After the long July 4th weekend, Major League Soccer sent us into the Gold Cup break with a full set of thrillers, so let’s see how everyone fared.
1) The Good
FC Dallas and Atlanta United were the only two clubs to make it through the busy schedule unscathed, with each side picking up two victories. Dallas enjoyed some home cooking in topping Toronto 3-1 on Saturday before celebrating Independence Day with a 4-2 win at Toyota Stadium over DC United.
The pair of victories put Dallas briefly atop the Western Conference level on 31 points with Sporting Kansas City, who pushed past Dallas with a 1-1 home draw versus Philadelphia on Thursday.
The holiday week was also kind to Atlanta United with the expansion side following Saturday’s 3-1 road win over Columbus with some July 4th fireworks in front of nearly 45,000 fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium as AUFC doubled up San Jose 4-2.
Those results saw the Tata Martinez led newcomers to rise to fourth place in the Eastern Conference with just one point less than Dallas.
The Seattle Sounders and the New York Red Bulls also emerged with a perfect record from the Holiday week, although the two clubs were only called into league action for one match a piece.
2) The Bad
Tuesday’s barbecue was fouled by the bitter taste of defeat for the LA Galaxy, DC United and Atlanta’s fellow expansion side, Minnesota. The week’s most ignominious defeat, of course, belonged to one-time dynasty, LA, who were absolutely hammered at home by a 6-2 score by Real Salt Lake, no one’s idea of a juggernaut in 2017. That humiliation came on the back of a 2-1 Galaxy loss in the California Derby at San Jose, a loss inflicted on Curt Onalfo’s stumblers by way of a Shea Salinas dagger three minutes into stoppage time. So, not a good few days for the LA Galaxy.
Minnesota began its week with a docile 3-1 loss to New York City FC in the Bronx before ruining their supporters Fourth with a 1-0 shutout loss in front of the home fans.
DC rounds out the 2L group, although Ben Olsen’s crew have a bit of an excuse, in that both losses, 2-0 to Montreal and 4-2 to Dallas were on the road, although that qualifier will be of little comfort to last place United.
3) The Meh
This is the vast majority of the league, clubs that neither hurt nor greatly helped themselves, something like splitting an MLB doubleheader, for all your trouble you end up where you started.
Still, in a league where away wins are tough to come by, let’s give a shout-out to the road warriors. On Friday, June 30 Orlando took a trip to the mountains and emerged with a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake.
One day later Atlanta took advantage of the Crew’s hospitality to secure a Dos a Cero victory over Columbus, a familiar scoreline at the Stadium Formerly Known as Crew.
On July 5th, Toronto turned the tables on Orlando with a 3-1 win over the Lions while the New York Red Bulls struck late through the unlikely Gonzalo Veron to claim three huge points over New England at Gillette Stadium.
RSL, home losers to Orlando, made up for that disappointment with an explosive display to be long remembered at the StubHub Center, lighting up their clueless hosts 6-2 for the win of the week over the LA Galaxy.
4) Fit to be tied
What to make of Portland’s recent results? The Timbers faced two tough opponents over the holiday, didn’t lose, didn’t win. Caleb Porter’s men haven’t won a match since a 2-0 home win versus FC Dallas back on June 10, yet the 2015 MLS Champions sit just one point out of third place, three out of second and just four points behind SKC in the very forgiving West.
A 1-1 home draw against Western Conference table toppers Sporting KC started the festive week for Portland and a 2-2 tie in Chicago against Eastern Conference leaders Chicago finished it.
A missed penalty kick by Diego Valeri could have earned two more points for Portland versus SKC and late Timbers pressure could/should have claimed the spoils against the Fire.
Instead, the Timbers winless streak stretched to five MLS games, including three consecutive draws.
Last night’s set to between Sporting KC and Philadelphia finished at 1-1 at SKC, leaving Sporting with the same 0-0-2 mark as Portland to show for the week, although KC won’t feel as badly done by as the Timbers, perched as they are at the top of the Western Conference standings.
Philadelphia was looking to join the 2-0 group after an impressive 3-0 home win over New England on Sunday. Instead, the Union joins much of the rest of the league who finished the arduous pre-All Star Game run in all even at 1-1. The Meh group.
5) MLS Gets Real
When Madrid, not Salt Lake, face the MLS All-Stars at Chicago’s Soldier Field on August 2nd Fire coach Veljko Paunovic will be at the helm and while the final 24 man roster has yet to be selected the fans had their say with this just released Fan XI.
2017 MLS All-Star Game Fan XI
POS Player (Appearances) Club
GK Tim Howard (3) Colorado Rapids
D Greg Garza (1) Atlanta United
D Graham Zusi (5) Sporting KC
D DaMarcus Beasley (5) Houston Dynamo
M Bastian Schweinsteiger (1) Chicago Fire
M Miguel Almirón (1) Atlanta United
M Kaká (3) Orlando City SC
M Michael Bradley (3) Toronto FC
F David Villa (3) NYCFC
F Nemanja Nikolić (1) Chicago Fire
F Sebastian Giovinco (3) Toronto FC