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Zlatan suspended two games for violent conduct

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Superstar striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s misdeeds couldn’t avoid retroactive discipline, and the LA Galaxy man is set for a pair of matches on the sidelines.

Ibrahimovic got in a tangle with New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson last weekend, and appeared to put his hands around the backstop’s throat.

[ MORE: Man City to lure Rodri? ]

Johnson hit the deck, holding his head, bringing about a lengthy back-and-forth.

Major League Soccer’s Disciplinary Committee announced a two-match ban for Ibrahimovic late Friday, meaning the big Swede will miss matches against last-place Colorado and 18th place Orlando City.

Ibrahimovic was suspended a game last season for skipping the MLS All-Star Game.

MLS (early) roundup: Galaxy, TFC, FCD all lose at home (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action from the early set of games in Major League Soccer…

[ MORE: Ex-NYCFC star pushes Leeds ahead of Derby in promotion playoffs ]

LA Galaxy 0-2 New York City FC

Following a strong start to the Guillermo Barros Schelotto era (six wins from seven games), the Galaxy have fallen back onto hard times in recent weeks and lost three straight, including Saturday’s home defeat at the hands of NYCFC. In those three successive defeats, they have conceded eight goals. At the risk of overreacting, they look once again like the 2018 team that conceded 64 times and missed the playoffs.

NYCFC did all of their damage in a three-minute span just before the halftime whistle, which left the Galaxy reeling as they went into the locker room. Heber and Maxi Moralez (penalty kick) got the goals, and NYCFC hardly broke a sweat in the second half.

The only real moment of danger for Dome Torrent’s side came in the 86th minute, when Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Chris Pontius each hit the woodwork. This, as is becoming all too commonplace these days, resulted in Ibrahimovic becoming physically violent against an opponent.

Toronto FC 1-2 Philadelphia Union

Speaking of teams looking more like the 2018 version of themselves rather than the new and improved 2019 squad, Toronto FC lost its second straight game, at home against the first-place Union.

Chris Mavinga put the ball into his own net in the 25th minute, but Alejandro Pozuelo dazzled the North American masses once again with a sublime free kick in the 51st minute.

The Union responded brilliantly, though, as Kacper Przybylko found a wide open Jamiro Monteiro inside the TFC penalty area, once again harkening back to the Reds’ 2018 form at the most inopportune time.

FC Dallas 1-2 New York Red Bulls

Cristian Casseres Jr. (12th minute), Sean Nealis (58th) and Brian White (85th) each bagged a goal in the Red Bulls’ comfortable 3-1 victory over FC Dallas. Chris Armas changed 10 of 11 starters from last week’s game, and the move paid off.

Entrenched starters Aaron Long, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Luis Robles, Daniel Royer and Marc Rzatkowski didn’t even travel with the team to Dallas.

FC Cincinnati 2-1 Montreal Impact

The Alan Koch era in Cincinnati ended abruptly this week, thus 29-year-old Yoann Damet’s (interim) tenure began on Saturday. Anytime you can end a five-game losing skid (and a winless run of seven), it’s a good day.

Allan Cruz opened the scoring in the 7th minute, ending Cincinnati’s 528-minute scoreless drought in the process. Fatai Alashe made it 2-0 just after the hour mark, and good thing he did because Orji Okwonkwo pulled a goal back for the Impact not even 15 minutes later.

MLS early roundup: DC’s Rooney smashes free kick; NYCFC, Montreal win

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Three of five Wednesday matches in Major League Soccer are in the books, headlined by another fine goal from the Black-and-Red’s former Manchester United star.

[ RECAP: Man Utd 0-2 Man City ]


Columbus Crew 0-1 DC United

Wayne Rooney‘s zipped free kick was enough to give DC United a win in Columbus, which loses its third-straight match and fails to move ahead of its Wednesday visitors.

First place DC has a four-point edge on Toronto in the Eastern Conference, though the Black-and-Red have played three more matches.

The English forward hammered a waist-high shot past the outside of the wall despite Federico Higuain’s best efforts to get in the way, and it beat Zack Steffen inside the post.

Rooney now has five goals and two assists in eight matches this season.

New England Revolution 0-3 Montreal Impact

New England manager Brad Friedel would’ve been very happy with his goalkeeper and not much else, and then he would’ve changed his thoughts on Cody Cropper as well. Cropper was very busy against the Quebecois side well before 2017 Generation Adidas draft pick Shamit Shome scored his first MLS goal off a Cropper error.

Anthony Jackson-Hamel added an 85th minute goal to put the result to bed, and stroked a second in stoppage time to complete the score line.

New York City FC 1-0 Chicago Fire

A game with eight yellow cards saw just one goal, including a caution for goal scorer Valentin Castellanos. The Argentine midfielder slid onto a doorstep pass to complete a NYCFC counter attack in the win.

NYCFC shut down Rooney, DCU for first win (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): New York City remedied their rocky start to the 2019 season with a Sunday stroll through Audi Field and three points. D.C. United, on the other hand, looked a sad shell of their former selves, the side hotly picked to represent the Eastern Conference in MLS Cup 2019. Alexandru Mitrita and Heber bagged the goals for Domenec Torrent’s side, which has lost just once in seven games to start the season and suddenly sits a point outside the East’s seven playoff places. Heber stole the spotlight in his first MLS start, bagging NYCFC’s second goal and notching a secondary assist on their first. Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta were mostly held in check, outside of set-piece opportunities, in large part to a formational switch by Torrent: he opted for three center backs including 18-year-old academy product James Sands.

[ MORE: Everton pummels Manchester United (video) ]

Three moments that mattered

35′ — Mitrita scores through a sea of legs — Mitrita gets a bit lucky when his shot deflects off the leg of Frederic Brilliant, but United’s defending as a whole is far too lax to begin the sequence.

45’+4 — Moralez’s penalty smashes off the post, keeps DCU alive — When it happened, Maxi Moralez’s missed penalty kick appeared to be the second chance United needed to get back into the game. Alas…

56′ — Heber rifles inside the far post to make it 2-0 — United’s lifeline lasted all of 11 game-minutes, as they were slow to react to a simple ball over the top. Heber made the most of his first real look at goal, from a tight angle.

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Man of the match: Heber

Goalscorers: Mitrita (35′), Heber (56′)

MLS wrap: Three Things We Learned

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A busy day of Major League Soccer action saw comebacks, golazos, howlers and more. Here’s what we learned.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Soccer is Alive and Well in Minnesota

It’s a brand-new stadium of course, but a full house of almost 20,000 rowdy and pumped-up Minnesota United fans packed into Allianz Field to watch their team play New York City FC to a thrilling 3-3 draw. The game had a little bit of everything, with goals from Designated Player striker Angelo Rodriguez and Osvaldo Alonso (of all people) for Minnesota United, along with a howler of an own goal by NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

And yet, against the odds, NYCFC proved that it can fight back and picked up a much-needed point on the road. For a team that’s struggled to score this season and find someone to replace outgoing captain David Villa, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored his first two goals of the season, the second of which tied the game at 3-3 in the second half.

Regardless of the result, fans certainly got their money’s worth from attending, and there should be many exciting matches moving forward.

Barco Finally Shines for Atlanta

There was much hoopla and excitement surrounding Ezequiel Barco’s multi-million dollar transfer signing in 2018, but the Argentine youngster failed to back it up on the field.

After a year beset by injuries, poor form, and the standard time needed to adapt to a new culture, Barco may be ready for his chance to step into the spotlight. Barco’s brace, off the bench no less, helped Atlanta United on Saturday secure its first win of the season, in a 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution at Mercedes Benz Stadium. Tito Villalba set up both goals with marauding runs down the left wing, as Barco stabbed home the first shot and then curled home a beauty for his third goal of the season and his team’s second of the game.

Yes, it came against the now last-place New England Revolution, which continues to struggle mightily under Brad Friedel. But maybe this is a sign of things to come for Atlanta, which has also struggled this season and just won its first game, seven weeks into the season, after winning the title in December.

The Sounders Are Your MLS Cup Frontrunners (as of today)

Yes, I know, Los Angeles FC hasn’t lost a game all season and is on fire early this season. But no team is as deep in the attacking spaces of the field as the Seattle Sounders.

Who would have expected the Dancing Bear, Will Bruin, to score a brace as the Sounders won a thrilling 3-2 match over Toronto FC at CenturyLink Field. With the likes of Raul Ruidiaz, Nicolas Lodeiro and Jordan Morris, it was the combination of Brad Smith and Will Bruin, two players who aren’t often in the spotlight, who helped the Sounders pick up three points and remain unbeaten this season. The Sounders are three points behind LAFC but have a game in hand.

Why do I think they’re favorites to win the title? Vela could miss a month or more of action at the 2019 Gold Cup, and it’s unclear how anyone on LAFC’s bench can replace his productivity. Meanwhile, if Jordan Morris is away playing for the U.S., Bruin can step right in and keep scoring.

While the Smith-to-Bruin combination was fun to watch, there’s none better in MLS right now than that of Alejandro Pozuelo and Jozy Altidore. The two Designated Players are somehow already on the same wavelength and Pozuelo played two terrific passes that Altidore finished on Saturday. Expect many more goals between those two the rest of the season.