Bradley Wright-Phillips - New York Red Bulls - celebrates with teammates
Mike Dinovo/USA Today Sports

This Week in MLS - September 18, 2017

This Week in MLS – September 18, 2017
  • Red Bulls battle three-time champion Sporting KC for Open Cup title Wednesday on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes
  • Golden Boot race heats up with record-breaking performers closing in on Villa
  • FOX Sports to continue historic MLS-NFL doubleheader on Sunday
  • Vancouver’s late heroics keep side on top as Cascadia clubs continue leading pack in West
  • Atlanta United’s record attendance ranked top four in the world
  • Sweet Tweets
  • Week 29 Game Previews
Red Bulls battle three-time champion Sporting KC for Open Cup title Wednesday on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes
The 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup has reached its pinnacle moment this Wednesday at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City Kan. The New York Red Bulls are locked in to attempt to capture their first Open Cup crown when they face three-time winners Sporting Kansas City (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes). Wednesday’s winner qualifies for the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League, with the hope of advancing to the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup.
Both clubs have had an arduous tournament to reach this stage. New York rallied from a two-goal deficit to unseat Open Cup Cinderella FC Cincinnati of the United Soccer League for a 3-2 overtime victory in the semifinals at Nippert Stadium. Bradley Wright-Phillips supplied the equalizer and winner, and he has scored three goals in the tournament overall.
Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch, a four-time Open Cup winner during his playing days with the Chicago Fire and D.C. United, announced on Monday that goalkeeper Ryan Meara will continue to serve as the tournament starter during the team’s impressive run.
Sporting edged the San Jose Earthquakes 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout during the semifinals, with goalkeeper Tim Melia stopping two penalties and Matt Besler providing the winning conversion.
Sporting can etch their names into the elite of this tournament. With a win on Wednesday, SKC would become the third MLS team to capture four Open Cup crowns to join the Chicago Fire and Seattle Sounders FC. Kansas City has previously won in 2004, 2012 and 2015 – a perfect 3-for-3 when reaching the championship match. Head coach Peter Vermes has managed the latter two victories.
Golden Boot race heats up with record-breaking performers closing in on Villa
With six weeks remaining in the 2017 MLS regular season, some of the biggest stars in the league are battling for the Golden Boot as the race heads towards a dramatic finish. Reigning Landon Donovan MLS MVP David Villa leads the league with 19 goals, but a group of record-breaking performers are hot on the Spaniard’s trail to take home top scoring honors this season.
Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri broke an MLS record by scoring in his eighth consecutive game on Saturday as the Argentine’s 18 goals are one shy of Villa’s league-leading tally. Also tied for second-most finishes with 18 goals is Chicago Fire forward Nemanja Nikolić who has scored in two consecutive matches to reignite the Golden Boot campaign he led prior to the All-Star break.
Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez became the third player in MLS history to record back-to-back hat tricks with his outstanding performance in front of a record-breaking 70,425 fans on Saturday. The Venezuela National Team player has seven goals over his previous three contests, bringing his season total to 16 goals in a mere 14 games played. Martinez has three hat trick performances on the season, one of only five MLS players in history to accomplish the feat. Rounding out the leading goalscorers is Columbus Crew SC forward Ola Kamara, who has 16 tallies on the season with goals in each of his clubs previous four matches.
FOX Sports to continue historic MLS-NFL doubleheader on Sunday
After drawing 1.298 million viewers last season to mark the most-watched MLS telecast of any kind on any network in 12 years, broadcast partner FOX Sports will again air MLS games adjacent to NFL games in markets across the country this Sunday.
The MLS-NFL doubleheader will include one of two featured MLS matchups airing either before or after an NFL game, as Sporting Kansas City faces the LA Galaxy at Children’s Mercy Park (2 p.m. ET, FOX / FOX Deportes / FOX Sports GO), and Atlanta United welcomes the Montreal Impact to Mercedes-Benz Stadium (5 p.m. ET, FOX / FOX Deportes / FOX Sports GO).
Ranked third in the Western Conference, Sporting Kansas City will be looking for a sweep after twice defeating the Galaxy during the 2017 season, while LA looks to revive the form that led to a two-game undefeated streak that started their September. With Atlanta United comfortably above the playoff line in fifth place in the East, the Montreal Impact, which went from a four-game winning streak to four straight losses, will seek to upset the home side for a chance to keep their postseason hopes alive.  
Markets across the country will either receive the 2 p.m. Sporting KC vs. LA Galaxy game followed by an NFL game, or will kick off their doubleheader with a 1 p.m. NFL game followed by the 5 p.m. Atlanta United vs. Montreal Impact matchup. Each competing team’s home market, as well as select additional cities around the country, will carry their club’s game live. Both MLS matches will be available live via the FOX Sports GO app. Fans should check local listings and for an overview of the coverage for both MLS matches. 
Vancouver’s late heroics keep side on top as Cascadia clubs continue leading pack in West
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (13-9-6, 45 points) maintained its first-place stance in the Western Conference this past weekend, notching a stoppage-time equalizer against Columbus Crew SC to hold a one-point lead over fellow Cascadia sides the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders FC, and Sporting Kansas City (all tied with 44 points).
The Pacific Northwest has been the hotbed of the West, and Whitecaps FC is the latest frontrunner thanks to a six-game unbeaten streak (4-0-2). Former Sounders FC striker Fredy Montero has shined in his MLS return to the tune of a team-leading 12 goals. Montero is one goal from matching a career-high 13 during his final season with Seattle in 2012.
With well-rounded Uruguayan midfielder Cristian Techera (six goals, six assists) and Costa Rican international Christian Bolaños (team-high seven assists) also serving as the spine of this team, Whitecaps FC is in the driver’s seat and potentially looking to finish atop the table for the first time in club history.
The final leg will be no easy task. Among Vancouver’s remaining six regular-season games, the club will be on the road to face SKC and both Cascadia rivals for what is sure to be a dramatic stretch run before the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Atlanta United’s record attendance ranked top four in the world
Breaking a 21-year-standing, MLS single-game attendance record, Atlanta United hosted Orlando City SC for the fourth-highest attended soccer match in the world over the weekend. With a boisterous 70,425 strong, the MLS matchup outdrew an English Premier League clash between Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City (65,366) by more than 5,000 fans, and among the top-10 globally last weekend, Atlanta outdrew matchups in the EPL, Spain’s La Liga, the German Bundesliga, and Italy’s Serie A.
Below is a list of the top-10 highest attended soccer games from the weekend:
Borussia Dortmund vs. FC Cologne
Manchester United vs. Everton
Bayern Munich vs FC Mainz
Atlanta United vs. Orlando City SC
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Swansea City
Atletico Madrid vs. Malaga
Liverpool vs. Burnley
Newcastle United vs. Stoke City
VFB Stuttgart vs. VFL Wolfsburg
AC Milan vs. Udinese Calcio
Sweet Tweets
Week 29 Game Previews
Wednesday, Sept. 20
LA Galaxy at Atlanta United, 7 p.m. ET
  • Atlanta United extended their undefeated streak to four games, remaining undefeated at their new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, coming back for a 3-3 draw against Orlando City SC. Atlanta United now have two wins and one draw in their new home, having scored 13 goals in the three games. The three goals scored by Orlando City were their first conceded at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
  • Josef Martínez scored a hat trick for a second consecutive match, the third player in MLS league history to net back-to-back three-goal games (also: Eddie Johnson, 5/26-6/2/2007; Robbie Keane, 7/4-17/2015). It was the third hat trick of the season for Martínez, tying the MLS league record for hat tricks in a single season (also: Stern John, 1998; Cobi Jones, 1998; Diego Serna, 2000; Bradley Wright-Phillips, 2014).
  • The match drew 70,425 fans to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the largest crowd for a standalone regular-season game in MLS league history, and the seventh-largest of any date ever involving an MLS team in the league’s 22 seasons (regular season, MLS Cup Playoffs, All-Star Games).
  • The Galaxy suffered a 4-0 loss to Toronto FC in their last match, on Saturday evening at StubHub Center. The loss was the sixth in the last eight home matches for the Galaxy (1-6-1 over that span, dating back to June 24).
Montreal Impact at Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Sebastian Giovinco scored a pair of goals – one from a free kick – and Jozy Altidore added a third as TFC cruised to a 3-1 win Aug. 23 at Stade Saputo.
  • Toronto FC won their sixth consecutive match, defeating the LA Galaxy 4-0 at StubHub Center on Saturday evening. The six-game winning streak matches the club record, set from April 21-May 13 of this season. The win also extended TFC’s club-record undefeated run to 11 games (8-0-3), dating back to July 5.
  • TFC are the first team in MLS history to win six consecutive games all by multiple-goal margins of victory. They have scored 21 goals over the six-game span, tied for the second-most in a six-game span in league history.
  • The Impact suffered their fourth consecutive defeat, falling 3-2 to Minnesota United FC at Stade Saputo on Saturday evening. The four-game losing streak equals the second-longest in the club’s MLS history, the longest since a seven-game losing slide July 5-Aug. 9, 2014.
  • The teams have also met in every season they’ve been together in MLS in the Canadian Championship, with each team defeating the other once for the title – TFC doing it earlier this year thanks to a brace from Sebastian Giovinco in the second leg, winning 2-1 on aggregate, while the Impact won the title in 2014.
Saturday, Sept. 23
Houston Dynamo at New York City FC, 3 p.m. ET
  • New York City FC came away with a third consecutive result on their travels, playing to a second road draw in a row, reaching a 1-1 deadlock with the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  • The Dynamo suffered a second consecutive defeat as their winless run stretched to four matches, falling 1-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium. It’s the second time this season the Dynamo have suffered back-to-back defeats, also May 17 (0-2 vs. Philadelphia) and May 20 (1-4 at Atlanta). The four-game winless run matches the club’s longest for the season (also: June 4-July 1).
  • The teams are meeting for the third time ever, and NYCFC have come away with points in the first two. The teams reached a 1-1 draw in their first meeting, at Yankee Stadium, in NYCFC’s inaugural season in 2015. Last year, NYCFC claimed a 2-0 win Sept. 20 at BBVA Compass Stadium behind a pair of David Villa goals.
Toronto FC at New England Revolution, 5 p.m. ET
  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season, each winning at home in the first two. Juan Agudelo scored a goal and added an assist, and Diego Fagundez and Benjamin Angoua also hit the back of the net as the Revolution claimed a 3-0 win June 3 at Gillette Stadium; then on June 23 at BMO Field, Drew Moor and Sebastian Giovinco both scored in a 2-0 TFC victory.
  • The Revolution are undefeated in the last five meetings in Foxborough, with three wins and two draws in that time.
  • The Revolution suffered their second consecutive defeat, falling 3-1 to Sporting KC at Children’s Mercy Park. The defeat extended the Revolution’s away winless streak to 16 games, dating back to last Sept. 25, the longest in the club’s 22-year history. The Revolution remain the final team in MLS this season without an away victory, now 0-12-3 on their travels.
  • TFC are undefeated in their last six away matches, the second-longest road unbeaten run in club history. In the win at the LA Galaxy, Victor Vazquez collected a goal and an assist, his second consecutive game with both a goal and an assist. Vazquez has assists in five consecutive matches, now leading MLS with 16 assists this season.
Chicago Fire at Philadelphia Union, 7 p.m. ET
  • Union saw their winless run extended to six matches with a third consecutive draw, playing to a goalless result with the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena.
  • Andre Blake was credited with eight saves in recording the shutout for Union, his season-high, equaling the second-most saves he’s recorded in an MLS league game (most: 10 saves, 9/26/2015). The eight shutouts are single-season career-high in his four MLS seasons, now tied for fourth-most in MLS this season.
  • The Fire extended their undefeated run to three games with a second victory in that time, defeating D.C. United 3-0 at Toyota Park.
  • The Fire’s Nemanja Nikolic converted a penalty kick for his second goal in as many games, now with 18 goals for the season, tied for second place in the MLS Golden Boot standings (with Diego Valeri of POR; one behind David Villa of NYC).
  • The teams are meeting for the first time this season. The home team won all three meetings between the clubs a year ago. Union took a 4-3 win June 22 at Talen Energy Stadium, while the Fire claimed a 1-0 win April 2 and a 3-0 triumph Sept. 3 at Toyota Park.
San Jose Earthquakes at D.C. United, 7 p.m. ET
  • The teams reached a 1-1 draw in the only meeting a year ago, April 2 at Avaya Stadium. United have taken points on three of their last four visits to northern California. The Quakes won the last meeting at RFK Stadium, a 2-0 win Aug. 22, 2015, snapping a two-game United winning streak in the all-time series.
  • The Earthquakes won for a second time in the last three matches, defeating the Houston Dynamo by the game’s lone goal at Avaya Stadium.
  • The win extended the Quakes’ home undefeated run to seven games, with a 5-0-2 record in that span, dating back to June 17.
  • D.C. United suffered a second consecutive defeat following a three-game winning streak, falling 3-0 to the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.
  • United were shut out at the attacking end for a 15th time this season, the first time since Aug. 12. The 15 offensive shutouts are tied for the fourth-most in a season in MLS history; D.C. United have two of the three most shutouts in a season in league annals (17 in 2010; 16 in 2013).
New York Red Bulls at Columbus Crew SC, 7:30 p.m. ET
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Alex Muyl and Danny Royer scored first-half goals as the Red Bulls cruised to a 2-0 win April 22 at Red Bull Arena.
  • Crew SC extended their undefeated streak to six games with a second consecutive draw, reaching a 2-2 result with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place. The six-game undefeated streak is the longest for Crew SC since a six-game run Aug. 15-Sept. 1, 2012. The draw also extended Crew SC’s road winless streak to five matches (0-2-3).
  • Crew SC striker Ola Kamara scored for a fourth consecutive match, now with 16 goals for the season, tied for fourth place in the MLS Golden Boot standings. The four-game goal streak is the longest of Kamara’s MLS career; his 16 goals match his total recorded in his first MLS season last year, now with 32 goals in 55 MLS career appearances.
  • The Red Bulls had their winless streak extended to five matches with a fourth consecutive draw, reaching a goalless result with Philadelphia Union at Red Bull Arena. It’s the third time in the club’s history they’ve recorded draws in four consecutive games, the last coming in 2014.
FC Dallas at Minnesota United FC, 8 p.m. ET
  • The teams are meeting for the second time. Javier Morales and Michael Barrios scored on either side of halftime as FC Dallas claimed a 2-0 victory April 8 at Toyota Stadium.
  • MNUFC put an end to a brief two-game winless streak, coming back for a 3-2 win against the Montréal Impact at Stade Saputo on Saturday evening. It was a second win in the last three away matches for Minnesota United, after opening their first MLS season winless in their first 10 road games.
  • Minnesota United forward Abu Danladi scored his sixth goal of the season, his third in the last four matches, the most of any rookie this season. Danladi came off the substitutes’ bench after six consecutive starts, playing the final 25 minutes.
  • FC Dallas had their winless streak extended to nine matches, with a fourth draw in that time, reaching a goalless result with Seattle Sounders FC at Toyota Stadium on Saturday evening.
  • The nine-game winless run is the fourth-longest in FCD club history, the long since an 11-game run without victory in 2013 (the club record is a 13-game winless streak, set in 2012).
Seattle Sounders FC at Real Salt Lake, 9:30 p.m. ET
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Harry Shipp scored the game’s lone goal late in the first half to give Sounders FC the victory May 20 at CenturyLink Field.
  • Sounders FC have won the last three meetings in the series, all played at CenturyLink Field. Sounders FC have won the last seven meetings between the teams in Seattle; Real have won their last five home games vs. Seattle.
  • Sounders FC extended their club record undefeated streak in MLS to 13 games, reaching a goalless draw with FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium.
  • Real won for the fourth time in the last six games, defeating Portland Timbers 2-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
  • RSL’s Albert Rusnák scored a goal and added an assist, now with 12 assists, tied for fifth-most in MLS this season. Luis Silva also added an assist; he has six goals and three assists on the season, all coming over the last nine matches (since July 22).
Colorado Rapids at Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 10 p.m. ET
  • Whitecaps FC had their three-game winning run put to an end but still extended their undefeated streak to six matches, reaching a 2-2 draw with Columbus Crew SC at BC Place. The six-game undefeated run matches the second-longest in the club’s MLS history, long since a six-game run without loss in 2014.
  • The ‘Caps’ Fredy Montero scored a goal and added an assist, now with 12 goals for the season. Yordy Reyna also added an assist, now with a goal or an assist in three consecutive games.
  • The Rapids made it two games in a row without loss, reaching a 1-1 draw with New York City FC at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Dominique Badji scored a goal in a second consecutive game, now with eight goals for the season.
  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season, both games played at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Brek Shea scored the game’s only goal in the 84th minute to give Whitecaps FC the victory May 5; the teams then reached a 2-2 draw Aug. 5 in Commerce City.
Sunday, Sept. 24
LA Galaxy at Sporting Kansas City, 2 p.m. ET
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Roger Espinoza and Ike Opara netted first-half goals as Sporting won 2-1 at StubHub Center on June 24.
  • The Galaxy have not won in Kansas City since 2007; Sporting have won four of their nine home games since, with five draws. The win in the first meeting was Sporting’s first victory in Carson against the Galaxy since 2010 – the last previous victory by the visiting team in the series.
  • Sporting extended their home undefeated streak in league play to 23 games, defeating the New England Revolution at Children’s Mercy Park. The 23-game streak is tied for the third-longest in MLS history.
  • The Galaxy start a two-game road swing over the week winless in their last five away matches, snapping a four-game road losing run in their goalless draw at Seattle.
Montreal Impact at Atlanta United, 5 p.m. ET
  • The teams are meeting for the second time. Anthony Jackson-Hamel scored the game-winner in stoppage time after a second-half penalty converted by Ignacio Piatti leveled terms, the Impact coming back for a 2-1 win April 15 at Stade Saputo.
  • In the Impact’s loss at Minnesota United FC, Patrice Bernier scored his first goal of the season, his first goal in an MLS league match since Sept. 8, 2013, when he netted a brace vs. New England – a span of 83 regular-season matches since his last goal.
  • Julian Gressel recorded his seventh assist of the season in Atlanta’s draw with Orlando City, leading all rookies this season. The seven assists are tied for fifth-most by a rookie in a season in MLS history. Hector Villalba also recorded a pair of assists, his second two-assist game in his last three matches; he has eight assists, along with 11 goals, in his first MLS season.
Orlando City SC at Portland Timbers, 8 p.m. ET
  • The Timbers saw their four-game undefeated streak put to an end, falling 2-1 to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium.
  • Diego Valeri scored for an eighth consecutive match for the Timbers, setting the all-time MLS record, surpassing the mark held by three players. Valeri has 18 goals this season, tied for second place in the MLS Golden Boot standings (with Nemanja Nikolic of CHI), one behind David Villa of NYC.
  • Orlando City gained a second consecutive result, reaching a 3-3 draw with Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
  • Dom Dwyer scored a pair of goals, his first goals for Orlando City since his arrival from Sporting KC. Dwyer also added an assist, the first time in his MLS career he’s been involved in three goals in a game. Dwyer has two goals and two assists in the last two games.
  • The teams are meeting for the third time ever, and Orlando City have won both. Last year, Kaká had a goal and two assists as Orlando City eased to a 4-1 win April 3 at Orlando City Stadium. In the first meeting ever between the clubs, Cyle Larin and Kaká netted goals as OCSC took a 2-0 win April 12, 2015 at Providence Park.