Two teams earned 3-2 road victories in Week 14 of the Major League Soccer season.
The Timbers were supposed to bask in their renovated stadium reopening with a win over the best team in MLS. But, as usual this season, LAFC couldn’t be slowed down. LAFC got rolling in the 6th minute, when Carlos Vela took advantage of a defensive error by Jeff Attinella. Diego Rossi and Latif Blessing each added a goal to solidify the victory.
Looking at the box score, it wasn’t just Vela who piled on the Timbers with his incredible form. Fullbacks Jordan Harvey and Tristan Blackmon chipped in with assists on the goals scored by Rossi and Blessing, and on the other side of the field, Tyler Miller came up with a few big saves, including a diving 61st-minute denial on Diego Valeri’s curling shot from outside the box.
What a night to take all 3 points.
— LAFC (@LAFC) June 2, 2019
The victory by Bob Bradley’s team reinforced what we already knew about the second-year side: It is the best in MLS.
Over at Allianz Field, the Union proved a point to the rest of the league by gutting out a victory in a game they had no business winning.
The Union’s defense made 15 blocks, and Andre Blake came up with a few massive saves in the first half to keep them in the game.
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) June 2, 2019
The result was even more impressive considering the Union went into the game on a frustrating three-game winless streak in which they dropped seven points in a home stand against the Seattle Sounders, Portland and the Colorado Rapids.
Sunday’s game was a chaotic back-and-forth affair, the polar opposite of the high-quality soccer on display at Providence Park a day before.
Jim Curtin’s side has a much more difficult task to hold on to first place in the Eastern Conference than LAFC does in the Western Conference.
Goal of the Week
Zlatan Ibrahimović, Los Angeles Galaxy
There should only be one option for goal of the week.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored this stunning bicycle kick in the LA Galaxy’s loss to the New England Revolution on Sunday. What is even more impressive when you watch this on repeat is the touch the Swede used to set up the bike.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) June 3, 2019
The Best of the Rest
In any other week, most of these goals would be goal of the week, but they won’t be because of Zlatan’s incredible strike.
Valentín Castellanos, New York City FC
Watch it again and again and again… 🤯 pic.twitter.com/qzgW3xeBqD
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) June 2, 2019
Brian Fernández, Portland Timbers
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) June 2, 2019
Haris Medunjanin, Philadelphia Union
Haris' lefty free-kick 🚀 is up for @MLS Goal of the Week 💪
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) June 3, 2019
Another Eastern Conference Shakeup
The Eastern Conference will have the more competitive race for a No. 1 seed unless LAFC experiences a significant drop off in form.
Both the Five Stripes and Red Bulls earned shutout victories at home on Saturday. The Red Bulls are on a five-game unbeaten run, while Atlanta has won its last two games.
Another shakeup is expected next weekend when the Red Bulls and Union collide at Talen Energy Stadium, while New York City FC could gain ground from sixth place if it beats FC Cincinnati on Thursday at Yankee Stadium.
Watch Out For The Rapids
We didn’t imagine saying this about the Colorado Rapids a month ago, but they are one of the hottest teams in MLS.
Interim boss Conor Casey has reinvigorated the franchise, and it has earned 10 points from the last four games, including Saturday’s 3-1 win over FC Cincinnati.
One of the three goals was scored by Andre Shinyashiki, who is starting to create some separation for rookie of the year, which really should be renamed “young player of the year,” but that’s a discussion for another day.
Unfortunately for Colorado, its horrific start put the team in such a deep hole that it still sits in last place in the Western Conference with 12 points.
The Rapids could jump out of the basement if they beat Minnesota United at home on Saturday since the 11th-place Timbers are off in Week 15.
Own Goal Fever
The Seattle Sounders accomplished a feat no team wants to be associated with on Saturday.
Xavier Arreaga and Brad Smith scored own goals five minutes apart at Toyota Stadium to gift FC Dallas a 2-1 home victory.
The Sounders ended up with more shots on their own net than FC Dallas, which put one of its 14 shots on goal.
Chris Wondolowski, He Scores When He Wants
There’s no slowing down Chris Wondolowski.
His goal at Audi Field on Saturday extended his remarkable scoring run to seven goals in three games.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) June 2, 2019
Portland’s Grand Re-Opening
The Timbers didn’t get the result they wanted on Saturday, but there’s no denying they eventually will make the newly renovated Providence Park a fortress.
The renovations look spectacular on television, and if you have a chance make the trip to Oregon this season, we suggest you don’t second guess it.
— Don Garber (@thesoccerdon) June 2, 2019
Stock Up, Stock Down
Stock Up: New England Revolution
In Bruce Arena’s first game on the sidelines as New England manager, the Revs went into Dignity Health Sports Park and knocked off the LA Galaxy.
Similar to the Rapids, the Revs have played much better since the firing of their head coach, Brad Friedel. They are on a four-game unbeaten run and have earned eight points in that stretch.
The Revs still have plenty of work to do to be considered a contender in the East, but they have put themselves on the right track with a few weeks to get adjusted to Arena during the Concacaf Gold Cup break.
Don’t be surprised if the Revs have an MLS 1.0 feel to them for the rest of the season with Arena in charge and Curt Onalfo installed as technical director.
While plenty of people will frown upon the hires, all that matters right now for the Revs is stringing together positive results and hopefully improving the roster during the summer transfer window.
Stock Up: San Jose Earthquakes
After struggling at the start of Matías Almedya’s first year in charge, the Earthquakes have taken seven points from their last three games.
In fact, going back even further, the Quakes have only one loss since April 20, when they trounced Sporting Kansas City at home.
Wondolowski’s scoring run has been the highlight of the last three games, but the Quakes have formed more of an identity and are going to cause problems for the rest of the season in their quest for a playoff spot.
Stock Down: DC United
DC sits second in the East, but it really should be out in front with more than 30 points. It has dropped points in each of its last two home games.
The draws with the Chicago Fire and San Jose shouldn’t sit well with Ben Olsen’s side. It goes into the Gold Cup break with its last win coming on May 12.
Stock Down: Columbus Crew SC
We thought Columbus would get out of its rut with the win over the Galaxy on May 8, but since then, the Crew have one point in four games.
Caleb Porter’s side should have earned three points against NYCFC on Saturday, but it fell victim to Castellanos’ equalizer late in the second half.
To add to the club’s problems, Federico Higuaín was ruled out for the season with a torn ACL on Friday, and Zack Steffen is off to Manchester City after the Gold Cup.