As the playoffs inch closer, so does the race to fill up the remaining spots. Atlanta United has dominated this season and in return clinched a bye week for the playoffs this weekend. On the opposite coast, the LA Galaxy finally broke their seven game losing streak thanks in part to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose MLS future is up in the air. Here’s how the games shaped up across the league this weekend.
MLS action took off on Wednesday this week, the first game a faceoff between the Portland Timbers and Columbus Crew. Niko Hansen had both Columbus goals and they game in the very beginning and the very end of the match (7’ and 90+3’). David Guzman had the opening Portland goal of the match (18’). Andy Polo would give the Timbers the lead at 37’. An own goal by the Crew’s Lalas Abubaker at 48’ secured the Portland victory, despite Hansen’s stoppage time goal.
The other Pacific Northwest team didn’t have the same luck on Wednesday. The Seattle Sounders couldn’t manage to find the back of the net although they had a total of 15 shots and maintained 66% of ball possession. A red card was shown to Philadelphia Union’s Jack Elliot at 89’, with a 0-0 match score. Although they were down a man, the Union would come back to score the lone goal of the match in stoppage time thanks to Fafa Picault (90+3’). Farewell to Seattle’s win streak.
San Jose Earthquakes 3-4 Atlanta United
The San Jose Earthquakes’ first match with a new coach actually looked a bit promising for the club. Sure, they lost, but it was to a powerhouse Atlanta team. They had the first goal of the match, a strike from Nick Lima at 13’. Danny Hoesen would bring their lead to 2-0 with a goal at 43’. Hector Daniel Villalba got United on the board with a stoppage time goal (45+3’). The second half belonged to Atlanta, though. The Quakes got one last goal in, scored by Valeri Qazaishvili (58’). Josef Martinez would go on to score two goals to aid the Atlanta lead, one at 70’ and the winner at 90+5. Miguel Almiron also helped secure the lead with a goal at 73’.
Miggy ➡️ Josef.— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) September 21, 2018
You can't make this stuff up. pic.twitter.com/PuSPC5Amnm
Los Angeles Football Club 2-0 San Jose Earthquakes
So, the Earthquakes’ luck shifted as the weekend rolled in. LAFC ran amok over the Quakes. They had 18 shots to San Jose’s 4. It was a pretty uneventful match. Both of the LA goals were scored by Walker Zimmerman. This win was LAFC’s 50th point, making them the third expansion team to accomplish this in their opening season.
Atlanta United 2-0 Real Salt Lake
Atlanta United secured a playoff bye this Saturday against Real Salt Lake. Julian Gressel got United on the board with a goal at the 37’ mark. Their win would be secured with a strike from Hector Daniel Villalba at 61’.
The first draw of the weekend came in New England. The Chicago Fire opened up scoring with a goal from Aleksandar Katai at 16’. The Revolution responded in the second half with a goal from Scott Caldwell (62’). Turned out New England would have the next goal as well, only it would count for Chicago. Michael Mancienne had an own goal at 67’ to give Chicago the lead. New England’s next goal would go in their favour when Cristian Penilla struck at 70’.
Columbus Crew 2-1 Colorado Rapids
The second match of the week for Columbus had a better result for the club. They got on the board early with a goal from Gyasi Zardes at 17’. The Colorado Rapids responded shortly thereafter with a goal from Shkelzen Gashi (28’). A red card was shown to the Rapids’ Deklan Wynne in the second half (51’). With the man advantage, Frederico Higuain capitalized at 57’ to give Columbus the win.
It was a boring match in Florida as Orlando City faced off against the Houston Dynamo. The game was fairly evenly matched. Orlando City had 12 shots at goal while Houston had 11. Orlando maintained the majority of ball possession at 55%. Orlando’s keeper Adam Grinwis made his first MLS start and was able to keep a clean sheet, so I guess that’s cool.
Another match, another draw, this time between the Montreal Impact and NYCFC. Both goals of the match were technically scored by Montreal. The first of the match was an own goal by Rudy Camacho at 17’. The second goal of the match ended it in a draw, scored by Michael Azira at 27’. That was all for this one.
Minnesota United 3-2 Portland Timbers
This Timbers matchup was a tougher one for the club than the one on Wednesday. Minnesota United came out strong. Romario Ibarra had two goals early on (18, 36’). Michael Boxall would bring their lead to 3-0 with a goal in the 43rd minute. Portland found their groove in the second half. Alvas Powell scored the first Timbers goal at 55’. At the 79th minute Sebastian Blanco found the back of the net. At 89’, Minnesota’s Fernando Bob was given a red card, but Portland failed to make anything of the man advantage.
Philadelphia Union 2-0 Sporting Kansas City
Another game, another win for the Union. They beat out Sporting KC with a clean sheet. Philly’s Jay Simpson had both goals of the match. The first came at 71’, the second at 89’. The Union’s next match will be for the U.S. Open Cup.
FC Dallas opened up scoring with a goal from Santiago Mosquera at 42’. The Vancouver Whitecaps would open up the second half scoring when Kei Kamara found the back of the net on a corner at 66’. Matt Hedges’ late goal for FC Dallas would give them the win (87’).
WATCH: A critical corner kick resulted in a header from Matt Hedges that resulted in the game winning goal. pic.twitter.com/1V3dLi5tpg— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) September 24, 2018
LA Galaxy 3-0 Seattle Sounders
Have both the Galaxy and the Sounders’ luck turned around? The Galaxy put an end to their seven-game losing streak, while Seattle added a second loss to further distance themselves from their win streak. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had his 501st career goal early (9’) on a penalty. Ola Kamara would advance their lead at 40’. Emmanuel Boateng finished it off for the Galaxy with a goal at 52’. Has a new coach made an impact on the Galaxy? Or did they just catch Seattle in a weak spot? There’s also talk about Zlatan not returning to the Galaxy next season, but that’s all uncertain. Do you think his MLS chapter has come to a close? Or will the Galaxy pay up to keep him around?
Here’s how the tables look courtesy of MLSSoccer.com.