Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP

MLS Snapshots: Orlando City 2-2 RSL | Chicago Fire 3-4 NYCFC

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The game in 100 words (or less): A first-half red card for either side made for tons of space and a wide open game of soccer in Orlando on Sunday, as 10-man Orlando City SC drew 2-2 with 10-man Real Salt Lake on goals scored in the 94th and 95th minutes. It was simply an utter capitulation from RSL’s defense. For 93 minutes, RSL were by far the better side and looked so confident and so assured of starting their season with three points away from home. A fun debate to have would be, “which of the two red cards was dumber?” I’ll take Darwin Ceren’s cheap shot on the head of Javier Morales, but could easily be talked into Demar Phillips’ head-high boot on Cyle Larin. Fun times. We’ll wait until either said plays a full 11-v-11 game before trying to discern too terribly much from their performance, but you have to wonder about RSL’s psyche after a self-destruction like this.

[ MORE: Previewing MLS First Kick 2016 ]

Three moments that mattered

20′ & 45+2′ — Phillips, Ceren sent off, both sides down to 10 — Look, if you’re opposite number is going for a 50-50 ball with his head, you can’t try to win the ball with your foot. Phillips tried anyway, and rightly saw red. Ceren should also know you can’t intentionally target the head of an opponent without making any play on the ball. Both sides down to 10 men, wide open soccer to ensue.

25′ — Movsysian taken down in the box, PK to RSL — Down a man? No problem for RSL, who won a penalty kick five minutes after Phillips’ dismissal. Seb Hines tried to win the ball off Yura Movsysian from behind, and ended up taking the Armenian down instead. Joao Plata converted the ensuing spot kick, 1-0 to RSL.

90+4′ & 90+5′ — OCSC hits RSL twice in two minutes, steals a point — What in the world happened, RSL? You were fewer than 60 seconds from closing out a thoroughly professional away victory to start your season. Cyle Larin bagged the first goal, which should have been nothing more than a late consolation, before Adrian Winter hammered home from a simple long ball over the top to rob RSL of two more points and grab one for themselves.

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Man of the match: Joao Plata

Goalscorers: Plata (26′ – PK, 66′), Larin (90+4′), Winter (90+5′)


The game in 100 words (or less): My advice: put on this track before reading any further and/or watching the below highlights. Got it playing in the background? OK, good. New York City FC and the Chicago Fire are atrocious defensive teams, and that made for a highly entertaining, hilarious game at Toyota Park on Sunday. The two sides combined for seven goals from seven different goalscorers, most of which were of the highest comedic value. Fortunately for NYCFC, they’ve got the firepower and intent to outscore just about any team in the league. This isn’t the last seven-goal game in which they’ll be involved this season. It’s almost surely not the highest-scoring game in which they’ll be involved, either. They’ll be appointing viewing each week. As for the Fire, well, the less said about them right now, the better.

[ MORE: Previewing MLS First Kick 2016 ]

Three moments that mattered

10′ — McNamara opens the scoring for 2016 — Tommy McNamara scored the first goal of the 2016 season, and a beauty it was — right-footed curler, from just outside the 18-yard box, banged in off the inside of the post.

19′ — Cocis gets in behind and slots it home — NYCFC were an unmitigated disaster defensively in 2015, and 2016 looks to be no different, at least early on. Simple things like tracking runners and not getting beat by archaic long balls are the least you would expect of a professional soccer team. Alas…

29′ — Yakety Sax defending from Chicago, and it’s 2-1 — Veljko Paunovic has a lot of work to do, doesn’t he?

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Man of the match: Tommy McNamara

Goalscorers: McNamara (10′), Cocis (19′), Taylor (29′), Shelton (36′), Igboananike (49′), Diskerud (63′) Accam (72′ – PK)

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.

[READ: Pep: Domestic Treble harder than UCL]

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.

[READ: Kompany to join Anderlecht as player-manager]

“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.