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MLS roundup: HOU, CLB run rampant; NYCFC drop points late

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A roundup of Wednesday night’s midweek action in MLS…

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New York City FC 2-2 New England Revolution

The top of the Eastern Conference is as interesting and tight as it could possibly be. While Toronto FC have raced out to a five-point lead on the entire league, places no. 2 through 6 in the East are currently separated by just four points. NYCFC were four minutes from moving to within a single point of second-place Chicago Fire, but Patrick Vieira’s side conceded a late equalizer to Xavier Kouassi and ultimately dropped a pair of points they deserved to claim as their own on Wednesday.

David Villa was brilliant in setting up the game’s opening goal just after the quarter-hour mark, but Kei Kamara drew New England level in the 24th minute. Miguel Camargo put the home side back ahead with his first MLS goal in the 64th minute, but NYCFC couldn’t hold the lead, as Kelyn Rowe masterfully set up Kouassi in the 86th minute.

The draw leaves NYCFC with just one win from their last five games, now fifth in the East, eight points back of TFC.


Columbus Crew SC 3-0 Seattle Sounders

Columbus hit Seattle early and often at MAPFRE Stadium, as the defending MLS Cup champions lost for the fourth time in their last six games.

Federico Higuain opened the scoring in the 10th minute, Justin Meram made it 2-0 just 11 minutes later, and Ola Kamara completed the rout just before the hour mark.

After 14 games, Seattle have just 16 points to their name, though right now they sit just a point out of the sixth and final playoff place in the Western Conference.


Houston Dynamo 5-1 Real Salt Lake

No one loves sleeping in their own bed, and hates sleeping in a hotel, more than Houston. Just shy of the halfway point of the season, Wilmer Cabrera’s side currently sports the following home-away splits: 7W-1D-0L, and 0W-1D-5L.

Wednesday night represented RSL’s turn on the BBVA Compass Stadium chopping block, and things turned rather ugly, rather quickly. Justin Schmidt put the ball into his own net less than three minutes into the game, and Alex double Houston’s lead in the 15th minute. Mauro Manotas made it 3-0 just before halftime, and Erick Torres and Leonardo piled on more misery after the intermission, with Joao Plata bagging a brilliant consolation free kick just after the hour mark.

That’s six losses in the the last eight games for RSL, who sit above only Colorado Rapids and Montreal Impact in the full league table. Houston, meanwhile, leapfrog Sporting Kansas City for the top spot in the West, and could have some serious staying power with even marginally improved form on the road.


Orlando City SC 2-0 D.C. United

Speaking of teams with drastic different home-away splits, here’s Orlando’s following their 2-0 win over D.C. United: 6W-1D-1L, and 1W-1D-4L.

Coming into Wednesday’s game, Cyle Larin hadn’t scored a goal in any of Orlando’s last three games, which was actually beginning to feel like a “slump” for the 22-year-old Europe-bound striker. After 66 minutes of knocking on D.C.’s door, the slump was busted, and Orlando had themselves a lead they’d never relinquish. Giles Barnes tacked on a second goal in the 88th minute, courtesy of Bill Hamid’s most shocking howler to date, and just like that, Orlando climbed two spots to third in the East, just one point back of Chicago.

MLS (late-night) roundup: Fire throttle Sounders; Orlando drop 1st points at home

Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune via AP
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With 10 MLS Saturday afternoons/evenings officially in the books, only 24 more to go…

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Orlando City 2-2 Sporting Kansas City

Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce to you, Latif Blessing, who had himself an extremely eventful first MLS start Saturday night in Orlando. The 20-year-old Ghanaian scored two goals and probably should have been shown two yellow cards for diving inside the penalty area. Neither attempt to win Sporting KC a penalty was successful, and only one was admonished with a booking.

Perhaps the fastest player in MLS from the day he arrived this winter, Blessing was an active agitator all night long, and both goals came via opportunistic tap-ins presented to him courtesy of chaos created by Gerso Fernandes — the first one put Sporting 1-0 ahead in the 9th minute, while the second brought Peter Vermes’ side back to 2-2. Cyle Larin got himself on the scoresheet once again (his 7th of the season), as did Kaka with his third goal in four games since coming back from an injury suffered on the opening day of the season.

[ MORE: MLS (afternoon) roundup — Toronto FC make it 6 wins in a row ]


Chicago Fire 4-1 Seattle Sounders

If you, not unlike myself, were still somewhat skeptical about Chicago’s contender credentials as recently as the last week or two, perhaps you’re finally convinced now.

If you, not unlike myself, were more than a little skeptical about Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s arrival to Chicago and what he might still have to offer, perhaps you’re finally convinced now.

If you, not unlike myself, were skeptical about forward Nemanja Nikolic’s credentials as a Designated Player in MLS, because he’d scored well over 200 goals in his pro career but never moved outside of Eastern Europe, perhaps you’re finally convinced now.

If you, unlike myself, weren’t a little skeptical about Seattle’s defensive issues with regards to their quest to repeat as MLS Cup champions, perhaps you’re a little more convinced today than you were yesterday.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup | Sunday preview ]


New England Revolution 4-0 Real Salt Lake

A full summary of thoughts on New England’s destruction of RSL (highlights here):


D.C. United 0-4 Philadelphia Union

Already right at the top of MLS’s “most unwatchable teams” list, D.C. United are making their case, loud and clear, for the “worst team in MLS” title as well. That was the case prior to Saturday’s 4-0 abomination against Philadelphia, which only served to further the argument.

Elsewhere in MLSAFTERNOON ROUNDUP

Toronto FC 3-2 Minnesota United
Montreal Impact 2-3 Columbus Crew SC
Colorado Rapids 3-0 San Jose Earthquakes

Sunday’s MLS schedule

Portland Timbers vs. Atlanta United — 4 p.m. ET
New York Red Bulls vs. LA Galaxy — 6 p.m. ET
FC Dallas vs. New York City FC — 8 p.m. ET

MLS (afternoon) roundup: TFC make it 6 in a row; Meram bags hat trick

Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
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The 10th MLS Saturday of 2017 is nearly halfway complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

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Toronto FC 3-2 Minnesota United

Don’t look now, but TFC are sprinting away from the rest of the pack in the Eastern Conference. Saturday’s victory over Minnesota, a back-and-forth affair that saw the visitors twice come back to level terms, pushes Greg Vanney’s side to 25 points, six clear of everyone else in the East (TFC have played three more games than third-place Orlando City SC, who are on 18 points). The most impressive part: they’ve won six straight games, including five in a just-completed 15-day period that saw a number of key players rested at various points.

It was anything but pretty on Saturday, but the Reds will take all three points and a day or two of rest now, thank you very much. Sebastian Giovinco opened the scoring, from the penalty spot, in the 20th minute, a lead which they held until the 52nd minute, when Kevin Molino equalized for the Loons. Just two minutes later, though, Christian Ramirez bundled the ball into his own net for a 2-1 TFC lead.

Molino would pull Minnesota level once again, this time putting home the rebound from his own missed penalty kick, but Jozy Altidore, who replaced Giovinco in the 44th minute, would not be denied in his efforts to set up Tosaint Ricketts for the game-winning goal in the 77th minute.


Montreal Impact 2-3 Columbus Crew SC

Justin Meram is a star, and it’s time that everyone realizes and accepts it. After bagging his first career hat trick on Saturday, Meram’s 2017 numbers are as follows: seven goals and four assists, from 11 games. He’s just one away from a new career-high goals tally, and currently on pace to fall just short of his single-season high in assists (13).

Each and every one of the goals were pivotal, by the way, as the 28-year-old Iraqi international put Columbus 2-0 before the half-hour mark before bagging the game-winner in the first minute of second-half stoppage time. Defending — particularly on set pieces — remains a gigantic problem for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but they sit second in the East regardless.


Colorado Rapids 3-0 San Jose Earthquakes

On today’s edition of MLS Makes No Sense Whatsoever… we have Colorado, who haven’t won since the opening day of the season — who, in fact, have won just a single point in their seven games since opening day — crushing fifth-place San Jose, 3-0.

Shkelzen Gashi bagged himself a brace (29th and 56th minutes) either side of Dominique Badji’s goal in the 35th minute, and just like that Colorado are level with Philadelphia Union (for the time being) as the sides with the worst point totals (7 from 9 games) in MLS.

Tonight’s MLS schedule

D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union — 7 p.m. ET
Orlando City SC vs. Sporting Kansas City — 7 p.m. ET
New England Revolution vs. Real Salt Lake — 7:30 p.m. ET
Chicago Fire vs. Seattle Sounders — 9 p.m. ET

Sunday’s MLS schedule

Portland Timbers vs. Atlanta United — 4 p.m. ET
New York Red Bulls vs. LA Galaxy — 6 p.m. ET
FC Dallas vs. New York City FC — 8 p.m. ET

MLS roundup: FC Dallas still unbeaten; Dynamo destroy Orlando

Photo credit: Houston Dynamo / Twitter: @HoustonDynamo
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With nine MLS Saturday afternoons/evenings officially in the books, only 25 more to go…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Real Salt Lake 0-3 FC Dallas

Eight games into the 2017 season, Dallas are the last remaining unbeaten team (five wins, three draws) in MLS and continue to look like runaway favorites in any “best team in the league” discussion.

On Saturday, Oscar Pareja’s side went for a comfortable stroll in the park and notched a completely unspectacular 3-0 victory over RSL. Things couldn’t have started any better for the visitors, as they were awarded a (highly questionable) penalty in the 3rd minute, which Maximiliano Urruti converted, and that was basically ballgame. Matt Hedges made it 2-0 not long after the hour mark, just for formality’s sake, and Urruti completed his brace a minute into second-half stoppage time.

The firing of Jeff Cassar, and subsequent hiring of Mike Petke, has done very little to fix a number of glaring problems which have plagued RSL since their 2016 season started coming unglued last April. A complete teardown and rebuild seem a foregone conclusion this summer/next winter. If Petke’s the right man for the job — and there’s nothing to suggest otherwise — the RSL hierarchy (and fans) are going to have to be mighty patient, as there’s only a handful of salvageable pieces currently on the roster.


Philadelphia Union 3-0 New York Red Bulls

After 15 regular-season games without a win, going all the way back Aug. 27, 2016, Union fans can call themselves winners once again, thanks to C.J. Sapong’s first career hat trick and a second straight clean sheet by Andre Blake.

Blake made a pair of stellar saves either side of halftime to keep New York off the board, setting the stage for an 11-minute explosion of goals (from minutes 74 to 85) from Sapong, who moved level with Erick “Cubo” Torres in the race for the 2017 Golden Boot (7 goals). Sapong has never reached the double-digit goals benchmark (he has hit 9 twice in his first six seasons as a pro).


Houston Dynamo 4-0 Orlando City SC

Here’s something I said on Twitter following Houston’s third (of four) goal against Orlando on Saturday: “Dynamo are terrifying in the first three or four seconds after winning the ball. Don’t find yourself one-on-one against them in open space.” Orlando head coach Jason Kreis, nor any of his players on the field, listened. It was, of course, already too late to make much difference, but it happened again fewer than 10 minutes later.


LA Galaxy 2-2 Chicago Fire

Fact: LA’s midfield is a gigantic problem.

Theory: Jermaine Jones is a big part of that problem

Recent evidence: During the 42 minutes he was on the field against Chicago on Saturday (he went off injured), LA were soundly beaten, 2-0 (Jelle Van Damme’s 30-minute shift is an additional variable which cannot be isolated at this time), and seemed headed for a thorough beating. In the 48 minutes that followed, LA found their footing, looked the better of the two sides, and rescued a point from an otherwise disastrous evening.

Clearly, soccer is far more complicated than simple plus-minus totals, but the eye test also supports the above evidence. Those opening 30 minutes saw Chicago go 1-0 ahead in the 13th minute (David Accam, from the penalty spot) and 2-0 up just three minutes later (Nemanja Nikolic, courtesy of Accam). LA weren’t just bad; they were atrocious.

Still unable to create much of anything through open play, LA made the most of set pieces and willed themselves back to life.


Columbus Crew SC 2-0 New England Revolution

Ola Kamara is quickly becoming is already a star in MLS, as the Norwegian striker continues to shred defenses and add to his impressive haul of goals barely a full 34 games into his MLS career. Through 35 regular-season games played, the 27-year-old has 22 goals to his name after bagging the winning goal against New England on Saturday.

Kamara also notched an assist (his third since arriving in MLS last year) on Columbus’s second goal, scored by Federico Higuain. With the victory, Columbus are up to third in the Eastern Conference, just three points back of red-hot Toronto FC.


San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 Portland Timbers

This week in MLS Results That Make Absolutely No Sense, But Hey, That’s MLS


D.C. United 0-1 Montreal Impact

In a league with so many exciting, entertaining, enjoyable teams to watch, Ben Olsen’s D.C. United remains the hardest of hard passes on MLS Live.

Elsewhere in MLS

Seattle Sounders 0-1 Toronto FC — RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS

MLS roundup: FCD, POR thrill in 2-2 draw; Sounders’ epic comeback

AP Photo/LM Otero
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With eight MLS Saturday afternoons/evenings officially in the books, only 26 more to go…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

FC Dallas 2-2 Portland Timbers

For the third straight week, we were a matchup featuring two of the top three teams in the Western Conference. After Sporting Kansas City beat Portland two weeks ago, and Dallas topped Sporting KC last week, it was FCD’s turn to host Portland on Saturday. Thankfully, the third game of the early-season round robin did not disappointed, and delivered a higher level of entertaining, attacking soccer (each of the first two ended 1-0).

Fanendo Adi opened the scoring to conclude a cagey opening 30 minutes, and out the window went all semblance of structure and discipline from either side. FCD needed a full 30 minutes before they’d draw level, courtesy of Maximiliano Urruti, a goal that set up a fantastic, frantic final half-hour.

Sebastian Blacno’s first MLS goal put Portland ahead for the second time in the game, in the 71st minute, but the advantage was short-lived, as Tesho Akindele’s 80th-minute header brought FCD back to level terms once again.


Seattle Sounders 3-3 New England Revolution

Game. Of. The. Day.

Seattle found themselves 3-0 down to New England, at home, after 54 minutes. In 13 minutes’ time, from minute 75 to 88, the comeback was on. There’s not much to be said of this one. Just sit back, and enjoy.


Orlando City SC 2-0 Colorado Rapids

Five home games, five wins for Orlando City. The best home-field advantage in all of MLS might just reside in central Florida, and the summer humidity is yet to reach full effect.

Saturday’s victory over a truly awful Rapids side was more labored than you might have expected — all of 70 minutes passed before Carlos Rivas scored the breakthrough — but the result was never in doubt. Colorado managed all of three shots (one on target) over the course of 90 minutes, and Kaka marked his return to action (hamstring injury) with a goal in the 91st minute. All is very, very well in the City Beautiful.


New York Red Bulls 2-1 Chicago Fire

Dax McCarty’s return to Red Bull Arena, following the trade that sent him to Chicago during the offseason, was more than a little bittersweet for the box-to-box bulldog when spent five and a half seasons with New York.

After falling behind to Bradley Wright-Phillips’ opener in the 37th minute, McCarty assisted on Nemanja Nikolic’s 59th-minute equalizer — the spin and lay-off were perfectly executed. The evening ended in disappointment, though, as Kemar Lawrence broke the deadlock in the 71st minute and secured all three points. That’s back-to-back losses for Chicago, who were unbeaten in their first three games since Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s arrival. On the other end, three straight wins for New York, and they’re within two points of first-place Orlando in the Eastern Conference.


Columbus Crew SC 2-3 New York City FC

When two teams with zero desire to play the game at a non-frenetic pace, and no clue how to slow things down and control the game, get together, fireworks are to be expected.

Columbus and New York City meet the above criteria, and were happy to prove as much on Saturday. Jack Harrison put the visitors ahead with the deftest chip in the 8th minute, but Federico Higuain’s equalizer 21 minutes later was just as impressive.

Ola Kamara put Columbus 2-1 ahead in the 49th minute, and all Gregg Berhalter’s side seemed to be in total control. 15 minutes, later Yangel Herrera’s header made it 2-2, and Jack Harrison completed the comeback in the 76th minute. Few victories in MLS this season will deserve greater praise than this one, achieved without the services of David Villa (illness).


Sporting Kansas City 3-0 Real Salt Lake

When Sporting KC get themselves a lead, it’s game over. In the four games in which they’ve scored this season, they’ve won 12 out of 12 points possible. On the season, they’ve conceded three goals in eight games, and haven’t conceded multiple goals in a game yet this season.

Of course, scoring has been the majority of the problem, as Peter Vermes’ side has already been blanked four times themselves. It wasn’t a problem on Saturday, though, as Benny Feilhaber, Dom Dwyer and Gerso Fernandes were each stellar from beginning to end, and each bagged a goal in Sporting’s 3-0 win over RSL. An inability close out games has haunted this team in the past, but they’re a perfect 4-for-4 thus far in 2017.


Montreal Impact 1-2 Vancouver Whitecaps

Someone’s giving Colorado a run for their money as the worst team in MLS. With just a single win to their name this season, Montreal have to make the most out of 1) home games; 2) games in which they lead, if they’re to mount any kind of playoff challenge in 2017.

They did neither against Vancouver, throwing away an early 1-0 lead — Marco Donadel opened the scoring in the 9th minute — by conceding goals either side of halftime, to Andrew Jacobson and Cristian Techera. In truth, Vancouver were the better side over 90 minutes and fully deserved the three points, and it’s a crushing result for a Montreal side with just one victory (and zero clean sheets) on the season.


Minnesota United 0-1 San Jose Earthquakes

Elsewhere in MLS

LA Galaxy 0-0 Philadelphia Union