It wasn’t too long ago when the question was whether the Seattle Sounders would make the playoffs. Now the question is just how high a playoff seed can the hottest team in MLS secure.
The Sounders won their ninth straight match, defeating Cascadia rival Vancouver Whitecaps on a busy night in MLS.
In other action, TFC trounced the Galaxy to keep its playoff hopes alive on a night when the Montreal Impact earned a big road win at Philadelphia to maintain a nine-point cushion on TFC for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Elsewhere, the Houston Dynamo shocked the Portland Timbers, Minnesota United earned a road point at Real Salt Lake, and FC Dallas and the Columbus Crew played to a goal-less draw.
Here’s the full rundown of Saturday’s busy MLS slate:
Rapids 0, Atlanta United 3 (Final)
Atlanta United got back to winning ways on Saturday, downing the Colorado Rapids, 3-0, at Dicks Sporting Goods Park.
Miguel Almiron’s brace in an eight-minute span in the firsthalf had the Five Stripes up 2-0 in the first 18 minutes. His first came in the 10th minute from a nice assist by Julian Gressel. The Paraguayan netted his ninth of the season in the 18th minute, matching his entire total from his debut MLS season a year ago.
Gressel played distributor on Atlanta’s final goal, setting up Hector Villalba in the 37th minute.
Darlington Nagbe returned to the Five Stripes starting XI, playing 77 minutes in the win. Both Brad Guzan and Tim Howard each made three saves apiece, while Colorado lost their fourth in a row.
Man of the Match: Almiron played the hero scoring a pair of goals in the easy victory for Atlanta.
Moment of the Match: Almiron’s second goal really set the tone for the remainder of the match, while Villalba’s added insult to injury.
Match to Forget: Sam Nicholson and Giles Barnes were zero threat offensively as the Rapids suffered another home defeat.
Union 1, Impact 4 (Final)
The Philadelphia Union had a chance to extend its hold on fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a win at home, but instead watched the Impact tear them apart to make things more interesting in the race for the final playoff spots.
Alejandro Silva scored a pair of goals while Ignacio Piatti notched a goal and assist to give the Impact a 4-1 win over the Union at Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday.
The Union started the match promisingly, with defender Auston Trusty heading homefirst goal of the season in the 12th minute. The 20-year-old rose highest and flicked Borek Dockal’s cross into the left side of the net. It was also Dockal’s 15th assist of the season, which puts him first in the league for that category.
The Impact caught the Union on the counter after a bad Union turnover lead to a break out. Piatti capped the break by laying a pass to the streaking Silva, who slotted it past an on-rushing Andre Blake in the 28th minute.
Saphir Taider tapped in a rebound in the 39th minute to give Remi Garde’s men a 2-1 lead. Quincy Amarikwa’s long-range effort forced Andre Blake into a good save by the Jamaican couldn’t push the shot away from Taider to pounce on it.
Amarikwa bagged his first goal for the club, scoring in the 63rd minute from close range. A hard-driven cross by Daniel Lovitz found Amarikwa who tapped home to give Montreal a two-goal lead.
The Impact capped the scoring in the 77th minute after a Union corner kick was quickly collected by Silva in his own penalty area before he raced up field with Piatti on his left. The Impact tandem worked the give-and-go before Silva beat Blake again to secure the victory.
The win leaves the Impact one point behind the Union for fifth place in the East, though the Union have a game in hand.
Man of the Match: Alejandro Silva registered two goals in the second-half rout by the Impact. He has a strong performance as the Impact move to one point from Philly for fifth place.
Moment of the Match: Taider’s finish put the Impact ahead for good and took a lot of energy out of the stadium.
Match to Forget: There was plenty of blame to go around the Union, not only along the back-line, but in midfield as well.
Toronto FC 5, Galaxy 3 (Final
The LA Galaxy’s awful defense collapsed not once, but twice on Saturday night, falling behind 3-0 before a roaring comeback. That was followed by another terrible finish in a 5-3 loss to Toronto FC at BMO Field.
TFC jumped all over the Galaxy from the start, rattling off three goals in the first 36 minutes, with Victor Vazquez, Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco all finding the net to make it 3-0.
The Galaxy jumped back into the match with the help of some magic from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored the 500th goal of his career by connecting on a ridiculous round-house kick volley finish in the 43rd minute.
Momentum was on the Galaxy’s side to start to the second half, with Ola Kamara and Rolf Feltscher scoring four minutes apart to time the match in the 58th minute.
The Galaxy looked like they might escape Toronto with a point, but Jonathan Osorio saw to it that the home team grabbed all three points, giving TFC the lead in the 75th minute when he headed home a Marky Delgado cross to make it 4-3.
The Galaxy didn’t put up much of a fight in the closing stages, looking very much like a tired team. TFC put the match out of reach in the final minute when Jay Chapman pounced on the rebound of a shot in the 94th minute.
The loss puts another nail in the Galaxy’s playoff coffin. TFC didn’t gain any ground on sixth-place Montreal, but did move closer to the Union and now has two teams to chase on its quest for a return to the playoffs.
Man of the Match: Jonathan Osorio’s goal and assist were vital in helping TFC earn a sorely-needed win.
Moment of the Match: The Galaxy lost, but Ibrahimovic’s wonder goal was a moment that won’t soon be forgotten.
Match to Forget: It’s tough to single out one player for the Galaxy, but David Romney was awful and could be found struggling on three of TFC’s goals.
FC Dallas 0, Crew 0 (Final)
Two of the league’s best teams cancelled each other out on Saturday, as FC Dallas and the Crew combined for just three shots on goal in a goal-less draw at Toyota Stadium.
Dynamo 4, Timbers 1 (Final)
The Dynamo may be out of the playoff picture, but they showed that they’re able to play spoiler after dismantling the Timbers at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday.
The match started out looking like it would be another Dynamo loss when defender Alejandro Fuenmayor scored a ninth-minute own goal. His attempt to block an Alvas Powell led to the ball floating over Dynamo goalkeeper Joe Willis.
The Dynamo erased that early deficit before halftime, with Albert Elis scoring a goal and setting up another before the break.
The Timbers appeared to tie the match before halftime, but a Diego Chara goal was negated when VAR determined that Diego Valeri was offside in the build-up.
Mauro Manotas made it 3-1 before Fuenmayor scored one for his own team to close out the victory.
The loss dropped the Timbers into sixth place in the Western Conference.
The victory was the first by the Dynamo since July 7, a stretch of 10 league matches.
Man of the Match: Alberth Elis terrorized the Timbers defense all match long.
Moment of the Match: When Mauro Manotas pounced on a spilled Steve Clark save, it gave the Dynamo the two-goal cushion that made it easy to finish the game off.
Match to Forget: Clark had a rough night, but Larrys Mabiala had a woeful outing in central defense.
Real Salt Lake 1, Minnesota United 1 (Final)
Miguel Ibarra’s 84th-minute equalizer helped Minnesota United earn a road point, while costing RSL some precious points in its quest for a playoff berth.
Damir Kreilach continued his red-hot form, scoring an 11th-minute goal to give RSL the early lead.
That lead held up until the 84th minute, when Ibarra finished off a Darwin Quintero pass to halt RSL’s three-match winning streak and the Loons’ own three-match losing slide.
The Loons looked to have a go-ahead goal when Ibarra ran onto another Quintero pass to make it 2-1, but a VAR ruling determined that Quintero came from an offside position before setting up the goal.
Whitecaps 1, Sounders 2 (Final)
Raul Ruidiaz scored a pair of first-half goals, including a gift of a finish courtesy of a terrible turnover by Brett Levis to give the Sounders a 2-1 victory over the Whitecaps at BC Place.
The Whitecaps pulled one back just before halftime when Kamara headed home a corner kick in the third-minute of stoppage time. They were unable to get any closer though, as Seattle’s defense and goalkeeper Stefan Frei made the lead stand up.
The Sounders moved past Real Salt Lake into a tie with LAFC for third place in the West.
Man of the Match: Raul Ruidiaz scored both goals to lead Seattle to the win.
Moment of the Match: Brett Levis thought he was passing to a teammate when he delivered a no-look pass toward the front of his own goal-mouth, but instead he gave Ruidiaz a goal on a platter.
Match to Forget: Levis is going to have nightmares about his unintentional assist to Ruidiaz.
Los Angeles FC 1, Revolution 1 (Final)
Brandon Bye headed home a Teal Bunbury cross in the 82nd minute to help the Revolution earn a precious road point in a draw at Banc of California Stadium.
Marco Urena’s 52nd-minute goal gave Los Angeles FC the 1-0 lead, but Bye timed his streaking run into the penalty area perfectly to head home Bunbury’s cross.
Man of the Match: Brad Knighton made five saves, including some very tough stops, to keep LAFC from taking real control.
Moment of the Match: Brandon Bye’s equalizer was an excellent finish off a perfect cross from Bunbury.
Match to Forget: Lee Nguyen was probably too anxious to have a good game against his former team, and wound up having a very quiet night.
Earthquakes 1,Sporting KC 5 (Final)
Gerso Fernandes is having the game of his life, having scored two goals and assisted on two others as Sporting KC is demolishing the Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium.
Fernandes and Felipe Gutierrez combined on the first two goals of the match, in the first 23 minutes, before Ike Opara added another just before halftime.
Fernandes set up a Krisztián Németh in the 67th minute to make it 4-0. Danny Hoesen spoiled the shutout for Sporting KC’s defense, but Fernandes added his second goal of the night just six minutes later.
The win helped Sporting KC jump ahead of FC Dallas into first place in the Western Conference, while extended its lead to four points on LAFC for the top two spots in the West.
Man of the Match: Gerso Fernandes was outstanding, and had a hand in all but one of SKC’s goals.
Moment of the Match: The first match of the night was a thing of beauty, with Gutierrez delivering a line-splitting pass to spring Fernandes, who finished deftly.
Match to Forget: Nick Lima will want to erase this match from his memory, particularly the success Fernandes had on his side of the field.