Did you catch every minute of all 13 games of MLS Week 20? No? Then let's discuss the big flashpoints.
Reeling ATL in
They’ve been frontrunners in the overall league standings for months, and technically still are on points, but Atlanta United are no longer alone at the top.
The Five Stripes dropped points in Sunday’s contentious 1-1 home draw with Seattle. Combined with a nine-point week for New York City FC, FC Dallas’ 7-2-0 run since late May and the consistent quality of the New York Red Bulls, that means the Supporters’ Shield race is now wide open.
NYCFC and FCD are racking up 2 points per game – a faster clip than ATL's 1.95 – and RBNY are not far behind at 1.94 PPG. Even LAFC (35 points from 19 games, 1.84 PPG) and Portland (30 points from 17 games, 1.76 PPG) can hold hopes of making a play here. Here’s hoping this remains a fun stretch run for the Shield.
Meanwhile, at the other end…
They’ve faced off in the past two MLS Cups, each winning one of them, and are generally considered model MLS franchises. Yet today Seattle and Toronto FC both find themselves in the basement of the standings, staring at exceedingly steep climbs to even qualify for this year’s playoffs, let alone go on cup runs again.
Yes, the Sounders showed grit to earn a point in Atlanta, TFC continue to be wracked by key injuries and neither are officially eliminated from the postseason reckoning just yet. All that doesn’t explain what’s happened to them. Time is running out. Can either team rise from the dead?
Buzzard Point bangers
The inaugural match at Audi Field was the weekend’s biggest occasion. While Wayne Rooney and D.C. United still have work to do – both physical and metaphorical – at their new house, they baptized the place with an absorbing game vs. Vancouver marked by four pretty goals, two of them utter golazos.
Even if you’ve watched it already, please take another moment to savor this gorgeous hit from Yamil Asad:
… and then be dazzled by the even better solo run from the precocious Fonzie Davies:
In strictly entertainment terms, what’s better than injury-time goals? Don’t overlook Philadelphia’s wild 4-3 road win over Chicago (where David Accam slipped the knife in against his former team) just because it happened at midweek. This might’ve been the nuttiest game of Week 20 and is worth watching in condensed form via the MLS App.
Streaks and skids
With Sunday’s 0-0 draw at LAFC, the Portland Timbers remain undefeated since April 8. They’re usually quite content to play dour, defensive soccer, especially away from home, and are looking like just the sort of steely, organized side that no one likes to meet in the postseason. Retired MLS striker Charlie Davies explains the key cog in Giovanni Savarese’s approach; give it a read.
Elswhere, Orlando City’s woeful nine-game losing run is finally over thanks to their defeat of Toronto. Will the streaky Lions be able to build a similar stretch in the positive direction?
Quakes in free fall
I really have no words for what’s going on with the San Jose Earthquakes, who’ve lost many games this year and still found a new and even more discouraging way of taking the L, as the Matchday Central crew analyzed: