Before Major League Soccer passes over to the World Cup in Russia, there are still some important fixtures on Saturday’s slate of action. Headlining the day’s schedule is a showdown in the Bronx between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.
NYCFC welcomed Atlanta United to Yankee Stadium, looking to retain the top spot with a win. In what could very well be Patrick Vieira’s final match in charge of NYCFC as the move to manage in France draws closer, Atlanta managed to score first, but couldn’t hold on as the hosts came back to score a draw.
Elsewhere, The Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls settled for a draw in the Ohio capital, FC Dallas cruised by the Montreal Impact, and the Vancouver Whitecaps stormed all over ten-man Orlando City.
The night closed with a real thriller in San Jose as LAFC stormed back from behind to topple the Quakes on the road.
Here’s a closer look at all of Saturday’s MLS action:
NEW YORK CITY FC 1, ATLANTA UNITED 1 (Final)
It wasn’t the high-flying attacking match many wanted, but NYCFC and Atlanta United saw their stars step up in a 1-1 draw.
Both teams created danger in the opening half but the biggest scare of the first 45 came with an injury. Josef Martinez went down with an apparent ankle issue, but the Venezuelan star played on to close the first half.
In the second, though, Atlanta broke through on a goal from Martinez. The Venezuelan forward was on the end of a perfect cross from Julian Gressel and he headed home for his league-leading 13th goal of the season.
In the 77th minute, NYCFC jumped right back into, leveling the score on a perfectly-worked set piece sequence. Maxi Moralez’s initial corner kick was headed on by David Villa to Alexander Callens, who dove to head the ball home for his first goal of 2018.
Man of the Match: Brad Guzan came up huge for Atlanta all throughout Saturday’s match, making a whopping 11 saves to keep the visitors in the match.
Moment of the Match: After holding on for 77 minutes, Guzan and the Atlanta defense were finally beaten on a set piece as Callens headed home the tying goal.
Match to Forget: After suffering an early injury, Miguel Almiron struggled to get going before departing the match at halftime.
CREW 1, RED BULLS 1 (Final)
It was a tale of two halves at Mapfre Stadium as the Crew and Red Bulls failed to settle their differences.
Gyasi Zardes opened the scoring midway through a first half that was 100% controlled by Columbus. They struck first after a number of threatening counter attacks almost resulted in Gyasi Zardes goals. Zardes did get his tally, however, in the 26th minute. Harrison Afful played a picture perfect cross to pick him our for a wide open header and an easy finish.
They had many other chances throughout the opening 45 minutes, but a combination of Luis Robles saves, barely off target shots, and a goalpost kept the score at 1-0.
The second half has been a different story. The Red Bulls turned things around by providing plenty of attacking pressure and bagging a goal early on in the frame. Alex Muyl headed home a wonderful Marc Rzatkowski free kick in the 57th minute to level the score at one.
Both sides had scattered chances throughout the half, but nothing came to fruition. That match ended all square as dark clouds and thunderstorms barreled down on Columbus.
Man of the Match: Gyasi Zardes was a constant force for the Crew up front/. He was consistently in position to score and was unlucky to only leave the field with just one goal on the day.
Moment of the Match: After getting rolled over in the first half, Alex Muyl’s equalizer was just what the Red Bulls needed to start the second.
Match to Forget: Aaron Long didn’t have the best of afternoons in the Red Bull backline. He was sloppy at times and really let Zardes and the Crew run rampant, particularly in the first half.
WHITECAPS 5, ORLANDO CITY 2 (Final)
Alphonso Davies may only be 17-years-old, but he sure didn’t look like a high school kid against Orlando City.
Davies had himself a big match as the Canadian teenager bagged the winning goal, provided most of the effort on the opener, and two other assists in the Caps dominating 5-2 win over Orlando City.
Sacha Kljestan scored for visitors, but a second half red card to Mohamed El-Munir was their ultimate undoing in their fifth straight loss.
Kei Kamara opened the scoring in the 36th minute by providing an excellent finish, but it was the young Davies doing the dirty work. The Canadian teenager picked up a loose ball near the halfway line and bolted down the pitch before picking out Kamara in traffic for a skillful finish.
Orlando has been struggling to create chances, and their task got tougher when Mohamed El-Munir was sent off for his second yellow card in the 58th minute. It didn’t matter however, a the ten man Lions equalized through Sacha Kljestan in the 64th minute.
The lead didn’t last, though. Davies smacked home the go ahead goal from close with just a quarter of an hour to play. The floodgates were open after that. They got an insurance goal after VAR awarded them a penalty in the 84th minute. Kamara scored his second from the spot, Davies provided another blinding run and assist as he picked out Yordy Reyna on the doorstep in the 87th, and he fed Nicolas Mezquida for goal number five in the 90th.
Man of the Match: Alphonso Davies was the main man for Vancouver on the attack. The 17-year-old provided the run down the pitch and assist for the first goal, as well as two other assists in garbage time, and he bagged the winner by being in the right place at the right time.
Moment of the Match: The El-Munir red card came just when Orlando was getting back into the match. Had they kept all 11 men on the pitch, they may have held on for a point or more.
Match to Forget: Orlando’s playmaking winger Justin Meram was more or less invisible before being subbed off in the 61st minute.
FC DALLAS 2, IMPACT 0 (Final)
Two early goals were all FC Dallas needed to get by the Montreal Impact.
The home team got themselves off to a hot start in this one. An own goal off Matteo Mancosu in the 8th minute was shortly followed by a penalty from Mauro Diaz ten minutes later.
Effective counter attacks and efficient defending was enough to see Dallas through this one. They were quite comfortable letting Montreal have the ball while they sat back and let them come.
FC Dallas use the three points to go back in front of Sporting Kansas City atop the Western Conference.
Man of the Match: Mauro Diaz scored the second goal from the penalty spot and more or less spent most of the match making Montreal defenders look silly.
Moment of the Match: Conceding an own goal after only eight minutes sucks, but the penalty ten minutes later was what really set the Impact back.
Match to Forget: A forward who boots one into his own net will certainly want to forget that ever happened. That’s the story for Matteo Mancosu who scored on his own goal way early in this one.
FIRE 1, REVOLUTION 1 (Final)
Offense was at a premium as the Chicago Fire and New England Revolution played out a draw at Toyota Park. A German legend put the Fire in front in the second half, but a goalkeeping howler allowed the Revs to level the score late on.
Things didn’t look good for the Fire attack early on. Their efforts took a bit of a hit in the 20th minute when they were forced to sub off Nemanja Nikolic. Alan Gordon came on to replace him, but…
A lifeless game found some spark midway through the second half. Bastian Schweinsteiger powered a shot through a diving Matt Turner in the New England goal in the 63rd minute to give the Fire a lead.
That advantage wouldn’t make it the distance, though. Despite not posing much of a threat for the majority of the match, the Revs got on the board in the 82nd minute thanks to a mistake in goal by Richard Sanchez. He mishandled a bouncing ball and allowed it to fall to Bunbury for the equalizer.
Man of the Match: Bastian Schweinsteiger’s old legs had plenty of life in this one. He scored a nice goal and overall had a strong game in the center of the park.
Moment of the Match: Richard Sanchez’s mistake turned what looked like a hard fought win into a disappointing draw for the Fire.
Match to Forget: Sanchez’s big mistake will be something that he will want to put behind him quickly.
DYNAMO 2, RAPIDS 0 (Final)
The Dynamo broke through first through Tomas Martinez, whose individual effort gave the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute. After wiggling past several defenders, Martinez’s first shot was saved by Tim Howard, who could do nothing with the rebound as Martinez tapped home
Six minutes later, the Dynamo added a second as Johan Blomberg took down DaMarcus Beasley in the penalty area. Mauro Manotas buried the spot kick to make the score 2-0.
In first half stoppage time, the Rapids’ situation only got worse as Yannick Boli was sent off with a straight red card.
Moment of the Match: The penalty kick all but sealed the match for a Dynamo team that cruised through the second half.
Match to Forget: Yannick Boli was sent off, all but ending the Rapids’ comeback hopes.
SOUNDERS 2, D.C. UNITED 1 (Final)
The Seattle Sounders were in desperate need of goals, and they got two of them on Saturday in a much-needed win.
D.C. United initially took the lead through Darren Mattocks, but the Sounders responded right back with a goal four minutes later. Nicolas Lodeiro ripped home a stunning volley, leveling the match at one apiece in the 57th minute.
The Sounders then scored their second goal of the match and ninth of the season in the 83rd minute. Magnus Wolff Eikrem’s headed finish came from a perfectly-hit Cristian Roldan, sealing the Sounders’ first win since May 9.
Man of the Match: Recently passed over by Uruguay, Lodeiro played an inspired game and was far and away the best player on the field.
Moment of the Match: Eikrem’s goal could be a momentum boost for the Sounders, who very much need a bit of confidence if they hope for a playoff push.
Match to Forget: Luciano Acosta was held relatively quiet as D.C. United couldn’t get a second goal.
LA GALAXY 3, REAL SALT LAKE 0 (Final)
An increasingly familiar hero provided the spark the LA Galaxy needed to cruise past Real Salt Lake.
In the second half, the Zlatan Ibrahimovic show began as the Swedish star scored a pair of goals in a six-minute span. The first was a 61st minute headed finish, giving the Galaxy the 1-0 lead.
Moments later, it was 2-0 thanks to Ibrahimovic again as Servando Carrasco set the forward up for another header to double the advantage.
The goals kept flying for the Galaxy as well. The lead swelled to 3-0 thanks to Ola Kamara just ten minutes after Zlatan’s second.
Man of the Match: Zlatan Ibrahimovic broke the deadlock and proceeded to bag his double within minutes.
Moment of the Match: Zlatan’s second of the night kept this game rolling right along in favor of the Galaxy.
Match to Forget: Marcelo Silva spent much of the match getting run over by a long-haired Swede. He left the pitch with nothing more than a yellow card and the look of many defenders to face Zlatan over the years.
TIMBERS 0, KANSAS CITY 0 (Final)
What was expected to be an exciting match featuring two Western Conference contenders turned out to be a fairly lifeless nil-nil draw.
There wasn’t much offense to speak of in the first half. The teams combined for only six total shots, although one was a threatening chance from SKC. Daniel Salloi smacked the underside of the crossbar with a close range effort in the 41st minute. Other than that, though, neither team came close to creating anything.
The second half was more of the same. There were more shots after the break, but real chances were few and far between. The Timbers had a close call just before the 90 minutes expired, but strong goalkeeping from Tim Melia kept this one scoreless.
Man of the Match: The Timbers defense did well to hold SKC to just a few threatening looks, and Julio Cascante was the most important part of that defensive effort.
Moment of the Match: The best chance of the game was Salloi’s shot off the crossbar. That’s the closest anyone came to bagging anything.
Match to Forget: Daniel Salloi was average at best, save for the moment he nearly put his team in front in the second half, which was a chance he really should have converted.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES 3, LAFC 4 (Final)
The real action of the night was in the Bay Area, where the San Jose Earthquakes and Los Angeles FC provided a heck of a nightcap.
Both teams traded punches in the first quarter hour. Danny Hoesen got the scoring for the Quakes in the 11th minute, and Adama Diomande leveled for LAFC just four minutes later. That wasn’t the end of the early scoring, either. Steven Beitashour put the visitors in front in the 19th minute.
The rest of the first half was quite fast paced and exciting to watch, despite no more goals going in.
Goals returned in the second as Chris Wondolowski took over to push the Quakes into the lead. Danny Hoesen provided the assist on Wondolowski’s first in the 52nd minute before the veteran forward picked off Tyler Miller to score the second.
Wondo’s goal looked to be enough to decide the match, but Diomande wasn’t finished. He scored 90th minute equalizer. But things weren’t done yet. After Kevin Partida was shown a second yellow in the 95th minute, LAFC used the man advantage to bag an unlikely winner. Aaron Kovar provided the finish and all three points for LAFC.
Man of the Match: Without Carlos Vela in the lineup, Adama Diomande led the line and snagged a pair of big goals for his efforts.
Moment of the Match: Aaron Kovar’s last second winner was the perfect way to cap off a banging match.
Match to Forget: Andrew Tarbell was awful in the San Jose goal and would really love to have the entire night back.