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Diomande, LAFC continue to roar, nearing Western lead

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Major League Soccer completed what the World Cup started Saturday by putting a lot more goals on the board, and one player continues to roast everything that comes in his Stateside path.

[ MORE: Ranking the World Cup semifinalists ]

Adama Diomande scored for the seventh and eighth times in five starts to give him nine goals and two assists in 473 minutes to begin life on our shores.

The ex-Hull City striker, 28, is making a mockery of defenses, and is averaging a goal or an assist every 43 minutes following LAFC’s 4-1 beatdown of Orlando City on Sunday.

No one is cleaning up goal mouth messes any better than Diomande, who has been in or near the six for the majority of his markers, and he’s been doing it without World Cup participants Carlos Vela and Marcos Urena (the pair returned to LAFC as subs on Saturday night).

How do we make one of those videos of cartoon sunglasses sliding down onto Bob Bradley‘s face?

Elsewhere
Philadelphia Union 0-2 Atlanta United
Montreal Impact 2-1 Colorado Rapids
Real Salt Lake 2-0 FC Dallas
Vancouver Whitecaps 3-2 Chicago Fire
LA Galaxy 4-0 Columbus Crew
Sporting KC 2-2 Toronto FC
New England Revolution 0-0 Seattle Sounders
Houston Dynamo 3-0 Minnesota United
Portland Timbers 2-1 San Jose Earthquakes
New York City FC vs. New York Red Bulls — Sunday

MLS at Midweek: LA strikers firing at will

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Major League Soccer is laying claim to the Fourth of July, with the 2018 World Cup taken two days off before the quarterfinal round.

Beginning with Tuesday’s 9 p.m. ET match-up between red-hot Adama Diomande‘s LAFC and Houston, the league has a half-dozen midweek matches for your entertainment.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Here’s what to watch:

LAFC vs. Houston Dynamo — 9 p.m. ET Tuesday

The first ever match-up between these sides has a lot of firepower, none more than ex-Hull City man Diomande. The 28-year-old Norwegian has an almost absurd seven goals in his first five matches, and LA has three-straight wins. The Dynamo can climb back into the West’s Top Six with a win.

Minnesota United vs. Toronto FC — 7 p.m. ET Wednesday

Both teams have watched their playoff hopes get slimmer and slimmer, and both have been awful on the road. The good news for the Loons is that they are Wednesday’s hosts.

FC Dallas vs. Atlanta United — 8 p.m. ET Wednesday

The home side has lost just once since an April 29 setback, while Atlanta has fallen just three times this season. Dallas is one of just five teams unbeaten at home this season — one of whom, DC United, has played just twice in their home city — but the Five Stripes have bucked the trend of MLS teams struggling on the road, falling just once on eight away days.

Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders — 9 p.m. ET Wednesday

Once holders of a season left for dead, Anthony Hudson’s Rapids have taken seven points from their last three matches and can move to within a win of the Top Six with a win and help on the out-of-town scoreboard.

Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting KC — 10 p.m. ET Wednesday

Sporting lost for the first time since April 28 at the weekend, and stays on the road in a bid to bounce back against Mike Petke’s stubborn Rio Tinto bunch.

LA Galaxy vs. DC United — 10 p.m. ET Wednesday

Wayne Rooney won’t face off against former Manchester United teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and the later is playing some fine football. Zlatan has six goals in his last four matches, finding form on the other side of the ocean from his Swedish World Cup compatriots.

VIDEO: Ex-Hull man Diomande registers first LAFC hat trick

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Adama Diomande‘s resume, skill set, and physical prowess looked set to make him an MLS success from the jump, but this is looking too easy.

[ MORE: World Cup roundtable ]

LAFC’s Norwegian import from Hull City now has the first hat trick in club history following a three-star run in the club’s 4-1 blowout of the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.

Diomande, 28, now has seven goals in 298 MLS minutes after scoring just once in a disappointing Championship season for Hull.

A terrific opener was met by a couple of poacher’s finishes to complete the hat trick, and LAFC is now third in the Western Conference during Bob Bradley and the club’s maiden voyage.

Something about black-and-gold American expansion teams has been good to the MLS and NHL the past two seasons.

Japan reach last 16 despite loss to Poland

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  • Bednarek scores first international goal
  • Japan advance to last 16 on fair play points
  • First time Japan has reached knockout round since 2010
  • Poland finish 2018 World Cup with one win, two defeats

Japan lost 1-0 to Poland in their Group H finale but the Samurai Blue still advanced to the last 16 virtue of two fewer yellow cards than Senegal.

Seriously. That happened.

Jan Bednarek‘s volley in the second half won the game for Poland who already knew they were eliminated heading into the game.

However, Japan held on to not concede another goal or pick up any more yellow cards to advance to the last 16 for just the third time in their history.

Japan will play either England or Belgium in the last 16.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

A much-changed Japan team did plenty of the pressing early on as Muto’s shot was pushed away by Lukasz Fabianski.

And the Samurai Blue continued to look the most likely to take the lead in a tight, tense first half in Volgograd.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

At the other end Poland came so close to taking the lead as Eiji Kawashima stopped a header from Bartosz Bereszynski brilliantly with goal-line technology showing the ball only went halfway across the line.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Poland did take the lead in the second half as a free kick to the back post was volleyed home impressively by Southampton’s young center back Bednarek to make it 1-0 and leave Japan on the brink of elimination.

What a way to score your first goal for your country.

Robert Lewandowski came so close to making it 2-0 as Kamil Grosicki‘s cross found him in the box but the Bayern Munich striker put his effort over.

Makino almost put into his own net from Grosicki’s dangerous cross as Japan were holding on for dear life late on as Poland aimed to finish their tournament with a flourish.

The Samurai Blue did just enough to reach last 16.

Sunderland, Rodwell cancel contract as player pursues MLS

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Well, here’s an MLS measuring stick for you.

Sunderland and Jack Rodwell have agreed to cancel the player’s contract ahead of a move to Major League Soccer, where 27-year-old ex-England national teamer will test his mettle on North American soil.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Rodwell has played for Everton, Man City, and Sunderland, though he appeared just twice for the Black Cats in the 2017-18 Championship season (which saw Sunderland relegated to League One).

The MLS transfer window opens July 10, but Rodwell will now be a free agent.

Who would benefit from a player like Rodwell, should he be fit and functional? Might he interest NYCFC, a sister club of his former pals Man City, or perhaps might he made a move to join Wayne Rooney (presumably) at DC United?

How he performs, should he sign somewhere in MLS, would be the latest litmus test for the league and its standing relative to the top few divisions in England.

Adama Diomande has four goals in four matches since coming to LAFC from Hull City, but Jordon Mutch hasn’t done much of anything in Vancouver. Adam Henley’s adjustment to Real Salt Lake has been slow, but Sporting KC’s Johnny Russell is one of WhoScored’s highest rated players on one of the league’s best teams.

Colorado has a pair of Championship transfers, with Jack Price faring better than Joe Mason though the club isn’t doing well at all.