By Alex McMahon
Only one point separates four teams in the MLS’ Western Conference
As the race for the postseason begins to heat up, the MLS fixtures start to come thick and fast for the league’s 20 teams. DC United remain clear favourites to take the Eastern Conference while there are four sides who could claim top spot in the West. In last week’s edition, we discussed LA Galaxy’s form and took a look at Seattle’s troubles. This week, we evaluate each of Gameweek 20’s five matches and give our thoughts on how the regular season could pan out over the next few months.
LA Galaxy thrash Toronto FC after unveiling Steven Gerrard at half-time
The former Liverpool captain was on-hand to see his new side trounce Toronto FC 4-0 at The StubHub Center on Sunday. Fans flocked to the stadium to see the England legend unveiled to the fans but it was former Tottenham Hotspur striker Robbie Keane who stole the headlines. The Republic of Ireland captain scored a hat-trick to lead Galaxy to victory and keep the pressure on the likes of Seattle Sounders and Whitecaps FC in the MLS’ Western Conference. Recently, LA Galaxy also earned mammoth victories against Philadelphia Union and Portland Timbers – results that show their hunger to defend the MLS Cup.
Colorado Rapids earned just their third win of the MLS season
Former Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Kevin Doyle scored his maiden MLS goal as the Rapids secured a 2-1 victory over Whitecaps FC. Vicente Sanchez put the hosts in front after just two minutes – the first time Colorado have scored the opening goal in an MLS match since their 1-0 victory over Whitecaps on May 23rd. The visitors responded midway through the first half as Kekuta Manneh tapped in at the far post to tie up the game. The second half was a scrappy affair until Doyle rose above the defenders to power a header past David Ousted in the Vancouver goal to grab his first MLS goal and secure a much needed victory for the Rapids.
Kaka sees red as Orlando City hold on for a vital point
The Brazilian was dismissed for a ‘stamp’ on Real Salt Lake’s Javier Morales. Earlier, the Orlando City midfielder had opened the scoring with his ninth goal of the MLS campaign after just five minutes. Real Salt Lake’s Sebastian Jaime levelled up the scores midway through an entertaining opening 45 minutes. However, in a sheer moment of madness, the 33-year-old was given his marching orders for the incident and Orlando City were forced to play the entirety of the second half with 10 men. Kaka will now miss Orlando City’s next match against FC Dallas this weekend.
Portland Timbers continued their excellent form with another MLS victory
Portland followed up their 4-0 thrashing of Western leaders Seattle Sounders with another victory against San Jose Earthquakes. In a close affair, the hosts snatched a last-gap winner as Jack Jewsbury chipped in from the tightest of angles to earn back-to-back victories for the hosts. The result was a little harsh on San Jose, who deserved at least a point for their hard work and efforts throughout the match. Portland now sit in third spot, just one point behind joint-leaders Seattle and Whitecaps FC and the Timbers will be hoping that they can earn another victory against the struggling Philadelphia Union in their next MLS encounter.
FC Dallas kept the pressure on the leaders in the MLS’ Western Conference
After a slow start, FC Dallas have started to string some results together and are now just three points behind the Sounders but have a game in hand over the Western leaders. They were much too strong for New England Revolution at the weekend, earning a 3-0 victory and playing some scintillating football. Mauro Diaz was instrumental for the hosts as he played a key role in all three goals on the night. He opened the scoring with an intelligent free-kick after just 8 minutes before setting up Fabian Castillo who, at the second time of asking, slotted home to double their advantage. The hosts sealed the victory in the 73rd minute when Diaz weaved past two New England defenders before setting up Michael Barrios for his first MLS goal. If Dallas can keep Diaz fit, they will stand a great chance of success this year.
Will Steven Gerrard inspire LA Galaxy to go on and lift the MLS Cup this year? How will Orlando City do without star man Kaka in the side? Let us know your thoughts below in the comments!