This week’s Major League Soccer action was wrapped up during the weekend with 11 games, 10 of which were played on Saturday. While the NY Red Bulls stole a 2-1 win against LA FC on Sunday’s sole bout, the rest of the Eastern Conference teams tied to change little on the overall standings, but to weigh with exciting action. The Western teams gave a different vibe, as top-of-the-table teams allowed losses with their comfortable runs throughout this season, and bottom teams squeezed out optimistic wins.

The Eastern Conference

Atlanta’s Josef Martinez attempts a header in front of Toronto FC defenders

With hopes of seeding within playoff range, Toronto FC frustrated the Georgian league leaders with a 90th minute goal by forward Toisant Ricketts. The 2-2 tie secured a point in the standings for the Canadians to be leveled with Orlando City FC, whose roster, on the other hand, didn’t exactly have a dreamy weekend. In a 3-3 battle against the Revolution, right-back Scott Lee Sutter managed to score in the 90th minute to balance the scoreboard and keep the Floridians eighth in the conference. Meanwhile, this draw keeps New England on the verge of falling off from playoff consideration, with merit given to Philadelphia’s defeat against Portland. With three goals conceded and none scored, the Union deepens its seventh seed, keeping them just outside the playoff berth.

Up north, D.C. United provided with enough effort to leave Montreal’s turf with a two-goal draw. Although D.C.’s performance has been a leader’s exact opposite so far in the season, they still stand a chance to reach the playoffs, as Wayne Rooney’s addition could prove doubters wrong.

The Western Conference

Altercation after which Alberth Elis was shown a red card (one of the three reds for Dynamo in the match)

In the West, the standings promise for fluidity with the close scoring that each team holds. Salt Lake’s 2-1 win against Chicago hints at a potential conference upset, as they’ve not only hopped on a playoff sixth seed, but could even reach the top three if their form persists. This could be a scenario thanks to both LA teams falling on 2-1 results to Colorado (the Galaxy) and the Red Bulls (LA FC).

In Dallas, San Jose tried the Texans with three goals, responding to one goal scored by home efforts. This loss doesn’t affect Dallas’ solid run as leaders of the conference, as their five point advantage keeps them comfortably above Portland. It does, however, provide with hope for the Earthquakes, whose positioning in the league’s last place alarms the franchise’s prospect for qualification.

Still in Texas, Kansas City gave Houston problems just enough to secure the three points. Beautifully strategized, a 74th minute finish by Diego Rubio unbalanced the game, but the referee was the focal point of the game. Six yellow cards were awarded to the determined Dynamo, while two were shown to the visitors. A 14th minute red card ignited later tensions, after unconvincing judgment by the referee handicapped the home team. Two more red cards were flung up after hostile behavior was shown by the home team players. To an extent, the two last ones could’ve been justified, but the outcome of the game would’ve been much different had the first one not been given to Houston.

Week 24

Having missed this week due to rotation, Columbus Crew will return next week to play Dynamo, this being an important game for both teams this midseason. Before next weekend’s bouts, however, Wednesday will see the US Open Cup semifinals unfold, with Philadelphia hosting Chicago, and LA FC landing in Houston. With the MLS out of probable reach, the four teams seek victory to snatch a title out of this season, thus promising for more exciting soccer.

Cover photo: matthewwolff.com/portfolio/lafc/

Atlanta-Toronto photo: espn.com

Houston photo: chatsports.com

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