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Photo credit: Toronto FC / @torontofc

MLS Snapshots: TFC’s lead restored to 9 as NYCFC, CHI falter

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Toronto FC 4-0 San Jose Earthquakes

The game in 100 words (or less): TFC have taken all the excitement out of the final days and weeks of the regular season… with two months of the regular season still to go. Saturday’s 4-0 victory, their fifth straight win, over San Jose not only sent a(nother) clear message to the rest of the league that 1) they’re hellbent on MLS Cup vengeance, and 2) they might just be the best team in league history, but also re-established Greg Vanney’s side’s nine-point lead atop the Eastern Conference and in the Supporters’ Shield race (with thanks to results elsewhere — see below). Jozy Altidore bagged a pair of second-half goal, doubling and tripling the lead established by league-leading assist man Victor Vazquez. Jonathan Osorio competed the scoring with TFC’s third in 21 minutes to start the second half. Sebastian Giovinco left the contest at halftime with tightness in his quad.

[ MORE: MLS Power Rankings — Week 26 | Weekend preview ]

Three moments that mattered

26′ — Vazquez fills an empty net after Tarbell’s blunder — Andrew Tarbell made every effort imaginable in an attempt to get a touch on Steven Beitashour’s cross, but the second-year ‘keeper only wound up looking a fool as Vazquez bagged his sixth goal of the season (to go with 14 assists).

48′ — Altidore slots home for 2-0 — Goals don’t come much easier than this one, for which all Altidore had to do was not send his shot 20 rows into the stands, and he’d make it an even dozen on the season. (Scratch that earlier note — 15 assists for Vazquez)

64′ — Altidore heads past Tarbell for 3-0 — So it’s a baker’s dozen for Altidore, and four goals in TFC’s last three games.

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Man of the match: Victor Vazquez

Goalscorers: Vazquez (26′), Altidore (48′, 64′), Osorio (66′)


New York City FC 0-1 Portland Timbers

The game in 100 words (or less): Three short days after cutting TFC’s lead to six points, NYCFC crashed and burned their own Shield dreams as they lost at Yankee Stadium for just the second time all season, falling to Portland, 1-0. Diego Valeri scored the game’s only goal and made a bit of history in the process (see below). The victory pushes Caleb Porter’s side two points clear of the Seattle Sounders for the Western Conference’s top spot (though Seattle now have two games in hand). Portland become the first West side to reach a dozen wins on the season, and extend their current unbeaten run to four games (three wins). TFC are the only side to beat Portland in the Timbers’ last eight games.

[ MORE: MLS Power Rankings — Week 26 | Weekend preview ]

Three moments that mattered

44′ — Valeri hammers past Johnson for 1-0 — No one pressured Valeri and he fired past Sean Johnson to give himself a goal in seven straight games, which ties the Argentine for the all-time record in MLS history.

47′ — Brilliant nearly scores from his stomach — Frederic Brilliant so nearly scored the weirdest goal of the 2017 season, a pool-ball tap-in from his belly, but the Frenchman couldn’t quite hit the corner pocket.

84′ — Johnson makes a spectacular save to keep NYCFC in it — This is just absolutely ridiculous from Johnson, who’ll very likely ride this one to Save of the Year glory.

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Man of the match: Diego Valeri

Goalscorers: Valeri (44′)


Chicago Fire 1-1 New York Red Bulls

The game in 100 words (or less): Chicago’s tailspin might very well be over, but Veljko Paunovic’s side still dropped a pair of points at home on Saturday, in a 1-1 draw with New York. After putting a four-game losing skid to bed last weekend, Chicago were made to scrap their way to a point against a side four points (and two spot) below them in the East. Now 14 points back of TFC (they were the only side within three of the Reds a month and a half ago) and five back of NYCFC for second, the dreaded knockout round is looking a likelier destination everyday for Chicago. Two positives for Chicago: a loss would have meant just one point stood between themselves and New York (and three from falling out of the top-four, thus the right to host the knockout round game), and Nemanja Nikolic scored his first goal since July 1, a stretch of 10 games without the Hungarian finding the back of the net.

[ MORE: MLS Power Rankings — Week 26 | Weekend preview ]

Three Two moments that mattered

8′ — BWP’s in the right place at the right time, and it’s 1-0 — That describes, what, roughly 80 percent of BWP’s goal in MLS. That’s not a slight on the Englishman, because always popping up in the right spot is 99 percent skill and 1 percent luck.

66′ — Nikolic breaks his drought, makes it 1-1 — Nikolic gets the goal, but Michael de Leeuw should get all the attention for this delicate touch. As the ball came falling out of the sky, the Dutchman so carefully laid it across the face of goal and gifted Nikolic a chance he couldn’t miss.

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Man of the match: Sacha Kljestan

Goalscorers: Wright-Phillips (8′), Nikolic (66′)

MLS Preview: Atlanta United opens new stadium; Fire clash with Red Bulls

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On a busy week of MLS action, let’s take a deep dive at this weekend’s top three matchups.

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Atlanta United vs. FC Dallas — Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET

After six months at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta United finally get to take the field at its permanent home stadium.

Mercedez-Benz stadium plays host to Atlanta United against FC Dallas as the two teams battle for playoff places in their respective conferences. Both teams are sitting in the last playoff places available and need to get wins to get back on track.

Atlanta United is winless in its last four, but the club get Designated Player Miguel Almiron back from international duty. He and Josef Martinez will be hoping Yamil Asad can find them in space to bring the Atlanta fans to their feet.

FC Dallas on the other hand are winless in its last seven games but have drawn two of its last three matches, maybe a sign of positive results on the horizon.

Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls — Saturday, 4 p.m. ET

The Fire returned to winning ways last Saturday with a 1-0 win on the road over the Montreal Impact and now they return home to face Jesse Marsch and the Red Bulls.

The Red Bulls sit just four points behind the Fire in the Eastern Conference Standings but have struggled on the road this season, winning just four times out of 12 games.

It will be interesting to watch how the midfield partnership of former Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty and Bastien Schweinsteiger deals with the Red Bulls’ high press and short passing system.

Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy — Sunday, 9 p.m. ET

For the second time in a little more than a month, Sigi Schmid and his LA Galaxy side face his former club, the Sounders.

Schmid won his first game as Galaxy manager last weekend with a 3-0 decision over the Colorado Rapids but it’s been tough sledding for a team that’s dealt with serious injuries across the lineup and international call-ups all season long.

Seattle meanwhile is unbeaten in its last five with two draws after three straight wins, and as an added boost, the club gets Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey back from international duty with the U.S. Men’s National Team. It’s unclear whether Joevin Jones will play, after departing from the Sounders without permission to join up with the Trinidad and Tobago National Team.

Full MLS schedule (All Times E.T.)

Saturday

Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls — 4 p.m.
Toronto FC vs. San Jose Earthquales — 5 p.m.
New York City FC vs. Portland Timbers — 5:30 p.m.
D.C. United vs. Orlando City SC — 7 p.m.
New England Revolution vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m.
Minnesota United vs. Philadelphia Union — 8 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. Colorado Rapids — 8:30 p.m.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Real Salt Lake — 10 p.m.

Sunday

Columbus Crew vs. Sporting Kansas City — 1 p.m.
Atlanta United vs. FC Dallas — 3:30 p.m.
Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy — 9 p.m.

MLS Snapshot: Kamara records first MLS hat-trick; Fire beat Impact

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The game in 100 words (or less): It’s been an up and down year for the New England Revolution, but Saturday night’s win could help spark a playoff push for Jay Heaps and Co. Kei Kamara recorded his first career MLS hat-trick in the 4-0 win for the Revs against Orlando City, while Lee Nguyen assisted on all four goals. The Lions have now allowed 43 goals this season, the second most in the Eastern Conference, while the team’s offense continues to struggle.

Three moments that mattered

75′ — Close your eyes, Orlando fans — Kamara looks like he’s just toying with the Lions defense tonight.

89′ — Kamara gets his hat-trick — The veteran MLS striker finally has his first career hat-trick in the league, and what a performance it was.

90+2′ — Bunbury adds to the misery — It just hasn’t been Orlando’s year on the defensive side of things…

Man of the match: Kei Kamara

Goalscorers: Kei Kamara (26′, 75′, 89′), Teal Bunbury (90+2′)


The game in 100 words (or less): Simply put, the Fire needed a win. It didn’t matter how it came or what the scoreline was. Bastian Schweinsteiger ensured that victory would come on Saturday night in Montreal when the German netted his third goal of the season for the Fire. The victory gives Veljko Paunovic’s side 44 points on the year, which is good enough for third place in the Eastern Conference, while the Impact remain in seventh place in the East.

Three two one moment that mattered

59′ — The Fire take the lead, don’t relinquish it — Matt Polster makes a great run, and Bastian Schweinsteiger didn’t make any mistakes with his finish. Much needed goal for the Fire.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Bastian Schweinsteiger

Goalscorer: Bastian Schweinsteiger (59′)

MLS: Danladi’s double does it for MNUFC; CHI lose 4th straight

Photo credit: Minnesota United / Twitter: @MNUFC
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Chicago Fire joined FC Dallas as former Supporters’ Shield contenders/waning MLS Cup favorites to suffer defeat and extend a horrifically long winless skid on Saturday. While FCD dropped to six games without a win, Chicago fell 2-1 at the hands of Minnesota United, their fourth straight defeat and sixth in seven games. Abu Danladi scored each of the game’s first two goals, the no. 1 overall draft pick’s fourth and fifth this season, as the Loons picked up just their second win in nine games (five losses). The victory, Minnesota’s first away from home since enterting MLS, lifts Adrian Heath’s side three points clear of the Colorado Rapids in the race to avoid the Wooden Spoon (last-place finishers league-wide), while Chicago tumble to fourth after Columbus knocked off FCD to go third.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s MLS roundup — TFC dominant; wild Texas derby ]

Three moments that mattered

36′ — Danladi hits an empty net for 1-0 — Ethan Finlay did most of the hard work here, getting forward and picking out Danladi atop the six-yard box; all the rookie had to do was not blow the open-net chance.

45′ — Danladi pokes it past Lampson for 2-0 — Danladi had considerably more to do for his second, as Jerome Thiesson’s cross arrived 10 yards from goal and at full-stretch. A tough, instinctive finish.

77′ – Accam gets in behind, makes it 2-1 — Bastian Schweinsteiger was brilliant not once, but twice, in setting up David Accam’s goal in the 77th minute. Accam’s apart, the finish, wasn’t exactly simple, either.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Abu Danladi

Goalscorers: Danladi (36′, 45′), Accam (77′)

MLS Snapshot: Chicago Fire 1-3 Toronto FC (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Greg Vanney and Toronto keep on doing their thing, and the Canadian side is yet another step closer to achieving MLS glory. TFC picked up its 50th point of the season on Saturday night after comfortably handling the Chicago Fire, who have cooled off significantly as of late in the Eastern Conference. The Fire are now nine points behind the East leaders and are losers of four of their last five matches.

Three moments that mattered

54′ — Accam, Fire level it up — Toronto really does manage to get contributions from everybody…

64′ — Hasler nets first MLS goal — Toronto really does manage to get contributions from all of their players…

90′ — Giovinco says goodnight to Chicago — That’s 12 goals on the season for Sebastian Giovinco and the TFC striker continues to help his side push towards the top seed in the East and MLS.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Marco Delgado (14′), David Accam (54′), Nick Hasler (63′), Sebastian Giovinco (90′)