From Ricardo Pepi’s hat-trick heroics against the Galaxy to a Paxton Pomykal stunner as FC Dallas continued this good form. The USWNT were eliminated by Canada from the Olympics whilst the USMNT met Mexico in the Gold Cup final last night but MLS goes on. Here is the big games from gameweek sixteen!
NYCFC 4-1 Columbus Crew
NYCFC put five past Orlando City in their last game and the only change to Ronny Deila’s XI saw Thiago Andrade replaced Ismael Tajouri-Shradi. On the other hand, Columbus edged out Atlanta at the Benz, Marlon Hairston continuing in midfield alongside Darlington Nagbe. Kevin Molino, Lucas Zelarayan and Bradley Wright-Phillips all started for the reigning MLS Cup champions as they went to Yankee Stadium to face an in-form NYCFC.
Jesus Medina’s corner was headed home by Taty Castellanos to get the scoring underway, making it back-to-back games with goals for the Argentine. Thiago Andrade had been a passenger but his always dangerous pace in behind caused problems, Eloy Room could only watch as a dink from the new-boy went over his head.
It was 2-0 at the break and Medina came close to making it three soon after, the ball was kept alive and Keaton Parks slide home a third courtesy of an Andrade assist. This was the first time this season that the Crew had conceded three or more goals and it got worse from there, Santiago Rodriguez coming off of the bench and tapping home the easiest goal of his career. Pedro Santos rolled home a consolation from the penalty spot after VAR intervened but it meant nothing as the New Yorkers put on another huge performance in MLS.
Orlando City 3-2 Atlanta United
Next to Exploria Stadium where the bitter rivalry between Orlando City and Atlanta United add another chapter to its’ story. Josef Martinez has been called the father of Orlando and he showed that in less than sixty seconds, although the result in the end did not go the way of the Venezuelan star. There were two minor changes for Atlanta United with youngster Chol and the injured Jake Mulraney dropping out whilst the Lions were without Peruvian goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. After that heavy defeat to NYCFC, Oscar Pareja brought Nani and Hib’s-bound Chris Mueller back into the side.
DADDY’S HOME! Brooks Lennon passes it infield to Josef who, without hesitation, struck it from distance and it hit the post before nestling in the goal, 1-0 Atlanta United. Atlanta were the second best team in reality but both of their goals were so, so superb. Orlando had so many chances to draw level but Alex Kahn, Brad Guzan’s understudy, kept denying them with a mixture of unbelievable saves and poor finishing from Benji Michel. The equalizer eventually came from a smart Kyle Smith header and even after conceding, Kahn continued to make stop-after-stop. Lennon went off with what looked like a groin injury to add to the growing ATL injury list. Marcelino Moreno thundered Atlanta back ahead, it was an oh so satisfying strike in a game which his side didn’t have many chances. The home side pulled level again as Van Der Water headed home a Michel cross, Josef’s headlines then slipping away from him as Nani came up with the final say. 3-2 Orlando win in MLS action!
Seattle Sounders 0-1 San Jose Earthquakes
Seattle hosted San Jose at Lumen Field and neither came into it on particularly good form. The Sounders losing two of their last three against Minnesota and SKC having been unbeaten before that whilst San Jose drew with the aforementioned pair in a run of four consecutive draws. That itself isn’t too bad but Matias Almeyda’s side were winless in eleven, the first game of this streak coming against Seattle. Alex Roldan started for the hosts following his time away with El Salvador at the Gold Cup whilst teen sensation Cade Cowell started up front for their MLS opponents.
Marcinkowski made a couple of quick saves to deny the league’s top scorer Raul Ruidiaz in the first half and Seattle had the bulk of the chances, but they trailed at the break. Cristian Espinoza showed good feet before a tidy, low finish past Cleveland on the brink of the half-time whistle had Quakes’ supporters smiling. The Sounders continued to push but just didn’t look particularly good at all, league legend Chris Wondolowski coming off of the bench to put the game to bed and score against a favourite opponent of his. He was composed and stroked home the second, the celebrations being even more emphatic in front of the Seattle faithful. This came back to bite him though as it was ruled out, but this didn’t prove costly with San Jose holding on to the one goal lead and breaking an unwanted streak.
Sporting Kansas City 1-2 FC Dallas
Franco Jara began this one on the bench for FC Dallas and of course Ricardo Pepi started having scored that hat-trick in the 4-0 win over the Galaxy last time out. SKC had a great result of their own in their last game as they beat the aforementioned Sounders 3-1 on the road. This game was billed as Pepi versus Daniel Salloi, two of the best players in MLS this season and two maybe slightly surprising stars.
The spotlights were on Pepi but it was another academy graduate in Paxton Pomykal that set the game alight, firing home from distance beyond Tim Melia with just three minutes on the clock. Pomykal has had a tough time with injuries so to see him silence the Childrens’ Mercy Park faithful in such impressive fashion was great really. Pomykal was challenged in the goal of the game contest by fellow homegrown player Jesus Ferreira. The wide-man with the famous surname scored an equally sumptuous goal not long after the break to make it 2-0. Salloi and Scotsman Johnny Russell both had chances to bring SKC back into the game but on the most part failed to do so, Gadi Kinda have a scramble of a goal disallowed too. Russell came flying through and headed home to half the arrears but it was a lose for Sporting Kansas City on Peter Vermes’ return to the touchline. Dallas had lost every away game to date this season so it was an excellent way to end that shameful run.
Philadelphia Union 1-1 Chicago Fire
Finally then, the last game of the MLS weekend before it was all topped off by the USMNT versus Mexico in the Gold Cup final. Chicago Fire are second bottom in the Shield standings with only Inter Miami below them but they’ve shown glimpses of improvement. Talking of the Shield and Rapha Wicky’s men took a trip to Subaru Park to face the reigning Shield holders. The Union may have lifted silverware last season but they’ve had ups and downs this time around. Andre Blake and Corey Burke were back in the Union side after Gold Cup duty with Jamaica whilst Beric and Stojanovic were on the bench for Chicago.
Frankowski and Sekulic lined up as wingbacks in a 5-3-2 and the pair combined for the opener, a deep cross from the latter allowing the former to open the scoring for the visitors. Philly weren’t looking all that good but after consulting with the pitch-side monitor, the referee sent off Wyatt Omsberg as he pulled down Burke when he was deemed to be clean through on goal. The Fire had a red for Kappelhof in the recent 5-1 defeat to Nashville and a similar outcome wouldn’t have been surprising, especially when Kai Wagner stepped up to the resulting free-kick and lashed it under the wall and into the back of the net.
This tied it up at 1-1, the goal being even more remarkable given that a defender laid down behind the wall. Jim Curtin’s men had an extra man throughout the second but weren’t able to find a winner, they came close a few times through the likes of Jose Martinez and Ale Bedoya, Bedoya seeing Shuttleworth deny him from close range with his face. Two points dropped for the Union in MLS!
Player of the week- Cristian Dajome
This might just seem like a case of looking at who scored more than once but this performance from Cristian Dajome just highlights his quality. Positive moments come few and far between for the Whitecaps and with Lucas ‘El Tanque’ Cavallini’s commitments with Canada at the Gold Cup, even less has been expected of them in recent weeks. Cavallini is of course a very good forward but the relationship that Dajome and Deiber Caicedo have showed signs of is very promising. Paxton Pomykal was excellent for FC Dallas, the same going for NYCFC’s Thiago Andrade and Orlando’s Silvester van der Water but Dajome deserves a shoutout. He has scored a few goals for a poor Vancouver side this year, adding two to his tally in the draw with Minnesota, and I think he could easily play for a top MLS team.