MLS Week 29: What We Learned

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MLS_logo.svgThe playoff races in Major League Soccer heated up over the weekend as summer kept its grip on much of the country. The top teams from each conference from a year ago are both mired in deep slumps. That’s where we’ll start .

Red Bulls’ Lost Week

Columbus (14-12-5, 47 points) created a bit more separation between itself and the Red Bulls (12-11-6, 42) with a 3-2 win on Saturday night. Jonathan Mensah scored the game’s first goal, soon equaled by Bradley Wright-Phillips at the other end. The Crew pulled away after halftime, with goals from Justin Meram and Josh Williams. All three Columbus goals were assisted by Federico Higuain, who now has a career-high 10 on the season. The Red Bulls are winless in seven in all competitions, and they hold the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The loss came on top of New York’s loss to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final. 

Dallas Keeps Slipping

Minnesota (9-15-5, 32) won for the second straight game, giving Dallas (9-9-11, 38) further trouble. The game turned on a penalty in the second half, with the Loons already up, 2-1. Mauro Diaz could have leveled the match, but instead his shot was saved by Bobby Shuttleworth. A couple minutes later, Ethan Finlay scored at the other end to extend Minnesota’s lead to 3-1. The game finished, 4-1, extending Dallas’ winless streak to 10 games. It has been a shocking collapse by the defending Supporters’ Shield winners, who have plummeted from first in the West to eighth.

D.C. Plays Spoiler

Patrick Mullins scored four goals in D.C.’s (9-17-4, 30) smashing of San Jose (11-13-6, 39). United has scored the fewest goals in MLS this year, but the floodgates opened for in the second half on Saturday. Mullins was assisted twice by Paul Arriola, and added two more unassisted. Thirty-one minutes separated Mullins’ first goal from his fourth, making him the fastest to accomplish that feat in MLS history.

RSL Capitalizes

Salt Lake (12-14-5, 41) took advantage of the teams dropping points around them, and beat Seattle (11-8-11, 44), 2-0. Nick Rimando made a couple big saves in a first half that largely favored the Sounders. After halftime, RSL took control of the match. Jefferson Savarino and Luke Mulholland scored four minutes apart. Results this lifted Salt Lake into fifth place.

Toronto Stumbles

Toronto FC (18-5-8, 62) entered the week with three losses, but picked up two in four days. On Wednesday night, the 104 Derby against Montreal (11-13-6, 39) went all wrong for the hosts, who fell behind, 3-0, in the first half and los,t 5-3. Ignacio Piatti and Anthony Jackson-Hamel both scored twice for the Impact.

Toronto then lost on the turf in New England (11-14-5, 38). The game was sloppy and scoreless for 80 minutes, before blooming with three late goals. The Revolution scored the first and the last to earn a dramatic win over the league’s best team. The Reds were without Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco in both games.