The international soccer tournaments that added to the whirlwind of soccer this summer have all come to a close with the exception of one, the African Cup of Nations, which will conclude on Friday.
With some distractions in the world of soccer over the last month, we're back to an all-eyes-on-MLS mode, as well as the US Open Cup and Canadian Championship. Soon, too, Leagues Cup.
Week 19 was a busy one around these parts in MLS. Matt Doyle has got the weekend recap as per usual and you'll find what you expect in there: a rare mix of analysis and entertainment. Bobby Warshaw will soon have his 24 Takeaways, offering his expert breakdown packaged artfully from the weekend, one thought at a time.
They've got all the big-picture, deep analysis covered for Week 19. Here? Let's take a side-step for the Highs and Lows.
(Non-nationally televised) Game of the Weekend: Portland vs. Colorado
A ton has been (and will be) written on the Hudson River Derby. It's the same case for the Seattle Sounders' 2-1 win over Atlanta United. Nationally televised games inherently are meant to be the best ones of the weekend, and both of Sunday's heavyweight bouts lived up to expectation. As did Friday night's triple-header.
Obviously, though, that doesn't tell the whole tale of the weekend. How about the non-nationally televised games?
The Portland Timbers' 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids had everything: An own goal so well finished that you had to keep reminding yourself it was the wrong net. Red card. Atmosphere. VAR. Heroic goalkeeping moments. If you haven't caught the highlights, check 'em out.
That Didn't Age Well quote of the week: Ibra, GBS on Quakes
After losing the first Cali Clasico of the season -- handily, I must add -- the Galaxy were defiant. Sure, they fell 3-0 to their in-state rivals San Jose Earthquakes on June 29, but that didn't discourage any confidence, even as the players were minutes removed from the loss, speaking to media. (Admittedly, there is no known thing on this earth that can dull Zlatan's self-belief.)
“Today’s result would say normally we are not good enough, but the opponent is not better than us," Ibrahimovic said after the game.
"Even with everything I’ve said right now, San Jose was never more than us,” Guillermo Barros Schelotto added.
Thankfully, this sport of ours offers regular retribution and accountability. As the scheduling gods would have it, round two of the Cali Clasico came this weekend -- mere weeks following the first one. There can now be no ambiguity in who bettered that matchup for this season (unless there's a third chapter to be had in the playoffs, of course.)
The Quakes shook off an early goal conceded from a set piece to take apart the Galaxy 3-1 on the road and, in the same way L.A. believed that their 3-0 was closer than it really was, this 3-1 result didn't do the Quakes' dominance justice. They outshot the Galaxy 32-5 (!!!) and L.A.'s lone shot on target found the back of the net. David Bingham made 14 saves and still conceded three goals. It's bonkers.
“We deserved to lose,” Schelotto admitted after Friday's loss.
It's the real life version of the @OldTakesExposed Twitter account. *Extremely disingenuous voice* you just hate to see it.
Head-turning result of the weekend: RSL's rout of Philly
It's not simply that Real Salt Lake beat Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union at home. RSL can play with the league's best on their day, as they strive to make "their day" a more consistent occurrence. It was the way in which they won, a 4-0 drubbing.
For 85 minutes, it was the Jefferson Savarino Show starring Jefferson Savarino. It was the kind of performance that his talent is liable to produce and one that raises RSL's ceiling. The summer transfer window is open in Europe and that match will raise GM Craig Waibel's asking price when clubs come calling, and they have been calling.
It's also head-turning because it's another example of why the East is wide-open.
"I could break down the first three goals, but they were almost laughable," Union boss Jim Curtin said after the game. He joked that he might just burn the film from the game. (Except, in 2019, it may be more apt to say "delete" rather than "burn." Semantics.)
C'mon, mother nature
On Saturday night, with a busy slate of games building towards a crescendo, mother nature stepped in to say: Simmer down now.
Nearly at the same time, Chicago vs. Cincinnati and Montreal vs. Toronto each hit weather delays due to lightning. Thankfully for the Canadian Classique, no intensity was left in the locker room when the teams returned from their delay. Ditto for Chicago and Cincy.
Touche, Adrian Heath
There are few things better than when Adrian Heath takes a victory lap.
After the Loons' wild 1-0 win over FC Dallas -- their seventh consecutive win across all competitions, including a late winner and a penalty save deep in stoppage time for this one -- Heath had a few sarcastic words for the experts around these parts.
He noted our Power Rankings, in which he believes the Loons have been underappreciated. Minnesota climbed to No. 10 last week, though behind San Jose (No. 6, who Minnesota recently beat) and FC Dallas (No. 8, who the Loons just beat). Methinks they'll be rising this week, irrespective of Heath's campaigning.
“Well, MLS might mention us now and again," Heath said. "I keep looking at the rankings and there's teams below us in the league with less wins ... I don't know. Maybe we better tell them, send them a ticket, show them where we are. That'd be nice, I think. Although, there is three experts at MLS dot com last time I looked.”
I second Warshaw's rebuttal, though: It's MLSsoccer.com!
Joao Plata: Lookin' dapper
RSL winger Joao Plata owned the pre-game
red carpet parking lot on his way into Rio Tinto Stadium before his side's win over Philly.
Sure, others had strong submissions this weekend across a well-dressed league, but Plata's seamless pose gives him the necessary edge.
Best no-context quotes of Week 19
... well, "no-context" is not entirely true. I can't just leave you hanging, so a few words of context will come after the quotes.
- “I just want to say thank you to my wife, but the most I want to say: God I thank you, but that is all," Fanendo Adi on ... scoring his first goal of 2019.
- “I'm glad I'm not under the doctor at this moment. Don't think (my blood pressure) would be too good," Adrian Heath on ... Minnesota United's wild win.
- “Silence. Obviously, silence. Everyone is aware of the situation and everyone is unhappy," Veljko Paunovic on ... the scene in the Fire's locker room following the loss to Cincy.
- "At this stage right now, we're a little bit fragile," Marc Dos Santos on ... the Whitecaps' loss to SKC.
- "It's been that way my whole life, every time that I touch someone, they usually fall so it is just something I need to adjust to," Theo Bair on ... being tall.
- “He has to look in the mirror and be brutally honest because he cost us the points today," Alex Ring on ... referee Alan Kelly.