The week that was in MLS was certainly a busy one. The summer of soccer is in full swing, and we saw a busy midweek slate, along with the Copa America and Gold Cup tournaments wrapping up. Wednesday was a full night of soccer. There were seven MLS matches, along with the Gold Cup semifinal between the United States and Jamaica.
Wednesday delivered a beatdown that not many people saw coming. Atlanta United, who had been playing well recently, went up to Bridgeview, Illinois, and got destroyed by the Chicago Fire by a score of 5-1. Within the first seven minutes of the match, the Fire were already up 2-0. Less than four minutes later, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez was sent off for a handball. Nico Gaitan made the Five Stripes pay when he scored on the ensuing penalty kick. The Fire went on to score two more goals, ending the first half up 5-0. Atlanta United did manage to convert from the spot in the 58th minute to ruin the clean sheet.
Atlanta returned home and played to an incredible 3-3 draw with the New York Red Bulls. Josef Martinez scored twice late to draw even and eventually take the lead over RBNY. However, it was Bradley Wright-Phillips who equalized just two minutes later to rescue a draw for New York. The other New York club, New York City FC, had a solid Wednesday victory over the Seattle Sounders, 3-0, extending their MLS unbeaten streak to 13 games. It was behind the strength of three second-half goals that propelled NYCFC to the victory. Just a few days later, the unbeaten streak was broken at the hands of the Portland Timbers. Sebastian Blanco broke the hearts of the NYCFC with his goal in the 14th minute. The Timbers held on to break that unbeaten streak. Another streak was snapped in that match. It marked the first time that designated player Brian Fernandez failed to score when appearing for the Timbers.
Minnesota United has been nothing short of fantastic recently, and its run of form continued in week 18. The Loons picked up a victory at home over the San Jose Quakes. They followed that win up with another victory, this time on the road, 3-2 over the Montreal Impact. After the 7-1 pummeling they handed FC Cincinnati, it could have been easy to see the Loons stumble against a quality opponent. That was not in the cards for Minnesota United, as it outscored their week 18 opponents, 6-3.
The best team in the league, Los Angeles FC, continued its incredible season, as it throttled Sporting Kansas City 5-1 on the road Wednesday. Just days later, LAFC returned home and destroyed the Vancouver Whitecaps, 6-1. Mexican international Carlos Vela scored three more goals, adding to his season total. Vela, who turned down the chance to play for Mexico in the Gold Cup, continues to cement himself as the player at the top of the MVP race. Vela continues to lead MLS in goals (19), assists (12) and shots (99).
On the international side, without Vela, Mexico continued its dominance of Concacaf. El Tri captured a record eight Gold Cup championship, after knocking off the United States 1-0 at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Vela was not the only big name missing. Mexico came into the Gold Cup as favorites, even though it was fielding a B- or C+ side, and it did not disappoint. Manager Tata Martino captured his first major competition at the helm of Mexico.
Below is the schedule for MLS clubs in action this week.
York9 FC vs. Montreal Impact – 7:30 p.m. (Canadian Championship)
Atlanta United vs. St. Louis FC – 7:30 p.m. (US Open Cup)
Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC – 7:30 p.m. (US Open Cup)
Minnesota United vs. New Mexico United – 8 p.m. (US Open Cup)
Calvary FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps – 9:30 p.m. (Canadian Championship)
Los Angeles FC vs. Portland Timbers – 10:30 p.m. (US Open Cup)
D.C. United vs. New England Revolution – 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Houston Dynamo vs. LAFC – 9 p.m.
LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Quakes – 11 p.m.
Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC – 7:30 p.m.
Orlando City SC Vs. Columbus Crew SC – 7:30 p.m.
Chicago Fire vs. FC Cincinnati – 8 p.m.
Minnesota United vs. FC Dallas – 8 p.m.
Real Salt Lake vs. Philadelphia Union – 10 p.m.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Sporting Kansas City – 10 p.m.
Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 11 p.m.
Seattle Sounders vs. Atlanta United – 3:55 p.m. (ESPN)
New York Red Bulls vs. NYCFC – 6:30 p.m. (FS1)
As always, stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk for all things FC Cincinnati when it heads west to face the Chicago Fire on Saturday night.