MLS Review

Five games have taken place during this week, headlined by a rematch from the 2017 MLS Cup Final as Seattle Sounders made their way north to face Toronto FC. Back in December of last year it was the Canadian side who dominated, earning a 2 – 0 victory thanks to goals from Jozy Altidore and a late one from Víctor Vázquez. Six months later they met again at BMO Field and this time the Sounders came for revenge.

Toronto FC 1-2 Seattle Sounders

In recent weeks, the makeshift defensive duo of Gregory van der Wiel and Michael Bradley have grown in both confidence and ability but the recovery from Toronto’s early-season woes returned in Canada.

Undermanned and playing in an unfamiliar 5-4-1 formation, Seattle weathered the early storm to counter attack and Magnus Wolff Eikrem made Bradley look amateur close to the touchline. His through pass was weighted perfectly and Will Bruin stayed onside to run onto the pass, he finished with little fanfare. Toronto got themselves level before half time as Sounders looked to defend their lead, Giovinco lobbing the goalkeeper and Jonathan Osario pounced like a vulture to stab home.

That just left Handwalla Bwana, the 18-year-old Kenyan, to get on the end of a through ball from Bruin and slot the football under the onrushing ‘keeper. At first glance he may have been half a yard offside but Bwana would not be denied his first career MLS goal and revenge for the depleted Sounders.

Columbus Crew 1-0 Philadelphia Union

When you realise that Philadelphia Union have not won away from home since last May, this was always going to be a narrow win for the Crew led by Gyasi Zardes.

The experienced United States international is revelling in the spotlight at Columbus Crew, no longer just one of a Galaxy of stars, he has embraced the mantle of the standout character. As Union slumped, Zardes came to the fore with a simple tap in after good work from Cristian Martínez to squeeze a ball through a defender and the goalkeeper to find Zardes.

Crew can thanks goalie Zack Steffen, a former Philadelphia Union academy player, for them holding onto all three points as he made an impressive save from CJ Sapong on 90 minutes. Philadelphia’s game this weekend with Montreal Impact is suddenly a much bigger one with the Union desperate for three points.

Chicago Fire 1-0 Montreal Impact

Last time out for Chicago Fire it was Kevin Ellis who got their goal in a 2 – 1 loss to Atlanta United. His winning goal this time out against Impact on 89 minutes will feel much sweeter as it was responsible for his side claiming all three points.

Momentum can be hard to come by in MLS, despite a big win over New England Revolution at the weekend, they found themselves stifled by good work in central midfield and at the back by the Fire.

There were moments of quality, not just Ellis’ goal but Impact defender Daniel Lovitz executed a heroic goal-line clearance in the first half to keep matters even but Ellis now has two goals in two games, not bad for a defender.

Los Angeles 2-0 Minnesota United

The Banc of California Stadium is becoming a safe haven for Los Angeles FC as they maintained their undefeated start in their new home with a routine victory over Minnesota United.

The Loons struggled for a consistent attacking threat, no wonder with few attackers at their disposal, as Los Angeles FC out-muscled them in midfield. Atuesta opened the scoring with a deflected finish after collecting a low cross from Diego Rossi and Kaye doubled the lead a few minutes later with a close-range volley after Latif Blessing outjumped Francisco Calvo to flick on a deflected ball in the Loons penalty area.

Another three points on the board for Bob Bradley’s side, who do look like credible MLS Cup contenders in their inaugural MLS campaign.

Atlanta United 0-2 Sporting Kansas City

A red card dominates the headlines as Atlanta United fall to a disappointing defeat in a Wednesday night conference leaders’ clash at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Five Stripes came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders as they got the ball into the net via Josef Martinez on 6 minutes, only for VAR to rule it out. The match turned on a red card for veteran Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan. The former Aston Villa stopper saw Khiry Shelton running through on goal and the ‘keeper made a rash decision to slide tackle and got his timing wrong.

Replacement goalkeeper Paul Christensen, a 2018 draftee, was beaten twice in the second half as first Daniel Salloi curled the opener from outside the box before substitute Gerso Fernandes rounded Guzan’s back up and finished despite an attempted clearance by Sal Zizzo on the line.

Sporting Kansas City now top the Supporters’ Shield standings and have an 11-day break until their next fixture, while Atlanta United go to Orlando City this weekend.