While most of MLS got the weekend off for international fixtures, a handful of clubs plowed ahead, with some old faces popping up to produce big results for their teams.
Trending Up: David Accam. Great to see him back on the scoresheet, particularly amidst his personal tragedy.
Trending Down: Red Bulls injury woes. Stretched a little thin due to CONCACAF scheduling to start the year, New York has lost two key players in the span of a week in Florian Valot and Connor Lade.
New York Red Bulls 0-1 Orlando City
After being soundly booed by the Red Bull faithful during introductions, Sasha Kljestan went on to have himself a game, playing a number of beautiful passes and making himself a nuisance throughout the match. The Orlando midfielder then put the icing on the cake as he delivered the game winning goal, racing into the box to drive home a Joao Moutinho cross into the bottom left corner.
Orlando goalie Brian Rowe had a critical performance for his side, as he made a great reflex save early on a ball that seemed destined for the back of the net, and kept his squad in the game with a number of big saves throughout the first half.
Daniel Royer, who has been phenomenal for New York this season, almost played the hero again, rising up to head home a free kick, but Carlos Ascues rose to the moment, providing a stunningly gorgeous and highly critical goal line clearance after Rowe was clearly beaten.
Philadelphia 3-0 Columbus
Good news, David Accam has been spotted! Accam picked a great moment to break out of his goal slump for the Union, recording a brace and assisting on the other Philly goal of the night as the home team picked up its first win of the season, while handing the Crew their first defeat.
You may be forgiven for believing Accam was out injured, or had received his wish and made a move to Europe, as the speedy Ghanaian had not scored a goal in MLS play since July of 2018, and hadn’t scored multiple goals in a game since June of 2017. Indeed, Accam scored just once for Philly in 23 appearances last season, a sharp decline from his fourteen-goal performance in his last year with the Fire.
Accam’s performance was made even more special as he dedicated his play to his father who passed away just days earlier. When asked if he wanted to be away to grieve, Accam noted to MLS Soccer that soccer was the only thing that brings him joy, “so I left everything on the field. I put my emotions and everything it would take to give the club (a win).”
LAFC 2-1 Real Salt Lake
Twice already LAFC has managed to conjure up late game magic, with two stoppage time winners on the young season. This week, Walker Zimmerman played the hero, receiving the ball from about twenty yards out and sending a curving ball with blistering pace into the top right corner that Nick Rimando could only watch. Los Angeles tied the game in the through Vela who was able to force his way past a pair of defenders, and were able to keep pushing forward, recording nineteen shots on the night as they searched for the winner.
On the other end of the spectrum, while it is only four weeks in, Salt Lake is already developing a concerning inability to keep all eleven players on the field and stay out of the ref’s naughty book, as they went down a man for the second straight week, both unsurprisingly losing efforts. While RSL was able to take a first half lead, they eventually relented to Los Angeles’ unyielding pressure.
Nick Rimando came up big on numerous occasions throughout the game, diving to his right to deny Vela’s gorgeous free kick effort early in the game. The Wall of the Wasatch was called upon again just before halftime, diving again to his right to stop a rocket shot from Adama Diomande. The man who leads MLS in almost every goalkeeping category lived up to his reputation again on the night and was a big reason why the game remained close.