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Orlando City is quickly becoming one of the top sides in MLS

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Coming into the 2017 MLS season, Orlando City had a lot of questions that needed answering.

[ MORE: Dzemaili is ready to join the Impact early ]

Second-year head coach Jason Kreis did well last season after taking over for the departed Adrian Heath but again, the former MLS striker had his work cut out for himself and his staff.

[ MORE: D.C. United tops Atlanta after slow start ]

Fast forward over the first two months of the season and the Lions are currently atop the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield table, and it doesn’t appear that Kreis and co. will relinquish that standing any time soon.

Cyle Larin has established himself as one of MLS’ top scorers during his first two-plus seasons in the league. His six goals thus far ranks second in MLS, only trailing Houston Dynamo attacker Erick “Cubo” Torres.

Larin won’t be able to do it by himself, but Kaka’s return is already paying dividends for the side after the Brazilian scored in his first match back from injury on Saturday against the Colorado Rapids.

It’s not Orlando’s offense that is catching the attention of many around MLS though, but instead the club’s completely revamped backline.

In the club’s first two seasons, the Lions allowed 116, which is tied with the Chicago Fire for the most of any team during that span of time.

Additions of Jonathan Spector, Donny Toia and MLS veteran Will Johnson has played vital roles in the team’s defensive turnaround, particularly Spector, who has started all seven Orlando City matches at centerback.

It’s Spector’s budding partnership with USMNT hopeful Tommy Redding that has allowed the Lions to quickly become one of the most stout defensive units in MLS. So far, Orlando has conceded five goals, the second fewest behind only Sporting KC’s three allowed.

Couple these factors in with Orlando’s seemingly impenetrable home-field advantage and the Lions have all the makings of a dangerous side in 2017. The club has yet to lose at home this season, starting out with five consecutive victories at Orlando City Stadium.

It’s clearly too early to state that Orlando will run away with the East or even clinch a playoff spot for that matter, but considering Kreis’ influence and all the proper adjustments the squad made during the offseason it seems like a pretty safe bet that this team will be playing into late October and beyond.

Liga MX wrap: Xolos beats Chivas as Apertura begins

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Liga MX’s Apertura season is off and running with all 18 clubs partaking in a match this weekend.

[ MORE: Marketing Pulisic with BVB ]

Club Tijuana 2-1 Chivas Guadalajara

Scoreless at the half, the weekend’s marquee match sprang to life in the final 45. Juan Martin Lucero gave TJ a 54th minute lead before Jose Van Rankin knotted it up five minutes later.

Lucero assisted Jose Rivero’s 75th minute winner, which was helped in its status when Michael Perez took a red card in the 80th.

Cruz Azul 3-0 Puebla

Elias Hernandez scored a goal and added an assist, and Milton Caraglio put one of his five shots on goal into the net. Andres Renteria also scored in the win.

Tigres 2-0 Leon

Andre-Pierre Gignac scored, and Lucas Zelarayan marked a goal and an assist in the win.

Elsewhere
Necaxa 2-1 Club America
Toluca 2-0 Morelia
Santos Laguna 2-1 Lobos BUAP
Pachuca 0-1 Monterrey
Veracruz 0-2 Pumas UNAM
Atlas 0-0 Queretaro

Report: Colorado acquires USMNT mid Acosta for Badji

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The West’s first place team is switching it up in a big way.

FC Dallas is sending Homegrown Player and USMNT midfielder Kellyn Acosta to Western foes Colorado Rapids in exchange for striker Dominique Badji, according to a report by The Dallas Morning News.

[ MORE: Pulisic rips up Liverpool ]

Acosta, 22, has 17 caps and a goal for the U.S., and is primarily a defensive midfielder. He’s also played right and left back.

He’s appeared 139 times for Dallas, scoring 13 times with nine assists, but had fallen out with head coach Oscar Pareja. He’s also struggled mightily on the field, according to WhoScored.

Badji, 25, has seven goals and three assists in 16 matches for the Rapids this season, building on an eight-goal, five-assist campaign last season.

FCD has gotten six goals out of forward Maxi Urruti, and there’s been little production from anyone else. Cristian Colman is out with an ankle injury and managed just a pair of goals in 399 minutes.

The risk of trading Acosta is mitigated by the continued speculation that he may test the waters of European soccer. Badji’s a quality player, but Colorado may’ve gotten a bargain in its push to escape the dregs of the West.

Quintero, Loons pick LAFC apart in five-star win (video)

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Minnesota United throttled LAFC on Sunday, using a Christian Ramirez brace to batter the hot expansion team 5-1 in Minnesota.

Darwin Quintero had a goal and two assists for the Loons, who took advantage of LAFC’s decision not to start dominant forward Adama Diomande and center back Walker Zimmerman.

[ MORE: Marketing Pulisic with BVB ]

Quintero ripped off seven shots, putting five on goal. He now has 10 goals and five assists since joining the Loons after scoring two and eight in 29 matches for Club America last year.

Miguel Ibarra recorded a goal and an assist, while Rasmus Schuller also scored. LAFC’s goal came courtesy Benny Feilhaber.

Minnesota’s Bobby Shuttleworth and LA’s Tyler Miller each made six saves in their goals.

LAFC fails in a bid to make up points on Western Conference first seed FC Dallas, while the Loons now can eye a playoff spot in the West.

Already-thin Liverpool center back corps loses Matip to quad injury

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Liverpool’s 3-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund featured an injury to a position with very little depth.

The Reds lost Joel Matip to what Jurgen Klopp said could possibly be a “small tear” in one of his quads.

[ MORE: Marketing Pulisic with BVB ]

If Matip, 26, needs any significant time to heal up, he’ll put a major question mark into Liverpool’s opening day center back pairing.

Virgil Van Dijk, who scored against BVB on Sunday, already won’t have Dejan Lovren as a partner thanks to a post-World Cup vacation.

That leaves Joe Gomez and Ragnar Klavan as options next to Van Dijk.

Matches at Crystal Palace and home to Brighton and Hove Albion follow the Aug. 12 visit from West Ham.