Major League Soccer action continued to roll on this weekend with both conferences producing some great headlines for fans and neutrals alike.
Seattle Sounders FC did their very best to spoil the party as Los Angeles FC played their first ever home game in MLS at the Banc of California Stadium but Laurent Ciman made sure that the hosts capped off a great afternoon with all three points. The Sounders gave as good as they got as both teams created plenty of chances but neither side could find the back of the net. In fact, Seattle could have taken the lead in the eighth minute when a long throw-in left Tyler Miller flapping at thin air and allowed Alex Roldan to volley towards an empty net. Steven Beitashour made a goal-line clearance to stop the visitors from taking the lead so early in the match. Ciman, who scored a spectacular free-kick last weekend, was the man of the hour when deep into stoppage time, his set-piece went off of the hands of Stefan Frei and into the back of the net. Ciman will get all of the plaudits but that was a huge mistake by Frei which led to Seattle leaving Los Angeles with no points instead of one.
The win pushes the newcomers to the league into second in the Western Conference, with two games in hand over current leaders Sporting Kansas City. As long as they keep developing as a team at the rate they are, LAFC could end up having a similar season to that of Atlanta United FC's last year and find themselves in a playoff spot. Seattle's conspicuous start to the season continues as the MLS finalists struggle to find form and points. They sit at rock bottom of the conference and know that injuries can no longer be an excuse for their poor start to the season.
New York City FC continued their strong start to the season by ending FC Dallas' unbeaten run this weekend. Up until recently, the hosts had managed to start their season strong without the services of captain David Villa but with a fully fit Villa back in the side, NYCFC has become an even stronger outfit and it showed this past weekend. Villa was at the heart of NYCFC's first goal when he found Jo Inge Berget inside the box in the third minute but the Norwegian fluffed his lines. The ball broke kindly for Jesús Medina who tucked it home from close range to put NYCFC up early. FC Dallas were unphased by the poor start and continued to trouble the NYCFC defense. Santiago Mosquera brought FCD back on level terms in the 10th minute after a giveaway in midfield allowed Dallas to break quickly and take advantage of a three-on-one situation. Villa put NYCFC back on top in the match when Reto Ziegler was called for a handball inside his own area. Villa duly accepted the gift and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to give NYCFC their second of the game. From then on, it was all New York and Villa wrapped up the points in the 69th minute with his second goal when he took advantage of a mix up at the back between two FC Dallas defenders.
NYCFC continue to show why they are currently the team to beat in the MLS. With Villa fully back in the mix, the hosts this weekend are a scary prospect for any team as they can play on the break and also beat their opponents by keeping the ball. FC Dallas will now know just how much they have to do to beat the elite teams in the MLS. It's a big bridge to gap but with the right pieces, FCD can find their way past the likes of NYCFC in the playoffs should they get there.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC needed to stop their slide of three losses in a row and did so against a Real Salt Lake side that is struggling at the moment. Anthony Blondell had the first big chance of the game in the 15th minute when an error in midfield allowed Vancouver to break and the striker was played through on goal. Blondell rounded Nick Rimando but his shot was blocked by a great tackle from Justen Glad with the goal at his mercy. Taylor Peay then came close to giving RSL the lead in the 23rd minute when he cut inside onto his right foot and crashed a great effort off the crossbar. Joao Plata was first to the rebound but he could only direct his shot into the hands of a grateful Stefan Marinovic's hands. The home side finally took the lead when Matt Besler brought down Nicolás Mezquida and Cristian Techera converted the penalty. The result was put into some doubt as Techera received a second yellow card for taking off his shirt in celebration of the goal. Blondell finally got the goal his play deserved when Alphonso Davies raced away from his marker and squared the ball for Blondell to tap in his first MLS goal.
This was a big result for the Whitecaps who needed a strong performance after a string of poor results. Techera's ill-advised celebration will mar the result somewhat but what will please the Whitecaps fans is how well Alphonso Davies did when he came on and how he helped secure the win for his side. RSL created a few chances of their own but they continue to find the back of the net regularly and thus, succumbed to their third defeat away from home and their fourth defeat of the season.
Atlanta stayed in touch with NYCFC with a big win of their own against the Montreal Impact. The first half of the game saw Montreal keep the Atlanta attack at bay and Saphir Taïder managed to put the visitors ahead in the 13th minute when he met Chris Duvall's cross inside the six-yard area and nodded home from close range. The second half was a different story thanks to Miguel Almirón and substitute Kevin Kratz. Duvall had a penalty called against him in the 66th minute and Almirón squeezed the ball past the goalkeeper to bring Atlanta back into the game. Kratz then took center stage as he banged in Atlanta's second with a beautifully taken free-kick in the 78th minute, four minutes after coming into the game. Almirón then made it three in the 84th minute when Atlanta managed to steal the ball back in midfield and after a great counter, the ball fell to the Paraguayan's feet and he made no mistake from close range. Kratz then scored another fantastic free-kick, this time from further out to put emphasis on another great performance by Atlanta United.
The Impact comes away from this game with more questions than answers. They are scoring goals but for the second time in a row, they have let their opponents score multiple goals against them in the second half. Rémi Garde must find a way to keep his team less open in the second 45 or this will be a long season for Montreal. As for Atlanta, it's been a case of "anything NYCFC can do, we can do as well". They now sit one point behind the league leaders with a game in hand and will want to keep their solid form going for as long as possible.
Philadelphia Union 3 - 2 D.C. United: The Union not only picked up a win after going without one for five games but they also managed to score multiple goals against D.C. Zoltan Steiber and Darron Mattocks got the goals for the visitors while Ilsinho, CJ Sapong and Borek Dockal gave Philadelphia all three points.
Columbus Crew SC 2 - 1 San Jose Earthquakes: San Jose made a go of it in the first half when Danny Hoesen brought them back level after Harrison Afful's opener. It was Columbus' day however as Mike Grella returned from a long-term injury to grab the winner in the 84th minute.
New England Revolution 1 - 0 Sporting Kansas City: The Revolution pulled off a shock result as Teal Bunbury's 44th minute goal helped them to a win over Sporting KC. Although the goal was marred by controversy, VAR once again came to the fore to prove that Bunbury's goal was legitimate, succumbing Sporting KC to their first loss in seven games.
Minnesota United FC 2 - 1 Houston Dynamo: Minnesota came back from being one-nil down after Alberth Elis had put the Dynamo ahead to gain all three points. Darwin Quintero scored the equalizing penalty in the first half and Ibson made sure of the points with his goal in the 70th minute.
Colorado Rapids 1 - 2 Orlando City SC: Orlando showed great resilience on the road to bounce back and get the win after Dominique Badji had put the Rapids in front. Cristian Higuita and Yoshi Yotun found the second half goals to give Orlando a big away win.
Toronto FC 2 - 2 Chicago Fire: Alan Gordon's legacy continued as he grabbed a late equalizer for Chicago in their 2-2 draw against Toronto, The hosts had stormed ahead to a two-nil lead thanks to goals by Jonathan Osorio and Víctor Vázquez but Bastain Schweinsteiger pulled one back for Chicago before Gordon performed his late game heroics once again.