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MLS Weekend Recap: Top teams in East continue winning ways

Manneh sparks Columbus attack, NYCFC beat rival Red Bulls

MLS: Montreal Impact at Columbus Crew SC Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The run-up to Rivalry Week is always a bit... off. The hype feels more manufactured than usual. Some of the fixtures are only rivalries in the most generous sense of the term. There’s always this feeling that it’s going to be a total bust. But when you’ve got the Hudson River Derby, the Texas Derby, and a Cascadia Derby on the menu, you know it’s not going to be all bad.

Houston 1-1 Dallas

One of the marks of a fierce rivalry is that each team’s respective form and table position doesn’t matter a whit heading into the Derby. Houston vs Dallas always manages to be a tense contest, and Friday night’s clash was no different. Erick Torres fired the Dynamo ahead early in the first half but Dallas pinged them back just before the hour mark. Neither side could come out on top in this lengthy arm-wrestling match and both teams missed out on a chance to try and crowd Sporting KC out of the top spot in the West.

Toronto 2-0 New England

Toronto put New England to the sword on Friday night. The Fire’s miraculous turn around into supporter shield contenders may be all for naught if Toronto keeps this pace up. They just wont lose. Drew Moor got onto the end of a driven cross to put TFC ahead in early on after some sustained pressure. Toronto was undoubtedly out for a big of revenge after losing at Gillette Stadium earlier in June. After a midweek draw with Montreal in the Canadian Championship I’d say this was a good result for TFC indeed but don’t let the score line fool you. New England had a really good second half and peppered the Toronto goal. They had some golden chances to level this game before it was said and done and in the end they have only themselves to blame for not grabbing a point. Eventually Giovinco got onto the end of a nice long ball and gave TFC a goal lead deep into second half stoppage time. Giovinco was absent through many stretches of the game. The second half was about the poorest half I can remember watching Toronto play but they still got the result.

New York Red Bulls 0–2 NYCFC

NYCFC had really struggled to beat their Hudson River rivals over the last few years but their fortunes changed on Saturday. NYCFC went to Red Bull Arena and put a whooping on their rivals. Jack Harrison scored a lovely goal with a sweetly struck one timer that left Luis Robles no chance at a save. Harrison has really impressed this year and is proving to be one of the better attackers in MLS. Ben Sweat scored NYC’s second by lofting a header over Robles into net. Sweat was left completely unmarked and the Red Bulls paid the price for such sloppy marking. Although the Red Bulls had a lot of possession throughout the game they did not register a shot on net until about the 80th minute, rarely threatening Sean Johnson. It was a big win for NYCFC who are keeping pace at the top of the table.

Atlanta United 1–0 Colorado

Atlanta had their way with Colorado throughout the entirety of the game at Bobby Dodd Stadium. They dominated possession and had a whole number of golden chances before their breakthrough in the 67th minute. Josef Martinez scored the winner after a nice turn in the box, firing the ball below Tim Howard. Colorado was stingy as always, they are really tough to break down. More importantly for Atlanta, they kept a clean sheet. By this point we all know how dangerous Atlanta is going forward but if they want to get into the playoffs they will have to defend well, and they did that in their win against Colorado.

Philadelphia 1–0 DC United

Fabrice-Jean Piccault scored the games only goal to give Philadelphia a much-needed win. Alejandro Bedoya served up a nice to the Union winger who smashed his volley nicely past Bill Hamid in the DC goal. United were given an opportunity to get back into the game when they were awarded a penalty in the second half however Andre Blake denied Lamar Neagle’s attempt to level the game with a nice save. Blake also made a really nice save toward the end of the game keeping out a header that looked destined to be the game-tying goal. Blake was excellent on the day helping to preserve Philadelphia’s lead.

Columbus 4–1 Montreal

Federico Higuain opened the scoring with a quality free kick that glanced off of the wall and into the net. Anthony Jackson-Hamel’s equalizer quickly canceled out the Columbus lead after a poor pass from Higuain which sparked Montreal’s attack. After the two early goals it seemed like things might play out to a draw with both teams failing to create a clear-cut chance. It wasn’t until Kekuta Manneh came on as a substitute that Columbus was able to break through. Manneh scored the go ahead goal after some really sloppy defending by Montreal who failed to clear the ball out of the box. Manneh then whipped in a cross assisting Ola Kamara’s sweet finish. Manneh is a really fun winger to watch when he is on form. He provides some real depth to the Columbus attack that can be scary good at times.

Portland 2-1 Seattle

When this game clicked over past the hour mark, and the Timbers were up 2-1 with the Sounders down to 10 men, I considered writing the recap early and being done with it. But something told me to hold on tuntil the final whistle. It’s a good thing I did, because Clint Dempsey upped and pissed in Portland’s cheerios with an equalizer deep in stoppage time to get out of Oregon with a point. It’s a good reminder of what soccer rivalries are really all about— spite. Pure, undistilled spite.

Hot (Time) Take

Toronto, Chicago and NYCFC all won again and have clearly established themselves as the top tier of teams in the East. After that is kind of a crapshoot. Columbus and Atlanta each won at home to further their ambition of making it into a playoff spot. I have to say I don’t think anyone is really out of it yet. Montreal sit bottom of the table tied with DC on 18 points, but the Impact have played two less games than Atlanta who is six points ahead of them. To me DC continues to be the most disappointing team thus far. As we saw this week, they just cannot score goals. It will be interesting to see if any major changes are made there.