It was a busy week across MLS, including a full slate of four midweek games on Wednesday. Here’s a few crib notes.
LA’s Zlatan enigma
The LA Galaxy played twice this week, and continued their strange pattern of results with star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic: They lost the game he started, a 3-2 shootout won by surging FC Dallas at midweek, and got a positive result when he was out of the XI at Portland on Saturday.
Since his arrival in late March, the Galaxy have won just once (a 1-0 road win at Chicago in which he scored) when Ibra starts and plays the full 90 minutes. Conversely, they won at Montreal when he was ejected in the first half and LA had to finish with 10 men, then won the following game, 1-0 over San Jose, while Zlatan was suspended. And now they’ve broken the Timbers’ six-game winning streak while bringing Ibrahimovic off the bench, coach Sigi Schmid citing a desire to limit his minutes on artificial turf in light of his 2017 ACL injury.
Is this coincidence, or something deeper? Air your theories in the comments section, please.
Beckerman ... strikes?
Meanwhile another grizzled vet found himself in an unfamiliar spot on the bench, and made the most of it. Kyle Beckerman has been a near-automatic selection for Real Salt Lake for most of the past decade, yet he fulfilled the supersub role in dramatic fashion on Wednesday, conjuring up a late game-winner to defeat Houston 2-1.
KB5 was back in the XI on the weekend to do his more typical duties, patrolling deep midfield to help RSL shut out the spiraling Seattle Sounders 2-0, a third straight win that has pushed the Utah club into third place in the Western Conference.
Condolences are due to Colorado Rapids fans, who witnessed their team drop a seventh straight loss – and fourth consecutive home defeat – on Friday as the Vancouver Whitecapswon 2-1 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Colorado are firmly lodged in last place in both the Western Conference and overall league standings, and in both total points and points-per-game terms.
Not much is going right for Anthony Hudson & Co. this year, to put it mildly. At least Edgar Castillo, who is quietly having a decent first season in MLS, brought a few moments of joy with this scorcher, an AT&T Goal of the Week nominee, on Friday:
A break from misery in Montreal
Another team enduring an unhappy 2018 finally got to smile a bit this weekend, as the Montreal Impact snapped a four-game losing skid by banking all three points from the Dynamo’s visit to Stade Saputo. It’s only the fourth win of the year for the Quebec club, who are now 2-8-0 since the end of March. That said, Jeisson Vargas’ game-winner was an absolute peach, a glorious piece of skill and composure:
If coach Remi Garde wants to keep things pointed in a positive direction, he might consider making heavier use of the young Chilean, who’s scored four goals in 654 minutes, three of them game-winners.
Smiles were hard to come by for the Philadelphia Union as they visited Atlanta United Saturday. The #DOOP squad entered Mercedes-Benz Stadium on a four-game unbeaten run, eager to test their credentials against the league leaders – only to lose any trace of composure at the first sign of adversity in one of MLS’ most intimidating venues.
Sure, we can argue about the penalty-kick call on Auston Trusty. But having influential veterans like Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin fly off the handle and earn red cards for raging at referee Sorin Stoica barely 20 minutes into the game was a bad look, and it made Atlanta’s comfortable victory a fait accompli. Still work to do in Philly, it seems.
Saturday was ugly for the Union, yet I would be remiss if I allowed the week to go into the books without some extra dap for their skilful Brazilian Ilsinho, who’s arguably the most entertaining player in MLS on good days. And he definitely had a good day on Wednesday in a 3-1 win over Chicago, as an utterly hoodwinked Bastian Schweinsteiger can attest:
Crossbar game at Yankee Stadium
On the topic of viral highlights, let’s go to the Bronx, where New York City FC rebounded from last week’s dispiriting loss in Houston by putting slumping Orlando City to the sword, 3-0. In terms of outlandish oddities, you’re unlikely to ever see a sequence like their third goal ever again, as Jesus Medina and David Villa both pinged shots off nearly the exact same place on the crossbar before Maxi Moralez cleaned up the scraps:
Kids in KC
Finally, how about a tip of the cap to Sporting Kansas City, not merely for their 4-1 disposal of Minnesota United on Sunday, but the manifestation of their youth movement it provided. SKC have made headlines in recent months for their ambitious academy initiatives, and Sunday’s win showed off some of its fruits as teenagers Wan Kuzain – who scored, and misplaced just one pass all night – and Jaylin Lindsey came off the bench to help bag all three points.