Photo credit: Sporting Kansas City / @SportingKC

MLS roundup: SKC, VAN get huge road wins; RBNY trim the gap

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Between now and the end of the regular season, with every game comes a bit of added pressure of consequence as the MLS playoff race is officially underway…

[ MORE: Austin MLS stadium vote delayed until next week ]

Los Angeles FC 0-2 Sporting Kansas CityFULL HIGHLIGHTS

“Six-pointers” don’t get much more obvious than Saturday’s matchup between LAFC and Sporting KC, two sides who entered the weekend in fourth and third place, respectively, with the same points total (36) and numbers of wins (10). Thanks to results elsewhere, the winner would climb into second place — just three points back of Western Conference leaders FC Dallas — and the loser would tumble to fifth place, suddenly just three points clear of the wrong side of the playoff cut line.

Sporting got goals from Gerso Fernandes and Ilie Sanchez (penalty kick) either side of halftime to hand the expansion side its first-ever loss at Banc of California Stadium. After fighting through an injury crisis for the better part of the last two months, Peter Vermes’ side is nearly 100 percent healthy at the right time of the season — Felipe Gutierrez and Johnny Russell returned from injuries; Roger Espinoza returned from suspension; and Krisztian Nemeth returned to KC in a trade this week. The West is far from over.

Portland Timbers 1-2 Vancouver WhitecapsFULL HIGHLIGHTS

Speaking of the West being a jumbled mess, Portland’s home loss to Vancouver means the Timbers dropped from second to third, and just four points now separate third and sixth place. Most notably, their unbeaten run of 15 games is no more, and at the hands of a Cascadia rival. The Whitecaps, meanwhile, moved to within two points of sixth-place Real Salt Lake after extending their current run to three games without defeat (two wins).

Kei Kamara (14th minute) and Cristian Techera (43rd) gave the visitors a 2-0 halftime lead, and though Diego Valeri converted a penalty kick in the 71st minute, Carl Robinson’s side left Providence Park with all three points.

Chicago Fire 0-1 New York Red BullsFULL HIGHLIGHTS

Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the only goal (the 101st of his MLS career) in a drab affair (13 total shots, 4 on target) at Toyota Park. A win is a win, though, and this particular win moves Chris Armas’s side to within one point of Atlanta United (48), leaders in the Supporters’ Shield race. The Red Bulls have a game in hand on the Five Stripes.

Elsewhere in MLS action

LA Galaxy 2-2 Minnesota United — HIGHLIGHTS
Columbus Crew SC 1-0 Houston Dynamo — HIGHLIGHTS
New England Revolution 2-3 Philadelphia Union — HIGHLIGHTS
Real Salt Lake 1-1 Montreal Impact — HIGHLIGHTS
Colorado Rapids 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes — HIGHLIGHTS

FOLLOW LIVE: West contenders LAFC, SKC face off; POR vs. VAN

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As August begins to fly by and September pokes its head over the horizon, the realization that the playoff race has begun in MLS grows clearer and clearer.

[ MORE: Austin MLS stadium vote delayed until next week ]

Saturday’s two biggest games feature four sides from the Western Conference, where the jockeying for playoff position has already begun. Take, for instance, Sporting Kansas City and Los Angeles FC, who after 22 games each find themselves level on 36 points in third and fourth place, respectively, tied with 10 wins and separated by just two in the goal-differential column. Peter Vermes’ and Bob Bradley‘s sides face off on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET) at Banc of California Stadium. The winner could apply real pressure, if not leapfrog, the team just one point ahead of them in second place. Krisztian Nemeth is expected to make his re-debut for Sporting KC, as a center forward, after he was re-acquired in a trade on Monday.

That team just so happens to be the Portland Timbers, who have one of their Cascadia rivals, the Vancouver Whitecaps, visiting Providence Park tonight. More so than the other three, Vancouver find themselves fighting for their playoff lives, as they’d be watching from home if the postseason began today. The gap between seventh-place Vancouver and sixth-place Real Salt Lake is currently four points. On the other side, the 11 p.m. ET kickoff represents a massive opportunity for the Timbers to make good on one of the two games in hand they currently possess over first-place FC Dallas. A win would cut the gap to just two points.

Full MLS schedule

Columbus Crew vs. Houston Dynamo — 7:30 p.m. ET
New England Revolution vs. Chicago Fire — 7:30 p.m. ET
Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls — 8:30 p.m. ET
Colorado Rapids vs. San Jose Earthquakes — 9 p.m. ET
Real Salt Lake vs. Montreal Impact — 10 p.m. ET
Los Angeles FC vs. Sporting Kansas City — 10:30 p.m. ET
LA Galaxy vs. Minnesota United — 10:30 p.m. ET
Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — 11 p.m. ET

MLS roundup: SKC roar back vs. HOU; FCD hammered by RBNY

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A roundup of, plus a few quick thoughts about, all of Saturday’s action from Week 16 of the 2018 MLS season…

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Sporting Kansas City 3-2 Houston DynamoFULL HIGHLIGHTS

Peter Vermes’ side fell 2-0 behind by halftime, courtesy of a costly error by reigning Defender of the Year Ike Opara in the second minute and a disastrous midfield breakdown in the 45th — both scored by Mauro Manotas. Sporting KC, who entered the weekend level on points with FC Dallas for first in the Western Conference (and four back of Atlanta United in the Supporters’ Shield race), were read the Riot Act at halftime, per Vermes, and responded accordingly.

Daniel Salloi bagged his fifth goal of the season in the 59th minute, and it was one-way traffic favoring Sporting from that point forward. Diego Rubio’s equalizer (assisted by Salloi, also his fifth) didn’t came until the 85th minute — the same minute in which he entered the game as a substitute — and Khiry Shelton’s winner (also assisted by Salloi) came three minutes later.

New York Red Bulls 3-0 FC Dallas — FULL HIGHLIGHTS

Despite playing with 10 men for more than an hour, the Red Bulls hammered the aforementioned side from Dallas to the tune of 3-0 at Red Bull Arena. The defeat snaps a four-game winning streak for FCD, as well as a seven-game unbeaten run dating back to late April.

Bradley Wright-Phillips opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, followed by Aaron Long (now a man down) in the 39th and Kemar Lawrence in the 48th (assisted by Kaku, making the 23-year-old Argentine-turned-Paraguayan the first player to reach 10 assists this season).

Los Angeles FC 2-0 Columbus Crew SC — FULL HIGHLIGHTS

LAFC did their damage early — Laurent Ciman in the 4th minute and Adama Diomande in the 8th — and Bob Bradley‘s side held on for 82 more minutes while limiting Crew SC to just one shot on target and handing Gregg Berhalter’s side a second straight loss and extending their current winless skid to five games. After riding alongside Atlanta atop the East standings a few weeks ago, Columbus have fallen to fourth and trail the Five Stripes by six points.

Elsewhere in MLS

Philadelphia Union 4-0 Vancouver Whitecaps
Orlando City SC 0-2 Montreal Impact
Colorado Rapids 3-2 Minnesota United
Real Salt Lake 1-1 San Jose Earthquakes
Seattle Sounders 1-1 Chicago Fire

USOC: Sporting KC, Union join Timbers in quarterfinals

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A quick recap of Saturday’s action in the U.S. Open Cup round of 16…

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news | Sunday’s schedule, streams ]

Sporting Kansas City 3-2 FC Dallas

The 2017 Open Cup winners survived and outlasted the 2016 winners at Children’s Mercy Park, thanks to a brace from Daniel Salloi, and a serious contender for USOC Goal of the Tournament from Yohan Croizet which came just one minute before the end of regular time.

Dallas raced ahead of a frantic, haphazard Sporting KC side after just 18 minutes when Carlos Gruezo tapped home Michael Barrios’s chipped effort over goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas; but Salloi drew Sporting level just before halftime with his first of the night, poaching a tap-in of his own off Ike Opara in the 43rd minute.

Salloi’s second came 20 minutes into the second half, moments after shifting inside from the left wing and unloading from the edge of the box. Roland Lamah made it 2-2 in the 77th minute, though, capitalizing on a scramble in the box that saw Sporting unable to boot the ball clear on multiple occasions. 12 minutes later, Croizet went a long way toward quieting a few of his critics after a rough start to his time in MLS.

Sporting will face the winner of Monday’s clash between Houston Dynamo and Minnesota United.

Philadelphia Union 2-1 New York Red Bulls

Philadelphia joined Sporting and the Portland Timbers (winners over the LA Galaxy on Friday) in the quarters with a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls at Talen Energy Stadium.

Haris Medunjanin unleashed a rocket from distance and Cory Burke slotted past Luis Robles, in the 52nd and 61st minute, before Bradley Wright-Phillips pulled a goal back for the Red Bulls in the 77th.

Philadelphia will face the winner of D.C. United versus Orlando City SC (Wednesday) in the quarterfinals.

Elsewhere in USOC fifth round

Portland Timbers 1-0 LA Galaxy (Friday)

Remaining USOC fifth round schedule

Houston Dynamo vs. Minnesota United (Monday)
D.C. United vs. Orlando City SC (Wednesday)
Louisville City vs. Nashville SC (Wednesday)
Atlanta United vs. Chicago Fire (Wednesday)
Los Angeles FC vs. Sacramento Republic (Wednesday)

Sporting KC reclaim West’s top spot with 4-1 win over MNUFC

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The game in 100 words (or less): Sporting Kansas City lost their hold on the Western Conference’s top spot barely 24 hours ago, and Peter Vermes’ side is already already back on top after throttling Minnesota United to the tune of 4-1 on Sunday. Daniel Salloi’s ascendancy to MLS stardom continued, as the 21-year-old opened the scoring with a stunning strike from 22 yards out (his 4th of the season, to go with 4 assists) in the 9th minute. It was 1-1 just two minutes later before the floodgates opened and Sporting KC made it 3-1 before halftime. Diego Rubio added a late insurance goal The victory pushes Sporting back to within one point of Atlanta United (29 points) in the Supporters’ Shield race and extends their unbeaten run to five games (three wins), while Minnesota have lost three of their last five games and eight in total on the season.

[ MORE: USMNT throws away HT lead, loses 2-1 in Dublin ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Salloi turns into acres of space, makes it 1-0 — Forced in the center forward spot in Khiry Shelton’s absence, Salloi brought a different dimension to the SKC attack _ a directness and eye for goal — that’s been absent since Dom Dwyer’s best days in Sporting blue.

35′ — Wan Kuzain scores his first SKC goal to make it 2-1 — A night to remember 19-year-old Wan Kuzain, dubbed “the Malaysian Messi” in his homeland and forced into his second appearance in as many game by an early injury to Yohan Croizet.

81′ — Rubio slots home from a tough angle for 4-1 — It’s been a tough year for Rubio, who lost the starting center forward spot in the preseason and has played very little through the first three months, but he took his one chance — with his weaker left foot — very well.

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

Man of the match: Cristian Lobato

Goalscorers: Salloi (9′), Mears (11′), Wan Kuzain (35′), Lobato (38′), Rubio (81′)