Heavyweight clash in Canada
MLSsoccer.com’s own Matt Doyle calls it “the best game of the young MLS season,” and it’s hard to think of too many others that could take the title. Atlanta United vs. Toronto FC was an enthralling showdown between two talented sides with distinct styles. This one had everything, ebbing and flowing right up to the final whistle.
Goonies, the sequel
A few seasons back, the San Jose Earthquakes got a reputation for last-gasp comebacks and wild endings, prompting former striker Steven Lenhart to compare his squad to the “Goonies” of 1980s film lore. Those vibes returned on Saturday night at Avaya Stadium. Seattle star Nico Lodeiro looked to have won three road points for the Sounders with a delicious volley, only for Chris Wondolowski to ghost into the goalmouth and net a late equalizer. If the current incarnation of the Quakes can summon the Goonies spirit, it spells trouble for the rest of the Western Conference.
Revenge in D.C., unrest in Philly
Saturday brought a range of emotions along the I-95 corridor. In the nation’s capital, D.C. United used the memory of last month’s 4-0 thumping at the hands of New York City FC to secure sweet revenge via a 2-1 defeat of the Gotham gang at RFK Stadium. A couple hours north in Chester, Pennsylvania, the Portland Timbers ran the Philadelphia Union’s winless start to the season to five games with a 3-1 win that brought out some boos at Talen Energy Stadium. Philly are as desperate for a victory as anyone in the league.
Out in Sandy, Utah, Vancouver’s visit to Real Salt Lake started normally enough. But when a spring snowstorm rolled in off the Wasatch, Rio Tinto Stadium turned into a snowglobe with stunning speed. Sure, it degraded the technical virtuosity on display – “soccer kind of goes out the window,” said new RSL head coach Mike Petke – but it made for some truly beautiful images. And both Petke and his club will treasure their first win of 2017. The rest of us can also appreciate some in-game snowball throwing from Luis Silva…
The Schweinsteiger bump?
Don’t look now, but the Chicago Fire – unhappy residents of the MLS basement for two years running – are sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1-2 record, fresh off a 1-0 victory over frontrunners Columbus Crew SC. It’s the Fire’s first win since the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger, who – as promised – seems to have given the entire club a lift. But Saturday’s hero wasn’t Schweini. It was Dax McCarty, who ruled the midfield and served up a delightful assist for Nemanja Nikolic on the winner.
A tip of the cap is due to the defenses of the New England Revolution and Orlando City SC after they posted clean sheets against two of the most fearsome forwards in the league – Houston’s Erick “Cubo” Torres and the New York Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips, respectively. The Revs’ win at Gillette Stadium marks the first time the Dynamo have been shut out this year, while Orlando have extended RBNY’s winless skid to four games.