5 Things We Learned from MLS Matches from August 8-10
Following the league's all-star break, Major League Soccer was back in action this weekend with a full schedule.
With only a third of the season left to play, the intensity and importance of every match is becoming more and more amplified each week.
Here are five things we learned from this weekend's action.
D.C. United Self-Destructed
D.C. United headed into this weekend's game against Real Salt Lake having won four of its last five games and in the thick of the Supporters' Shield race.
Then they gave up three goals in the first 24 minutes of play against RSL and never recovered. Having never won an MLS regular season game at Rio Tinto stadium, perhaps the result was expected for D.C. and could have been even worse if Eddie Johnson had been sent off for a temperamental kick of the ball against a downed RSL player in the first half.
For their part, RSL picked up three points in the Supporters' Shield race and Nick Rimando picked up MLS's all-time shutout record.
Zardes Stayed Hot; the Earthquakes Stayed Alive
In the LA Galaxy's 2-2 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes on Friday, Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes stayed hot, scoring his eighth goal in his last nine games.
The Earthquakes, for their effort, picked up an important point on the road and still have three games in hand over most Western Conference teams. They are, however, eight points adrift of a playoff spot and would need an absolutely fantastic run in to make it to the MLS postseason. They're alive, but barely.
Is Toronto FC Ready to Separate Themselves from the Pack?
Toronto FC's story in 2014 has been remarkable, having risen from one of the worst teams in the league to one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Still, Toronto has struggled to find consistent form, especially against the Eastern Conference's top teams. Following back-to-back losses against Eastern Conference leaders Sporting KC and D.C. United, they found their footing last week with a win against the Montreal Impact and headed into Columbus this weekend looking to separate themselves from the pack in the East.
They did that with a 3-2 victory over the Crew, a team in itself fighting for a playoff spot. Toronto also showed a lot of heart, responding to conceding an equalizer in the 81st minute by picking up a late goal of their own in the 84th minute for the win.
The Timbers and the Fire Picked Up Important Wins
The Portland Timbers beat Chivas USA 2-0 this weekend with the game-winner being scored by Diego Valeri—his fourth goal and four games.
The Timbers have now won three out of their last four games and are only two points off a playoff spot in the West.
In the East, the Chicago Fire managed to pick up a rare win—only their fourth of the year—beating New York Red Bulls 1-0 on the strength of a goal by Mike Magee.
Even though the Fire are still in eighth place after the win, only three points separates them from New York in fourth.
Supporters' Shield Implications
The Seattle Sounders' 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo at home on Sunday night, combined with Sporting KC's loss on the road to Vancouver, has put the Sounders in the lead for the Supporters' Shield title with 41 points.
Sporting remains only two points behind the Sounders, while RSL's win also has them at 39 points. Behind Kansas City and Salt Lake is D.C. United with 37 points, but to the surprise of nearly everyone, FC Dallas have quietly worked their way into the mix with 36 points, following their 3-1 win over Colorado.
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