The cup competitions returned for this week’s action. North of the border, both Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact got big wins in their first legs of the Canadian Championship. In the battle of Ontario, Toronto picked up a big 2-0 road victory over the Ottawa Fury. The defending Canadian Champions got off to a quick start, thanks to a 30th-minute goal from Drew Moor. The other Canadian Championship match featuring an MLS side saw Ignacio Piatti single-handedly knock off Calvary FC. Piatti struck twice, once on each side of the half, to secure the 2-1 first leg victory.
The U.S. Open Cup now has its finalists. A Josef Martinez-less Atlanta United knocked off Orlando City to advance to the final. Goals from Eric Remedi and Emerson Hyndman were enough to move the Five Stripes through to the final. The victory gives Atlanta United the advantage of hosting the final, based off the Open Cup draw. Their opponents will be Minnesota United, who outlasted the Portland Timbers 2-1 at home. Darwin Quintero converted from the spot, and Mason Toye scored a beautiful winner to give the Loons a spot in their first final as an MLS club. Brian Fernandez made things interesting seconds before the half when he slotted home a beautiful shot, leveling the score. Toye’s beautiful finish was enough to help Minnesota United outlast the Timbers and advance to the final.
The weekend was filled with goals, as not a single match finished with a clean sheet. The weekend was filled with thrilling matches. On a poorly conditioned field at Yankee Stadium, New York City FC knocked off the Houston Dynamo through a stoppage-time goal from Valentin Castellanos. The goal was the second in 10 minutes for the super sub, giving NYCFC a big three points and keeping them in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. In the Pacific Northwest, the New England Revolution gathered a big road point at Seattle in an exciting 3-3 draw. Both the Revs and Sounders battled back, coming from behind to draw even, but it was a Carles Gil goal from the spot in the 87th minute that secured the crucial point.
Another match and another late winner. Bastian Schweinsteiger scored his first goal of the season, giving the Chicago Fire a big home victory over the Montreal Impact. The Fire got it going early, scoring twice in the first 20 minutes, but after giving up the lead, it was Schweinsteiger’s goal in the 88th minute that was enough to give the Fire the full three points.
The Portland Timbers kept pace with the teams above them in standings, taking advantage of the worst team in the Western Conference, the Vancouver Whitecaps, knocking them off 3-1 at Providence Park. The Timbers will finish the season with 11 of their last 12 matches at home, so look for the Timbers to quickly rise up the Western Conference Standings. One team out of reach of the Timbers is Los Angeles FC. The top team in the league has rolled through the competition this season, and its match against the New York Red Bulls was no different. LAFC scored twice in a two-minute span in the first half but conceded twice in three minutes just before the half. The second half was where the leading MVP candidate and Golden Boot leader Carlos Vela took over. Vela scored a goal and added his second assist of the match, leading LAFC to a 4-2 victory.
The MLS transfer window closed last week, and we saw a massive deal take place. It was rumored for weeks, but finally Argentine national Cristian Pavon joined the Los Angeles Galaxy on loan from Boca Juniors. The 23-year-old is a massive edition for the club and the league. Expect Pavon to make a big impact for the Galaxy as they push for another MLS Cup Championship. Three clubs acquired players as young designated players. Minnesota United added 18-year-old attacking midfielder, Thomas Chacon from Danubio FC adding to an already young and talented squad. LAFC added to its already loaded roster, signing 19-year-old winger Brian Rodriguez from Penarol in Uruguay. The New York Red Bulls added Josh Sims on loan from Southampton. The Red Bulls added Sims as a young DP for the season.
A former Barcelona attacker has joined the league. The Montreal Impact added Bojan Krkic through the 2020 season. With Ignacio Piatti on his way out, Krkic will be the man to take over and score goals for the Impact. There were numerous deals that took place during the transfer window as clubs traded and signed players, looking to help their push to the MLS playoffs.
Below is the schedule for MLS clubs in action this week.
Toronto FC vs. Ottawa Fury – 7:30 p.m. (Canadian Championship)
Orlando City SC vs. Sporting Kansas City – 7:30 p.m.
Minnesota United vs. Colorado Rapids – 8 p.m.
Atlanta United vs. Club America – 8 p.m. (Campeones Cup)(ESPN2)
Calvary FC vs. Montreal Impact – 9:30 p.m. (Canadian Championship)
Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m.
LA Galaxy vs. FC Dallas – 10:30 p.m.
Portland Timbers vs. Chicago Fire – 11 p.m.
New York Red Bulls vs. New England Revolution – 7 p.m.
FC Cincinnati vs. New York City FC – 7:30 p.m.
Columbus Crew SC vs. Toronto FC – 7:30 p.m.
Montreal Impact vs. FC Dallas – 7:30 p.m.
Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m.
Minnesota United vs. Orlando City SC – 8 p.m.
Sporting Kansas City vs. San Jose Quakes – 8:30 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. Colorado Rapids – 9 p.m.
LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
Real Salt Lake vs. Los Angeles FC – 10 p.m.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. D.C. United – 10 p.m.
Portland Timbers vs. Atlanta United – 10 p.m. (FS1)
As always, stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk for all things FC Cincinnati when the Orange and Blue face NYCFC in the friendly confines of Nippert Stadium on Saturday night.