Los Angeles FC highlighted a busy Sunday of MLS action with plenty of fireworks at Banc of California Stadium. Between the electric atmosphere in the stands, the many close calls, and the six actual goals, there was plenty of entertainment in Southern California.
Earlier in the night, D.C. United survived a strong performance from the LA Galaxy to take three points at home.
Elsewhere, Atlanta United picked up three points at home as Josef Martinez propelled the Five Stripes past NYCFC. The Philadelphia Union took on the Houston Dynamo at home in an interconference match, while the L.A. Galaxy traveled to Audi Field to face the Wayne Rooney-less D.C. United.
Here’s a closer look at Sunday’s MLS action:
Atlanta United 2 – NYCFC 1
(Martinez 42, 63′) – (Heber 81′)
Atlanta United posted its second-consecutive home win after a 2-1 success on Sunday against NYCFC.
Josef Martinez made MLS history, scoring a goal in his 10th consecutive match. The Venezuelan finished the day with a brace to help the Five Stripes move to 42 points on the season.
Martinez broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute, heading home Julian Gressel’s cross into the bottom-left corner.
The striker doubled his tally on the afternoon, scoring from the penalty spot in the 63rd minute. James Sands fouled Pity Martinez inside of the box, allowing the reigning MLS Golden Boot winner to score his 20th goal of the season.
Brazilian substitute Heber came off the bench to score his 10th goal for the club since joining in April. However, it would not be enough for Domenec Torrent’s side who fell for the second time in their last three matches.
Philadelphia Union 2 – Houston Dynamo 1
(Przybylko 18′, Elliott 78′)-(Ramirez 43′)
The Philadelphia Union have had to deal with Atlanta United closing in on first place in the Eastern Conference, but the Union made sure to maintain its hold atop the East with another impressive victory.
Jim Curtin’s side posted a 2-1 home victory against the struggling Houston Dynamo on Sunday. Jack Elliott scored the eventual game-winning goal for the hosts as they made it back-to-back wins.
Kacper Przybylko netted his 11th goal of the MLS season, taking advantage of a mistake from Dynamo keeper Joe Willis. Haris Medunjanin found Przybylko inside the penalty area and the German’s low attempt squeaked under Willis’ legs for the opening goal.
Christian Ramirez leveled things up in the 42nd minute, rifling a missile into the bottom corner. A great pass from DaMarcus Beasley hit the striker just inside the box and Ramirez set himself up nicely before scoring in his club debut.
Elliott looked to have put the Union in front on the hour mark, but his goal was wiped away for offsides. Referee Marcos de Oliveira did not use video review on the play, keeping the score level at 1-1.
However, the English defender would have his revenge in the 78th minute, heading in off the crossbar. Jamiro Monteiro’s cross was headed off the bar by Elliott and the rebound was put away nicely for his second goal of the season.
The Union move to 45 points this season and take on the Chicago Fire next weekend. Houston drops to 2-10 on the road this season and faces a trip to the Colorado Rapids next weekend.
D.C. United 2 – L.A. Galaxy 1
(Arriola 28′, Rodriguez 73′)-(Alvarez 48′)
Bill Hamid made some massive saves and Lucas Rodriguez knocked home a late winner as D.C. United took down a quiet Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his LA Galaxy at Audi Field.
Paul Arriola opened the scoring in the 28th minute by finishing off a fine series off passes following a goal kick. Arriola was the final recipient of a sequence that started with Hamid and arrived at the winger through a passes from Ulises Segura and Quincy Amarikwa. D.C. thought it had doubled the lead after a sloppy giveaway by Ibrahimovic, but Lucas Rodriguez was well offside when he took his shot.
The Galaxy had been controlling the bulk of possession for most of the game and they hit back to bag an equalizer early in the second half. Favio Alvarez fired home a shot inside the far post from the top of the box to level the game at one in the 48th minute.
Some nice saves from Hamid and a goal-line clearance from Rodriguez kept D.C. in the game and the home team secured its go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute when Rodriguez scored one that stood. David Bingham made a couple of nice saves but the Galaxy defense didn’t mark Rodriguez as he latched onto a rebound and calmly slipped a shot past Bingham’s dive.
The Galaxy put together a few nice sequences up front in the final minutes, but Hamid was up to the task every time and D.C. snatched the 2-1 win.
D.C. United climbs to third place in the Eastern Conference with the win, and now sits six points behind the first-place Union. D.C. United will fly out to the northwest for a road clash with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the Galaxy remain in fifth place out West as they return home for a midweek clash with FC Dallas on Wednesday.
LAFC 4 – New York Red Bulls 2
(Harvey 23′, Blessing 25′, Vela PK 61′, Segura 72′)-(Casseres 42′, Miller OG 45′)
Carlos Vela continued his stellar season with a goal and two assists, tying the MLS record for the most combined goals and assists in a season, as LAFC took down the New York Red Bulls in a barn burner of a match to close out the weekend.
Jordan Harvey, of all people, opened the scoring in the 28th minute with his first goal in two years. Vela picked up his first assist on the night by curling in a picture perfect free kick that found the defender’s head and cruised in past Luis Robles. Latif Blessing doubled the lead all of two minutes later. He was on the receiving end of a well-placed pass from Steven Beitashour for the easy 25th-minute tap-in.
The end of the second half provided a few fireworks. Christian Casseres Jr. put the visitors on the board in the 42nd minute when he pounced on a loose ball just outside the penalty area and smashed a shot past Tyler Miller, who probably felt he should have made the save. After a dangerous chance that resulted in a penalty shootout, the Red Bulls tied the score with a nice run from Daniel Royer in the 45th minute. His cross was deflected off the post and then off Miller’s back for an own goal.
Things didn’t slow down after the break. Mark-Anthony Kaye thought he put LAFC back in front when he scored in the 50th minute, but VAR took it away for a foul in the buildup. Minutes later, Blessing weaved through the Red Bull defense and forced a big save from Robles. On the other end, Ben White nearly had a tap-in finish in the 54th minute.
All the close calls culminated in a 61st-minute goal for LAFC. Rece Buckmaster tripped up Eduard Atuesta in the penalty area, allowing Carlos Vela to score from the penalty spot. Vela recorded his second assist in the 72nd minute thanks to another excellent free kick. This one found Eddie Segura’s head for his first career MLS goal.
Vela should have had a third assist in the 90th minute when he sprung Josh Perez, who rounded Robles and rolled a shot towards the empty net. Tim Parker was there for the Red Bulls to make a clearance, however.
LAFC is now 16 points clear at the top of the Western Conference and sits 10 points above the pack in the Supporters’ Shield Standings. Bob Bradley’s side is now unbeaten in 11 home matches. LAFC will head to Utah to take on Real Salt Lake next Saturday night. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, remain in fifth place on 37 points. They host the New England Revolution next Saturday at Red Bull Arena.