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Columbus adds Mullins in bid to strengthen playoff stock

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Patrick Mullins has dropped down the DC United depth chart, and that’s just where Columbus was happy to see him.

Gregg Berhalter and the Crew have scooped up the two-time MAC Hermann Trophy winner as the best college player, sending $150,000 in Targeted Allocation Money to the Black-and-Red.

[ MORE: Kane on ENG loss | Player ratings ]

DC has added Wayne Rooney in addition to Jamaican striker Darren Mattocks.

Mullins, 26, is yet to score this season but has 23 goals and nine assists in five-and-a-half seasons between New England, New York City FC, and DC.

He made just two starts amongst his 10 league appearances this season.

It’s a clever scoop for Columbus, who is trading a league-allocated asset for a regular contributor to MLS score sheets and can produce like Will Bruin with more opportunities.

MLS Snapshot: D.C. United 3-1 New York City FC (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less more): If you’ve been waiting for New York City FC’s (seemingly) inevitable collapse as they breezed through the second half of the 2016 season — locking up a place in the playoffs and making a serious push for the Eastern Conference’s top spot perhaps a year ahead of schedule, in Patrick Vieira’s first season — happy Sunday to you. Entering Sunday, no team occupying a playoff place had conceded more goals than NYCFC (53), which will ultimately be their season’s deathblow. On Sunday, they ran into a buzzsaw D.C. United side (yes, you read that right) which had won three straight, by a combined score of 9-2. The goals kept flowing in this one, as Patrick Mullins, Bobby Boswell and Rob Vincent made it 3-0 to the home side before the halftime whistle. The victory sees United clinch their place in the playoffs, guaranteeing no worse than a fifth-place finish, and leapfrog the Montreal Impact for fourth place in the race to host a knockout-round game. NYCFC, meanwhile, fall to three points back of the New York Red Bulls for the top spot in the East, but remain second thanks to Toronto FC’s draw with the Impact.

[ MORE: Playoff Picture — 6 teams can clinch playoff berth this weekend ]

Three moments that mattered

27′ — Mullins arrives late at the back post for 1-0 — Luciano Acosta plays Lloyd Sam down the right flank, and Sam slides the ball across the face of goal for Patrick Mullins, who hammers it past the goalkeeper. United’s opening goal is exactly how they drew it up.

31′ — Boswell heads the corner home for 2-0 — Speaking of just how they drew it up, here’s Sam floating a free kick into the penalty area, and Boswell, the biggest player on the field, going up and getting it to double the lead.

45′ — Disaster at the back for NYCFC, and it’s 3-0 — See, what happened here was… it was bad. Just bad.

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Men of the match: Lloyd Sam

Goalscorers: Mullins (27′), Boswell (31′), Vincent (45′), Villa (72′ – PK)

MLS Snapshot: DC United 1-1 Montreal Impact (video)

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Montreal Impact found themselves a goal down and struggling for scoring chances against D.C. United through Didier Drogba‘s 81 minutes on the field Sunday, only to nab an unlikely equalizer five minutes after the big Ivorian was sent to an early shower for what will surely go down as the dumbest red card of the year. Patrick Mullins marked his United debut with a goal 20 minutes in, but Hernan Bernardello, making his Impact re-debut, bagged that equalizer with the Black and Red oh so close to all three points. With the result, United remain eighth in the Eastern Conference, three points back of  the sixth and final playoff place (as of this posting), while the Impact miss out on their chance to go second in the East, instead holding steady in fourth (as of this posting).

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of the MLS weekend ]

Three moments that mattered 

20′ — Mullins heads home for 1-0 on his debut — Only traded to United this week, Mullins made an instant impact by rising above his marker and heading home 20 minutes into his debut.

31′ — Piatti hits the post with the net wide open — Ignacio Piatti might just be the MVP of the league this year, but he won’t unseat Sebastian Giovinco if he can’t finish empty-net chances like this one.

81′ — Drogba puts a knee into Marcelo’s back, sees red — It doesn’t get much more petulant than this from Drogba. And with the referee right there. Like, right there.

86′ — Bernardello sends a laser past Hamid for 1-1 — Bill Hamid doesn’t get beaten at his near post often, if ever. That, in itself, is an indication of just how well Bernardello hit this ball.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Luciano Acosta

Goalscorers: Mullins (20′), Bernardello (86′)

Report: NYCFC trio Poku, Mullins, Allen to train with Manchester City

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It’s not unusual for Major League Soccer players to get training stints with Premier League and other European clubs in the offseason.

But with the close relationship between Manchester City and New York City FC, any young players getting a look at the Etihad Stadium asks a closer view.

[ MORE: Guardiola heading to the PL

Young, of course, is a relative term here, but an Asbury Park Press story on Monmouth University graduate and NYCFC defender R.J. Allen says that he’s one of three New York players head to Man City for 10 days of training with the big club.

From the APP:

On Wednesday, Allen, along with teammates Patrick Mullins and Kwadwo Poku, head for Manchester City, one of NYC’s owners, where the trio will spend ten days training with one of the English Premier League’s top organizations, working in the same state-of-the-art facility as international superstars like Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure.

It’s an interesting trio going to Manchester. Allen, as the article points out, was out of soccer before signing with NYCFC, while Mullins was the 11th overall pick in the 2014 SuperDraft before being selected in the expansion draft by NYC.

Poku is the most interesting part of the story, as the electric soon-to-be 24-year-old attacking midfielder became quickly beloved in New York. Ghana-born, Poku got his American start with the Georgian Revolution of the NPSL in 2011, joining the Atlanta Silverbacks in 2014 before coming the New York.

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 2-0 Toronto FC

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The game in 100 words (or less): Perhaps there’s life just yet in those there New Yorkers. With a 2-0 home victory over a suddenly spiraling-out-of-control Toronto FC on Wednesday night, New York City FC snapped a three-game losing streak and — I’m just presenting the cold, hard facts here — and now find themselves just one point behind the Montreal Impact, who have four games in hand, for the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference. Frank Lampard scored his first MLS goal on the night, sending the Yankee Stadium faithful into raptures and causing the 37-year-old Chelsea legend to smile and celebrate just like the good old days back home. TFC, on the other hand, have been just about the worst, most lifeless team in MLS the last couple weeks. They’ll be a playoff team because they did enough early on this season, but when they play their first playoff game in club history away from home and are knocked out after 90 minutes, will it really feel like they “made it?”

[ MORE: Week 28 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

20′ — Lampard’s first MLS goal gives NYCFC the lead — He remembers how to score goals, huh? That’s a welcome development, considering he’s got a $6-million-per-year contract. The initial ball from Andrea Pirlo was exquisite. The finish was somewhat fortunate from Lampard, but NYCFC need wins — and it takes goals to win — in the worst way, so who cares? (WATCH HERE)

60′ — Saunders lays out to stop Giovinco’s free kick — Sebastian Giovinco got a fortunate deflection off the wall that had his right-footed free kick making a beeline for Josh Saunders right-hand post, but the 34-year-old goalkeeper scrambled across his goal quickly and palm the ball away.

77′ — Mullins heads home Pirlo’s corner kick — So it was a two-assist from Pirlo, who placed his 77th-minute corner kick ever so perfectly onto the head of Patrick Mullins.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Andrea Pirlo

Goalscorers: Lampard (20′), Mullins (77′)