The eight games in three days of MLS Week 6 served up a fair bit to talk about. Let’s get started.
#CardiacCats strike again
Orlando City SC home games are fast becoming appointment viewing for those in need of feverish drama. Perhaps it’s the loud, tight atmosphere at their downtown purple palace, the hot, heavy air of pressure and expectation around Jason Kreis’ team or some combination thereof – but Sunday’s 3-2 comeback win over the luckless Portland Timbers was wild, frantic fun just like pretty much every encounter at Orlando City Stadium to date:
After looking like instant contenders in their first two matches, the SoCal expansion side have shipped nine goals over the past 180 minutes of play. Saturday’s final scoreline may flatter the Five Stripes a bit, but their commanding home-field advantage is for real. And with several more weeks to go before the debut of Banc of California Stadium, LAFC are probably longing for some home cooking of their own.
They haven’t necessarily been dominant, talented playmaker Lee Nguyen continues to molder on the periphery and few are ready to declare them heavyweights just yet. But the New England Revolution sit in second place in the Eastern Conference, feeling good and racking up points under new coach Brad Friedel. Since a season-opening 2-0 loss at Philadelphia, the Revs are 2-0-1 and made the most of an early red card to Montreal’s Saphir Taider in a thumping 4-0 home win on Friday night:
Video Review giveth, Video Review taketh away
The hot-button issue that is the Video Review initiative continues to impact games, catching plays and errors that might otherwise go overlooked. Atlanta witnessed a red card overturned by VAR for the first time in MLS as Chris McCann was rescued from an early shower, then a game-breaking penalty kick was called on Walker Zimmerman, helping the hosts cruise to a blowout victory.
And in Orlando, the Timbers’ Sebastian Blanco had a second yellow card – for perceived simulation in the Lions penalty box – waved off and a PK awarded to his team instead.
The weekend's 1-1 draws in FC Dallas vs. Colorado and Philadelphia vs. San Jose might not look like particularly eye-catching items given the fireworks elsewhere. But fans of all four teams have reason to pay extra attention to these draws, because they illustrate the blend of promise and frustration that hangs over them at this stage in the season.
FCD and the Union should rue dropping pointsat home, and both carry some significant issues in terms of attacking chemistry and fluidity. Meanwhile the Rapids and Earthquakes let road leads slip and are clearly still absorbing the concepts and identity being implemented by first-year coaches. And the entire quartet looks well short of the league’s elite.
It’s the latter side that has climbed into second place in the overall league standings, however, level on total points with undefeated New York City FC – and they got there by calmly downing LA 2-0 on their own turf late Sunday evening, even with MLS Golden Boot co-leaderFelipe Gutierrez sidelined by injury. While Ibra’s second-half entry sparked both the Galaxy and their home fans, his individual brilliance was no match for Sporting’s collective cohesion and quality.
Hmm, maybe there’s a lesson in there somewhere…