place playoff spot. Dilly Duka took it upon himself to find a hole in the New York’s defense, providing the Impact with a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute. But from that point on, it was Henry and Wright Phillips show, with the Frenchman buried an excellent diving header in the 53rd minute and a deft touch 16 minutes later. Wright-Phillips scored his 19th and 20th goals of the season in the 74th and 90th minute, Henry assisting on the first occasion.

Toronto FC 2-2 Chicago Fire: It was a tight game all the way through, and in the end, the final score reflected that even level of play. Bakary Soumare unfortunate deflection lopped over goalkeeper Sean Johnson to give Toronto FC an third-minute lead. In the 70th minute, Robert Earnshaw leveled the teams on his headed effort from Grant Ward’s cross. Toronto promptly responded nine minutes later, with Gilberto finding his way past the Fire’s back line and calmly sliding home his try. When you thought the Reds would take three points, Quincy Amarikwa smashed a volley to bring both teams back to equal footing.

Columbus Crew 3-0 Houston Dynamo: Will Bruin had a perfect chance to draw first blood in the 19th minute, unable to see through a open breakaway, and then, Columbus seized control of the game. Justin Meram weaved into the penalty box, and lifted a close-range attempt over Tally Hall. Meram followed up his score a well-placed ball for Adam Bedell, leading him to thump a header for another goal. Aaron Schoenfeld added another goal on a powerful header across the face of goal. Houston continues to falter, while Columbus stands in the thick of the playoff race, certainly making headway from last season.

New England Revolution 1-0 Chivas USA: The New England Revolution haven’t enjoyed the best form after their win streak collapsed a couple of months ago. They’ve been making their way back into serious playoff contention, though, and with a 1-0 win over Chivas USA, have gained a much-needed three points. Lee Nguyen, who has been the Revolution’s most consistent attacker and creator in the midfield this season, scored the goal to ultimately ice the match’s result for New England. Out on the wing, Kelyn Rowe muscled his pass to Nguyen right outside the penalty area, and the former PSV Eindhoven man fired a bullet past Dan Kennedy.

Sporting Kansas City 0-3 D.C. United: In about eight minutes, D.C. United scored three goals, and Sporting Kansas City, struggling at home, was shocked. Luis Silva was on the assisting end for the first two goals: Fabian Espindola’s long, rolling shot in the 24th minute and Chris Rolfe’s left-footer in the 28th minute. Perry Kitchen snagged the final goal three minutes later, staying onside and waiting for the precise moment to shoot near the top of the box. D.C. United has appreciated a top-class season, contending for the Supporters Shield as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Reigning champion Sporting KC sits one point behind United in the standings.

LA Galaxy 2-0 Vancouver Whitecaps: Enjoying a six-game unbeaten streak, albeit due to several draws, the Vancouver Whitecaps looked to make some noise at the StubHub Center against the LA Galaxy, who ended up blanking the Caps to gather a two-game victorious streak. U.S. soccer legend Landon Donovan slid forward to smack what appeared to be a low cross from Robbie Keane at the far post. Before halftime rolled around, Marcelo Savras had the luck of Robbie Keane’s aim on goal roll right to his feet at the near post, easily able to nail the second goal of the contest.

Portland Timbers 2-4 Seattle Sounders: Clint Dempsey scored his fifth goals vs. the Timbers this season, but when the whistle blew at the end of the game, Obafemi Martins was the real hero, as he totaled a brace in addition to Dempsey and Chad Barrett’s strikes. Fanendo Adi also registered a brace. With the win, Seattle is back to being in the Western Conference lead and at the head of the running for the Supporters’ Shield. The Timbers, on the other hand, are dealing with a close competition between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Colorado Rapid for the 5th place playoff spot in the West.

Philadelphia Union 4-2 San Jose Earthquakes:  Andrew Wenger and Sebastien Le Toux each put away a goal early in the contest, in the 10th and 14th minute respectively, with Le Toux supplying the former Montreal Impact man on the assist. However, it was a matter of sustaining their lead, while the Earthquakes fought back into match. Sam Cronin and USMNT forward Chris Wondolowski converted two consecutive goals, and the scoreboard was even in the 70th minute. Le Toux, who brandished an absolutely wonderful performance, assisted both Sheanon Williams and Wenger to provide the Union with a comfortable lead. San Jose’s losing sight of the postseason in the Western Conference, whilst the Union make their case for a playoff ranking, one point behind the Red Bulls in fifth place.

Atlanta’s Almiron will miss at least three weeks with hamstring injury

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This isn’t what Atlanta United wanted to see right before the playoffs, but the club will be praying that it gets one of its biggest stars back in time for the MLS postseason.

[ MORE: Trio of USWNT players stay in locker room for national anthem ]

Miguel Almiron has been ruled out at least three weeks after suffering a hamstring injury during Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact.

Given the projected three-week timetable, Almiron could return for the team’s final two matches of the regular season against the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC.

Meanwhile, Almiron will also likely miss out on Paraguay’s two final CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers, which is a devastating blow for the country’s qualification chances. Paraguay currently sits three points behind fifth-place Argentina in South American qualifying.

In his first season in MLS, Almiron has taken the league by storm after scoring nine goals and adding 13 assists. Additionally, the 23-year-old has three game-winning goals for the expansion side, who currently sits third in the Eastern Conference.

Tackling the MLS MVP debate: Which players are for real?

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We have a former MVP, a league newcomer and everything in between this season as MLS’ most prestigious individual award nears its end.

[ MORE: Atlanta continues home-field dominance with win vs. Impact ]

New York City FC’s David Villa is strongly in position to win his second MVP award in a row, while Diego Valeri, Josef Martinez and others chase the former Barcelona man.

PST takes a look at five serious candidates for the Landon Donovan MLS MVP award this season.

David Villa

The debate starts with the NYCFC captain for a second consecutive season. “El Guaje” has come out and lit it up once more for the Bronx side and propelled his side into a prime spot to grab a first-round bye in the Eastern Conference, despite Atlanta’s hot pursuit. The biggest thing working against Villa right now is a combination of injuries and lacking finishing. The Spanish international hasn’t scored an MLS goal since August 20, making his stock fall a bit.

Diego Valeri

Is there a player hotter than Diego Valeri right now? Well, there might be one other, but we’ll talk about him in a minute. The Argentine is simply scorching MLS defenses right now, scoring in nine straight matches and lifting the Portland Timbers to within a point of the Western Conference lead. Not only has Valeri exhibited incredible finishing technique in 2017, but the 31-year-old has also recorded nine assists for Caleb Porter’s group. Valeri’s most important trait could very well be his clutch factor. The attacker has six (yes, six) game-winning finishes this season for the Timbers.

Josef Martinez

Cut the whole “he missed half the season” argument out of the equation because that argument actually helps his case. The Designated Player has scored 17 goals in 16 matches this season for newcomers Atlanta, and while the expansion side has plenty of attacking firepower, such as Miguel Almiron, Hector Villalba and Yamil Asad, it’s Martinez that has proven to be the vital piece for Tata Martino and Co. down the stretch. By the way, Atlanta is 9-2-2 this season when Martinez starts for them. That’s not a coincidence.

Ignacio Piatti

These last two players won’t be sexy picks given the possibility that neither of their teams will make the postseason, but just listen to why they should be in consideration. Piatti has recorded a 25.3 percent conversion rate this season, which ranks second-highest in MLS when accounting for players that have scored 10 goals or more. The Impact have given up the second-most goals in the East this year, making it more difficult for Piatti and Co. to work

Lee Nguyen

To many, this pick will be a bit out of left field, but bear with me for a second. The 30-year-old has recorded 10 goals and 15 assists this season, making him the New England Revolution’s most dangerous attacking player because of his duel-threat abilities. Nguyen is the only player in Revolution history to record double-digit goals and assists in the same season, which further makes the case for what a historic season he is having. The Revs will need some help in order to qualify for the playoffs, but if they do, Nguyen’s stock will have to increase even more.

Report: UEFA forces PSG to sell players or risk exclusion from UCL

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Paris Saint-Germain is currently undergoing some issues within its squad, but the French giants may have bigger problems if the club fails to comply with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play laws.

[ MORE: Arsenal knocks off West Brom behind Lacazette brace ]

The club went out and spent well over $400 million this summer when PSG acquired Neymar and Kylian Mbappe from Barcelona and Monaco, respectively, and now other major clubs throughout Europe are reportedly fed up with the team’s spending spree.

Spanish outlet El Pais has reported that PSG could face expulsion from the 2018/19 Champions League competition if the club doesn’t sell up to eight of its players.

PSG has reportedly transfer listed several big names within its roster, including Angel di Maria, Javier Pastore and Julian Draxler, while veteran Thiago Silva is also among those on the chopping block.

Given his recent spat with Neymar and others in the squad, Edinson Cavani could also be on his way out if PSG receives a bid for the Uruguayan.

There are still a few things that are unclear though about UEFA’s reported sanctions. There’s been no timetable given as to when PSG needs to comply, and more importantly, it’s hard to tell whether or not the club will actually be disciplined if they don’t sell more players in January or next summer.

Arsenal 2-0 West Brom: Lacazette brace keeps Gunners rolling

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Arsenal’s early-season struggles appear to be behind them as Arsene Wenger and Co. kept up its fine form on Monday at the Emirates Stadium.

Wenger’s side took down West Bromwich Albion, 2-0, in London behind a pair of goals from Alexandre Lacazette.

[ MORE: Hemed denies intent in Yedlin stamp ]

Lacazette continued his fine scoring form on Monday, scoring his third and fourth goals at the Emirates for the Gunners.

The Frenchman found the back of the net in the 18th minute following Alexis Sanchez’s free kick, which was originally saved by West Brom keeper Ben Foster.

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The Gunners then doubled their lead in the 67th minute in controversial fashion when Lacazette converted from the penalty spot.

The club’s big-money summer signing stepped up for the spot kick after Aaron Ramsey went down in the West Brom penalty area moments earlier. Baggies defender Allan Nyom was called for the foul as he shouldered Ramsey off the ball near the end line.

The Frenchman found the back of the net in the 18th minute following Alexis Sanchez’s free kick, which was originally saved by West Brom keeper Ben Foster.

Lacazette came so close to a second for the home side in the 51st minute after a brilliant build up down the left wing by Sead Kolasinac.

West Brom was furious not to have a penalty after nine minutes when it appeared that Shkodran Mustafi took down a surging Jay Rodriguez inside the Arsenal area. Rodriguez did himself no favors though after getting back up and carrying on with his run following the challenge from the Arsenal defender.

Unfortunately for Rodriguez, his attempt went off the post after Petr Cech got a small touch to his shot.

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Rodriguez was the biggest threat for West Brom on the day, with the Baggies attacker coming close to a breakthrough on several occasions.

The win for Arsenal brings the club up to seventh place in the PL, while West Brom drops one spot to 11th.