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This Week in MLS – September 25, 2018

This Week in MLS – September 25, 2018
  • MLS club destined for U.S. Open Cup title
  • What to watch for – 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final:
  • LAFC’s Bradley tracking to break his own expansion club record
  • Atlanta looks to clinch CCL spot against Red Bulls on Sunday 
  • MLS Week 31: Match Notes
 
MLS club destined for U.S. Open Cup title
This Wednesday, in the longest-standing U.S. Soccer competition of all time, the Houston Dynamo will host the Philadelphia Union for a history-making matchup to determine a never-before-crowned champion of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. With bragging rights and new hardware on the line during this 105th edition of the tournament, the winner will earn an automatic berth to the Concacaf Champions League for the chance to represent the Concacaf region in the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup. This grand finale of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup kicks off from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and will stream live on Univision Deportes’ digital channels.
 
Tickets to the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are available here.
 
What to watch for – 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final:
  • Open Cup final will feature a new champion for the first time since 2001 (LA Galaxy v. New England Revolution).
  • Third time could be the charm for the Philadelphia after two finals loses (2014 and 2015).
  • Union head coach Jim Curtin could be the third to win as both a player (Chicago Fire, 1998) and a coach.
    • Tom Soehn won as a Dallas Burn player (1997) and as D.C United head coach (2008).
    • Ben Olsen won as a (then-injured) D.C. United player (2008), and as D.C. United coach (2013).
  • Union’s 14-game U.S. Open Cup unbeaten streak in regulation dates back to 2014.
  • Dynamo make deepest run in the Open Cup history, besting their semifinals appearances in 2006 and 2009.
  • Dynamo’s home field advantage could yield a title and extend their Open Cup home unbeaten streak.
 
LAFC’s Bradley tracking to break his own expansion club record
The Los Angeles Football Club could set records as the most successful expansion club in MLS regular season history with more points than any other expansion team. LAFC’s 50 points this season currently ranks third all-time among expansion clubs, and with five games remaining this season, the club could break the Chicago Fire’s record of 56 points accumulated in 1998. That 1998 Chicago Fire squad was managed by current LAFC coach Bob Bradley, who will look to continue a historic season when LAFC travels to face Chicago on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, Univision / Twitter).
 
Contending for most goals ever scored by an expansion club, LAFC are approaching the Chicago Fire’s second-place total of 62 goals in 1998, while Atlanta United holds the top spot of 70 scored in 2017. Led by midfielder Carlos Vela, one of six players in MLS this season with double digit goal and assist totals, LAFC is undefeated in its previous six matches and could set a new franchise unbeaten mark with a positive result in Chicago.
 
Meanwhile for the Fire, Nemanja Nikolić, is having a solid season ranking in the top five across the league with 14 goals scored, a strong second term in MLS after winning the 2017 Golden Boot.
 
 
Atlanta looks to clinch CCL spot against Red Bulls on Sunday  
Sunday’s heavyweight matchup between the top two teams in the league, Atlanta United and New York Red Bulls, could help determine which club receives the top spot in the 2018 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs along with a spot in the 2019 Concacaf Champions League (CCL). A victory by Atlanta United would clinch Atlanta’s spot in the 2019 CCL with the most combined points between the 2017-2018 seasons, just out of reach of the second-place Red Bulls. Similarly, an Atlanta victory would also put the club in the driver’s seat to have the top spot in the Eastern Conference, along with the most points overall in the league, heading into the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs. Plenty will be at stake on Sunday when the Red Bulls host Atlanta at Red Bull Arena (1 p.m. ET, ESPN / WatchESPN / ESPN Deportes).
 
Currently sitting at 63 points with four matches remaining this season, Atlanta United is also in contention to break the MLS record for most points ever in a regular season, a mark set last year by Toronto FC with 69 points. The Red Bulls with 59 points this season could also break the record with a near-perfect finish to the regular season as both clubs fight for history and the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
 
Another record-breaking performance to watch is that of Atlanta United forward Josef Martínez, whose 30 goals scored this season set a new MLS single-season record. The 25-year-old could also score the most goals of any player in the world over a single season from 2017-2018, a mark currently held by both Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) and Jonas (Benfica) with 34 goals each in their 2017-2018 season. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, are looking for their third Supporters’ Shield in six seasons.
 

MLS Week 31: Match Notes

Wednesday, September 26, 2018
New York City FC vs. Chicago Fire, 7 p.m. (ESPN+)
  • New York City FC saw their winless streak extended to six games, with a 1-1 draw with the Montréal Impact at Stade Saputo on Saturday evening. The six-game run is the longest without a win for NYCFC since early 2016.
  • The Fire made it three games without a win, reaching a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday evening. The Fire’s road winless run extended to nine matches with their last away win coming May 26 at Orlando.
  • This is the second meeting between these teams  this season. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored a pair of goals for NYCFC, but Aleksandar Katai also netted twice, including the game-winner, as the Fire took a 3-2 win June 30 at Toyota Park.
  • The win in the first meeting ended a six-game NYCFC undefeated streak in the series for the Fire’s first win since a 1-0 victory on April 24, 2015 in Bridgeview in the first-ever encounter between the teams.
  • The Fire have never won at Yankee Stadium. NYCFC have won the past two meetings between the teams in the Bronx, their first home wins in the series after the first two meetings ended in draws.
 
Saturday, September 29, 2018
Chicago Fire vs. Los Angeles Football Club, 3:30 p.m. (Univisión / UDN)
  • Aleksandar Katai netted for a second consecutive game in the Fire’s 2-2 draw with New England, his 11th goal of the season, tied for 12th-most in MLS this season.
  • LAFC extended their undefeated streak to six matches with a fourth victory in that time, defeating the San Jose Earthquakes 2-0 at Banc of California Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
  • Walker Zimmerman scored both LAFC goals, the first two-goal game of his professional career, his first goal in MLS since Aug. 26, 2017.
  • The teams are meeting for the first time in LAFC’s inaugural season.
 
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Colorado Rapids, 4 p.m. (ESPN+)
  • Sounders FC lost their second consecutive match, falling 3-0 to the LA Galaxy at StubHub Center on Sunday afternoon. It’s the first time Sounders FC have lost back-to-back games this season since losing three in a row May 13-June 2.
  • The Rapids saw their losing slide reach five games, falling 2-1 to Columbus Crew SC at Mapfre Stadium on Saturday evening.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Will Bruin scored a pair of goals, once in each half, as Sounders FC took a 2-1 win July 4 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  • Sounders FC have won the last three meetings between the teams, over the last two seasons. Those victories came after a three-game winning streak for the Rapids in the series, including wins in both meetings in 2016. The Rapids winning streak had come on the heels of a five-game Sounders FC winning streak in the series, over the 2014 season and first two meetings in 2015.
  • Sounders FC have won five of the past six meetings in Commerce City in both league and MLS Cup Playoffs competition, dating back to 2014. The Rapids had a two-game winning streak at CenturyLink Field before last year’s Sounders FC win – Colorado’s first wins ever in Seattle.
 
D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact, 7 p.m. (TVAS)
  • D.C. United extended their undefeated streak to four games last time out, playing to a 3-3 draw with the New York Red Bulls at Audi Field on Sept. 16. Luciano Acosta scored a goal and added an assist; he has a goal and three assists over the last two games.
  • The Impact had their two-game winning run put to an end but still extended their undefeated streak to three games, reaching a 1-1 draw with New York City FC at Stade Saputo on Saturday evening. Ignacio Piatti collected his 13th assist of the season, tied for sixth in the MLS assist standings.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Matteo Mancosu gave the Impact an early lead, but Yamil Asad netted a second-half equalizer to leave the teams in a 1-1 draw, Aug. 4 at Stade Saputo.
  • The Impact have a six-game undefeated streak alive in the series. The last D.C. United win vs. Montréal came Aug. 8, 2015, a 1-0 victory at Stade Saputo.
  • The Impact ended their history at RFK Stadium with their only win there ever. United had won three of the first six meetings at RFK Stadium, with three draws.
 
Toronto FC vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. (TSN)
  • Toronto FC fell to a third defeat in four games, dropping a 2-0 decision to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on Saturday afternoon.
  • The Revolution extended their undefeated streak to four games with a third draw in that time, playing to a 2-2 result with the Chicago Fire at Gillette Stadium on Saturday evening. Cristian Penilla scored his 10th goal of the season.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Cristian Penilla scored a pair of goals and Teal Bunbury netted the third as the Revolution took a 3-2 win May 12 at Gillette Stadium.
  • The Revolution are undefeated in the last seven meetings in Foxborough, with five wins and two draws in that time.
  • TFC has won the last two meetings between the teams at BMO Field. TFC’s win there Aug. 6, 2016 snapped an eight-game Revolution undefeated streak in the series, dating back to 2013. It was the first home win in the series for TFC since 2010, snapping a six-game winless streak (and three-game losing streak) vs. New England at BMO Field.
 
Columbus Crew SC vs. Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
  • Crew SC put an end to a brief two-game winless run – winning a fifth in a row at home – defeating the Colorado Rapids 2-1 at Mapfre Stadium on Saturday evening. Gyasi Zardes netted his 16th goal of the season, sitting in fourth place in the MLS Golden Boot standings.
  • The Union won for a second consecutive game, defeating Sporting Kansas City 2-0 at Talen Energy Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Jay Simpson scored his first two league goals of the season, his first in MLS since March 11, 2017.
  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Gyasi Zardes scored the game’s lone goal in the 53rd minute as Crew SC took the victory May 9 at Mapfre Stadium; the teams reached a goalless draw March 17 at Talen Energy Stadium.
  • Crew SC have won the two meetings in Columbus; their 1-0 win there last July 22 put an end to a two-game Union winning streak at Mapfre Stadium. The Union had won two home meetings in a row with Crew SC before the draw in the first match this year.
 
Minnesota United FC vs. New York City FC, 8 p.m. (ESPN+)
  • Minnesota United FC put an end to a seven-game winless run, defeating the Portland Timbers 3-2 at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday evening. The streak was the longest stretch without a win in MNUFC’s MLS history.
  • Darwin Quintero collected a pair of assists for MNUFC, now with 12 for the season, sitting in ninth place in the MLS assist standings. Romario Ibarra netted a pair of goals from the Quintero set-ups.
  • The teams met once in Minnesota United’s inaugural season, NYCFC taking a 3-1 win June 29 at Yankee Stadium.
 
Houston Dynamo vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
  • The Dynamo put an end to a four-game road losing streak, reaching a goalless draw with Orlando City SC at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday evening. The Dynamo still saw their road winless streak reach nine matches.
  • The Quakes suffered their fourth consecutive defeat, falling 2-0 to Los Angeles FC at Banc of California Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Tomás Martínez and Mauro Manotas scored for the Dynamo, but Magnus Eriksson and Jahmir Hyka netted for the Quakes, the equalizer coming five minutes from the end, as the teams reached a 2-2 draw April 14 at Avaya Stadium.
  • The Quakes have won once at BBVA Compass Stadium in six meetings, a 1-0 win in 2015. The Dynamo have won two of the five meetings between the teams (with one draw) at Avaya Stadium, last a 2-1 triumph Aug. 19, 2016.
  • The two teams have shared a pitched rivalry since the Earthquakes returned to the league in 2008, after the Dynamo moved to Houston from San Jose in 2006. The Dynamo have won 10 meetings and the Quakes seven, with three draws.
 
LA Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 10 p.m. (TSN)
  • The Galaxy put an end to their seven-game winless run in emphatic fashion, rolling to a 3-0 win against Seattle Sounders FC at StubHub Center on Sunday afternoon. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 18th goal of the season, sitting in third place in the MLS Golden Boot standings.
  • Whitecaps FC suffered a second consecutive defeat, both on their home ground, falling 2-1 to FC Dallas at BC Place on Sunday afternoon. Kei Kamara netted a goal for a second consecutive game, now with 13 goals for the season.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. They reached a scoreless draw March 24 at BC Place.
  • Whitecaps FC have won four of the last eight meetings between the teams, with three draws. The lone Galaxy win since 2015 was a 2-0 victory, July 4, 2016 in Carson. The two Vancouver wins at StubHub Center over the past three years have been their first ever in Carson.
  • The opening Vancouver goal in the first meeting last year, a 4-2 Vancouver win, snapped a 347-minute scoreless streak in the series. Whitecaps FC did not score a goal in three meetings vs. the Galaxy in 2016.
 
Portland Timbers vs. FC Dallas, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
  • The Timbers lost for a second consecutive match on their travels, falling 3-2 to Minnesota United FC at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday evening.
  • FC Dallas extended their undefeated streak to three games with a second win in that time, defeating Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-1 at BC Place on Sunday afternoon. Maximiliano Urruti assisted on both FCD goals.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Roland Lamah of FC Dallas and Sebastian Blanco of the Timbers scored on either side of halftime as the teams reached a 1-1 draw March 24 at Toyota Stadium.
  • The Timbers are undefeated in the last three meetings between the teams (with a pair of draws), following a four-game FCD winning streak in the series.
  • The Timbers have won once in 11 visits all-time to Toyota Stadium, in 2014, though the last two matchups there have ended in draws. When FC Dallas won 3-1 at Portland on April 13, 2016, it was their first victory ever at Providence Park; the Timbers had won four of the first six league meetings there with two draws.
 
Sunday, September 30, 2018
New York Red Bulls vs. Atlanta United, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
  • The Red Bulls put an end to a brief two-game winless run, defeating Toronto FC 2-0 at Red Bull Arena on Saturday evening. Bradley Wright-Phillips collected his eighth assist, a single-season career-high in his six MLS seasons, to go with his 19 goals on the campaign.
  • Atlanta United won for a third consecutive match, defeating Real Salt Lake 2-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Julian Gressel scored his third goal of the season and also added his 14th assist of the year, now sitting in a four-way tie for second place in the MLS assist standings.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored a pair of goals four minutes apart in the second half to propel the Red Bulls to a 3-1 win May 20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium – their second victory in two visits to Atlanta.
  • The teams met twice in Atlanta United’s 2017 inaugural MLS season – and the Red Bulls came away with points from both. The Red Bulls won 2-1 on March 5 at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta United’s first league match; the teams played to a scoreless draw Oct. 15 at Red Bull Arena.
 
Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake, 5 p.m. (FS1)
  • Sporting had their brief two-game winning run put to an end, falling 2-0 to the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
  • Real had their four-game winless run put to an end, falling 2-0 to Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Real got goals from four different goalscorers in a 4-2 triumph against Sporting, July 4 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
  • Real are undefeated in their past six home meetings with Sporting in league play (4-0-2), dating back to 2015. Real have won twice in their history at Children’s Mercy Park in eight matches all-time (including MLS Cup 2013) – winning both meetings there in 2016.
  • Sporting won in the last meeting at Children’s Mercy Park, a 3-0 victory last April 29, snapping a seven-game winless streak in league play in the all-time series vs. RSL (0-4-3), their first victory since 2013.
Series: