There was plenty to digest across eight matches on Saturday, the last Saturday matches of the regular season (!), so let's get right into the action as the race for the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs intensifies.
Galaxy goin' up, up, up...
This time last week, there was genuine concern that the Galaxy might miss the playoffs. At this time, er, this week, after a 2-1 win over Montreal, the Galaxy are in third place in the West. At worst, they'll end Week 29 in fourth.
The margins are small, and narratives can change quickly, but the Galaxy are taking full advantage of the crowded West and have used Zlatan Ibrahimovic (above) as a battering ram to thrust their way back up the standings into a place that would give them a home playoff game. Life comes at you fast in positive ways, too.
Speaking of: Zlatan scored (again) to take his season total to 27, but Carlos Vela maintained his two-goal lead in the Golden Boot race presented by Audi with a penalty kick deep into stoppage time. Methinks this legendary race is going to come down to Decision Day.
LAFC, meanwhile, have cooled down...
Despite Vela's late goal, the Supporters' Shield still isn't clinched and, if NYCFC beat FC Dallas on Sunday, the gap will be just five points with three games left. For a trophy that has been a foregone conclusion for months, it's surprising that LAFC's name has yet to be etched in stone.
LAFC are now without a win in five(!) games, needing that 95th-minute penalty to take a point against Toronto FC with a 1-1 draw. In their first game without Adama Diomande, Vela (above) played through the center of their front three. TFC, after they took the lead, really clogged the middle and made it difficult for Vela to find anything resembling free space. And when he did, TFC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg was up to the task.
The Revs did not win their "must-win" game ...
... as Bruce Arena (above) billed it heading into the weekend, drawing Real Salt Lake 0-0 at Gillette Stadium. After a hard-fought yet ultimately frustrating match, New England failed to create maximum separation from the playoff line.
The good news? They didn't lose any ground, either.
The Chicago Fire drew FC Cincinnati 0-0, Orlando City SC fell 2-1 to the Houston Dynamo while Montreal lost to the Galaxy. New England still have a game in hand, too. And they have Gustavo Bou and Carles Gil, which is not a bad spot to be in after all.
Josef exits injured ...
Atlanta may have won 3-1 over San Jose, securing themselves a home playoff game in Round 1 at worst, but their title prospects in the playoffs will depend on the extent of the injury suffered by Josef Martinez (above), who left on a stretcher in the 79th minute. ESPN's Taylor Twellman reports that the initial look at the injury is "not good."
Atlanta will hold its collective breath awaiting further updates.
Injury aside, the game itself was (predictably) fun...
... more so for Atlanta fans and neutrals than San Jose supporters. Thanks to the Quakes' man-marking system (and suave attack) the match was wide open and entertaining.
But, it wasn't all fun. Not only did San Jose lose, slipping closer to the wrong side of the playoff line, they saw Cristian Espinoza, Chris Wondolowski and manager Matias Almeyda all sent off. If both Portland and Dallas get at least a point on Sunday, the Quakes will finish the weekend in 8th place.
Their remaining matches: vs. Philly (without Espinoza and Wondo), vs. Seattle, at Portland. It's going to be a crazy finish out West.
Stop what you're doing and watch this goal...
Kei Kamara, get on yer bike!
Nothing is easy this season for SKC...
... not even when they go 2-0 up at home within 14 minutes against a team on the outside of the playoff picture.
Sporting KC took that lead, got a red card six minutes later then eventually fell 3-2 to the Colorado Rapids, after admirably holding onto a lead until the 76th minute. Hope is a dangerous thing.
It's been "that kind of season" for Sporting Kansas City:
SATURDAY NIGHT'S "that kind of season" RESULTS, RANKED:— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) September 22, 2019
3. Orlando's 2-1 loss to Houston
2. Chicago's 0-0 draw with Cincy
1. SKC's 3-2 loss to Colorado