Week 11 in MLS was one that was filled with a variety of news. We saw a coaching change in the Queen City, a choking incident involving Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the defending MLS Cup champions seemingly returning to form.
Starting off with the coaching changes, along with Alan Koch being removed in Cincinnati, Brad Friedel was relieved of his coaching duties in New England. Koch and Friedel joined former Rapids coach Anthony Hudson as the first coaching casualties in 2019. Big names have been linked to the coaching vacancies, which would be another added boost to MLS.
The last week was a fantastic one for the defending MLS Cup champions, Atlanta United. Atlanta United started the week with a solid 2-0 victory over Toronto FC in front of over 42,000 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Josef Martinez tallied assists on both goals. Hector Villalba and Julian Gressel scored for the Five Stripes, giving them a solid three points midweek. Things continued to stay positive for Atlanta United when it knocked off rival Orlando City, 1-0, from the first goal by Pity Martinez.
Martinez, joined Atlanta United from River Plate, becoming the most expensive transfer in MLS history. The transfer finally paid off, as Martinez tallied his first career MLS goal. Atlanta United took the full six points, moving up to fifth in the Eastern Conference. The defending champions have won four straight without conceding a goal in those four matches.
The Chicago Fire were another club that had a fantastic week. They started off the week by routing the New England Revolution, 5-0, on the strength of a brace by Nemanja Nikolic. The Fire continued their roll, shutting out Minnesota United, 2-0, in Francisco Calvo’s first match against his former club. The Fire, like Atlanta United, did not concede a goal in their two matches this week. Along with Nikolic, Nico Gaitan was one of leaders for the Fire, bagging two goals and adding another two assists in the two matches. Gaitan took home MLS Player of the Week honors with his performance.
The LA Galaxy missed out on a big chance to keep up with their rivals across town, Los Angeles FC. The Galaxy dropped a tough game, 3-1 to the Columbus Crew on the road. Gyasi Zardes and Federico Higuaín led the way for the Crew. The Crew snapped a five-match losing streak with their victory over the Galaxy. The Crew didn’t wait long to get back to their losing ways, getting dominated 3-0 by the top team in the Western Conference, LAFC. The Crew were never really in the match, but two goals late in the match by Adama Diomande and Carlos Vela put the match way out of reach.
The week was filled with controversial plays as well, making it a rough week for officials around MLS — most notably, a possible choke by Ibrahimovic to the neck of New York City FC goalkeeper, Sean Johnson, that was deemed to only have been a yellow card instead of a red. Numerous offsides calls were missed with the assistance of video assistant referee. The lack of some calls were crucial in a few of the games, costing teams a chance at a point, or even the full three.
Below is the schedule for MLS clubs in action this week.
Toronto FC vs. D.C. United – 8 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. Portland Timbers – 8:30 p.m.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Atlanta United – 10 p.m.
Seattle Sounders vs. Orlando City – 10:30 p.m.
Los Angeles FC vs. FC Dallas – 10 p.m. (ESPN 2)
Montreal Impact vs. New England Revolution – 1 p.m.
Real Salt Lake vs. Toronto FC – 3 p.m.
San Jose Quakes vs. Chicago Fire – 3:30 p.m.
Philadelphia Union vs. Seattle Sounders – 7:30 p.m.
Minnesota United vs. Columbus Crew SC – 8 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United – 8:30 p.m.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps – 8:30 p.m.
FC Dallas vs. Los Angeles FC – 3 p.m.
Orlando City SC vs. FC Cincinnati – 3 p.m.
New York City FC vs. Atlanta United – 5 p.m. (FS1)
LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids – 8 p.m.
As always, stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk for all things FC Cincinnati when they head south to Florida to take on Orlando City in a battle for a crucial three points for both teams.