The fourth week of MLS action once again provided some entertaining soccer. Rivalries were the name of the game from this past week, as the El Trafico matchup between Los Angeles FC and the LA Galaxy was the main event. It took just 11 minutes for things to get going as Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez got the Galaxy on the board. The remainder of the first half saw little action, except three yellow cards that were dished out to Galaxy players. Just after the hour mark, Diego Rossi, playing in just his second game of the season, tied the match at 1-1. Jonathan dos Santos sank the hopes of LAFC with his goal in the 79th minute, putting the Galaxy ahead for good. The victory puts the Galaxy in a tie for second in the Western Conference with nine points, just a point behind leaders Seattle.
Another rivalry matchup saw Atlanta United travel south to face Inter Miami CF. It took just nine minutes for an elite scorer, Josef Martinez, to make his mark on the match. Martinez, who sat out all but one match in 2020 with a torn ACL, scored his first goal since Oct. 24, 2019. Martinez’s goal gave the Five Stripes a lead that would last until the 77th minute when Lewis Morgan rescued the point for Inter Miami. The draw kept both clubs at five points on the season and in a four-way tie for sixth in the east.
The other major rivalry matchup was the Cascadia battle between the Portland Timbers and the Seattle Sounders. As with every time these two sides face off on the pitch, it is expected to deliver. That was the case this weekend, as the Sounders took all three points, vaulting them to the top of the Western Conference. In a game that saw back and forth penalties and missed penalties, it was the final 30-plus minutes of the second half where the excitement was. Raul Ruidiaz got things going for the Sounders in the 63rd minute with a goal from the spot after Timbers defender Bill Tuiloma fouled Ruidiaz in the box. It took just 16 minutes before Fredy Montero doubled the Sounders’ lead. Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei almost came away with a clean sheet, but Tuiloma, who had an interesting match, pulled one back in the 94th to end the match on a bit of a high note. The biggest moment of the match took place in the 55th minute when Diego Valeri missed two attempts at a penalty. His first attempt was saved before the referee ordered Valeri to take it again after Frei was off his line. Valeri put his second attempt off the post.
MLS newcomers Austin FC were less than 10 minutes from a big three points on the road at Sporting Kansas City, but it was a second yellow card given to Alex Ring in the 67th minute that turned the game on its head. Sporting Kansas City fired 25 shots in this game, eight of those on target, but it wasn’t until the 82nd minute before Kansas City made them pay through a goal from Ilie Sanchez. In the 90th minute, Gadi Kinda ripped all three points away from Austin FC with his goal. The full three points were large, because with an Austin FC win, it would have been in a tie for second out west, while Sporting Kansas City sits in a tie for fifth.
The biggest surprise of the 2021 season has been Minnesota United. Through the first four games of the season, the Loons are winless and sit at the bottom of the Western Conference. Minnesota United has suffered losses to Seattle, Real Salt Lake, Austin FC and the Colorado Rapids so far. Things were looking bright for Minnesota United, as they took a 2-0 lead just 24 minutes into the game after goals from Emanuel Reynoso and Hassani Dotson. After carrying the lead into halftime, the wheels fell off for the Loons in the second half. Kellyn Acosta, Cole Bassett and Danny Wilson all scored for the Rapids within a span of 25 minutes, giving the Rapids the home victory and the full three points. While it is early, the pressure continues to mount on Minnesota to notch its first win of 2021.
Below is the schedule for MLS clubs in action, this fifth week of play.
Upcoming schedule (Subject to Change)
Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew – 7 p.m.
Inter Miami vs Montreal – 7:30 p.m.
Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution – 7:30 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City – 8:30 p.m.
Minnesota United vs. Vancouver Whitecaps – 9 p.m.
San Jose Quakes vs. Seattle Sounders – 10:30 p.m.
D.C. United vs. Chicago Fire – 8 p.m.
New York City FC vs. Toronto FC – 1 p.m.
LA Galaxy vs. Austin FC – 3:30 p.m.
Atlanta United vs. Montreal – 7 p.m.
Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls – 7:30 p.m.
Minnesota United vs. FC Dallas – 8 p.m.
Colorado Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo – 9 p.m.
Real Salt Lake vs. Nashville SC – 9:30 p.m.
San Jose Quakes vs. Portland Timbers – 10 p.m.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Vancouver Whitecaps – 2 p.m.
FC Cincinnati vs. Inter Miami – 4 p.m. (FOX)
New England Revolution vs. Columbus Crew – 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
D.C. United vs. Orlando City – 8 p.m.
Seattle Sounders vs. Los Angeles FC – 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
As always, stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk as we take a look at the upcoming matches for FC Cincinnati as they are set to open up the incredible TQL Stadium on Sunday.