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LA’s biggest stars Vela, Ibrahimović light up El Tráfico this Friday

  • LA’s biggest stars Vela, Ibrahimović light up El Tráfico this Friday
  • Midseason additions Ruidíaz, Fernández carrying Cascadia Cup squads after Mexico transfers
  • Atlanta to host Liga MX champions Club America in Campeones Cup
  • Week 20 Notes
 

Top Things to Know in MLS this Week

It’s El Tráfico Round 4 this Friday: MLS’ two leading scorers Carlos Vela (LAFC) and Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy) vie for the King of the crosstown throne (10 p.m. ET, ESPN).
 
 
Trio of Rising Young Talents:
  • Minnesota United FC’s Mason Toye (age 20) has cleaned up with three goals in the past two games, including a stoppage time game-winner over FC Dallas last week. His last three-straight appearances have all contributed to the Loons’ current four-game winning streak.
  • Orlando City SC forward Benji Michel (age 21) scored his first MLS goal on an 84th-minute game-winner over Columbus Crew SC. The U.S U-23 forward is now raising his profile ahead of starring in the MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer in his hometown on July 30.
  • RSL’s Young Designated Player Jefferson Savarino (age 22) was the key to a four-goal takedown of the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union after netting two goals and an assist last week. The current MLS Player of the Week has five goals and two assists in his 15 appearances.
Sounders-Timbers reignite Cascadia Cup: For the first time this season, one of the oldest rivalries resurfaces when Seattle Sounders FC host the Portland Timbers (9.30 p.m. ET, FS1).
 

LA’s biggest stars Vela, Ibrahimović light up El Tráfico this Friday

Affectionally dubbed El Tráfico, the rivalry between the LA Galaxy and the Los Angeles Football Club stands on the shoulders of two MLS giants. Since Day 1, when Carlos Vela (LAFC) hit two goals before the 30-minute mark as a prelude to the literal first touch of Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy) that completely changed the game, their star power has set this legendary rivalry scene. Across all three meetings, both Vela and Ibrahimović have respectively had a hand in four goals each, with the two stars ranked top-two among goalscorers in MLS this season. 
  • Game 1 (3/31/2018): Ibrahimović (2 goals); Vela (2 goals)
  • Game 2 (7/26/2018): Ibrahimović (1 assist); Vela (1 goal)
  • Game 3 (8/24/2018): Ibrahimović (1 goal); Vela (1 assist)
Vela is by far and away the current Golden Boot leader, as he continues his tear with 19 goals in 19 games, remaining feasibly in reach of the all-time, single season scoring record. Ibrahimović on the other hand, with his 13 goals in 16 games, ranks among the top two all-time in goals per game average (.81).
 
With the drama already living up to its Hollywood hometown hype, which star will shine brightest in the fourth edition of El Tráfico this Friday (10 p.m. ET, ESPN)?
 

Midseason additions Ruidíaz, Fernández carrying Cascadia Cup squads after Mexico transfers

Raúl Ruidíaz and Brian Fernández have both lit MLS on fire upon their respective arrivals to the league after registering Golden Boot-contending campaigns in Liga MX the season prior. After facing off in Mexico, the two will take the field as opponents for the first time in the regular season in the first Cascadia Cup rivalry matchup of the season between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday at CenturyLink Field (9:30 p.m. ET, FS1 / FOX Deportes / FOX Sports GO / TSN2).
 
The 24-year-old Fernández has scored six goals across his first seven regular season matches since debuting for the Timbers midseason, months after finishing second in Liga MX with 12 goals for Necaxa during the 2018 Apertura. The Argentine will have a chance to add to that total on Thursday when Portland hosts Orlando City SC before facing the Cascadia rivals for the first time in the regular season. The Timbers’ largest transfer in club history is already paying dividends as they push for a spot in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs over the second half of the season.
 
Ruidíaz, meanwhile, experienced a similar level of success for Seattle in his first year with the club since arriving last summer, scoring five goals across his first nine appearances in MLS, all Sounders FC victories. A year before arriving to MLS, Ruidíaz was plaguing Mexican defenses by winning the Golden Boot with 11 goals in the 2016 Apertura with Morelia. The FIFA World Cup veteran from Peru has scored seven goals for Seattle this season and will look to continue terrorizing the Timbers after scoring three goals in last year’s Western Conference Semifinals despite the losing effort.
 
Whether in Liga MX or in MLS, both Ruidíaz and Fernández have proven to be dynamic scorers and could add more fireworks to the already heated Cascadia rivalry on Sunday.
 

Atlanta to host Liga MX champions Club America in Campeones Cup

Atlanta United, the 2018 MLS Cup champions, learned over the weekend that 2018-19 Liga MX champions Club America will be their opponent for the second annual Campeones Cup on Aug. 14 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Club America are also part of the inaugural Leagues Cup, which kicks off next week, with a quarterfinal matchup against the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday at BBVA Stadium.
 
Atlanta United president Darren Eales was eager for this potential matchup earlier this year: “Given the history and given the popularity, Club America against Atlanta United in the middle of all this would be a cracking game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.” (Darren Eales soundbytes)
 
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The growth of the MLS-Liga MX rivalry will be in full swing starting next week with Leagues Cup. Cruz Azul president Ricardo Pelaez, whose club claimed their first SuperCopa MX trophy on Sunday, mentioned the organization’s striving to claim three cups – including Leagues Cup – when the year is in the books. Cruz Azul face the Chicago Fire next Tuesday, July 23, at SeatGeek Stadium.
 
The Leagues Cup Final will be held Sept. 18 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Chicago, Houston, the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake represented MLS, and Club America, Cruz Azul, Club Tijuana and Tigres UANL represent Liga MX.
 

MLS Regular Season: Week 20 Notes

Wednesday, July 17
Atlanta United FC vs. Houston Dynamo, 7 p.m.
  • Atlanta United had their winless run extended to three games, falling 2-1 to Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field on Sunday evening.
  • Josef Martínez scored in his fifth consecutive appearance for ATLUTD, his second is as many games since his return from Copa América duty, with eight goals over his streak, dating back to May 24.
  • The Dynamo suffered a loss for the first time this season at their BBVA Stadium home, falling 3-1 to Los Angeles Football Club on Friday evening. The Dynamo’s home undefeated run ended after 10 games, tied for the fourth-longest in club history.
  • The teams have met twice in their histories, each winning once at home by large margins. Atlanta United won the first meeting between the teams 4-1, on May 20, 2017 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Dynamo returned the favor last year in a 4-0 win on March 3 at BBVA Stadium in the season opener for both clubs.
 
New England Revolution vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 7 p.m. (TSN)
  • The Revolution extended their undefeated streak to eight matches in league play, reaching a 2-2 draw with D.C. United at Audi Field on Friday evening, the club’s longest stretch without a defeat since the 2015 season.
  • Whitecaps FC fell to a third consecutive reversal in league play, dropping a 3-0 decision to Sporting Kansas City at BC Place on Friday evening.
  • The teams reached a 3-3 draw in the lone meeting between the clubs a year ago, May 26 at BC Place. The ‘Caps have won once in four home meetings with the Revolution, a 4-3 win there in 2013.
  • The Revolution won the last meeting at Gillette Stadium, a 1-0 win Aug. 12, 2017. That was the first home win for either team in the series since the Whitecaps FC win in Vancouver in 2013.
 
Chicago Fire vs. Columbus Crew SC, 8 p.m.
  • The Fire fell to a second consecutive defeat, dropping a 2-1 decision to FC Cincinnati at SeatGeek Stadium on Saturday evening. Nicolás Gaitán netted his fourth goal of the season for the Fire; he has two goals and three assists over the last three games.
  • Crew SC had their losing slide extended to five games, falling by the game’s only goal to Orlando City SC at Mapfre Stadium on Saturday evening.
  • The teams evenly split their league season series a year ago, each winning once at home with a third match a draw. The Fire won by the game’s only goal in Bridgeview on April, then Crew SC took a 3-0 win May 12 at Mapfre Stadium. They reached a 1-1 draw in Bridgeview on Aug. 23.
  • Crew SC are undefeated in their past eight home meetings in the series (6-0-2), the last win for the Fire in Columbus coming in 2013. The Fire are undefeated in their last three home meetings with Crew SC, with two wins followed by the draw in the last encounter.
 
Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m. (TSN)
  • TFC put an end to a brief two-game winless run, defeating the Montréal Impact 2-0 at Stade Saputo on Saturday evening. Alejandro Pozuelo scored his eighth goal of the season, to go with eight assists; he had a goal and/or an assist in nine of his 17 appearances in MLS.
  • The Red Bulls snapped a two-game winless slide, defeating New York City FC 2-1 in the first Hudson River derby of 2019, at Red Bull Arena on Sunday afternoon. Daniel Royer netted both Red Bulls goal, the fifth multiple-goal game of his MLS career.
  • The Red Bulls won both meetings between the teams a season ago, once at each ground, winning by the game’s lone goal July 1 at BMO Field, and taking a 2-0 win Sept. 22 at Red Bull Arena.
  • The win in the first meeting last year was the first for the Red Bulls in Toronto since 2013, ending a five-game home undefeated streak for TFC in the series.
  • The Red Bulls are 11-2-2 all-time in home matches vs. Toronto FC. When Toronto took a 2-0 win on March 6, 2016, it was its first win ever at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls were 5-0-1 all-time in Harrison before the TFC win; the triumph also snapped an eight-game home undefeated streak for the Red Bulls vs. TFC (7-0-1), which began Oct. 25, 2009.
 
Thursday, July 18
FC Cincinnati vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
  • FC Cincinnati won a second consecutive match, defeating the Chicago Fire 2-1 at SeatGeek Stadium on Saturday evening. It matches the longest winning streak of the club’s MLS history, also winning two games in a row March 17-24.
  • Allan Cruz netted his third goal of the season for FCC; he has a goal and an assist over the last two games. Fanendo Adi also netted a goal, his first in MLS play for FCC (he scored in the club’s fourth-round win in the U.S. Open Cup vs. Louisville City FC).
  • D.C. United gained a result for the sixth time in seven games, coming back for a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution at Audi Field on Friday evening. Leonardo Jara and Quincy Amariwka netted the United goals, each their first of the season.
  • The teams are meeting for the first time in their histories, the first of two league meetings this season. They will meet again on Decision Day (Oct. 6) at Audi Field.
 
Portland Timbers vs. Orlando City SC, 10 p.m. (ESPN)
  • The Timbers stretched their undefeated streak to three games, reaching a 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids at Providence Park on Saturday evening. Diego Valeri scored his fifth goal of the season, to go with 10 assists.
  • Orlando City SC gained a second consecutive result, defeating Columbus Crew SC by the game’s only goal at Mapfre Stadium on Saturday evening. Homegrown product Benji Michel scored his first career goal in MLS for the match-winner.
  • The teams met once a season ago, Orlando City SC taking a 3-2 win on April 8 in Orlando. It was OCSC’s second win in two meetings at home in the series, also winning there 4-1 in 2016.
  • The Timbers won the last matchup between the clubs at Providence Park, a 3-0 win Sept. 24, 2017. OCSC won the first meeting in Portland, the first-ever encounter between the teams, a 2-0 win in 2015.
 
Friday, July 19
LA Galaxy vs. Los Angeles Football Club, 10 p.m. (ESPN)
  • The Galaxy fell to a 3-1 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes at Dignity Health Sports Park on Friday evening, despite a heroic effort from goalkeeper David Bingham, who was officially credited with 13 saves on the night, equaling the fifth-most in a single game in MLS history.
  • LAFC won their third game on the trot, defeating the Houston Dynamo 3-1 at BBVA Stadium on Friday evening. Adama Diomande netted a pair of goals, the fifth multiple-goal game of his MLS career, now with three goals over his last two games, while Diego Rossi also added his 11th goal of the season.
  • The teams met three times in LAFC’s inaugural campaign. The Galaxy took a dramatic 4-3 victory in the first ever LA derby, coming back from a three-goal deficit behind a pair of goals from Zlatan Ibrahimović, playing in his first MLS game, on March 31 at Banc of California Stadium.
  • The teams played to draws in their final two meetings, a 2-2 result on July 26 at Banc of California Stadium, and a 1-1 match Aug. 24 in Carson.
 
Saturday, July 20
Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire, 7:30 p.m.
  • The Union had their two-game undefeated run put to an end last time out, falling 4-0 to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday evening.
  • The teams met twice a season ago, and the Union won both. They took a 3-1 win May 30 at Talen Energy Stadium, then captured a 4-3 victory July 11 in Bridgeview.
  • The Union win in the second meeting was the first for the visiting team since 2013, when the Fire won in Chester. The home team had won each of the previous six matches in the series.
  • The Union have won the past three meetings in Chester; the Union’s home win in 2016 snapped a seven-game winless streak overall in the league series. The Fire had won four meetings in a row in Bridgeview before the Union win last year.
 
Toronto FC vs. Houston Dynamo, 7:30 p.m. (TSN)
  • Jozy Altidore scored directly from a free kick for his sixth goal of the season, putting a late capper on TFC’s 2-0 win against the Montréal Impact on Saturday evening. It was Altidore’s second goal coming directly from a free kick in his MLS career, the first coming Sept. 18, 2016, vs. the New York Red Bulls.
  • Romell Quioto scored for a second game in a row in the Dynamo’s 3-1 loss to Los Angeles Football Club at BBVA Stadium on Friday evening, his first two goals this season.
  • The Dynamo won the lone meeting between the teams a season ago, a 5-1 win April 21 at BBVA Stadium. It was the first victory for either team in Houston since 2011; they had reached five consecutive draws there, all at BBVA Stadium.
  • TFC won the last matchup in Toronto, a 2-0 win at BMO Field on April 28, 2017. The TFC win ended a four-game winless streak in the series; their last win vs. the Dynamo had come July 12, 2014, a 4-2 win at BMO Field.
 
Columbus Crew SC vs. Montreal Impact, 7:30 p.m. (TVA Sports)
  • The Impact fell to a third consecutive loss in their last match, dropping a 2-0 decision to Toronto FC in the first 401 derby of the year, at Stade Saputo on Saturday evening.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Harry Novillo scored the game’s only goal as the Impact took the win at Stade Saputo on April 13.
  • The Impact have won the last two meetings in the series, also winning last Oct. 6 in a 3-0 triumph in Montréal. That victory ended a three-game Crew SC winning streak and five-game undefeated streak in the series, their first victory vs. Columbus since April 9, 2016, a 2-0 win in Montréal.
  • Crew SC have won seven of the 10 meetings all-time in Columbus, with two draws, including a 3-2 win their on March 10, 2018 in the last matchup at Mapfre Stadium. The lone Impact win there came in 2015.
 
Sporting Kansas City vs. FC Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
  • Sporting won for a second consecutive match, defeating Vancouver Whitecaps FC 3-0 at BC Place on Saturday evening. Gerso Fernandes scored a goal, his first of the season, and also added an assist, while Felipe Gutiérrez netted his eighth goal of the season.
  • FC Dallas fell to a second consecutive setback on their travels, dropping a 1-0 decision to Minnesota United FC at Allianz Field on Saturday evening.
  • The teams met twice a year ago, and the visiting team won both. Michael Barrios netted a hat trick in a 3-2 FCD victory on July 28 at Children’s Mercy Park, then Sporting claimed a 3-0 win Oct. 21 at Toyota Stadium.
  • The win in the first meeting was the first for FC Dallas at Children’s Mercy Park since 2011, the first match there in the series. SKC had won five of the seven meetings in between, with two draws.
  • Sporting’s win in the second meeting was their first in Frisco since June 12, 2011, a 4-1 win; FC Dallas had a five-game home undefeated streak in the series put to an end.
  • The teams also met in the U.S. Open Cup, Sporting taking a 3-2 win in their fifth-round tie in Kansas City. They have met three times in the Open Cup since 2015.
 
Colorado Rapids vs. New York City FC, 9 p.m.
  • The Rapids extended their road undefeated streak to four matches with a third consecutive draw on their travels, reaching a 2-2 result with the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on Saturday evening. Jonathan Lewis netted his third goal of the season, all since coming to the Rapids from NYCFC via trade, while Sam Nicholson got his first of the year.
  • NYCFC have gone down to defeats for the first time all season, following their 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena in the first Hudson Derby of the season. Héber netted his seventh goal of the season, all in 11 games since coming to MLS.
  • NYCFC have never lost to the Rapids in four meetings between the clubs all-time, last year taking a 4-0 win May 19 at Yankee Stadium. NYCFC also won by a heavy margin in the first meeting between the teams in the Bronx, a 5-1 triumph in 2016.
  • The teams have reached draws in two meetings in Commerce City: a scoreless result there in 2015, and a 1-1 contest in the last meeting at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Sept. 16, 2017.
 
Real Salt Lake vs. Minnesota United FC, 10 p.m.
  • Real Salt Lake won for a third time in four games, rolling to a 4-0 win against the Philadelphia Union at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday evening. Jefferson Savarino netted a pair of goals, his third multiple-goal game in his MLS career, and also added an assist, the third time he’s been involved in three goals and assists in a single game in league play.
  • Minnesota United FC have won four consecutive games for the first time in their MLS history, following their victory by the game’s only goal vs. FC Dallas at Allianz Field on Saturday evening.
  • Mason Toye scored his fourth goal of the season and his MLS career, all coming over MNUFC’s four-game winning streak; Toye has a goal and/or an assist in each of those four games, with four goals and two assists in that span.
  • The teams reached a 1-1 draw in their second meeting a year ago, Sept. 15 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real won the first match between the teams in Sandy, winning by the game’s lone goal June 17, 2017.
  • Minnesota United FC have won both meetings between the clubs at home, a 3-2 win last July 14, and a 4-2 win April 1, 2017 in the first-ever matchup in the series.
 
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 10 p.m. (TSN)
  • The Quakes won for a fourth time in five league matches, defeating the LA Galaxy 3-1 at Dignity Health Sports Park on Friday evening. Vako Qazaishvili scored his fifth goal of the season, his fourth in the last five games, and added his third assist of the year, the second time in that span he’s had a goal and an assist in the same game.
  • Whitecaps FC won the final two meetings between the teams a year ago, once at each ground, the matches coming a week apart – a 3-2 win Aug. 25 at Avaya Stadium, and a 2-1 triumph Sept. 1 at BC Place. They also reached a 2-2 draw in their first meeting, May 16 in Vancouver.
  • The Whitecaps FC win in the second matchup ended a six-game Quakes undefeated streak in the league series, dating back to 2015. It was also the first Whitecaps FC win at San Jose, in 10 meetings there all-time.
  • The Whitecaps FC win in the final meeting ended a three-game winless run in the series at BC Place. The Quakes’ 2-1 win on Aug. 12, 2016, at BC Place was the first ever for the away team in the all-time series. The Quakes had lost on each of their six previous visits to Vancouver.
 
Sunday, July 21
Atlanta United FC vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Paul Arriola and Luciano Acosta netted goals on either side of halftime as D.C. United took a 2-0 win in the season opener for both clubs, March 3 at Audi Field.
  • Home form ruled in the 2018 series between the clubs, each winning by 3-1 scorelines on their own ground. Atlanta United won twice at Mercedes-Benz Stadium – on March 11 and July 21 – and D.C. United won Sept. 2 at Audi Field.
  • Atlanta’s wins were their first against D.C. United, who took all three meetings in ATLUTD’s expansion season, winning 3-1 at Bobby Dodd Stadium on April 30 before taking the next two at RFK Stadium.
 
FC Cincinnati vs. New England Revolution, 6 p.m.
  • Teal Bunbury scored for a third consecutive game in the Revolution’s 2-2 draw with D.C. United at Audi Field on Friday evening. The draw kept head coach Bruce Arena undefeated since his return to MLS, now with three wins and two draws in five matches since taking over the reins of the club.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season and in their histories. Kekuta Manneh and Kenny Saief scored on either side of halftime as FC Cincinnati claimed a 2-0 win March 24 at Gillette Stadium, the first away win in FCC’s MLS history.
 
Orlando City SC vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m. (FS1)
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Sacha Kljestan netted the game’s lone goal against his former club as Orlando City took the win March 23 at Red Bull Arena.
  • The win in the first meeting was the first for the visiting team in the series since 2015 – Orlando City’s first year in MLS – when each team won at the other’s ground. The Red Bulls had won four consecutive meetings at Red Bull Arena. Orlando City have won the last two home meetings in the series, last a 4-3 win on March 31 of last year.
 
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers, 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
  • Sounders FC won for a second match in a row last time out, defeating Atlanta United 2-1 at CenturyLink Field. Raúl Ruidíaz scored his first match back following Copa América duty, his third consecutive MLS appearance with a goal, now with seven for the season, while Nicolás Lodeiro collected his ninth assist of the season, a third game in a row with a goal or an assist.
  • The teams met three times in the regular season a year ago, and the Timbers won twice, once at each ground. Sebastian Blanco scored the game’s lone goal in a Timbers win in Portland on May 13, then defender Larrys Mabiala netted twice as the Timbers took a 3-2 win at CenturyLink Field on June 30. An own goal gave Sounders FC the 1-0 win Aug. 26 at Providence Park.
  • The Timbers have won four of the past six league meetings in Portland, with one draw, over the last three seasons. Sounders FC last won in Portland in 2014. When the Timbers took a 4-1 win on June 28, 2015, the three-goal victory equaled Portland’s largest margin of victory against the Sounders since 1977.
  • The Timbers win at CenturyLink Field on June 30 was their first win ever in Seattle in an MLS regular season game (Sounders FC were 7-0-3 leading up to that match), though the Timbers won at home in the MLS Cup Playoffs meeting between the clubs.
  • The teams also met in the MLS Cup Playoffs, the Timbers winning in a dramatic penalty shootout in the Western Conference Quarterfinals after ending 4-4 on aggregate. The Timbers won the first leg 2-1 at Providence Park, then Sounders FC won 3-2 in extra time, sending the tie to the decider. It was a second win in a playoff series for the Timbers, also winning the 2013 Western Conference Semifinals.
  • The Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers have met 104 times in all competitions, the most between two U.S.-based clubs, the second-most in U.S./Canadian soccer history. Since their first meeting in 1975 in the old North American Soccer League, Seattle has won 52 times and Portland has won 38, with 14 draws. In MLS league play, Sounders FC have won 10 matches, the Timbers have won seven, and six have been draws.
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