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MLS Week 14 Review: LAFC, Union earn huge road wins; Zlatan’s stunning goal

LAFC ruined the Timbers’ grand reopening of Providence Park.

Two teams earned 3-2 road victories in Week 14 of the Major League Soccer season. 

The score was about the only thing similar in Los Angeles FC’s Saturday win over the Portland Timbers and the Philadelphia Union’s triumph against Minnesota United the next day.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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 

Brian Fernández, Portland Timbers 

Haris Medunjanin, Philadelphia Union

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. 

Philadelphia reclaimed the top spot with its win over Minnesota United and DC United’s home draw versus the San Jose Earthquakes

If you peek below the Union and DC, you’ll see Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls, the two Eastern Conference finalists from a year ago, lurking in third and fourth. 

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

Jun 1, 2019; Commerce City, CO, USA; Colorado Rapids forward Andre Shinyashiki (99) chases down a loose ball in the second half against FC Cincinnati at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

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

Jun 1, 2019; Frisco, TX, USA; Seattle Sounders defender Kelvin Leerdam (18) and defender Joevin Jones (33) react after the loss against FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

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. 

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. 

Stock Up, Stock Down 

Stock Up: New England Revolution

Jun 2, 2019; Carson, CA, USA; New England Revolution forward Juan Agudelo (17) controls the ball past LA Galaxy midfielder Joe Corona (14) in the first half at StubHub Center. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

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

Jun 1, 2019; Washington, D.C., USA; San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski (8) celebrates after scoring a goal against D.C. United in the first half at Audi Field. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

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

Jun 1, 2019; Washington, D.C., USA; D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen (R) salutes the fans after UnitedÕs match against San Jose Earthquakes at Audi Field. There match ended a 1-1 draw. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

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

Jun 1, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew SC goalkeeper Zack Steffen (23) reacts to a call by the referee during the match against New York City FC at MAPFRE Stadium. (Greg Bartram-USA TODAY) Sports

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. 




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