It was another wild weekend in MLS with big goals, big performances and big calls as we're just 20 days from Decision Day – let's get hype. Before we get there, here's what you might have missed in Week 32.
At 16 years and 257 days young, Bello became the league's sixth-youngest goalscorer in Atlanta's 2-1 win over the New England Revolution. The flying fullback looked a seasoned veteran with his run and smart first touch ahead of the defender before smashing home his first goal. Then he hit the Milly Rock. This is precisely what dreams are made of.
Spoiler alert: Wondolowski did not Milly Rock. But he did score, in a losing effort, and is now one goal away from tying Landon Donovan's all-time MLS record. We are under full blown #WondoWatch and, with two games left against Colorado (H) and Seattle (A), can he tie or break the record before 2018 comes to an end?
Almiron done for regular season with hamstring injury
For the second straight year, Atlanta United will finish their regular season without Miguel Almiron in the starting lineup due to a hamstring injury. Again it comes at the most inopportune of times as ATL chase the Supporters' Shield and league record for points. Last season, Almiron returned off the bench in the final game of the regular season before being able to start their playoff game. This season? Tata Martino has ruled him out for their final two games and it remains to be seen if a few weeks will be enough for his hammy to heal 100 pct.
The good news: they're going to have a bye in the knockout round, lending Almiron some extra time to recover. But, until then, enter Ezequiel Barco. As Matt Doyle pointed out in the above video, this lends Barco the golden opportunity to play down the center, which could be a blessing in disguise for Atlanta. Perhaps he'll look a star ready to carry the team's creative duties through the center of the field rather than miscast on the wing, which would be fantastic timing for Atlanta's front office decision-makers ahead of the winter in which many expect to see Almiron sold to Europe.
Stars shine bright
D.C. United, Montreal Impact, LA Galaxy, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps all needed results this weekend in their respective chase for the playoffs, so, Wayne Rooney (2g), Ignacio Piatti (1g), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (1g), Diego Valeri (1a) and Yordy Reyna (2a) all stepped up.
Ibrahimovic's penalty goal came in a respectable 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City (more on that in a second) while the rest helped lead their teams to victories. We won't have the pleasure of watching at least two of the above players in the playoffs this year, it just remains to be seen which ones with their clubs fighting to get (or stay) above the red line.
Controversy in KC
The Galaxy scored a much-debated penalty, then had a much-debated goal ruled back for offside. Both keepers made some breathtaking saves as did the post. Johnny Russell took on about five Galaxy defenders in the 83rd minute to score an equalizer for SKC: this game had it all. Words won't do much justice; just watch those highlights.
Six playoff verdicts signed, sealed & delivered
Another weekend, another round of checking on the #math. Here's what the numbers can say, with totality: Philadelphia, LAFC and Sporting Kansas City are in the playoffs while, Toronto, Orlando and Minnesota are out. There are no surprises, with all six teams having long known their fate before it could be mathematically confirmed, but it's still worth noting.
The biggest news, of course, is TFC being out of the playoffs with three games left in the season. We were all waiting for a run of wins to launch the reigning champs above the playoff line, but that never came as their season was rife with false starts and disappointment. They dealt with injuries – many of them – as well as a Concacaf Champions League run, but from breaking the league's single-season point record in 2017 to freefalling in 2018 cannot be explained by one or two factors.
What you haven't missed...
Monday night MLS! The weekend isn't over yet – not until Seattle host Houston (10:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info), and it'll be a good one. If Seattle takes all three points, they'll be jostling with LAFC and SKC to get a first-round bye. If they don't? They get dragged into the race for the final two playoff spots with Real Salt Lake, the Galaxy and Whitecaps.