The Semper Soccer MLS Week 18 Recap
Welcome to July and the first week in the MLS season’s second half. Soccer is now in the thick of summer and the games are coming fast and furious. Teams are putting themselves into position to chase the playoffs. MLS week 18 showed us a lot to get excited about. From a change atop the Eastern Conference standings and rivalry game comebacks to the continued struggle of road teams, there’s plenty to cover. It’s time to jump into the Semper Soccer blog’s weekly MLS recap.
MLS week 18 was a busy one that tested the depth of the teams involved. Teams were missing players for international duty and many teams played in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday and Wednesday. Starting Thursday and running through Sunday, there were 10 league games. Let’s look at the weekly scoreboard.
- New York City FC 3 – Minnesota United 1
- Real Salt Lake 0 – Orlando City 1
- Chicago Fire 4 – Vancouver Whitecaps 0
- FC Dallas 3 – Toronto FC 1
- Sporting Kansas City 1 – Portland Timbers 1
- Montreal Impact 2 – D.C. United 0
- Columbus Crew 0 – Atlanta United 2
- Colorado Rapids 3- Houston Dynamo 1
- San Jose Earthquakes 2 – Los Angeles Galaxy 1
- Philadelphia Union 3 – New England Revolution 0
5 Things To Know
- There’s a new leader in the East. After chasing Toronto for the first half of the season, the Chicago Fire took the lead in the Eastern Conference. Chicago blew out Vancouver 4-0 while Toronto lost 3-1 at Toronto, allowing the hottest team in the league to jump into first place. While both teams have lost just three times in 18 games, Chicago has 11 wins and 4 draws compared to Toronto’s 10 wins and 5 draws. The Fire also has the league’s leading goalscorer in Nemanja Nikolic who has tallied 16 goals in those 18 matches. Toronto has looked dominant, but Chicago is a legitimate contender to their Easter Conference crown.
- Philadelphia warmed up with the weather. After a dismal March and April, the Philadelphia Union turned into a different team through May and June. They’ve won six games since then against just three losses. The Union also have a +10 goal differential across that stretch. The main reason? C.J. Sapong. You could argue that no individual player means more to his club than Sapong. Not only has he tied his career high already with nine goals, he leads the attack and creative force up top for Philadelphia. They’re only three points out of a current playoff spot so we’ll see if their turnaround continues through July.
- Nobody underscores MLS road struggles quite like Houston. The success of home teams in this league has been well documented. But no team exemplifies that home and away split quite like the Houston Dynamo. After a 3-1 loss at Colorado, Houston still hasn’t won away from BBVA Compass Stadium. It’s an ugly 0-7-2 record. But you don’t want to play them at home. They’re unbeaten at home with a record of 7-0-2. That split puts them on 25 points for fifth place in the West. Colorado, Minnesota and New England share in that pain with zero away wins on the year. If you can find some success on the road, you can put together a really good team in MLS.
- San Jose won their first game after changing coaches. Not only that, they did in dramatic fashion in the California Clasico. The Earthquakes found themselves behind after an 11th-minute goal by the LA Galaxy’s Jelle Van Damme. But nobody does drama quite like the Quakes. Chris Wondolowski pulled San Jose level off a long ball from goalkeeper David Bingham in the 75th minute. Then, substitute winger Shea Salinas clinched all three points for the home team in stoppage time. Thanks to results like these, the Earthquakes are quietly sneaking their way up the Western Conference table. They’re now tied for third place with Portland on 26 points.
- Orlando City scored a much-needed win Friday night. To say the Lions hit a rough stretch would be an understatement. First, they slogged through a five-game winless streak. Friday’s 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake rectified that situation. Next, start forward Cyle Larin was back on the field after being arrested for DUI. MLS cleared him to play and Orlando welcomed him and the things he brings to the soccer field back. Remember, Orlando has 29 points and sit in fourth place in the East but that total would be good enough for second place in the West. If that ship is righting its course, Orlando City is can be dangerous again.
Player Of The Week
Forward Kevin Doyle led the way for the Colorado Rapids in a 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo Saturday night. He opened the scoring in the 21st minute of a game that saw Colorado’s attack finally spring to life. Houston tied the game in first-half stoppage time but the Rapids would respond in the second half. Doyle played the ball that sprung the attack for Marlon Hairston’s go-ahead goal in the 48th minute. He then assisted on Hairston’s second of the night to secure the win in the 69th minute. With a hand in all three goals and becoming the focal point of the Colorado Rapids attack, Kevin Doyle is our MLS Week 18 Player of the Week.
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