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Nani scores twice as Orlando City thrashes FC Cincinnati

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Nani may not be the star he once was while he played for Manchester United, but he’s still making a powerful impact in MLS.

The Portuguese international scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season as Orlando City ran circles expansion side FC Cincinnati, winning 5-1. Along with Nani, Tesho Akindele scored a brace and Dom Dwyer came off the bench and scored a header in the win.

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Aside from having a chance to record a big win over a struggling side, Orlando City may have been ultra motivated on Sunday. Orlando City manager James O’Connor has history with FC Cincinnati from his time at Louisville City, with intense rivalry matches taking place as well as arguments between O’Connor and former FC Cincinnati coach Alan Koch on the sidelines.

FC Cincinnati actually went up early with a Darren Mattocks finish past Brian Rowe, but it didn’t take long for Orlando City to respond. Akindele fired home from 20-yards out in the 37th minute to make it 1-1. Early in the second half, Nani scored on a penalty kick rebound to make it 2-1 to the hosts, and then he added a second off a cross from the right to blast the game wide open.

With the win, Orlando City moved just one point outside of a playoff place, while Cincinnati remains in the basement of the Eastern Conference. However, Orlando City has a difficult road ahead, with matches against the LA Galaxy, Montreal Impact and D.C. United to come.

MLS Preview: Rooney, D.C. United looking to keep pace atop East

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Major League Soccer closes out the month of March with a number of intriguing matchups, including a Cascadia Cup battle, a chance for FC Cincinnati to set a new MLS expansion record, and D.C. United hosting former teammate Nani and Orlando City.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

In addition, six teams remain unbeaten: Los Angeles FC, the Seattle Sounders, and the Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference and D.C. United, Toronto FC and New York City FC in the Eastern Conference.

Here’s a look at some of the top storylines for MLS Week 5:

Orlando City v. D.C. United — Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET

Wayne Rooney and D.C. United have quietly had a strong start to the 2019 MLS season. D.C. already has wins over both Atlanta United and Real Salt Lake, two playoff teams from a year ago, and comes into this weekend’s matchup with a week to rest. In addition to the seven goals scored in three games is the fact that D.C. United hasn’t allowed a single goal yet. Meanwhile, Orlando is coming off a confidence-building win on the road at the New York Red Bulls, with Sacha Kljestan scoring and Nani making his debut. Now returning home, Orlando City is looking to record another victory and end D.C. United’s unbeaten start.

Columbus Crew v. Atlanta United — Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET

Coming off a bye week, Atlanta United looks to secure it’s first win of the season with a trip to the Columbus Crew. It’s been a rough start to the season for Atlanta United, with struggles in both MLS and earlier in CONCACAF Champions League play. Atlanta United has missed Miguel Almiron but perhaps even bigger, it’s missed manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino. New manager Frank De Boer hasn’t yet figured out his best team, but he may get a good chance to see that against Columbus.

Caleb Porter’s side suffered a surprising 3-0 defeat to the Philadelphia Union last week and starting goalkeeper Zack Steffan is recovering from an injury that kept him out of U.S. Men’s National Team camp. Perhaps it could be the first sign of cracks in a Crew side struggling for goals.

Vancouver Whitecaps v. Seattle Sounders — Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET

The Seattle Sounders are off to a strong start, but the Cascadia Cup can bring out the best in the underdog. Vancouver is winless, 0-3 to start the season while the Sounders are the opposite. Jordan Morris has made a successful recovery from injury while Raul Ruidiaz and Nicolas Lodeiro look as good as ever. In Vancouver, with all its offseason changes, it is taking time for their new signings to all gel together. However, Saturday’s game could set a fun new record. Whitecaps designated player In-Beom Hwang could face Sounders midfielder Kim Kee-Hee in what would be a high-profile dual between the two South Korean stars.

Full MLS Schedule (All Times Eastern)


Toronto FC v. New York City FC – 8 p.m.


Chicago Fire v. New York Red Bulls – 1 p.m.

New England Revolution v. Minnesota United – 2 p.m.

Sporting KC v. Montreal Impact – 3 p.m.

San Jose Earthquakes v. LAFC – 3:30 p.m.

FC Cincinnati v. Philadelphia Union – 7:30 p.m.

Columbus Crew v. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.

Colorado Rapids v. Houston Dynamo – 9 p.m.

Real Salt Lake v. FC Dallas – 9 p.m.

Vancouver Whitecaps v. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m.


Orlando City v. D.C. United – 6 p.m.

LA Galaxy v. Portland Timbers – 9 p.m.

Reports: Ex-Manchester United winger Nani to MLS

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TFW the Sporting Lisbon player to MLS report you posted earlier isn’t even the most notable Sporting Lisbon player to MLS report in a 24-hour period.

Sure, Fredy Montero is likely to return to Vancouver, bringing a two-time MLS All Star resume with him.

But Nani won the EURO and the Champions League, you know?

Multiple reports say Nani, 32, will join Orlando City this summer, giving the club its biggest star since the retirement of Kaka.

The longtime Manchester United man has 112 caps with 24 goals for Portugal — including a goal against the USMNT at the 2014 World Cup — and has won six leagues between the Premier League and Portugal’s top flight.

He can also count the 2007-08 Champions League title on his resume, as well as Portugual’s EURO 2016 crown. He scored three times in that run.

MLS All Star Game headed to Orlando, format unchanged

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The Major League Soccer All Star Game is headed to Orlando City in 2019, the second time the game has been staged in the Theme Park Capital of the World.

A release from MLSSoccer.com says the game will again pit the MLS All Stars against a “renowned international club.”

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks ]

Our guess would be a club with significant Brazilian ties to match its ownership and longtime star Kaka, who retired after last season.

Could it be Paris Saint-Germain, who is yet to be an opponent in what commissioner Don Garber has called “the most important special event” that MLS has on its calendar?

Other big name clubs which have yet to oppose the All Stars and have Brazilian stars are Barcelona, Liverpool, and Manchester City.

Josef Martinez sets single season MLS goalscoring record

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A 25-year-old MLS record has finally fallen.

Josef Martinez, with his 28th goal of the campaign in the 74th minute to give Atlanta United a 2-1 win over Orlando City, has set the Major League Soccer single-season goalscoring record.

With the goal, Martinez also tied an MLS record with a score in nine straight league matches, with an insane 14 goals during that span. His torrid pace has Atlanta on a massive hot streak, as the team has lost just once since May 22nd.

The goal itself was beautiful, taking a feed from Julian Gressel and putting a move so filthy on Jonathan Spector that he sent the Orlando City defender crumbling into goalkeeper Joe Bednik, leaving Martinez to chip the netminder who now sat on his rear end. It was a move and finish fitting of a record-scoring strike.

The 25-year-old Venezuelan has been an absolute menace since joining Atlanta last May, with now 47 MLS goals in 48 games. As you can see, he’s a goalscoring machine:

After setting the record, Martinez was immediately congratulated by New York Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips who was the most recent man to equal the previous mark of 27 back in 2014. Wright-Phillips was tied with Chris Wondolowski and Roy Lassiter at the top of the list.

He also received a congratulations video from San Jose’s Wondolowski via the Major League Soccer social media account. “It’s been fun watching you play this season, and hoping to watching you score many more goals, just not against us,” he said.

The insane part about Martinez’s goalscoring numbers this season is that Atlanta still has a whopping eight league matches remaining, and with the club chasing the Supporter’s Shield, it’s unlikely that he will sit very many of the remaining matches, if any. Atlanta United sits atop the Eastern Conference on 51 points with the victory, two points above Wright-Phillips and the Red Bulls.