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Fire put four past Orlando in first win since June

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In a battle of two of the Eastern Conference’s bottom-dwellers the Chicago Fire came away victorious for the first time in nearly three months.

The Fire topped Orlando City SC, 4-0, on Sunday at Toyota Park behind a brace from striker Nemanja Nikolic.

Veljko Paunovic’s side picked up its first win since a June 30 decision over playoff-bound New York City FC, while Orlando has yet to win since mid-July and secured just five points since May.

Nikolic opened up the scoring after just three minutes before Aleksandar Katai doubled the Fire’s lead ahead of the half-hour mark.

Michael de Leeuw and Nikolic capped off the scoring for the hosts in the second half, and gave Chicago a three-point edge over the Lions in the Eastern Conference standings.

Through 28 matches, the Fire currently have 27 points, while Orlando has 24 points.

Hansen pounces, Columbus snatches late draw with Chicago

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MLS Rivalry Week continued with yet another 1-1 draw as Columbus picked up a point on the road in Chicago thanks to Niko Hansen’s 87th minute equalizer.

Last season’s Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic struck in the 67th minute to put Chicago in front, but Hansen was there to pounce on a loose ball in the box with just three minutes remaining to even the score.

Both teams had similar amounts of shots, but Columbus put twice as many on net and held a slight possessional advantage throughout the match. Still, Chicago went in front as Nikolic latched onto a horrible mistake at the back by Columbus defender Milton Valenzuela who played Nikolic in on goal.

Columbus fought to bring it back level, forcing five saves out of Chicago goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland. Eventually, they earned the draw as Hansen pounced on a loose ball in the box.

The shared spoils pushes Columbus seven points above Philadelphia in fourth place in the East, while Chicago is unable to leap Toronto, remaining in 10th on goal differential.

MLS roundup: SKC, VAN get huge road wins; RBNY trim the gap

Photo credit: Sporting Kansas City / @SportingKC
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Between now and the end of the regular season, with every game comes a bit of added pressure of consequence as the MLS playoff race is officially underway…

[ MORE: Austin MLS stadium vote delayed until next week ]

Los Angeles FC 0-2 Sporting Kansas CityFULL HIGHLIGHTS

“Six-pointers” don’t get much more obvious than Saturday’s matchup between LAFC and Sporting KC, two sides who entered the weekend in fourth and third place, respectively, with the same points total (36) and numbers of wins (10). Thanks to results elsewhere, the winner would climb into second place — just three points back of Western Conference leaders FC Dallas — and the loser would tumble to fifth place, suddenly just three points clear of the wrong side of the playoff cut line.

Sporting got goals from Gerso Fernandes and Ilie Sanchez (penalty kick) either side of halftime to hand the expansion side its first-ever loss at Banc of California Stadium. After fighting through an injury crisis for the better part of the last two months, Peter Vermes’ side is nearly 100 percent healthy at the right time of the season — Felipe Gutierrez and Johnny Russell returned from injuries; Roger Espinoza returned from suspension; and Krisztian Nemeth returned to KC in a trade this week. The West is far from over.

Portland Timbers 1-2 Vancouver WhitecapsFULL HIGHLIGHTS

Speaking of the West being a jumbled mess, Portland’s home loss to Vancouver means the Timbers dropped from second to third, and just four points now separate third and sixth place. Most notably, their unbeaten run of 15 games is no more, and at the hands of a Cascadia rival. The Whitecaps, meanwhile, moved to within two points of sixth-place Real Salt Lake after extending their current run to three games without defeat (two wins).

Kei Kamara (14th minute) and Cristian Techera (43rd) gave the visitors a 2-0 halftime lead, and though Diego Valeri converted a penalty kick in the 71st minute, Carl Robinson’s side left Providence Park with all three points.

Chicago Fire 0-1 New York Red BullsFULL HIGHLIGHTS

Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the only goal (the 101st of his MLS career) in a drab affair (13 total shots, 4 on target) at Toyota Park. A win is a win, though, and this particular win moves Chris Armas’s side to within one point of Atlanta United (48), leaders in the Supporters’ Shield race. The Red Bulls have a game in hand on the Five Stripes.

Elsewhere in MLS action

LA Galaxy 2-2 Minnesota United — HIGHLIGHTS
Columbus Crew SC 1-0 Houston Dynamo — HIGHLIGHTS
New England Revolution 2-3 Philadelphia Union — HIGHLIGHTS
Real Salt Lake 1-1 Montreal Impact — HIGHLIGHTS
Colorado Rapids 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes — HIGHLIGHTS

Goals galore put Philadelphia, Houston in US Open Cup final

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The 2018 U.S. Open Cup final matchup is set, and if the semifinals are any indication, the title bout will be a barnburner.

First, the Philadelphia Union reached its third U.S. Open Cup semifinal in the last five years with a comprehensive 3-0 win over the Chicago Fire. The winners deserved their victory, with the first goal a stunning feat of teamwork between Alejandro Bedoya, Borek Dockal, and goalscorer Cory Burke.

Bedoya with the audacious chipped delivery, and Burke with the strong, messy finish.

Burke did it again 11 minutes later, beating two defenders and the goalkeeper to put Philadelphia 2-0 up, and then C.J. Sapong picked up Philly’s third with minutes to spare thanks to great touchline work by Fabrice Picault. Philadelphia held just 44% possession, but obliterated Chicago in the shot count 22-8, with a 7-1 advantage on target.

The Union will take on the Houston Dynamo who topped Western Conference contenders LAFC on penalties in dramatic fashion after a 3-3 draw. Diego Rossi scored a hat-trick to complete a comeback after LAFC fell behind 3-1, with the equalizer coming four minutes into extra time.

Houston took a two-goal lead thanks to Memo Rodriguez who came off the bench and earned his way onto the scoresheet just three minutes later. He cut inside on his right foot and fired a low shot into the bottom left corner that LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller will want back.

With Houston up 3-1, Rossi grabbed his second in the 78th minute before the equalizer – a spectacular goal, as Rossi capitalized on a mistake by Houston goalkeeper Joe Willis. The 29-year-old netminder came off his line to punch the ball, and with the goal guarded by just three defenders on the line, Rossi headed it from a great distance out on the right edge of the penalty area, looping the ball over Willis and threading it behind the three defenders into the back of the net from a tight angle.

https://twitter.com/LAFC/status/1027380526460465152/video/1

After a goalless extra time, Houston redeemed itself and took it on penalties. The shootout went eight rounds, with LAFC missing for a second time in Round 8 as Latif Blessing’s weak effort was saved by Willis going down to the goalkeeper’s right.

Houston will be playing for its first U.S. Open Cup, as does Philadelphia who looks to avoid being the first team to lose three finals.

USOC roundup: LAFC, Chicago join Philly, Houston in semis

AP Photo/Chris Carlson
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All four quarterfinals of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup were played on Wednesday, and not a single one of the fixtures required extra time or penalty kicks. The semifinal field is set, as follows…

[ MORE: Man City, USMNT’s Mix Diskerud loaned to South Korea ]

Los Angeles FC 3-2 Portland Timbers FULL HIGHLIGHTS

LAFC might be an expansion team in 2018, but Bob Bradley‘s bunch is headed to the semifinals of the Open Cup after narrowly outlasting the Portland Timbers on Wednesday.

Each side put the ball into the other team’s goal twice, but David Guzman’s early own goal — the game’s opening tally in the 33rd minute — proved the difference on the night. Carlos Vela made it 2-0 to LAFC just five minutes later, but Julio Cascante halved the lead in first-half stoppage time.

Two more goals, courtesy of Marco Ureña and Vytautas Andriuskevicius, came in quick succession early in the second half. It was 3-1 after 51 minutes, and 3-2 after 52.

A memorable night in Southern California was, however, marred by a racial slur which was allegedly lobbed at LAFC striker Adama Diomande.

Houston Dynamo 4-2 Sporting Kansas City — FULL HIGHLIGHTS

The defending holders of the Open Cup went ahead, through Johnny Russell, after two minutes, but proceeded to conceded the game’s next four goals — three of which came during a scintillating 34-minute stretch beginning in the 35th minute.

Romell Quioto scored nos. 1 and 2, followed by nos. 3 and 4 from Mauro Manotas to put the game away and brush aside a shorthanded, injury-stricken Sporting KC side playing its fourth game in 14 days (three of four have been on the road). Yohan Croizet pulled a goal back during second-half stoppage time, but it was far too little, too late.

Sporting head coach Peter Vermes held back very little as he lit into his players after the game.

“I thought some players gave everything they had. There were other players that didn’t give everything they had. More so, I think a couple guys gave up in the game. … You’re not going to win a game when you have certain players that just give up or don’t put the effort in like they have to. That’s the result you get.”

Chicago Fire 4-0 Louisville City — FULL HIGHLIGHTS

Chicago dispatched the last remaining lower-division team in this year’s tournament, smacking aside Louisville with a pair of first-half goals, followed by another paid during the final minute of the game and stoppage time.

Nemanja Nikolic and Aleksandar Katai did the damage in the first half, followed by Diego Campos and Elliot Collier in the 90th and 92nd minutes.

Philadelphia Union 1-0 Orlando City SCFULL HIGHLIGHTS

In the night’s opening game, Philadelphia got an early goal from Alejandro Bedoya and held on for the ensuing 86 minutes to knock off Orlando City at Talen Energy Stadium. It was Haris Medunjanin’s free kick which was headed across the face of goal by Fafa Picault, and Bedoya arrived late to poke the ball past backup goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr.

Semifinal draw

Thursday, July 19, 1:45 p.m. ET — on ussoccer.com