With the league in a mad dash towards the playoffs there was no shortage of action over the weekend, so let’s get right to this week’s MLS Big – 5.
1) Big Weekend for Big Names
When Toronto exec’s laid out the big Canadian bucks to team Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Sebastian Giovinco, a night like Saturday night is surely what they had in mind.
Toronto got a goal each from the Big 3 to beat Chicago 3-2 in Saturday’s match. In an interesting twist, the two Fire goals came from former TFC DP Gilberto, who was moved on when Toronto reached its DP max.
Elsewhere, Los Angeles beat FC Dallas 3-2 in a game rife with playoff implications with the L.A. goals coming from star trio Robbie Keane, Gio Dos Santos, and Steven Gerrard.
Gerrard’s old England teammate Frank Lampard continues his late-season push with a goal for NYCFC, with David Villa scoring NYC’s second in a 2-1 win at Vancouver.
And what about Drogba? Montreal’s new star is making it look too easy, scoring both goals in the Impact’s 2-0 home win versus fading DC United. Drogba has amassed seven goals in six MLS games as he leads Montreal‘s playoff drive.
2) Atomic Ant Blowing Up!
And speaking of MLS star power, one individual has shined the brightest, Toronto’s attacker Sebastian Giovinco.
The former Juventus man became the league’s first-ever 20 and 10 man with a goal and an assist in TFC’s 3-2 victory over DC. Gio’s 20 goals and 15 assists give the diminutive Italian the highest ever MLS combined goals and assists total at 35, passing Chris Wondolowski who notched 34 on 27 goals and seven assists in 2012.
3) U.S. Open Cup Teams Get Results
Sporting Kansas City and the Philadelphia Union meet Wednesday night outside Philadelphia in the 2015 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Championship game, meaning the two clubs had to balance Cup glory with regular season obligations over the weekend.
The Union is still alive, barely, in the playoff race and with that in mind coach Jim Curtin rested a few starters to prepare for Wednesday.
Facing New England on a Gillette Stadium field covered in American football lines for Sunday’s Patriots game, goalkeeper Andre Blake was simply immense for Philadelphia in the 1-1 draw.
The young Jamaican international made 10 saves to stifle the Revolution, sending Philadelphia into Wednesday’s final on a high note.
Meanwhile, SKC coach Peter Vermes turned to a young squad against Seattle, despite entering the match with no assurances of a playoff berth.
Vermes’ young charges got the job done against the somewhat listless Sounders, emerging with a 1-1 tie, while likely earning a measure of trust from their coach.
4) Crew Booed Off the Pitch
Columbus dropped a 2-1 home decision to Portland and the fans at Mapfre Stadium were none too pleased, sending the home team off of the field with a cascade of boos.
The New York Red Bulls were clobbered by Orlando on Friday and New England managed just 1-1 tie versus Philadelphia on Saturday, so Crew fans saw a chance to claim first place in the East wasted, and let their players know.
But Crew supporters shouldn’t be too upset, with three games left to play the playoffs look all but certain, and with Kei Kamara and his 22 goals, so far, leading the way, Columbus could make some noise in the MLS second season.
5) Galaxy Back on Top
The defending champion Los Angeles Galaxy are back on top of the Western Conference and also in the Supporters Shield following a 3-2 win at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Winning or losing the Supporters Shield is unlikely to keep Bruce Arena up nights, but the league’s best record also comes with the home field advantage, a prize the five-time champions would undoubtedly cherish.
All teams prefer to play at home, but the dichotomy with the defending champions is surprising. 12-3-1 at home makes sense, but the clubs 2-5-8 mark away from Carson makes it clear that if you have to face the Galaxy, doing so somewhere other than the StubHub Center is the way to go.
L.A. has three games to play and could yet be reeled in by Vancouver or FC Dallas, with the Red Bulls the biggest threat in the East.
Can the Galaxy be caught? We’ll see, but securing home field now could pay off later for either the Galaxy or their prospective chasers.