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MLS Wrap: What we learned

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Three unanswered goals from FC Dallas to earn a draw, a late Jozy Altidore goal and Chicago cruises past Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union: Saturday’s early slate of games had it all. Here’s what we learned from the busy action.

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Montreal, Dallas split points in six-goal thriller

The Montreal Impact, up 3-0 in the 56th minute, probably thought they had the game in the bag. Dallas said, ‘not so fast.’

With three unanswered goals – one of those in stoppage time – Dallas did the unthinkable, stunning the Impact and flying back home with a point that tastes like three.

Dallas, like practically everyone else in the West this season, is dreaming of cracking into the final seven. Whether that happens or not is yet to be seen. What was palpable on Saturday, however, is that Dallas played with a lot of determination on the road and with all the odds against them.


Chicago gets by Philadelphia with ease

The Philadelphia Union are good but not good enough to beat the Chicago Fire, apparently.

It could have been the league’s well-known parity, or the fact that the Union were on the road, but the Fire were able to squeeze out the three points, winning 2-0 with 10 men. Nicolas Gaitan earned a straight red right before halftime.

The Union, a proven side time and time again this season, alternatively, have questions to answer and a set of defects that were unearth Saturday (including finishing) to polish up on. But as they shown several times this season after suffering loses, they’ll bounce back under Jim Curtin.

The Fire (33 points) sit one point behind Montreal, Toronto and Orlando, while Philadelphia (45 points) remain clear leaders in the Eastern Conference.


 

NYCFC too much for Cincinnati 

NYCFC had quite the showing.

With Valentin Castellanos and Heber recording a brace each, Allan Cruz’s goal stood no chance. City, who are now third in the Eastern Conference with 41 points (one behind Atlanta), are clearly in midseason form, while FC Cincinnati is yet to win under Ron Jans.

With a defense that has allowed 61 goals – like the one above – Jans’ rest of the season is looking bleaker than brighter. But then again, it’s with a team he purely adopted. It worth noting that New York’s attack has produced eight goals in the last three games, so maybe that was the determining factor.

 

 


 

Altidore earns last-minute draw for Toronto

Like in many other instances, it was Altidore to the rescue for Toronto FC.

Its goal No. 10 for the 29-year-old goal, making it his fourth season with double digit goals. Jonathan Osorio, too, pitched in a goal in the 42nd minute. 26 games in, this is exactly when Greg Vanney needs his big-time players to step up.

The Columbus Crew, in contrast, can’t catch a break. Once again the superior team, a lack of finishing and defensive concentration make it three-straight draws for the Caleb Porter’s men. With seven games to go and seven points out of playoff contention, even a late run might not be enough for a postseason regular.

MLS Wrap: What we learned

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The first-ever “Hell is Real” Derby, a back-and-forth battle in Seattle, and an eight-goal fest between Dallas and Minnesota: Saturday’s early slate of games had it all. Here’s what we learned from the jam-packed action.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

New England, Seattle split points

In the first game of the weekend, the Seattle Sounders and the New England Revolution set the bar high, putting on a show with six goals and three lead changes in their 3-3 draw. But spectacle aside, neither Bruce Arena nor Brian Schmetzer will be pleased with missing out on two, vital points.

Gustavo Bou and Carles Gil keep paying dividends for a Revs team that is night and day to what they once were under Brad Friedel. The Revs’ discipline and work ethic appears to improve as the weeks go by. It’s small details on the defensive side that is costing them points, however. With nine games to go and a playoff bid far from secured, Arena has no choice than to address the elephant in the room.

With a clear path to surge as the second best in West, splitting points was arguably worse for the Sounders, who’ve picked up a meager point in the last three home games. Talk about missing out on home-field advantage.

 


Toronto fail to jump above playoff line 

Toronto FC, healthy and all, had the pristine opportunity to jump above the red line in the Eastern Conference.

Orlando, however, had other things in mind.

A goal from substitute Benji Michel was enough to earn a draw for James O’Connor’s side, who found themselves outpossessed and outshoot throughout the stretch of the game.

And despite not reaping the benefits from their control, there was a silver lining for The Reds. Patrick Mullins, who joined from the Columbus Crew this summer, opened his scoring account, finishing a ball that was set on not leaving the box.

Toronto (33 points) sit one point behind Montreal and New England, while Orlando (30 points) stand right behind the Canadian side in the Eastern Conference table. Dropping points for either side from here on out will hurt, there’s no way around it.


 

So far, the “Hell is Real” Derby lives up to the hype

MLS has a new derby, and it lives up to its name and hype.

The “Hell is real” Derby between the Columbus Crew and FC Cincinnati got off to a dramatic start with league newcomers scoring two in 23 minutes. Darren Mattocks and Emmanuel Ledesma gave FC Cincy and their supporters every reason to believe that the first derby – which happened to be Ron Jans coaching debut – was theirs.

But then Gyasi Zardes answered with one of his own from the spot.

And then in the 62nd minute, Pedro Santos did this:

A stunning rocket from at least 20 yards out, it marked the Portuguese’s seventh goal of the season. He leveled the score and salvaged his team a point, but, most importantly, the Designated Player let everyone know that Ohio’s rivalry is as competitive and entertaining as they get.

 


 

Dallas and Minnesota partake in a wild game

Not having picked up three points at home since early July, FC Dallas were in a dire need to overturn that as they hosted red-hot Minnesota United.

They did it in soul-stirring fashion, edging Adrian Heath’s side 5-3 at home. Poor defending came in bunches, specifically from the Loons, causing for six lead changes and a red card with minutes to spare. It was the type of environment that was destined to give someone the opportunity to stand out.

With the score level, Dallas Homegrown Brandon Servania delivered, scoring a brace in less than ten minutes and giving his side the three points.

Dallas are now seventh in the Western Conference, only three away from second-place Seattle. The West cannot be overlooked.

Ron Jans named new FC Cincinnati head coach

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There’s a new boss in Cincinnati.

On Sunday, the club announced that Rons Jans has been appointed as head coach, becoming their third in their MLS history. The 60-year-old Dutchman joins from FC Groningen, where he most recently assumed the Technical Director role. Jans takes over for interim coach Yoann Damet, who replaced Alan Koch in May, and has signed a contract that runs through the 2020 season.

“I’m very appreciative of Gerard, Jeff Berding and the club’s ownership group for their confidence in bringing me to FC Cincinnati,” Jans said. “This club has drawn a lot of attention in Europe and football fans are very interested in the progress of the club, which is why this opportunity is so exciting. My challenge is realizing our immense potential and I am really looking forward of being part of that development and making the fans even prouder to support FC Cincinnati.”

Jans’ arrival sees him reuniting with GM Gerard Nijkamp, who he worked under at Dutch club PEC Zwolle.

“We are excited to get Ron involved with the team as soon as possible and leading us the rest of the season,” Nijkamp said. “He has a pedigree of success and guiding strong clubs, especially through difficult transitions to championships.

“With his experience and expertise in all aspects of being a head coach, I have full confidence that he will be successful at FC Cincinnati,” he added. “I believe Ron will be a critical part to establishing the foundation for our playing philosophy as well as our performance on the pitch.”

A Dutch Cup and Dutch Super Cup winner, Jans is set to make his MLS coaching debut on Saturday in Columbus. The Dutchman will feature a coaching staff composed of Damet, Jack Stern and Ivar van Dinteren, who replaces Pa Modou Kah.

FC Cincinnati adds to the list of teams Jans has coached in his lengthy, 20-year-plus coaching career, which include FC Groningen, SC Heerenveen, Standard Liege and PEC Zwolle.

During the height of his playing days, Jans was a staple striker in the Eredivisie, tallying goals for PEC Zwolle, FC Groningen and Roda JC over a 11-year period.

Report: FC Cincinnati hires Ron Jans as head coach

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According to a report by The Athletic, FC Cincinnati will hire Dutch manager Ron Jans as its next head coach.

Jans, a 60-year-old Zwolle-born former striker, last managed for PEC Zwolle, the same club he spent the majority of his playing career with. He was in charge at Zwolle for four years, winning the KNVB-Bekker in his first season before seeing his tenure coming to a close in 2017 to become the director of football at FC Groningen, a position he left at the end of this past season.

Jans will work for fellow Dutchman Gerard Nijkamp who was hired as club General Manager back in May. Nijkamp said after he was brought on board that the managerial job was a “caretaker” position until the new stadium opens in 2021, although he clarified that statement later to allow for the current manager’s reassessment before that time.

The Dutchman will take over for Alan Koch who was fired after 11 matches this season, with the club citing a “declining club culture” rather than poor results on the pitch. Cincinnati had won just two of its first 11 games of league play. Yoann Damet, who has served as interim manager since Koch’s firing and has won three of hist first 10 matches, will stay on as an assistant, according to the report.

The report said terms of the hire were unknown and did not give a timeline for Jans’ introduction, only saying that he is waiting on the approval of a work permit.

Red-hot Revs beat FC Cincy, make it 10 games unbeaten (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less): Statistically speaking, no other team even comes close to rivaling the New England Revolution as the hottest team in MLS. With a 2-0 road victory over expansion side FC Cincinnati on Sunday, Bruce Arena’s side hasn’t lost in 10 games (nine of which have been played since he was named head coach) and now sits above the playoff cut line in the Eastern Conference. At present, two points separate them and fourth-place New York City FC. Carles Gil has been a revelation as a new signing last winter, and Arena has gotten so much more out of the rest of the remaining roster than Brad Friedel did during his 15 months in charge. Gil scored what turned out to be the early winner on Sunday, followed by an insurance goal (set up by Gil) from Antonio Delamea early in the second half. It was as routine as a road victory can be in MLS, which is as much of an indictment of Cincinnati as it is a compliment to the Revs.

[ MORE: Pity proves his point as Atlanta tops DCU late (video) ]

Two moments that mattered

9′ — Gil cleans up a mess and makes it 1-0 — Sometimes, if not most of the time, Cincinnati defends exactly how you would expect an expansion team to defend.

55′ — Delamea heads home for 2-0 — Headed goals don’t come much easier, or less contested, than this one.

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Man of the match: Carles Gil

Goalscorers: Gil (9′), Delamea (55′)