Bob Bradley

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MLS weekend preview: Two big rivalries, and Atlanta meets DC

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It’s been a fun midweek for Major League Soccer, one that doesn’t even reach its conclusion until Thursday’s doubleheader ends with Orlando City and Portland meeting in Oregon.

But looking ahead to the weekend brings plenty more worthy of anticipation, beginning with Friday’s “El Trafico.”

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Bob Bradley and LAFC have been threatening to destroy the record books, driven by Carlos Vela’s tremendous play. The Mexican 30-year-old has 19 goals and eight assists before the calendar hits August.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn’t too impressed, and Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s Galaxy are 12 points behind the black and gold. They’d be thrilled to climb into second with a Friday win and a statement of local sway (especially after losing the Cali Clasico to San Jose earlier this month).

A full docket on Saturday is followed by a quadruple header of sorts on Sunday, with four matches kicking off between 4 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET. Two of them are beauties.

DC United and Atlanta United meet in what could be an Eastern Conference Final preview. Both are within a win Sunday and match-in-hand of holding the East in the palm of its hand, but neither has been playing particularly well (at least until the Five Stripes waxed Houston 5-0 on Wednesday).

DC plays Cincinnati on Thursday and faces a quicker turnaround than Atlanta. If the Black-and-Red can manage a win over the expansion side, it can will enter the Five Stripes’ match-up in second.

Finally, Sunday concludes with a Cascadia Cup meeting between Portland and Seattle in Washington.

So far, Vancouver leads the table with four points, but has played thrice. Seattle has the same amount of points but has played one fewer game.

Portland has only played one Cup match falling 1-0 in Vancouver, and has the advantage of playing its final two matches at home.

But first is this meeting with Seattle. The Sounders sit second in the West and will love the idea of keeping the Timbers two results back of a playoff spot (albeit with multiple matches-in-hand on the field).

U.S. Open Cup semifinal field set

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A wild night of U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals took place on Wednesday, as the semifinals are set.

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Portland Timbers upset LAFC away from home as they will face Minnesota United who hammered second-tier New Mexico United.

While Orlando City beat New York City in a dramatic penalty kick shootout to set up a semifinal clash with Atlanta United who dispatched a spirited St. Louis side.

Jeremy Ebobisse’s 84th minute goal handed Portland victory, as LAFC head coach Bob Bradley bemoaned his team struggling as the former USMNT coach was also struck in the face by a ball near the sideline in a rough night overall for the California club in front of their own fans.

As for Minnesota, they coasted into the final four by smashing six past New Mexico United. Angelo Rodriguez scored a first half hat trick to send them on their way to their first-ever USOC semifinal, as the Loons proved too much for a first-year New Mexico side who took the lead briefly in this game and had already beaten the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas from MLS to reach the last eight.

Orlando City thought they’d won in regulation thanks to Chris Mueller’s goal, but Maxi Moralez scored in the 96th minute to keep NYCFC’s hopes alive but Orlando prevailed in penalty kicks at home to set up a clash against regional rivals Atlanta United.

Adam Grinwis was the hero for Orlando.

As for the reigning MLS Cup champs, ATL made hard work of it against STL as the second-tier side sat back and defended well but a second half goal from Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martinez was followed up by a 95th minute penalty kick from Josef Martinez. Atlanta are now into their first ever USOC semifinal, while STL can take plenty of positives from their run after knocking out the Chicago Fire and FC Cincinnati.

There will be a draw later on July 11 to determine which teams will host the respective semifinals. The USOC final will take place on either Aug. 27 or 28.

Schedule for U.S. Open Cup semifinals

Portland Timbers v. Minnesota United – Aug. 7 (venue to be confirmed)
Orlando City v. Atlanta United – Aug. 7/8 (venue to be confirmed)

MLS wrap: Vela drives six-star LAFC, Quakes win late (video)

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Carlos Vela is too good for MLS, FC Cincinnati can win in the league, and the Caleb Porter experience in Columbus needs a major shakeup as the embattled coach can’t push the same buttons mashed by his predecessor. (video)

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It’s all in the MLS wrap.

FC Cincinnati 3-2 Houston Dynamo

For the first time since May 11 and just the fourth time this season, FC Cincinnati won a league match. It wasn’t easy despite a 3-0 lead built by Kekuta Manneh, Rashawn Dally, and Victor Ulloa, as a PK and an own goal two minutes apart allowed the visitors within one with nine minutes to play in Ohio.

Los Angeles FC 6-1 Vancouver Whitecaps

Yordy Reyna’s fifth minute goal was… misleading for the hosts, who conceded four times between the 35th and 54th minutes as Bob Bradley‘s men piled up the goals in California. Carlos Vela had two goals and an assist, while Adama Diomande, Diego Rossi, and Mark-Anthony Kaye joined a ‘Caps own goal on the score sheet.

Vela now has 19 goals and 12 assists in 19 games, which is pretty good. Both lead the league, and the goals total is six more than second-place Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Columbus Crew 1-2 Seattle Sounders

Offsetting penalty kick conversions had it 1-1 after 56 minutes, but Seattle’s Nicolas Lodeiro completed his brace in the sixth minute of stoppage time to pour more misery on Caleb Porter’s Crew. Turns out Gregg Berhalter did some pretty good work in Ohio. Columbus is six points back of seventh place Toronto FC and a miserable 4W-6L-2T at Crew Stadium in a league which favors the home side in a big way.

Montreal Impact 2-3 Minnesota United

Anthony Jackson-Hamel scored 27 seconds after the opening kick and the Impact had a 2-1 lead after just 13 minutes after Rudy Camacho added a marker. Sandwiched in between was a Mason Toye goal, and the youngster would follow-up an Ethan Finlay equalizer at the end of the first half to win it for the Loons just after halftime.

Sporting KC 1-0 Chicago Fire

Yohan Croizet scored for the second time this week as SKC picked up the pieces from a midweek loss to win for just the third time since May 26.

San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Real Salt Lake

Danny Hoesen’s goal in the third minute of stoppage time helped the Quakes rebound from a midweek hiccup and extend an impressive run to 5W-1L-2T under coach Matías Almeyda. San Jose moves into a playoff spot and sits six points back of second in the West.

Philadelphia Union (PPD) Orlando City

Lightning strikes caused a postponement until 4:30 p.m. ET Sunday.

It’s official: Real Madrid completes signing of Lyon’s Mendy

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Real Madrid’s summer of spending continued on Wednesday, as the club announced the signing of Lyon left back Ferland Mendy.

According to Spanish publication Marca, Real Madrid paid more than $54 million to sign the pacy Frenchman, hoping to add some competition at left back next season with incumbent veteran Marcelo getting older and potentially being phased out. The transfer fee could rise to nearly $60 million with bonuses and other clauses added in, should Mendy achieve certain benchmarks.

[READ: Man United complete signing of Daniel James]

The 24-year-old has signed a six-year contract at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu and will be presented on June 19, per the club.

Mendy has been a revelation in Ligue 1 for the last few seasons, first after making an almost $7 million move from Le Havre (where he played for former U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley) to Lyon, and secondly with the French giants. At Lyon, he’s showed his speed down the left wing and crossing ability. He’s recorded seven official assists in 72 matches with Lyon in all competitions. It’s been a meteoric rise for Mendy, who 18-months ago was being linked with a move not to Real Madrid, but to clubs like Brighton and Hove Albion, Crystal Palace, and Watford.

Mendy joins Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic as new signings for Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid, as the club looks to strengthen after an incredibly disappointing season. While it’s up in the air how Mendy will settle in the pressure cooker that is playing for Real Madrid, there’s no doubt he has ability and talent.

The biggest question now is that, after spending the better part of more than $225 million on three signings, how is Real Madrid going to recoup some of that money in order to meet Financial Fair Play measures.

Vela gets goal, assist to lead LAFC past Timbers 3-2

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Latif Blessing gave a simple “yes” when asked if he considers Los Angeles FC and Portland a rivalry.

Saturday’s matchup had all the makings.

Carlos Vela had a goal and an assist in the first half to lead LAFC past the Timbers 3-2.

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Vela, Major League Soccer’s goals and assists leader, helped LAFC (11-1-4) fend off Portland’s late rally to end the Timbers’ 15-game win streak in home openers.

LAFC withstood a run that included an 85th minute goal by Portland’s Brian Fernandez to pull within one, and shoving in the final minutes that resulted in yellows to Fernandez and LAFC’s Adama Diomande.

“We’re not naive, we understand teams are going to have a hard way to play against us, try to make it hard,” LAFC coach Bob Bradley said. “When’s the last time you saw Messi get mauled the way Carlos (Vela) got mauled tonight?”

Vela scored in the 6th minute after intercepting a pass from Portland goalkeeper Jeff Attinella. He found Diego Rossi on a cross for a goal that made it 2-0 in the 34th minute.

Portland didn’t go away. Christhian Paredes scored less than two minutes into the second half on a goalkeeper deflection as the Timbers pulled within a goal. LAFC’s Blessing countered in the 54th minute with a wide-open volley off of a cross.

“Great cross, great finish, so I’m happy,” Blessing said.

Fernandez scored on a bicycle kick inside the six-yard box to pull Portland within 3-2 in the 85th minute. It was Fernandez’s fourth goal in three appearances with the Timbers since he was acquired as a designated player on May 6.

“We knew that if we had a good start to the second half, the game was there,” Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri said. “And obviously, the crowd lifted us.

“It was a good game, and a good performance, but not the result we wanted, so we have to keep going.”

It was the first home game of the season for the Timbers (4-7-2) and the debut of the remodeled Providence Park. According to the club, the expansion added 4,137 seats in a grandstand on the stadium’s east side to push capacity over 25,000. MLS commissioner Don Garber was in attendance among the sellout crowd of 25,218.

“The place is rocking as it always does, it’s just a little bit louder,” Garber said at halftime. “More people sort of showing their passion for the team. … The Timbers are such an important part of the history of soccer in America have been reflected in the addition.”

Vela has 16 goals and 10 assists this season, six goals ahead of the next-highest scorer.

LAFC has scored a league-high 39 goals.

LAFC is in first place in the Western Conference and boasts one of the best records in the league. The Timbers, who made the MLS Cup final last season, went 4-6-2 in its first 12 games on the road.