The 2019 MLS season has been the Los Angeles FC show. Aside from the shocking defeat in Vancouver eight matches ago, the club has rolled through and are unbeaten since that match. With the Montreal Impact making the trip to the Banc of California Stadium, it was leading MLS MVP candidate Carlos Vela who once again took over. Vela scored one and tallied two assists in the 4-2 victory over the Impact. Vela currently sits atop the league leaders in both goals (15) and assists (nine).
With Vela leading the way, LAFC has opened up an eight-point lead over the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference. The Sounders were unable to keep up with LAFC after they fell to Sporting Kansas City, 3-2, in a wild match. Johnny Russell had Children’s Mercy Park in a frenzy with his hat trick, single-handedly outscoring Seattle and helping secure a valuable three points for Sporting. Before this MLS Player of the Week performance, Russell had struggled to get anything going over the last few matches. Russell now has seven goals on the season, and if he can get hot, could help propel Sporting Kansas City into a playoff position.
The Portland Timbers made a splash when they brought in Brian Fernandez and marked his debut last week with a goal, but he didn’t stop there. In the final away match before they open Providence Park, the Portland Timbers rolled through the Philadelphia Union, 3-1, with two goals from Fernandez. Fernandez scored twice in a five-minute span to get the Timbers off and running.
Last week, the Colorado Rapids stunned the LA Galaxy for their first win in 2019. This week, the Rapids took advantage of a struggling Columbus Crew team, knocking them off 3-2, in front of just under 17,000 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids once again scored in the final minutes to snag the full three points.
The United States U-20 National Team kicked off World Cup play this week and faced Ukraine in its Group D opener. The U-20 squad, who coach Tab Ramos said was the most talented one he had assembled, stunningly dropped their opener, 2-1, to a Ukrainian side that was not intimidated by the Americans. Ukraine struck first in the 26th minute through Serhii Bulesta, but just six minutes later, FC Dallas midfielder Brandon Servania equalized for the U.S. Both teams traded quality chances before Denys Popov gave the Ukraine the lead once again. Popov was able to rise above the American defense, flicking a header to the far side and stunning the Americans in their first match.
The Americans rebounded with a crucial 2-0 victory over a talented Nigeria side who was expected to be the toughest competition in Group D. Sebastian Soto scored both goals, giving the United States a massive victory. It took just 18 minutes for the United States and Soto to get on the board, and they were off and running. Nigeria came out of the locker room and immediately went down 2-0 less than 30 seconds into the half. Nigeria could not get much going after that but was granted a penalty kick from a foul on Weston McKennie. Luck was on the Americans’ side, as VAR called the play back due to offside.
Another FC Dallas midfielder, Paxton Pomykal, has been crucial for the United States in controlling the midfield. Pomykal will need to continue his solid play when the U-20 squad faces bottom of the group Qatar. A win or a draw will see the United States through.
Below is the schedule for MLS clubs in action this week.
Atlanta United vs. Minnesota United – 7 p.m.
Montreal Impact vs. Real Salt Lake – 7:30 p.m.
Philadelphia Union vs. Colorado Rapids – 7:30 p.m.
D.C. United vs. Chicago Fire – 8 p.m.
Sporting Kansas City vs. LA Galaxy – 8:30 p.m.
United States U-20 vs. Qatar U-20 – 2:30 p.m. (FIFA Under 20 World Cup)(FS2)
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Toronto FC – 10 p.m.
Montreal Impact vs. Orlando City – 5 p.m.
Atlanta United vs. Chicago Fire – 6 p.m.
New York Red Bulls vs. Real Salt Lake – 7 p.m.
Columbus Crew SC vs. NYCFC – 7:30 p.m.
D.C. United vs. San Jose Quakes – 8 p.m.
FC Dallas vs. Seattle Sounders – 8 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City – 8:30 p.m.
Colorado Rapids vs. FC Cincinnati – 8:30 p.m.
Portland Timbers vs. LAFC – 10:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Minnesota United vs. Philadelphia Union – 4 p.m.
LA Galaxy vs. New England Revolution – 10:30 p.m.
As always, stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk for all things FC Cincinnati when head west to face the Colorado Rapids, looking to get back into the win column and snag the full three points.