The second full week of the MLS is Back Tournament has provided some intriguing results. As teams are jockeying for a spot in the knockout round, each result carries more weight. The pressure has mounted for teams that had expectations. Despite not having Josef Martinez, Atlanta United came into the Orlando bubble with the thought of bringing home a championship. Those expectations were far from the realization as the Five Stripes crashed out the tournament without scoring a goal, losing all three matches by a 1-0 scoreline. The Columbus Crew have shown they are one of the top teams in the league. Caleb Porter has his side dominant in its games, not conceding a goal in the group stage. With their 1-0 victory over Atlanta United, the Crew captured the top spot in the group.
Ayo Akinola has used the MLS is Back Tournament as a stage to show his talent. Akinola has scored five goals in the three games so far for Toronto FC. Akinola bagged a hat-trick in Toronto’s 4-3 victory over its Canadian rivals, the Montreal Impact. One of the most exciting games in the tournament so far provided a five-goal explosion in the first half before two late goals to make things interesting. Another team with high hopes that failed to advance was D.C. United. Finishing with a loss and two draws was disappointing for Ben Olsen and D.C. United. At this time, only Atlanta United, D.C. United and Inter Miami are the only clubs that finished without a victory.
The Los Angeles Galaxy are one of the top clubs in MLS and are looking for their first victory and possible advancement from Group F. The “El Traffico” match took place in the second match that saw Los Angeles FC deliver a 6-2 beatdown of its cross-town rivals. Sadly, the game was missing Mexican stars Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Carlos Vela due to various reasons. The game was tied at two at the half after two Diego Rossi goals but blew open with four goals in the second half. Bradley Wright-Phillips, Rossi and Mohamed El-Munir all scored in the second half to embarrass the Galaxy, putting their tournament future at risk. The victory assured LAFC would advance to the knockout stage. The other match in Group F saw the Portland Timbers secure advancement with a 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo. Jeremy Ebobisse and Diego Valeri each scored, giving Portland the big victory and the top spot in the group heading into the final group match.
Group B has been a little surprising with the San Jose Quakes topping the group with seven points. Matias Almeyda has the Quakes playing top-notch soccer, winning the group that included defending MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders. Seattle capped off its final group stage match with a 3-0 victory over the Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps. Nico Lodeiro, Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz all scored for the defending champions, dispatching Vancouver with little trouble. In Group A, Orlando City and the Philadelphia Union ran roughshot through the group, each advancing to the knockout stage with seven points. Expansion side Inter Miami CF finished winless and without much positivity. New York City FC, a side who had hope of advancement to the knockout round, could still advance as one of the top four third-place finishers depending on how the results go over the next few days.
Below is the schedule for the MLS is Back Tournament for the upcoming week.
Upcoming schedule (Subject to change)
FC Cincinnati vs. New York Red Bulls – 8 p.m. – (ESPN)
Colorado Rapids vs. Minnesota United – 10:30 p.m. – (ESPN)
Chicago Fire vs. Vancouver Whitecaps – 9 a.m. – (ESPN)
LA Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. (FS1)
Los Angeles FC vs. Portland Timbers – 10:30 p.m. – (ESPN2)
Tuesday, July 21
Toronto FC vs. New England Revolution – 9 a.m. – (ESPN)
Atlanta United vs. Columbus Crew – 8 p.m.
Montreal Impact vs. D.C. United – 10:30 p.m.
A1 vs. 3 – C/D – 8 p.m. (Knockout Stage)(ESPN2)
A2 vs. C2 – 10:30 p.m. (Knockout Stage)(ESPN2)
C1 vs. 3 – A/B/F – 8:30 p.m. (Knockout Stage)(FS1)
D1 vs. 3 – B/E/F – 11 p.m. (Knockout Stage)(FS1)
As always, stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk as we take a look at FC Cincinnati’s run in the MLS is Back Tournament.