Top 5 MLS After Dark moments from the MLS is Back Tournament | Sam Jones

VANvsSJ - July 15 - San Jose celebrates - v00

The exact origin of “MLS After Dark” is unclear. The PAC-12 had it first, but no matter how it transferred to MLS, the league is very much deserving of a brand that says “thank you for staying up, here are several moments of absolute insanity.”

The trick to an MLS After Dark moment is that, of course, chaos has to be involved. It also, ya know, has to happen at night. Preferably you want it as late as possible and with teams that may not grab the same national attention as others. There's also an element of it requiring some serious commitment to stay up late to watch. You want to be one of the few people to experience the moment. You want people to wake up the next morning and ask you what in the actual heck happened. You want to be in the special club that took in the insanity in real-time.

Fortunately, we’ve had a handful of these moments during the MLS is Back Tournament. Some weren’t quite as deep into the night as they may have been under normal circumstances, but the spirit is there all the same. Here are the five best so far.

The Loons wait for late

This one saved all of its After Dark for the end. Which is perfect considering it started at 8 p.m., a totally normal time. Nothing good happens when you’re out past 2 a.m. and everything interesting in MLS happens past 9:30 p.m.

After a mostly uninteresting game, the Loons found themselves down one thanks to a goal from Sporting Kansas City’s Khiry Shelton. In the second minute of stoppage time, the Loons found themselves tied at one thanks to a goal from Sporting Kansas City’s Khiry Shelton. Five minutes after the own goal, Kevin Molino found the ball in the middle of the 18-yard-box and sent it into the net for a 97th-minute winner.

Diego Rossi cares nothing of time

This edition of El Trafico started late so everyone had enough time to fight about the name El Trafico. The 10:30 pm start just helped the league’s weirdest rivalry stay weird from thousands of miles away.

Five minutes in, a Latif Blessing own goal put the Galaxy up early. Eight minutes later, Diego Rossi converted a penalty. Cristian Pavon converted his own a handful of minutes later. Then Rossi scored again. Pavon thought he had scored again and it looked like we had another bonafide El Trafico classic on our hands but VAR ruled it out before everyone could tweet about how “this game is drunk.”

But just two minutes after the review, Bradley Wright-Phillips scored and LAFC decided they’d had enough of the weird.

A 6-2 scoreline is entertaining but this one felt like it was on the verge of After Dark greatness. Instead, we just got the performance of the tournament from Rossi. It’s like he didn’t even know why we were watching.

Thomas Hasal becomes an early morning legend

This one started at 11 p.m. ET. That alone might have been enough to make this list but then Thomas Hasal delivered one of the most unexpectedly incredible performances we’ve seen in a while. Sporting fired off 36 shots but couldn’t get a single one past Hasal in his second-ever MLS start. The kid wasn’t even supposed to be on the field, but injuries to Vancouver’s first and second string keepers threw him out there.

The Whitecaps eventually lost on PKs, but Hasal’s legendary night/morning still made it a unique entry into the After Dark catalog. Normally team chaos reigns in After Dark games, but this is one of the few where the one person keeping it under control made it worth staying up late.

Steve Clark shakes things up a bit



With Portland cruising towards a quarterfinal win over Cincinnati, Steve Clark did this:

Cincy tied the game on the ensuing penalty. They even looked like they might go on and win the game as the ball rolled to a wide-open Jurgen Locadia in front of the net, but Locadia did this:

This one stayed tied through full time and, naturally, Clark made up for his mistake with a save in the penalty shootout because Steve Clark is crazy like a fox and sets himself up to succeed even when it looks like he’s failing. The sheer suddenness of the insanity made this a beautiful example of MLS After Dark. Everything is normal until it isn’t in these things. Bless Clark and Locadia for making things interesting. But it wasn’t quite as interesting as ...

San Jose completes the comeback

Let’s be real, how many people were keyed into this one before it started? Throw in a 9 p.m. start time and we already had a wonderful mix of After Dark conditions. Then the game started and we got more than we could have ever imagined. A severely undermanned Vancouver stunned San Jose with an early goal and then took a two-goal lead on an absolutely top-tier own goal from Judson, who ran like 70 yards only to roll the ball into his own net. He couldn’t be blamed for that though. The Quakes didn’t have anyone back to defend a counter-attack from the corner. Seriously, no one.

Eventually, San Jose pulled one back, but Vancouver took a 3-1 lead into the last 20 minutes of the game. However, Chris Wondolowski scored in the same way he always seems to and made it a one-goal game in the 72nd minute. In the 81st, Oswaldo Alanis tied the game. And in the 98th (!!!) Shea Salinas gave this game the ending it deserved.

Those events alone were enough to place this one in the pantheon of after dark games, but one fact pushes it into all-time great territory: San Jose took 22 corner kicks, an MLS record. The perfect stat for a game that warranted an obscure record in a way that others never could.