The year 2020 will be one to be forgotten by many, as this has been a year unlike any other. The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on MLS, but the league got through the MLS is Back Tournament with a few early hiccups. The league put on a successful tournament before returning to normal play. With the league back in play, COVID-19 has once again reared its ugly head. Last week, two clubs — FC Cincinnati and the Colorado Rapids — confirmed positive cases. Defender Nick Hagglund confirmed he was the one who tested positive for FC Cincinnati, but the club moved forward with its game at New York City FC over the weekend. The same could not be said for the Rapids. The positive tests for players and staff caused the postponement of their match against Sporting Kansas City over the weekend.
Like most weeks, the results this week varied. Columbus Crew SC has been a dominant team all season, and that carried into its midweek match against Minnesota United. Lucas Zelarayan and Pedro Santos led the Crew to a 2-1 victory over the Loons, continuing their lead for the Supporters Shield. The win extended their unbeaten streak to six games, but that ended abruptly when Toronto FC knocked off the Crew 3-1 over the weekend. Columbus took the lead in the 40th minute on a Chris Mavinga own goal before things went sideways in the second half. Toronto turned the game around, scoring three times in the first 31 minutes of the second half for a big win over the top team in the East. The victory for Toronto, coupled with a 1-0 win over NYCFC earlier in the week, kept Toronto FC within striking distance of the Crew, who sit just two points ahead of Toronto and the Philadelphia Union.
The Chicago Fire had a huge week, snagging a full six points with two clean sheet wins, putting the Fire into the final playoff spot in the east. Midweek, the Fire dismantled the Houston Dynamo 4-0 before knocking off Atlanta United, 2-0. The Fire went from last place to 10th, the final playoff spot, after those two wins. Getting off to a fast start was crucial for the Fire success, as they scored five of their six goals in the first half. The Fire had a better week than the two expansion sides. Inter Miami CF suffered two rough losses to the New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union, getting outscored 7-1 in those two matches. Even with Gonzalo Higuain making his MLS debut in the second game against the Union, one of the league’s biggest acquisitions was unable to help his side snag at least a point. The other expansion side, Nashville SC, came away with four points through its two matches. Nashville has been a pleasant surprise this season, currently sitting in ninth place in the East and in a playoff spot. This season, Daniel Rios has been the man for Nashville, and it continued this week, as he scored both their goals.
Out west, the teams continue to beat up on each other, not giving a team a chance to take off in the standings. The Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders are currently tied atop the standings. The Timbers used a six-point week to tie the Sounders, which included a 1-0 victory over the Sounders. Portland continued its momentum with another 1-0 win, this time over the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Sounders rebounded with a convincing 3-1 win over the struggling Los Angeles Galaxy. The Galaxy lost their midweek matchup, failing to score against Real Salt Lake, falling 2-0. The other Los Angeles side faired better than its city rivals. Los Angeles FC began the week with a savage 6-0 thumping of the Vancouver Whitecaps before falling 2-1 to the San Jose Quakes. The Western Conference playoff race is much closer, as only six points separate first from eighth.
Off the field, there were a couple of moves that were made. The Montreal Impact sent goalkeeper Evan Bush to the Vancouver Whitecaps for a third-round selection in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft. Another trade saw Roman Torres head back to the Pacific Northwest. Miami sent the center back to Seattle in exchange for a conditional first-round pick in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft.
Below is the schedule for MLS clubs in action this week.
Upcoming schedule (Subject to Change)
Orlando City vs. New York Red Bulls – 4:30 p.m. (FOX)
D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7 p.m.
Montreal Impact vs. Chicago Fire – 7:30 p.m.
Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 7:30 p.m.
New England Revolution vs. Nashville SC – 7:30 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City – 8 p.m.
Inter Miami CF vs. New York City FC – 8 p.m.
Minnesota United vs. FC Cincinnati – 8 p.m.
FC Dallas vs. Columbus Crew – 8:30 p.m.
Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps – 10 p.m.
San Jose Quakes vs. LA Galaxy – 10:30 p.m.
Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 11 p.m.
Real Salt Lake vs. Los Angeles FC – 9:30 p.m.
As always, stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk as we take a look at the upcoming matches for FC Cincinnati as it heads to St. Paul, Minnesota, to face Minnesota United.