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MLS Wrap: What we learned

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Here’s what we learned from MLS’ jam-packed action on Saturday.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

NYCFC rally to edge San Jose, remain first in Eastern Conference 

Dominating possession and taking a healthy amount of shots, it seemed like the San Jose Earthquakes were going to pull off a Matias Almeyda-era victory in New York City on Saturday.

But in just the span of three minutes, NYCFC changed the landscape of the game completely, scoring twice right before halftime. Keaton Parks recorded his first league goal in the 40th minute. In the 43rd, the Eastern Conference leaders put together this (yes, the covered half the field just like that):

Like in the sequences that led to the home side’s goals, the Quakes’ confidence to overtake the scoreline took a hit, failing to finish a number of chances following attack-heavy substitutions in the second half. As a result, San Jose, who are fighting for a playoff spot, dropped their fourth straight game on the road.

Speaking with media after their 2-1 loss, Almeyda – despite praising NYCFC as being one of the league’s best – took shots at Yankee Stadium’s field size. Should the league care? Absolutely. NYCFC? Not at all, just look at their record.


FC Cincinnati win first game under Ron Jans

FC Cincy supporters can finally rejoice, even their 1-0 win in Montreal wasn’t ideal.

The league’s youngest team ended up with 10-men late in the game. Kendall Watson was shown a straight red card, but Ron Jans earned his first three points at the helm. Early in the game, Allan Cruz’s goal foreshadowed what was to come for the Ohioan side following the final whistle: a celebration.

 

The Impact (37 points) remain three points behind New England, while Cincinnati (21 points) look to finish strong in order to avoid the ugly side of the history books. 

Carlos Vela rejoins LAFC, scores

There’s no way around it: LAFC is a completely different team with (or without) Carlos Vela, who can’t stop scoring.

The Mexican recorded his 28th goal of the season (six behind Jose Martinez’s single-season record) in the Supporter Shield favorite’s 1-1 draw in Philadelphia. It wasn’t a Vela-esque sequence at all, but it was enough to change the score.

The Union, who played without Marco Fabian because of his absence in the team’s meeting on Friday, opened the scoring. Three minutes in, Kacper Przybyłko’s floating header surprised Tyler Miller, giving the home side a perfect start in front of a noisy Talen Energy Stadium.

Just a couple of months ago, these were the two best teams in the league. LAFC remain atop of the Western Conference. The Union, however, are now five points behind NYCFC.


Crew trounce Atlanta United 3-1 despite Josef Martinez’ goal

Caleb Porter’s Columbus Crew, arguably, play the most effective soccer out of all the teams that are on the outside looking in when it comes to qualifying for the playoffs this season.

On Saturday, despite being statistically outdone by Atlanta United, the Crew managed to execute their chances, scoring three goals on only four shots on target. Gyasi Zardes, a pivotal piece of their attack, scored his 12th goal of the season. Costa Rican Luis Diaz added one of his own in the second half, before Miles Robinson’s own-goal 25 minutes later sealed three points for Columbus.

No goal, however, had as much significance as Josef Martinez’s.

The Venezuelan scored for a 14th consecutive game, making it the third longest streak in the history of the sport. The 26-year-old is now seven games away from Lionel Messi’s world record set in 2014.

Third in the Eastern Conference, nine points away from NYCFC with six games to go, don’t count the single-season scoring king to hold back from wanting to break the record.

Elsewhere in MLS

Chicago Fire 4-0 FC Dallas 

Orlando City 3-3 New England Revolution

Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Houston Dynamo

Atlanta United’s Martinez scoring streak nears world record

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Josef Martinez set the league record, and now he’s taking it worldwide.

For a 13th straight regular-season game, the Venezuelan has scored for the recently-crowned U.S. Open Cup champions and defending MLS Cup champions. Saturday’s goal – in the battle between the Eastern Conference’s best – was probably the best of the bunch.

The striker’s commendable run is now one the best of all-time.

Having scored in 13 straight league games, Martinez surpasses Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, who scored in 12 straight league games during his time with Borrusia Dortmund, in the world record list. Tor Henning Hamre, second on the list, leads the Venezuelan having scored in 15 consecutive league games in Estonia back in 2003, meaning Martinez needs a goal in each of Atlanta’s upcoming three league games to become second on the list. Lionel Messi, scoring in 21 straight games in the 2013/2014 season with Barcelona, holds the record.

With 23 goals this season, Martinez is eight goals out of tying the league’s single-season record, which he set last year.

In 76 league games with the Five Stripes, the striker has scored 73 goals.

MLS – East: Red Bulls snatch Shield; Crew SC grab last spot (video)

Photo credit: @NewYorkRedBulls
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The final day of the 2018 regular season couldn’t have gone any better for the New York Red Bulls — or any worse for Atlanta United.

[ West: SKC finish 1st; Sounders sneak into 2nd; Galaxy crash out ]

With the Supporters’ Shield — along with all kinds of seeding, and the sixth and final playoff spot — on the line, this is how the final Eastern Conference’s final day played out…

Supporters’ Shield: Toronto FC take an early lead on first-place Atlanta United. Atlanta holding onto top spot by virtue of third tiebreaker, goals scored (69-61).

Supporters’ Shield: Red Bulls win a penalty kick, but Derrick Ettiene’s effort is saved. Red Bulls remain second on goals-scored tiebreaker.

Supporters’ Shield: Toronto score again. ATLUTD’s goal differential drops to +27, sending Red Bulls into first.

Third-place race: New York City FC restore their two-goal lead on Philadelphia Union. D.C. United currently sitting fourth, by a single point.

Supporters’ Shield: Red Bulls break through at long last. Derrick Etienne gives his side a two-point cushion back to Atlanta.

Sixth-place race: After a lengthy weather delay, Columbus Crew SC are first on the board against Minnesota United. Thanks to Philadelphia’s struggles, Gregg Berhalter’s side sits fifth.

Supporters’ Shield: Josef Martinez pulls Atlanta back to 2-1, but they need two more with the Red Bulls leading.

Supporters’ Shield: Before Atlanta could get a second, Toronto got a third. That’s the Supporters’ Shield all but sewn

Supporters’ Shield: And a fourth.

After head coach Jesse Marsch departed in the summer, Chris Armas took over a Shield-contending team and finished the job.