Midweek MLS roundup: Philadelphia, New England, Seattle keep rolling

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On Wednesday night the race for Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference got a lot more interesting.

Three games took place across the league, as three in-form teams continue their impressive runs.

[WATCH: LA vs. Colorado – Friday, 10:30pm ET]

[RELATED: Latest MLS standings]

Below is a roundup of the midweek MLS action, as LA and Colorado kick off the weekend live on NBCSN on Friday at 10:30 p..m ET.

Anyway, here’s what happened on Wednesday.

New England 3-1 Sporting Kansas City

Two games in MLS for U.S. international Jermaine Jones, two wins for New England. The Revs cast aside SKC 3-1 at home after fighting back from 1-0 down on Wednesday to give their playoffs hopes a boost, as two goals from Lee Nguyen and a Teal Bunbury strike did the damage. Sporting took the lead in the ninth minute as Soony Saad headed home but Bunbury equalized right on half time to make it 1-1. In the second half Nguyen exploded into life, as the midfielder scored twice to take his tally to 12 for the season and hand New England its third-straight win. Jay Heaps’ men are now unbeaten in four, while the victory also pushed them into third place on 36 points as the East looks increasingly congested with just five points separating third to seventh place.

Chivas USA 2-4 Seattle Sounders

The Sounders also continued their roll as they stayed top of the Western Conference following a convincing 4-2 win over Chivas USA at the StubHub Center. Obafemi Martins and Andy Rose both scored twice in the first half to make it 4-0 at half time, as Brad Evans notched three assists as Chivas were torn apart by the Sounders. The Goats are now eight games without a win and are propping up the standings in the West. However, they did add two goals midway through the second half to make things interesting as Marco Delgado and Ryan Finley both netted to give the scoreline a much more respectable look. Seattle’s win marked their third-straight victory, which puts them five points clear atop the Western Conference standings and the race for the Supporters’ Shield.

Philadelphia Union 1-0 Toronto FC

The Union beat struggling Toronto 1-0 at PPL Park, as Conor Casey’s lone goal in the second half was enough to hand Philly their third win in their last four matches. Sebastien Le Toux crossed for Casey to score his seventh goal of the season, as the Union are now on 33 points and are in a tie with Toronto and Columbus for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. TFC’s turbulent week continued, as the Canadian side fired Ryan Nelsen as boss on Sunday and new head coach Greg Vanney suffered a loss in his first game in charge. Ashtone Morgan was sent off late in the game and TFC’s playoff hopes now seem to be dwindling fast as they suffered their third defeat in four games. TFC are in free-fall, while Philly are on the rise.

VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week – Matchday 9

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There was some eye-popping moments in the Premier League this weekend, yet still very little debate who shone brightest.

Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri scored a pair of Goal of the Month competitors in the same day in the Potters’ 2-0 win at Hull City on Monday.

[ MORE: MLS Cup predictions ]

The first was a curling wonder from distance, while the second came from a bit closer as the big-calfed Swiss attacker bamboozled the Hull wall and goalkeeper.

The Potters are up to 16th in the Premier League table with nine points.

Finnish fans celebrate surprise title for IFK Mariehamn

IFK Mariehamm
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HELSINKI (AP) Fans of IFK Mariehamn have gathered in the main square of the remote Finnish town to celebrate their team’s surprise league title.

“I feel very proud,” the club’s managing director, Peter Mattsson, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Monday, adding that “thousands” were expected to turn up for the party.

Watched by more than 4,000, Mariehamn clinched the Finnish title on Sunday with a 2-1 home victory over Ilves, from the industrial city of Tampere.

[ MORE: Full MLS Cup bracket ]

Mariehamn held off 11 other teams, including the traditionally strong Helsinki club, HJK, and defending champion SJK from western Finland. It ended three points clear of second-placed HJK for its first league title.

Local media dubbed the team “Leicester” after the surprise English Premier League champions last season.

Mariehamn, which has a population of 11,500, is the capital of the Aland islands off the southwestern Finnish coast

Kroenke: “Very high” on Wenger who is “very hard” to replace

Jeff Fisher
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LONDON — Arsenal remains “very high” on Arsene Wenger and it will be “very hard” replacing the manager who is in the final year of his contract, owner Stan Kroenke told The Associated Press on Monday.

Wenger this month celebrated 20 years in charge of Arsenal and has offered no indication whether he wants to sign a new deal into next season.

The 67-year-old Frenchman became the Premier League’s longest serving manager when Alex Ferguson retired from Manchester United in 2013. United is now on its third manager in three years and has not competed for the Premier League title since Ferguson’s departure.

In a rare interview about Arsenal, Kroenke noted the tricky post-Ferguson succession at United while discussing the challenge of eventually replacing Wenger.

“You see it (at United), you bring up a comment like that,” Kroenke told the AP after Arsenal’s annual general meeting. “It’s very hard. He’s a great manager.”

Wenger signed his last three-year contract extension in 2014.

“We will sit down and discuss the future at the appropriate time,” Arsenal chairman Chips Keswick told shareholders at a meeting where Wenger didn’t address his contract situation in his speech.

Although Wenger has won the Premier League three times, the last success came in 2004 – a drought which frustrates fans.

“He’s been a wonderful influence on the club,” Kroenke said. “We are all very high on Arsene. We are (joint) top of the table right now.”

Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool are only separated on goal difference at the summit. Despite Wenger only winning the FA Cup twice since 2004, the team is in the lucrative Champions League for the 19th successive year thanks to its runner-up finish last season. Wenger is yet to win European football’s top prize.

“I know a number of (sports team) owners that are very successful that say the same thing – the hardest thing to do is be consistently competitive at the top of the league,” said Kroenke, who also owns the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. “Arsene has always done that and Arsenal has always been in that position. We have always been competitive.

“We may not always win the things we want to win. We are very focused on winning for sure the league. Arsene’s been consistently at the top and I will tell you – it’s very, very hard to do if you look around sports.”


2016 MLS Cup playoffs bracket in full

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07:  Michael Bradley #4 and Jozy Altidore #17 of Toronto FC celebrate a goal by teammate Tsubasa Endoh #9 during the first half of an MLS soccer game against FC Dallas at BMO Field on May 7, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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With Major League Soccer’s Decision Day 2016 in the books, we now know who will battle it out for MLS Cup.

[ MORE: Who will win MLS Cup? ]

Up first on Wednesday and Thursday are the four knockout round games, then the Conference semifinal first legs kick off this weekend.

We get into it thick and fast.

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The PST crew already selected their picks for the postseason and filled out their bracket. You can see that by clicking on the link above. FWIW, I have Toronto FC beating the Seattle Sounders in MLS Cup…

[ MORE: Ranking MLS playoff teams ]

Below is the MLS playoff bracket in full so you can make your picks and let us know who you went for in the comments section below.


MLS Playoff bracket, 2016

MLS Playoff bracket, 2016
Source: MLSSoccer.com