Daunting road trips posed no issue for MLS’s two Florida-based clubs in Matchday 30, leading to pink and purple across the Team of the Matchday presented by Audi.
Inter Miami CF captivated Hollywood via a 3-1 win over defending MLS Cup/Supporters’ Shield champions LAFC, a result paced by superstar Lionel Messi (0g/2a) and defender Jordi Alba (1g/0a). Toss in red-hot goalkeeper Drake Callender (five saves) and their Audi MLS Cup Playoffs outlook continues to improve.
Orlando City SC held on for a 1-0 win over league leaders FC Cincinnati, dealing the hosts their first regular-season loss of 2023 at TQL Stadium. Facundo Torres (1g/0a) has now scored four times in the Lions’ last four matches, surging into World Cup qualifiers with Uruguay, while head coach Oscar Pareja’s team has an MLS-high seven road wins as they climb the Eastern Conference table. Pedro Gallese (four saves) is on the bench after his eighth clean sheet of the season.
The three strikers – Cucho Hernández (Columbus Crew), Christian Benteke (D.C. United) and Alan Pulido (Sporting Kansas City) – were borderline dominant. Hernández netted his first MLS hat trick in a 4-2 win at CF Montréal; Benteke’s two goals and one assist paced a 4-0 win over Chicago Fire FC; and Pulido’s brace powered a 2-1 comeback win over budding rival St. Louis CITY SC.
Portland Timbers midfielder Evander (1g/0a) uncorked an equalizing golazo in a 2-2 draw at Seattle Sounders FC, pushing the club’s unbeaten streak to six against the Cascadia Cup rival. New England Revolution midfielder Tomás Chancalay (2g/0a) showed attacking thrust in a 2-2 draw with Austin FC, an encouraging sign from the Argentine summer signing.
Philadelphia Union defender Kai Wagner (0g/3a) used pinpoint delivery to spark a 4-1 comeback win over the New York Red Bulls, and Real Salt Lake defender Brayan Vera (1g/0a) unleashed a free-kick rocket to jumpstart a 2-0 rivalry win over the Colorado Rapids that sealed this year’s Rocky Mountain Cup.
Team of the Matchday (3-4-3, left to right): Drake Callender (MIA) - Kai Wagner (PHI), Brayan Vera (RSL), Jordi Alba (MIA) - Tomás Chancalay (NE), Evander (POR), Facundo Torres (ORL), Lionel Messi (MIA) - Cucho Hernández (CLB), Christian Benteke (DC), Alan Pulido (SKC)
Coach: Oscar Pareja (ORL)
Bench: Pedro Gallese (ORL), Michael Boxall (MIN), Alex Ring (ATX), Mateusz Klich (DC), Scott Arfield (CLT), Thiago Almada (ATL), Ryan Gauld (VAN), Jesús Ferreira (DAL), Cristian Arango (RSL)
Audi Goals Drive Progress
MLS Academies have been identified as one of the most important resources for building on-field talent in North America. Through the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative, Audi has committed $1 million per season in an effort to advance academies league-wide, and to drive progress for the sport. For every goal scored in the regular season, Audi will contribute $200 into the Audi Goals Drive Progress fund to directly support each MLS Club Youth Academy.