Meltdowns, Pyrrhic victories and lucky No. 28: What you missed in Week 26

The biggest Heineken Rivalry Week ever is in the books, and there's lots to marinate on. Here's a list to get you started.

Crowned down South

As you may have heard, Josef Martinez completed his inexorable pursuit of the MLS single-season scoring record on Friday, netting the game-winner in Atlanta United’s 2-1 road win over their Southern antagonists Orlando City to run his 2018 total to 28 goals, eclipsing the mark of 27 originally set by Roy Lassiter way back in year one (1996) and subsequently matched by Chris Wondolowski and Bradley Wright-Phillips.

The Venezuelan’s nowhere near done, of course: He’s got eight more games in which to pad his total and put this particular milestone well beyond the reach of most mortals. But to break the record in the house of a would-be rival, and follow it up with a tasty morsel of smack talk for the ages? It doesn’t get much sweeter...

Kaku comes through

It’s not easy being the New York Red Bulls, a team with two blood rivals – one historic, the other geographic – and thus the only team to play two matches in this year’s HRW. RBNY were left fuming at themselves after Wednesday’s 1-1 curtain-raiser at New York City FC, where they were unable to break down an opponent that went a man down in the first half before finishing with nine thanks to a second red card after the break…

Yet the Red Bulls found a way past a red-hot D.C. United team on Sunday, riding Kaku’s delightful finish to a hard-earned 1-0 win that provided sweet relief for the Argentinean creator, ending his lengthy goalless drought and keeping the heat on Atlanta at the top end of the Supporters’ Shield standings.

Mile High meltdown

With back-to-back wins earlier this month, the otherwise struggling Colorado Rapids might've thought they could see the light at the end of the tunnel. You know what they say, though: Sometimes that’s just a train…

And getting run down by a locomotive is a fairly apt metaphor for what happened to the Rapids when Real Salt Lake hit town for the third and final installment of the Rocky Mountain Cup on Saturday. Two first-half red cards left the home side twisting in the wind and RSL punished them viciously for those sins, sending Colorado coach Anthony Hudson and his staff back to the drawing board.

Win the battle… lose the war?

In strictly head-to-head terms, the LA Galaxy held off their noisy new neighbors LAFC this year, winning the season series with a win and two draws, the second of which unfolded at StubHub Center Friday night. And given both the light and heat of the “Battle of Los Angeles,” as some dubbed it, that confers no small amount of bragging rights.

Any such banter will ring a lot hollower if the expansion side makes the MLS Cup Playoffs and the Galaxy don’t, however. And that scenario could well come to pass, with the founding MLS club having dropped lots of points – many of them at home, and against less-daunting opposition – in recent weeks.

“We should have destroyed them,” asserted Zlatan Ibrahimovic, before admitting that the Galaxy are losing control of their own postseason destiny. “I like to be dependent on my team, so we have everything in our hands,” he added. “But hopefully the other teams, they lose points and we can make it.”

Play to the whistle, not the flag

The Philadelphia Union won their third game in a row, and fourth in five, by grinding out a 1-0 win over the New England Revolution that hinged on a contentious – and potentially hugely influential on the final look of the Eastern Conference standings – sequence:

Most of the Revs switched off when they saw the assistant referee’s flag go up, expecting referee Drew Fischer to whistle for offside. That whistle never came, however, and Philly’s Corey Burke finished the play that so many Revs failed to see out, and was vindicated in the end.

Dirty Bay blues

They say it’s the hope that kills you, not the despair, and the San Jose Earthquakes appeared to vindicate that perspective on Saturday...

The Quakes appeared to be well on their way to just their fourth win of the season when Jahmir Hyka and Magnus Eriksson fired them into a 2-0 first-half lead vs. visiting Vancouver, hinting at a welcome bright spot for a team fallen on hard times this year. Then the Whitecaps woke up, the game got tighter and San Jose self-immolated, putting themselves right back on course for one of the worst campaigns in MLS annals.

Floating up to fifth

The busy, emotional week concluded in appropriate fashion: A blood-and-thunder Cascadia Cup tussle between Portland and Seattle. And in the end, despite a typically, and menacingly, epic tifo from the Timbers Army, it was the visitors at Providence Park who just barely got the job done, vaulting themselves into the West’s playoff places at the direct expense of the Timbers – an outcome that underlines the value of the term “six-pointer” and runs the Sounders’ ongoing streak to an incredible seven straight wins.