LA Galaxy star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez delivered a strong performance in last weekend’s win in Miami and followed that up by delivering an even better one on Sunday at home.
Chicharito registered a hat-trick as the Galaxy edged the New York Red Bulls 3-2 for a second straight league victory in Sunday’s lone MLS match. Despite a late comeback from the visiting Red Bulls, the Galaxy hung on to claim their first home win of the 2021 season.
The Galaxy win capped a weekend that saw Austin FC register its first MLS victory, Inter Miami shock the Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park, and the San Jose Earthquakes romp over FC Dallas with teenager Cade Cowell stealing the show.
Austin FC rallied from a first-half deficit with three unanswered goals on the way to a 3-1 road win against the Colorado Rapids, with Cecilio Dominguez leading the way with a pair of goals.
Saturday’s MLS slate also featured a stirring late rally by Inter Miami in a big road win against the Philadelphia Union, with the Higuain Brothers spoiling the party at Subaru Park to deliver Phil Neville his first win as Inter Miami head coach.
Saturday’s early games are over, and featured a pair of draws and the San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 thumping of FC Dallas, with Cade Cowell starring for Matias Almeyda’s squad.
The Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles FC played to a 1-1 draw at Banc of California Stadium, with Brad Smith delivering the equalizer on a day when a draw was a fair result for the Western Conference powers.
Here is a look back at the weekend’s MLS action, including top performers, moments and those players who would like to forget what happened:
LA Galaxy 3, New York Red Bulls 2 (Final)
(Javier Hernandez 9′ 41′ 60′) – (Andrew Gutman 26′, Cristian Cásseres Jr 63′)
Man of the Match: Chicharito now has five goals in his first two outings of 2021 and his goals on Sunday showed another example of what the Mexican international is capable of when healthy and confident. He was a thorn in the Red Bulls backline’s side all night.
Moment of the Match: Chicharito’s third goal proved to be the difference in the final score and also capped his hat trick. Although the Red Bulls hit back right away in the 63rd minute, it was the closest that the visitors would get to a comeback.
Match to Forget: Aaron Long. Long surprisingly was the worst out of the Red Bulls backline and his error led to one of the Galaxy’s three goals. A seasoned veteran like Long will look to bounce back immediately, especially with the Red Bulls now 0-2 and in an early hole.
NYCFC 5, FC Cincinnati 0 (Final)
(Jesus Medina 7′ 84′, Nick Hagglund Own goals 53′ 68′, Gudmundur Thórarinsson 57′)
Man of the Match: Jesús Medina walks away from the contest with a brace in true vulture fashion. He started the scoring with a simple finish to clean up some set-piece aftermath, and punctuated it doing the same in the moments after a corner.
Moment of the Match: Thórarinsson’s strike effectively killed the game for NYFC who were not convincing in closing out the first half with their 1-0 lead. From there, FC Cincinnati was on the ropes and started making mistakes while chasing the game.
Match to Forget: Two own-goals will be billed to Nick Hagglund’s account, making for a performance to swiftly place in the rearview. The first was definitely a miscue and he should not have gotten in the way of goalkeeper Cody Cropper. The second was simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time because his shin deflected a Maxi Moralez ball directly into the goal on a bang-bang play.
Nashville SC 2, CF Montreal, 2 (Final)
(Mason Toye 13′, Zachary Brault-Guillard 42′, Jhonder Cadiz 55′, Hany Mukhtar 77′)
Man of the Match: Hany Mukhtar stepped up when his side needed him most, leading Gary Smith’s men to a second consecutive two-goal comeback. With just over 10 minutes to play, the 26-year-old reacted quickest off a cross and slotted home expertly past a helpless Clement Diop at the near post. Mukhtar’s goal helped Nashville SC claim an important point and record its second draw in as many games.
Moment of the Match: Having just restored parity, Nashville SC was presented with a gilt-edge opportunity to find the winner in the 81st minute. Alex Muyl saw his name in the headlines, heading over an onrushing Diop, but Kamal Miller had other ideas – clearing his effort off the line. Gary Smith’s men pushed for the winner in the final 10 minutes but were ultimately forced to split the points.
Match to Forget: Aljaz ‘Kiki’ Struna was brought in this offseason to add some much-needed experience and defensive stability, but the veteran defender struggled in his first start. The 30-year-old failed to deal with the hosts’ dynamic attack throughout and could not clear his lines on Nashville’s all-important equalizer.
Toronto FC 2, Vancouver Whitecaps 2 (Final)
(Lucas Singh 7′, Jonathan Osorio 83′)-(Cristián Gutiérrez 6′, Cristian Dájome 55′)
Man of the Match: Of the four goal scorers, Cristian Dájome’s 90-minute shift stood out. In addition to being cool from the spot for the Whitecaps’ second goal, he was good for an 89% passing rate on the day.
Moment of the Match: In second-half stoppage time, Vancouver brought on Ryan Raposo who nearly made an instant impact. He found himself with a golden opportunity on the break, but TFC keeper Alex Bono’s outstretched glove was there to stop the shot and save the point.
Match to Forget: Richie Laryea gifted Vancouver a gift when he fouled Lucas Cavallini for a penalty shot, which of course was a major factor in having to settle for a draw.
San Jose Earthquakes 3, FC Dallas 1 (Final)
(Oswaldo Alanis 34′, Cristian Espinoza 49′, Cade Cowell 59′) – (Ricardo Pepi 79′)
Man of the Match: Cade Cowell scored an excellent goal and delivered a beautiful assist to help the Earthquakes pull away from FC Dallas.
Moment of the Match: Cowell’s assist on Cristian Espinoza’s goal was a work of art, splitting the FC Dallas defense perfectly.
Match to Forget: Tanner Tessmann’s handball penalty helped the Earthquakes open the scoring and the young midfielder struggled all match to get a hold of things in the middle of the park.
LAFC 1, Seattle Sounders 1 (Final)
(Eduard Atuesta 2′) – (Brad Smith 54′)
Man of the Match: Eduard Atuesta began the match with a clever free kick goal in the second minute, then set the tone in central midfield with a composed performance.
Moment of the Match: Atuesta’s free kick slipped under the Sounders wall and beat Stefan Frei to put the visitors under pressure from the start.
Match to Forget: Stefan Frei could have done better on Atuesta’s goal, and never really had a chance to atone for that as the match went on.
Atlanta United 3, Chicago Fire 1 (Final)
(Ezequiel Barco 23′, Johan Kappelhof OG 66′, Emerson Hyndman 85′) – (Luka Stojanović 46′)
Man of the Match: Ezequiel Barco was lively in the match. Rotating across multiple positions, he kept the Atlanta engine humming and was responsible for opening up the scoring.
Moment of the Match: Barco’s 23rd-minute goal was impossible to outshine. On a set piece from outside the box, his original shot was deflected but the Argentine regrouped quickly and sent it in again, ferociously. Fire goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth couldn’t get a glove on the shot which drilled the underside of the bar and over the line.
Match to Forget: Johan Kappelhof is going to have nightmares about the second concession. Shuttleworth charged off his line and left himself exposed, and when Jake Mulraney’s go-ahead goal deflected off of Kappelhof, his goalie was too far out to cover.
Minnesota United 1, Real Salt Lake 2 (Final)
(Robin Lod 86′) – (Anderson Julio 31′ 41′)
Man of the Match: Anderson Julio. Julio showed off his goalscoring abilities by scoring both of his goals in a 10-minute span. His right-footed strikes put RSL in front by two heading into halftime, a result they would hang on to for their first three points of 2021.
Moment of the Match: Julio’s second goal truly put RSL into a great position before halftime, forcing Minnesota United to do everything in the second-half. The Loons pulled a goal back through Robin Lod’s late finish, but it wasn’t enough as Minnesota suffered a second-straight loss to start the new season.
Match to Forget: Chase Gasper. Gasper’s error not only led to RSL’s second goal, but put his team in a frustrating position going into halftime. Despite having a decent performance defending overall, Gasper’s miscue is one the defender will not look forward to seeing again.
New England Revolution 1, D.C. United 0 (Final)
(Brendan Daniel Hines-Ike O.G. 48′)
Man of the Match: Brandon Bye was active on both ends of the field tonight and provided a needed spark just minutes into the second half. His cross found its way across the line with a little bit of help, but the right back’s contributions through the full 90 were needed given how successful DC United was at shutting down Carles Gil.
Moment of the Match: With a pair of attackers behind him, Brendan Hines-Ike was left to deal with a dangerous cross, only to watch his touch dribble into the DC goal. It’s never great to score an own goal but it’s even worse when it’s the game-winner.
Match to Forget: Though he otherwise did a solid job keeping New England from extending its lead, it will be hard for Hines-Ike to walk away from this one feeling positive.
Philadelphia Union 1, Inter Miami 2 (Final)
(Jamiro Monteiro 53′) – (Gonzalo Higuain 73′, Federico Higuain 83′)
Man of the Match: Federico Higuain. The veteran midfielder came off the bench and made a major impact to hand Phil Neville a first MLS head coaching win. Higuain’s cross in the 73rd minute set up his brother Gonzalo for the opener before the midfielder headed home Nico Figal’s cross 10 minutes later for the winner.
Moment of the Match: Higuain’s headed finish in the 83rd minute truly sucked the air out of Subaru Park as the Union faithful watched their team fall to Inter Miami for the first time in history.
Match to Forget: Jakob Glesnes. Glesnes was to blame for the second goal, watching as Higuain headed in the winner. He also showed some uncomfortable moments at times earlier in the match, the opposite of what he normally brings to the field.
Colorado Rapids 1, Austin FC 3 (Final)
(Andre Shinyashiki 36′) – (Diego Fagundez 60′, Cecilio Dominguez 67′, 71′)
Man of the Match: Cecilio Dominguez scored a double, including the eventual game-winning goal to show why Austin FC made him one of its DP signings.
Moment of the Match: Diego Fagundez’s equalizer wasn’t just important for turning the tide, but it also carried historic significance as Austin FC’s first goal in MLS.
Match to Forget: Cole Bassett was largely invisible on the day, completing just 18 passes and offering little defensive work, and making matters worse for him was the bad turnover that led to the eventual winning goal for the Texas club.
Portland Timbers 2, Houston Dynamo 1 (Final)
(Dairon Asprilla 6′, Cristian Paredes) – (Cristian Paredes own goal
Man of the Match: Dairon Asprilla opened the scoring for the Timbers and remained active throughout the match.
Moment of the Match: Cristhian Paredes atoned for an earlier own goal by scoring the winner off a beautiful layoff pass from Felipe Mora.
Match to Forget: There was plenty of blame to go around the Dynamo on Saturday night but Zarek Valentin was beaten on Portland’s first goal and caught in no-man’s land on the Timbers winner.
Sporting Kansas City 1, Orlando City 1 (Final)
(Gianluca Busio 45′) – (Nani 79′)
Man of the Match: Nani was Orlando City’s most influential player, even before his clever equalizer, producing three key passes and three successful dribbles on a night when Orlando City’s attack wasn’t at its best.
Moment of the Match: Nani’s back-heel equalizer was a beauty, and desperately needed by the Lions.
Match to Forget: Antonio Carlos’ poor touch helped set up Sporting KC’s opener on a night when the Brazilian didn’t play to his usual standard.