Kick Off: Atlanta win big | TFC, DC play a classic | World Cup has arrived!

Here is everything you need to know about MLS and North American soccer this morning:

Atlanta go clear, TFC stage big rally

Atlanta United moved five points clear in the East and four points above the pack in the Supporters’ Shield race thanks to a 2-0 triumph at Columbus on Wednesday night. League-leading goal man Josef Martinez ran his scoring streak to four games with the first half winner. RECAP

The wildest match of the night went down at BMO Field, where Toronto FC rallied from three down and then also from a sudden stoppage time deficit to rescue a 4-4 share with midweek visitors D.C. United. Victor Vazquez led the Reds' comebacks with a goal and two assists, while defender Nick Hagglund netted both TFC equalizers inside a six-minute span. RECAP

World Cup set to kick off!

In all the excitement from Wednesday's MLS action, let's not forget that World Cup 2018 begins on Thursday when host side Russia takes on Saudi Arabia. In all, 19 MLS players will represent their countries over the next month. WATCH OUR WORLD CUP PREVIEW SPECIAL | MLS PLAYERS

This year's tournament starts on the heels of Wednesday's big news that World Cup 2026 is coming to North America, and over at Toronto FC (who feature 14 Americans, including coach Greg Vanney, and nine Canadians) everyone is already pumped up over the boost the game will receive in both countries. READ MORE

Red Bulls, Impact bag the points at home

The Sounders lost Wednesday, but are reportedly close to signing two-time Liga MX scoring champ Raul Ruidiaz. | USA Today Images

The New York Red Bulls posted their first win in four with a 2-1 decision over Wednesday guests Seattle. The Sounders, who have the worst offense in the league thus far, have apparently completed a deal to land Monarcas' Peru striker Raul Ruidiaz. READ MORE | RECAP

Ignacio Piatti busted out of a five-game goal drought with a brace to lead Montreal to a 2-0 home victory over Orlando City. The Lions have now dropped six straight, entirely cancelling out the six-match win streak that directly preceded this slump. RECAP

Deuces wild in San Jose, Colorado

Danny Hoesen’s second goal of the game earned San Jose's share in a 2-2 home draw against New England. The result ended the home side's four-game slide, while also extending the Revs' unbeaten run to five games. RECAP

Colorado snapped their eight-game losing streak, but also blew an early two-goal lead to settle for a 2-2 draw with visiting Chicago. A solo stunner from red-hot Fire man Aleksandar Katai leveled matters for good. RECAP

Ching opens soccer bar in Houston

Former Houston Dynamo ace Brian Ching is hoping to score with a new venture in his adopted hometown: a big soccer pub with all the bells and whistles needed to delight thirsty fans. READ MORE

Valentin's ribbon makes a difference

What started as a gag became a retweet challenge wager that turned into charity for Zarek Valentin, with an assist from his fiancee Elizabeth. The Portland defender has raised about $4,000 for a local LGBT youth safe space (and sparked a joining action by the Timbers Army), all for wearing a ribbon in his hair during last week's MLS contest. READ MORE

MLSsoccer.com Must-Watch

The Instant Replay team kicks around the East's midweek exploits

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