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MLS Weekend Recap: Building Pressure in the East

The teams in the top end of the standings all claim wins to hold their playoff spots

MLS: New York City FC at Orlando City SC Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

I mentioned in the previous MLS recap that we would start seeing more coaches have their hand forced into rotating their squads during these double game weeks. We will not get into the midweek games here but just a quick note. Of the five midweek games, which were played on Wednesday, four of the home teams won and the other game was a draw. This does not surprise me nor do I expect that trend to end. Away teams flying in and out for a midweek game are really going to be challenged with that quick of a turn around.

New York Red Bulls 1-1 Toronto FC

While the Red Bulls did end TFC’s six game win streak they really didn’t do much in mind to dispel the notion that they are a team that is still struggling for an identity early this season. This read by Matt Doyle of MLS highlights the main issue for me in that Sacha Kljestan is not having the type of season he has had in recent years which made New York tick, and a lot of that could be argued is down to the Red Bulls missing the Fire’s very own captain Dax McCarty. New York just looked kind of listless again and while you could say they ended TFC’s win streak, they failed to pick up three points at home. It was actually Toronto who was on the front foot late in the game. Jozy Altidore failed to score from the PK spot, which likely would have sealed the game and minutes later Tosaint Ricketts rattled the bar for TFC as they searched for a winner and Luis Robles made some fantastic saves to keep NYRB level.

Montreal 4-1 Portland

Montreal ran riot at home hosting Portland. Ignacio Piatti scored from the penalty spot in the 13th minute and shortly afterwards Diego Chara was sent off for Portland. While the PK may have been a soft one Portland cannot have too many complaints with the red card. Chara knew exactly what he was doing when he through an arm into the face of Piatti. It was a much-needed win for Montreal who has been near the bottom of table but I am just guessing we havn’t heard the last of the Impact this year. I am a huge fan of Ignacio Piatti and this was his best game in some time. Any team with Piatti in the lineup is one to be wary of.

Atlanta 4-1 Houston

Miguel Almiron scored a hat trick in Atlanta’s rout of Houston. Houston is the definition of a home/away Jekyll and Hyde MLS team. At home they are 6-0-1 and on the road they are now 0-5. Almiron’s second late in the first half essentially sealed the game and they never looked back. On a given day the Paraguayan is one of the most exciting players this league has to offer and this was one of those days. Much like Piatti or Giovinco, Almiron is an absolute game changer.

Philadelphia 2-1 Colorado

Philadelphia rallied in the second half for a come from behind win against Colorado. It’s the fourth win in a row for Philadelphia and it is certainly funny how much things can change. About a month ago I was wondering how long it would be before the Union grabbed their first win and now they’ve won four straight. CJ Sapong scored from the penalty spot and Haris Medunjanin scored the go ahead goal from a lovely free kick. The turn around for Philadelphia is simply down to the fact that they have started to produce goals and CJ Sapong has found form.

New England 2–1 Columbus

Like Philadelphia, New England also had to come from behind to win this weekend but they did it much earlier. Ola Kamara gave Columbus the early lead after striking a sweet volley into the back of the net. Just a couple of minutes later Diego Fagundez leveled the score and a further ten minutes into the game Fagundez made it a brace and gave the Revs the lead. Fagundez’s second was a nice long run with the ball and none of the Columbus defenders could keep up with him after he got behind their line. It was a much-needed win for New England over a conference foe.

Orlando City 0-3 NYCFC

Orlando went into this game feeling mighty confident. An impressive home win streak to christen their new stadium plus their flawless record against NYC led Jason Kreis’ squad to expect a decent result on Sunday night. And then NYC absolutely clowned them. David Villa scored a pair of goals— a penalty early in the first half and one from open play in the closing minutes of the second— and Rodney Wallace put the cherry on top. Orlando are now winless in their last five league matches and somehow are still hanging with the rest of the pack in the playoff spots. They are, in fact, tied on points with NYCFC but behind on tiebreakers— something which last night’s pounding didn’t help.

Hot (Time) Take

It is all very tight right now in the East. The Fire sit in second with 21 points and only six points separate the Fire from 9th placed Atlanta. It was a really good weekend for the teams below the red line who are chasing playoff places, Philadelphia, Atlanta, New England and Montreal all won to keep pace.