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RSL’s Savarino downs Atlanta United in 94th minute

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Atlanta United dropped its second straight match, this time in gut-wrenching fashion, as Jefferson Savarino scored a 94th minute winner to hand Real Salt Lake a 2-1 win over Frank De Boer‘s bunch.

Josef Martinez appeared to have rescued Atlanta with his 78th minute equalizer, cancelling out Sebastian Saucedo’s first-half opener, but Savarino struck a blistering stunner from outside the box with the minimum three minutes of added time already passed. Savarino used straight muscle to shield a charging Leandro Gonzalez Pires off the ball, and the strike punished Brad Guzan for creeping just inches too far towards his near post.

The late winner redeemed a Real Salt Lake defense that fell asleep just a fraction too early on Martinez’s goal, as a low cross from Franco Escobar should have been easily dealt with, but the Venezuelan waited for the right moment and pounced in front of a snoozing Justin Glad to poke home the delivery.

While the two sides split the possession, RSL out-shot Atlanta and held the lead most of the way after Bofo put them in front just past the half-hour mark. The 22-year-old was given way too much space just outside the top of the box and placed a curler past Guzan for the opener for his second goal in two weeks.

The win gave RSL its third straight victory in what has become a streaky season. The campaign so far features two winning streaks and two losing streaks through 13 matches, with just one draw among the group. For Atlanta, the second straight loss leaves them stuck in fourth, squandering the chance to pass third-placed Montreal who sits a just point ahead.

VIDEO: Zlatan, Onuoha battle ends with Ibra inside RSL locker room

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The narrative that Zlatan Ibrahimovic gets away with hardly a slap on the wrist for any number of transgressions that most MLS players wouldn’t dream of committing got another chapter longer on Sunday.

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Ibrahimovic, whose career has been littered with physical altercations in a number of different countries, found himself at the center of the drama once again after he sought an altercation with Real Salt Lake defender Nedum Onuoha not once, not twice, but three times (at a minimum) during the two sides’ meeting at Dignity Health Sports Park.

The two battled all game long, but things started to get personal in the 60th minute.

First, Ibrahimovic wrapped his arm around Onuoha’s neck and threw him to the ground in a lazily disguised attempt to pursue a loose ball. The two then came face-to-face and jawed at one another as Onuoha wasn’t going to be intimidated by Ibrahimovic’s stardom.

18 minutes later, Ibrahimovic scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal — he does this from time to time — but the big Swede marred his own moment by seeking out Onuoha for some more additional taunting. To Onuoha’s credit, he refused to take the bait and remained a consummate professional.

After the game, another turn for the worst: Ibrahimovic entered the RSL locker room and sought out Onuoha once again. They both say he was trying to apologize, but Onuoha had no desire to hear him out. Ibrahimovic was restrained and shown out the door by a member of the Galaxy’s staff.

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After the game, Onuoha told his side of the story, which included a threat from Ibrahimovic “that he’s going to hurt me” during the run of play.

After all of that, Ibrahimovic explained his actions thusly…

It’s not the first time Ibrahimovic has overstepped the line of petulance since arriving in MLS. Last May, he open-hand slapped Michael Petrasso in the side of the head/face because the Montreal Impact defender stepped on his foot. The punishment? The automatic one game which comes with the red card he was (rightly) shown for violent conduct, plus… actually, that was it.

LAFC beat RSL on more late-game heroics; first in MLS to 10 points

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Their 2019 campaign is only four weeks old, but Los Angele FC are making a name for themselves as MLS’s new cardiac kids — masters of late-game drama — with another stoppage-time winner.

[ MORE: Young FCD side tops Rapids | Kljestan, Orlando down Red Bulls ]

After knocking off Sporting Kansas City courtesy of Adama Diomande‘s 94th-minute goal in Week 1, Bob Bradley‘s boys were at it again against Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

Just as they did against Sporting KC, LAFC fell behind in the first half only to pull level close to halftime and break visiting hearts with 90-plus on the clock. Damir Kreilach converted from the penalty spot in the 35th minute, but the advantage lasted barely five minutes before Diego Rossi equalized in the 40th.

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Then, in the 91st minute, came the stunning winner from Rossi Carlos Vela  Diomande Christian Ramirez Lee Nguyen Walker Zimmerman(?!).

Whether or not the strike took a deflection or knuckled and swerved in a way that would make the world’s greatest strikers of the ball proud — even Bradley was noncommittal either way — is largely irrelevant.

With a 3W-1D-0L record through the season’s first month, Bradley and Co., have shown their debut MLS season was no fluke. In fact, they’ve made it abundantly clear that it was actually something of a disappointment and they are intent on reaching far greater heights in 2019.

MLS Preview: FC Cincinnati hosts first MLS match

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As we reach week three of the MLS season, exactly half of the league’s teams are still looking for their first win of the year, including FC Cincinnati, which hosts its first-ever MLS match.  Below, we’ll preview the top three upcoming matchups on tap this weekend in MLS:

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]


FC Cincinnati v. Portland Timbers — Sunday, 5 p.m. ET

Major League Soccer fully arrives in Cincinnati this weekend, as FC Cincinnati hosts its first ever MLS game. Like its previous two games, this one will be no easy task for the expansion side, as it hosts MLS Cup finalists, the Portland Timbers. It’s a reunion for Fanendo Adi, who left the Timbers last summer to join FC Cincinnati in a trade between the two clubs, but it’s also a big test for the Timbers. Amazingly, the Timbers are winless in 22 consecutive matches when Diego Chara is out. The Colombian was sent off in last week’s rout at Los Angeles FC, putting his team behind the eight ball early in the season.

Chicago Fire v. Seattle Sounders — Saturday, 1 p.m. ET

Suddenly, with the acquisition this week of Nicolas Gaitan, on paper at least, the Chicago Fire look like they can be a playoff squad. Veljko Paunovic’s side features Bastian Schweinsteiger dropping deep as a centerback, Dax McCarty patrolling midfield, and then Gaitan, Alexander Katai and Nemanja Nikolic and this team has the spine and talent to make a deep playoff run. They’ll get a chance to test themselves against a team always in the playoff picture, and one that’s benefitted by the return of Jordan Morris. After routing FC Cincinnati and soundly beating the Colorado Rapids how will the Sounders respond to its first road match of the season?

D.C. United v. Real Salt Lake — Saturday, 8 p.m. ET

This game may have gone under the radar in the past, but both of these teams have four points from two games and are off to a hot start in the 2019 MLS season. It’s a return to D.C. for Mike Petke, who helped D.C. United win MLS Cup in 2004, while it’s also a chance to see Wayne Rooney against one of the best pair in MLS history, Kyle Beckerman in midfield and Nick Rimando in goal. Real Salt Lake’s young, Homegrown-filled squad could surprise D.C. in Audi Field, unless Rooney and Luciano Acosta have something to say about that.

Full MLS Schedule (All Times Eastern)

Saturday

Chicago Fire v. Seattle Sounders – 1 p.m.

Columbus Crew v. FC Dallas – 2 p.m.

Houston Dynamo v. Vancouver Whitecaps – 3 p.m.

New York Red Bulls v. San Jose Earthquakes – 3:30 p.m.

Orlando City v. Montreal Impact – 4 p.m.

D.C. United v. Real Salt Lake – 8 p.m.

LA Galaxy v. Minnesota United – 10:30 p.m.

Sunday

New York City FC v. Los Angeles FC – 3 p.m.

FC Cincinnati v. Portland Timbers – 5 p.m.

Atlanta United v. Philadelphia Union – 7 p.m.

Toronto FC v. New England Revolution – 7:30 p.m.

Colorado Rapids v. Sporting KC – 9 p.m.

MLS, RSL legend Rimando announces 2019 will be final season

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Nick Rimando has done everything a goalkeeper could possibly do during his 19-year MLS career… except win the ever-elusive Goalkeeper of the Year award, of course.

[ MORE: 2019 Western Conference preview | Eastern Conference ]

Inarguably the greatest goalkeeper in league history — given the heights he reached at the position, both figuratively and literally; the way he revolutionized the position in MLS and made everyone rethink how a goalkeeper could look and play; and the longevity with which he did all of it — Rimando announced on Friday that the 2019 season, his 20th, will be his last. He will retire next winter at the age of 40.

Rimando, already the MLS record holder for career clean sheets, wins, saves, and appearances, is a two-time MLS Cup winner (2004, D.C. United; 2009, Real Salt Lake) and five-time All-Star (2011-2015). He was voted MLS Cup MVP in 2009. Two factors — his 5-foot-10 height, and the parallel careers of stalwarts Tim Howard and Brad Guzan — limited Rimando to just 22 caps for the U.S. men’s national team.

[ MORE: Predicting the 2019 MLS season | Growth is still the name of the game ]

While the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year award should be renamed in his honor, Rimando won the award despite setting the standard for MLS ‘keepers for nearly a decade.