Last weekend was a thriller for Major League Soccer fans, so let’s give it a look in this week’s MLS Big – 5.
1) Let the Worst Be 1st!
This week the Los Angeles Galaxy, the New York Red Bulls, Seattle Sounders and Sporting KC all gave very notable performances, all worthy of the top spot on this list.
However despite those performances from the league’s top teams we begin today with a battle that took place at the bottom of the Eastern Conference between Philadelphia and Chicago.
This 3-3 thriller in Chester, Pennsylvania began with a ninth minute goal by Chicago’s Kennedy Igboananike, ended with a 92nd minute tally by the same player and featured thrills aplenty in between.
Philadelphia is probably still kicking themselves for blowing this game after getting three assists from Christian Maidana, enduring several costly misses from Fernando Aristeguieta, all while being repeatedly robbed by Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
Johnson’s eight saves only begin to suggest how well the once (and future?) U.S. heir apparent played despite being beaten three times.
When Sebastian Le Toux put one behind Johnson in the 90th minute the Union must have thought that the three points were secure.
Instead, Igboananike struck for a stoppage time goal that was as wild as the game itself. First the ball appeared to bounce up and strike Chicago’s Joevin Jones for a handball, but there was no call.
Then Chicago sent a pass toward the endline that Harry Shipp somehow reached before crossing to Mike Magee. Magee’s pass banged off of the post, before somehow finding its way to Igboananike who buried his chance.
Did the ball go out before Shipp played it? How about when Magee got his cross in? The officials said no and the goal stood, meaning still more frustration for Philadelphia and a rare glimmer of hope for Chicago as 2015 winds down.
2) Red Bulls Ease to “Very Comfortable” Shutout Win Over TFC
Staying in the Eastern Conference the surging New York Red Bulls had little trouble with Toronto and its big-name trio, rendering Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and even leading MVP candidate Sebastian Giovinco virtually harmless.
After Saturday night’s win, Red Bull captain Dax McCarty went so far as to say, “I thought tonight it was very comfortable.”
Not so comfortable? DC United. Despite a five point lead in the standings, the longtime Eastern Conference table toppers have to be feeling Red Bulls breathing down their necks.
United has played three more games than New York and lost dependable fullback Chris Korb for the season in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to NYCFC.
Next up for DC is San Jose at home on August 22nd with the Red Bulls traveling to play Chicago on the 26th. Then the two old rivals square off in Red Bull Arena on August 30 on national television.
Sounds like fun.
3) Sporting KC on the Move
There has been a change at the top of the Western Conference standings with Vancouver giving way to Los Angeles in the wake of Kansas City’s stunning comeback win over the Whitecaps last Saturday at Sporting Park.
KC spotted Vancouver a two goal lead through a brace from Kekuta Manneh before halving the deficit on a Kevin Ellis header in the 53rd minute.
KC could easily have dropped their heads when Pedro Morales re-established that two goal cushion with a stunning free kick in the 75th minute.
But Peter Vermes’ side is not built that way and so the home team stormed back with three late goals to knock Vancouver from the top spot while climbing to third themselves.
First Dom Dwyer made it 3-2, but the unlikely hero was Paulo Nagamura who equalized in the 87th minute before winning it for Sporting with a goal four minutes into added time.
4) Seattle and L.A. Rising
When the season began the above duo looked odds on to be battling for supremacy in the Western Conference, if not the league itself. Then L.A’s indifferent start gave way to a night of U.S. Open Cup madness for Seattle.
Clint Dempsey was suspended, Obafemi Martins injured and Seattle began to slide down the standings. Now that tide is turning with the Galaxy invigorated by a healthy Robbie Keane and a raft of quality signings.
And the Sounders are beginning a similar uptick. Martins is back as his two goals in Seattle’s 4-0 win over Orlando attest. Newcomer Nelson Valdez scored on his debut, rugged defenseman Roman Torres picked up an assist on his and Dempsey is expected back soon.
The Galaxy lead the tight Western Conference with 43 points, one better than Vancouver, two clear of KC with Portland, FC Dallas and Seattle within shouting distance.
5) Homegrown Player News
A possible negative side effect to all of the L.A. player signings could see Gyasi Zardes moving overseas. The forward/winger has shown great progress this season making his mark with the national team while continuing to show well with the Galaxy.
Now word comes that there is Euro interest in the still developing 23 year old, with Belgian side Genk prominently mentioned. The Galaxy may be inclined to sell the talented attacker to clear some cap space.
At the other end of the development spectrum, the Houston Dynamo have signed their former Academy player Christian Lucatero to a Homegrown contract.
The 18 year old midfielder has drawn interest from both the U.S. and Mexican Youth international teams and as recently as July represented the U.S at the U18 level.