Five MLS matches on Sunday were headlined by L.A. Galaxy’s convincing 7-2 win over Sporting Kansas City, a romp which saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic earn a hat trick and Sebastian Lletget notched a brace.
Coming into the match, Galaxy sat in eighth place in the Western Conference playoff race but the victory placed the team in fifth at the close of business on Sunday.
In Seattle, the Sounders took a win that was sealed by a late own-goal after letting a goal lead slip to the New York Red Bulls.
Elsewhere, D.C. United left Providence Park with a full three points while Toronto FC downed the Colorado Rapids at home.
Here’s a closer look at Sunday’s MLS action:
Galaxy 7, Sporting KC 2
(32′, 51′, 85 Ibrahimovic, 48′ Corona, 69′ Antuna, 77′, 79′ Lletget)-(24′,86 Gutierrez)
Looking to secure a playoff spot, L.A. Galaxy improved its odds thanks to a blowout win at home.
The night started on the wrong side of the scoreboard for the Galaxy when Kansas City midfielder Felipe Gutierrez fought through traffic to open up the scoring in the 24th minute, but a handball mistake on the SKC backline prompted a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty kick opportunity.
SKC keeper Tim Melia initially saved the shot, but the ball ended up in Ibrahimovic’s path for an easy tap-in in the aftermath.
The second half saw Joe Corona pounce on an opportunity created by Christian Pavon in the 48th minute, and Galaxy went on to pull away with the lead. Moments later, Ibrahimovic earned a brace with a close-range, left-footed shot.
From there, contributions from Uriel Antuna and Sebastian Lletget put the game well in hand, but the moment of the match was Ibrahimovic’s strike from distance for his third-ever MLS hat trick, which helped him set a new Galaxy record for goals in a season, and pull him to within two goals of Carlos Vela for the MLS league lead.
It would be inconsequential, but Felipe Gutierrez earned a late brace when he pulled one back to have the final say of the evening.
Sounders 4, Red Bulls 2
(Morris 2′, Lodeiro 23′, 97′, Davis OG 83′) – (Long 27′, Kaku 67′)
For the second time in three matches the Seattle Sounders blew a two-goal lead at home. For the second time in three matches the Sounders escaped with a victory. This time they got a little help.
With the Sounders and New York Red Bulls tied 2-2 in the 83rd minute, Red Bulls midfielder Sean Davis leaped to block a Victor Rodriguez cross, but instead deflected the ball directly into his own goal. Nicolas Lodeiro added a goal — his second of the match and seventh of the season — in the final minute of stoppage time, lifting the Sounders to a 4-2 win that was much closer than the final scoreline indicated.
The victory lifts the Sounders (14-9-7, 49 points) into second place in the Western Conference. The Red Bulls (12-3-5, 41 points) remain in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, but have now lost three straight and have posted just one victory in their last six matches.
The Sounders took the lead off a second-minute corner kick when Jordan Morris redirected Gustav Svensson’s header past goalkeeper Luis Robles for the 1-0 lead.
The hosts doubled the league in the 23rd minute. Morris headed Cristian Roldan’s far-post cross back across the face of goal to Lodeiro, who poked a shot past Robles to put the Sounders up 2-0.
The cushion was short-lived, however, as the Red Bulls pulled one back just four minutes later. Former Sounder Aaron Long beat Kelvin Leerdam to a Michael Amir Murillo cross, heading a shot past Stefan Frei and pulling the visitors back into the match.
Kaku equalized for the Red Bulls in the 67th minute, finding himself alone in the heart of the penalty area to easily tap home a rolling cross from Daniel Royer, who likewise enjoyed ample room to comfortably pick out his target.
The Sounders main supporters’ group, the Emerald City Supporters, walked out of the match in the opening moments of the second half and did not return, apparently protesting club and league policy regarding the display of the Iron Front flag.
Timbers 0, D.C. United 1
(Tuiloma OG 25′)
D.C. United earned a needed victory on Sunday, defeating the Portland Timbers, 1-0, at Providence Park.
While the hosts had the better of the offensive chances, the Black and Red had some luck to go their way. Bill Tuiloma’s own goal in the 25th minute broke the deadlock for the only goal of the match.
Diego Valeri and Wayne Rooney each had efforts saved after the halftime break, while D.C. remained in front for good. Bill Hamid finished with four saves to preserve the shutout for D.C. United.
Toronto FC 3, Rapids 2
(Endoh 8′, Pozuelo 13′, Osorio 70′) – (Rosenberry 31′, Nicholson 62′)
Robin Fraser’s return to Toronto ended in losing fashion as Toronto FC denied thitseir former assistant coach a win in a 3-2 victory at BMO Field.
Tsubasa Endoh and Alejandro Pozuelo scored five minutes apart in the opening 13 minutes to put the Canadian side in front. Keegan Rosenberry’s first goal of the season started a comeback for the Rapids in the 31st minute.
After conceding a penalty kick in the 38th minute, TFC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg denied Kei Kamara from the spot to keep the hosts in front.
Sam Nicholson’s long-range missile beat Westberg in the 62nd minute however to tie things up after the hour mark.
Jonathan Osorio played the hero for TFC in the 70th minute, roofing a shot into the top-left corner. It was the Canadian’s fifth league goal of the season which moved TFC to fourth in the East.
The Rapids are seven points away from the final playoff spot in the West with three matches remaining.
Minnesota United 3, Real Salt Lake 1
(Quintero 20′, 51′, Finlay 83′) – (Rusnak 17′)
Minnesota United bounced back on Sunday with a home win over Real Salt Lake.
Darwin Quintero helped spark three unanswered goals by the Loons, who ran out 3-1 winners over their West rivals.
Albert Rusnak put the visitors ahead in the 17th minute, but Quintero would answer in quick fashion to tie it up. The Colombian finished a through ball from Kevin Molino in the 20th minute, which sent the teams into halftime level at 1-1.
Quintero put the Loons ahead in the 50th minute, rifling a long-range shot in for his second goal of the night.
The Loons kept their foot on the gas and substitute Ethan Finlay made RSL pay in the 82nd minute. Romain Metanire played the winger in towards goal with a through ball and Finlay made zero mistake to ice the home win.
Minnesota United sits in third place, while RSL is in fourth.