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MLS Weekend Recap: TFC is King in the North

Toronto win again, NYCFC dazzle & the chasing pack fail to pick up points

MLS: Toronto FC at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

We’re at a point in the season where we’re starting to see some teams emerge to lead the pack. Toronto is on a really good run of form and as expected looks like the Eastern conference favorite while others are mired in mediocrity and struggling to find any consistency in their results.

Seattle 0–1 Toronto

Fresh off of a statement win at home against Orlando midweek Toronto traveled out west to Seattle for a MLS Cup 2016 rematch. Toronto clung on to a one-goal advantage and won in one of the toughest away venues in MLS. It has been a very successful stretch for TFC who have to be a bit stung by their MLS Cup Final loss last year. I have to assume that has weighed heavy on some of the TFC players and has them out for some sort of revenge this term. Seattle held more possession throughout the match, as you would suspect, but the chances were really fairly even in hindsight. Jozy Altidore scored from the PK spot in what was the game’s only goal. It’s worth mentioning several TFC players that would normally start did not even make the trip out west.

DC United 0–1 Montreal

Both of these teams came into this one really needing to pick up points. Despite DC’s surprisingly strong result last time out they have struggled to create chances and score goals. Montreal has been quite similar in that they rely so heavily on Nacho Piatti to provide their creativity. What ensued was not my favorite game to watch, lets just put it that way. Montreal scored the games only goal on a weak shot that I have to believe Bill Hamid saves (the GK was on the bench). Near the end of the game there was a fracas near the team benches, just further proof that these are two frustrated teams knowing they have to start picking up more points.

Columbus 2–0 New England

Justin Meram slipped in Ola Kamara who scored the opening goal very early in the first half. Columbus was dominant over the Revs early on. Kamara just doesn’t miss many chances when he gets behind the defense. He has become one of the more consistent strikers in MLS. Federico Higuain added a second for the Crew and could have had another later on. Columbus remains solid at home.

Philadelphia 3–0 New York Red Bulls

After the first half it was 0-0 between these two. The Red Bulls had the clearer of the chances but even though it was against the struggling Union, the Red Bulls seemed to be a little complacent in the first half. I think New York is still trying to figure them selves out this year. CJ Sapong (otherwise known as the fresh prince of chest-air) had a great chance, which produced a great save from Luis Robles around the 70th minute. A couple of minutes later and the fresh prince found the back of the net on a luckily deflected strike, which looped over Robles. It doesn’t matter; Philadelphia will take anything they can get at this point. Sapong went on to score two more, yes a hat trick. What?! The Union won a game.

Houston 4–0 Orlando

Alberth Elis continued his fine start in MLS scoring his fourth goal of the season early in the game at home. He remains one of the surprise low-key moves of the past MLS off-season that is paying off immediately. He is producing at a nice rate and is one of the direct reasons why Houston is off to such a surprisingly strong start. With Quioto, Elis, Manotas, Alex and Cubo Torres Houston is starting to look dangerous with many attacking options. They destroyed Orlando on Saturday and I am starting to wonder if the highflying lions perhaps were punching above their weight for a while. Like the Fire, Orlando is struggling away from home and the first two goals by Houston produced some particularly woeful goalkeeping by Joe Bendik.

NYCFC 3-1 Atlanta

The first two goals of this game were both scored by stunning strikes, first by NYCFC’s David Villa (who is fresh off signing a new contract extension) and the second by Carlos Carmona from Atlanta United. After that Atlanta seemed to have an increasingly hard time breaking down NYC and creating any clear chances. Meanwhile NYC had a quick flurry of scoring bagging two goals around the 60th minute. Their third goal of the game was a particularly nice finish by Maxi Moralez who is really starting to play well. There was only one winner in this one, NYC took their chances and outplayed Atlanta who is beginning to show signs that they still have some work to do in order to cement their place among the top teams in the East.

Hot (Time) Take

One interesting thing worth noting around MLS is that this week was really the first sign of the new season that fixtures are starting to pile up. Many teams will start having double game weeks and could possibly play 3 games within 8 or 9 days. Depth is going to start becoming more crucial. Within MLS there are many long road trips not only in terms of time but also distance travelled. You will see teams leave players on the bench or perhaps even at home. It is not completely new but I suspect it is a strategy that could grow and expand amongst MLS clubs. I mention this mostly because Sebastian Giovinco and Steven Beitashour were not only rested, but they didn’t even make the trip out west to Seattle. In this case no damage was done. Toronto actually ended up winning and are the in form team of MLS right now having won four in a row. While the Fire probably should have won this weekend, it was a valuable point earned for the men in red. Atlanta, DC and New England all failed to pick up any points this weekend and each of those teams are behind the Fire chasing a playoff spot.