MLS Saturday roundup: Whitecaps break losing streak; D.C. United back on track

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Another weekend of Major League Soccer action will come to a close following two matches on Sunday: Seattle Sounders vs. the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution vs. the LA Galaxy.

As far as the meetings on Saturday, a couple of them were notable for late goals that altered the results.

Below is a roundup of the individual contests.

Toronto FC 3-1 San Jose Earthquakes: No Jozy Altidore for the Reds? No problem. The striker is set to miss four-five weeks with a hamstring injury as of May 19, and in this match, Toronto saw Sebastian Giovinco contribute significantly to ease the former Sunderland forward’s absence. Snapshot here.

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Real Salt Lake: This time around, the Vancouver Whitecaps showed their playoff-worthiness after losing two-straight matches, and Real Salt Lake wasn’t able to regain form following a mid-week loss at the hands of the LA Galaxy. Vancouver still has some sorting out to do in midfield, but the goals arrived when needed. In the 36th minute, Gershon Koffie, scoring in this 100th MLS game, struck a deep winding shot that soared into the back of the net past goalkeeper Nick Rimando–a magnificent conversion. Seven minutes later, RSL’s Javier Morales nailed a beautiful free kick that squeezed into the corner of the net. Cristian Techera’s determined follow-up on Octavio Rivero’s header in the 79th minute handed the Caps a win.

New York City FC 1-1 Houston Dynamo: NYCFC got behind their raucous home crowd and pressed forward for the late winner. But the Dynamo’s back line held firm and goalkeeper Tyler Deric provided the heroics to grab a point on road. Snapshot here.

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D.C. United 2-1 Philadelphia Union: United was directing its sights on three points due to a difficult three-game away stretch without a win, and came out triumphant against the Union, victorious in their previous two bouts.  D.C. extended their home unbeaten steak to 19, while Chris Rolfe and Davy Arnaud were two of several key men for the Black and Reds. Andrew Wenger fed Sebastian Le Toux for the close-range opening goal in the fifth minute, but D.C. stormed back, Chris Pontius and Chris Rolfe (on an 85th-minute PK from a Zach Pfeffer handball) burying the next two. D.C.’s dominant spell of possession (85 percent at one point) in the final ten minutes put an end to the Union’s aspirations for a draw.

Orlando City SC 2-2 Columbus Crew: Crew clearly got the better of Orlando City SC in 3-0 victory back in April. This tilt saw a reverse of what transpired then, as Crew went down 10 men on Michael Parkhurst’s first red card of his MLS career in the 16th minute. Kaka buried the penalty kick off the American’s handball, and the score was tied at 1-1 since Tony Tchani guided home a header early on in the 6th minute. Crew target man Kei Kamara did what he does best, rising above the rest to bang his header past goalie Tally Hall for the 2-1 lead sixteen minutes into the second half. But Orlando wouldn’t completely relinquish the golden opportunity afforded by the red, with Pedro Ribeiro zooming a long-distance effort late.

Chicago Fire 3-0 Montreal Impact: The Impact had their short run of favorable play and were not ready to compete with the Fire in this competition, who were winless in their past four games and hungry for three points. The red card to Montreal midfielder Marco Donadel (his second yellow) in the 37th minute didn’t help their cause. Chicago had already netted the first goal of the match in the 13th minute off Harry Shipp’s upper-90 finish; Jeff Larentowicz added a second on a penalty kick from Bakary Soumare’s hauling down of Fire midfielder David Accam in the box. Kennedy Igboananike, all alone against goalie Evan Busch in the 72nd minute, then tallied the third for his very first MLS goal.

Colorado Rapids 1-2 Portland Timbers: Talk about a wild ending. This game remained fairly steady throughout, and just before the 90 minute mark, the Rapids, unable to get many threatening attacks, drew the match level at 1-1. Then, Portland goes for gold and nabs the stoppage-time winner. Snapshot here.

10-man Red Bulls hold off Atlanta United at home

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Atlanta United’s five-game winning streak went up in smoke as the New York Red Bulls pulled off an incredible 1-0 victory.

Playing down a man for around 65 minutes, the Red Bulls shutout Atlanta United’s high powered offense in front of 18,495 fans at Red Bull Arena. Tom Barlow, in just his second appearance with the Red Bulls, scored the game-winning goal in the 65th minute off a header at the far post, one that left U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper Brad Guzan rooted to his line.

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Tim Parker was shown a straight red card in controversial fashion, after grabbing Josef Martinez’s left arm with Martinez in front of him just outside the box. Martinez was clearly pulled back but continued running and eventually got a shot off that Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles parried away.

Referee Robert Sbiga then decided to call the play back and award Atlanta United a free kick outside the box. After what seemed to be consultation with his assistants, Sbiga then showed Parker a straight red card, likely for denial of a clear goal scoring opportunity (DOGSO) while Martinez was through on goal.

The outcome is a massive one for the Red Bulls. It’s been a rough season, with the loss of both Jesse Marsch and Tyler Adams and the poor form of Bradley Wright-Phillips up top. Wright-Phillips was out on Sunday and another attacker Andreas Ivan, went off with an injury in the first half as he was about to be substituted off anyways following the red card.

Alejandro Romero Gamarra, Kaku, has made his feelings known that he wants (or wanted) to leave the club. His form hasn’t been stellar this season either.

Meanwhile, Atlanta’s finally found its way back into the win column and is looking more like the juggernaut from last season, especially with five-straight shutout wins. It’s all back to zero today though, with the defeat at the Red Bulls on a perfect grass pitch up a man.

Mbappe hints he could leave PSG

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Kylian Mbappe accepted his award as the Ligue 1 MVP, dedicated it to Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, and then mentioned he could be off soon to another club.

Wait, what?

Yes, following Mbappe accepting his award, the French star and World Cup winner stated he hoped he could continue his career at PSG but left open the possibility of moving to another club that allows him to take the next steps in his career.

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“This is a very important moment for me, I arrive at a first or second turn of my career,” Mbappe said, via L’equipe. “I’ve discovered a lot of things here, I feel that maybe it’s time to have more responsibility. I hope it may be at Paris Saint-Germain, it would be with great pleasure, or perhaps elsewhere for a new project.”

Mbappe later clarified his comments, stating he was looking for more responsibility. “If it’s at PSG, that’s good. If it is elsewhere, it will be elsewhere for a new challenge.

“For me, it was time to say it. I am someone whole: when I say something, I think it. For me, it was the right time to say it. That’s it, I said it!”

It’s unclear why exactly Mbappe used this moment to put some pressure on PSG. Perhaps its to remind them that the club needs to be successful in its transfer endeavors this summer, so it can compete deep into the UEFA Champions League. With Neymar injured and a central midfield ravaged by injuries, PSG capitulated and somehow fell to Manchester United in the Champions League Round of 16, grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory.

There’s no reason why PSG can’t dominate the Champions League like it does Ligue 1, especially with the attacking trident of Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani. But of course, against better competition, the inferiority in mentality and in talent along the backline has started to show.

So, where could Mbappe go? There’s very few places that could effectively match both his salary and his competitive goals. It’s the usual suspects, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and perhaps Manchester City, should they be interested in it. More recently, while Man City has spent big, it’s been on signing multiple players on $50 million transfers, as opposed to one player on a $200 million transfer, for example.

It’s unlikely, but an intriguing option would be Liverpool. If the club somehow came up with the funds, imagine Mbappe playing alongside Sadio Mane and Mo Salah, with Roberto Firmino coming in to spell either of the three over the course of the season. Mbappe would likely make up that one-point difference between Liverpool and Man City, and if that’s what it takes for Liverpool to finally win the title, it could be worth the initial massive investment.

Messi finishes season leading La Liga in goals, assists, and more

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Lionel Messi turns 32 this summer, and after more than a dozen years of first team soccer, playing more than 50 games a season, the old man’s still got it.

The Argentine star, playing his first season in almost a decade without direct competition from Cristiano Ronaldo, scored twice as Barcelona tied Eibar, 2-2. The two goals gave him 34 for the season, by far the most by any player in the league, and his 50th in all competitions.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Messi also led La Liga this season with 13 assists, 136 shots, 85 shots on target and 70 through balls. In terms of successful dribbles, Messi’s 132 fell seven short of Celta Vigo’s Sofiane Boufal.

Messi’s 34 goals gave him his sixth Pichichi, the trophy given to the league’s leading scorer. Messi is now tied with legendary Telmo Zarra for the all-time record of most Pichichi’s, and Messi is now three ahead of Ronaldo.

As if Messi wasn’t already a legendary player, the man seems to be showing no signs of slowing down. It may have helped that he skipped matches with Argentina after the 2018 World Cup this past fall, keeping him fresh for Barcelona. Even so, the man looks as good, if not better, with age.

Messi already holds the record for most goals in league history, and at this rate, he’ll set it to a level that will be almost impossible to reach. While he’s going to be remembered for his incredible control on the ball, it doesn’t hurt that he’s been incredibly productive during his career, including in 2018-2019. Barcelona won the league title with ease and the club made the UEFA Champions League semifinal. If for some better defending, Messi could be contesting for another Champions League title.

Nani scores twice as Orlando City thrashes FC Cincinnati

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Nani may not be the star he once was while he played for Manchester United, but he’s still making a powerful impact in MLS.

The Portuguese international scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season as Orlando City ran circles expansion side FC Cincinnati, winning 5-1. Along with Nani, Tesho Akindele scored a brace and Dom Dwyer came off the bench and scored a header in the win.

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Aside from having a chance to record a big win over a struggling side, Orlando City may have been ultra motivated on Sunday. Orlando City manager James O’Connor has history with FC Cincinnati from his time at Louisville City, with intense rivalry matches taking place as well as arguments between O’Connor and former FC Cincinnati coach Alan Koch on the sidelines.

FC Cincinnati actually went up early with a Darren Mattocks finish past Brian Rowe, but it didn’t take long for Orlando City to respond. Akindele fired home from 20-yards out in the 37th minute to make it 1-1. Early in the second half, Nani scored on a penalty kick rebound to make it 2-1 to the hosts, and then he added a second off a cross from the right to blast the game wide open.

With the win, Orlando City moved just one point outside of a playoff place, while Cincinnati remains in the basement of the Eastern Conference. However, Orlando City has a difficult road ahead, with matches against the LA Galaxy, Montreal Impact and D.C. United to come.