- D.C. United fans were treated to another memorable occasion as it gets set to exit RFK Stadium, while fellow former powerhouse LA takes DCU's place at the bottom of our MLS Power Rankings.
D.C. United’s home finale, Ben Olsen said, “is going to be a whole other animal.” That match next month against the rival New York Red Bulls will be the last one at RFK Stadium and for the hosts, it’ll be as much about decades of nostalgia as what’s happening on the field.
So Saturday’s game against San Jose was, in a sense, a soft closing. It was the final regular regular season game at the venerable yet crumbling edifice, and it turned out to be one to remember. If next month’s game is “going to be show,” as Olsen said, then Saturday’s was one that reminded everyone what RFK once was like on the regular, when the goals were flowing and the stands bouncing.
A season high of 25,000-plus fans turned out to see forward Patrick Mullins score the fastest four goals by one player in MLS history. He broke the deadlock in the 57th minute and netted his fourth, on a well-taken free kick, in the 88th. It speaks to D.C.’s struggles this season that Mullins, who hadn’t scored all year, now is his team’s second-leading scorer. And Olsen hadn’t forgotten those struggles post-game when he said, “in some ways [the win] pisses me off that we’re in the situation that we are, because we have a good group.”
But both saw the bigger picture—that in a lost season and at the end of an era, this was an evening to savor.
“I think the fans deserve that. I think that was the mission going into this game. We haven’t done enough at home to entertain, to meet the fans’ goals for us as a team,” Mullins said.
“There are real players out there that can make a difference and we just didn’t do it enough this year,” Olsen said. “The fans tonight were unbelievable. The upper bowl was open and the glow was out. This was a great night at RFK.”
And with that, D.C. climbs off the bottom of the ranking thanks to its fourth win in six games and Mullins’s four-goal show. Teams on the outside of the playoff picture look for positives where they can find them.
Meanwhile, Toronto FC holds on to the top spot despite losing two straight, and the Vancouver Whitecaps surge beneath the Reds ahead of a massive pair of games against Seattle and Sporting Kansas City in a tight Western Conference.
The Reds lost two in a row for the first time this year but maintain the benefit of the doubt—and the top spot—after taking the field without Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore. The Supporters' Shield magic number is three.
It’s now seven games unbeaten for Vancouver, which holds a one-point lead in the West. The Caps have started 22 different players during their 5-0-2 streak but are being led by Fredy Montero, who’s got both a goal and an assist in two straight games. His 13 goals this season ties his MLS career high.
NYCFC clinched a playoff berth for a second consecutive season when Atlanta beat Montreal on Sunday afternoon. Now the New Yorkers will have to hold off United to hang on to second place. AUFC is just three points behind with a game in hand.
The Open Cup winners stayed in Kansas City and beat LA on Sunday, extending their unbeaten streak in MLS games at Children’s Mercy Park to 24—the third-longest in league history. The home stand continues Saturday with a big game against first-place Vancouver.
Atlanta got some bad news Monday as playmaker Miguel Almirón was ruled out for least three weeks with a left hamstring injury. That’ll impact the AUFC attack, which now is the most prolific expansion history. Its 63 goals surpass the 62 scored by Chicago in 1998. The Fire, of course, went on to win MLS Cup.
Diego Valeri scored in a record ninth-straight MLS game as the Timbers defeated Orlando City on Sunday. Valeri, who netted twice, leads the golden boot race with 20 and now must be considered an MVP front-runner. His primary competition, NYC’s David Villa, hasn’t scored since August 20.
Columbus has put together a quiet seven-game unbeaten run (4-0-3) and appears to have cemented its playoff status. Playmaker Federico Higuaín burst to life in Saturday’s 3-2 win over the New York Red Bulls with the first three-assist game of his MLS career.
Only TFC has posted more points per game since the start of August, and RSL is 7-2-3 since the beginning of July. Venezuelan forward Jefferson Savarino, 20, has two goals and an assist during RSL’s two-game win streak.
Seattle’s club record 13-game unbeaten run ended with a 2-0 loss at RSL. There were a bunch of draws, however, and the Sounders now are winless in five. Clint Dempsey has no goals or assists in 382 minutes of action dating back to August 20.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (calf) missed his third straight game as Chicago lost, 3-1, in Philadelphia. The Fire, now four points out of second in the East, play at San Jose on Wednesday.
A miserable week for the Red Bulls ended with a 3-2 loss at Columbus. Potential good news: Bradley Wright-Phillips got back on track after a tough Open Cup final with his 16th goal of the season (and 97th for the club).
CJ Sapong matched the single-season club record with his 14th goal in Saturday’s win over Chicago. Philly now is unbeaten in four and six points out of the playoff places with four games remaining.
Minnesota is on its first MLS win streak thanks to Saturday’s 4-1 thumping of Dallas. They’re also 3-1-1 in their past five. MNUFC isn’t going to make the playoffs, but this isn’t the same team that seemed so unprepared in March.
Avaya Stadium is the right place to rebound from Saturday’s embarrassment in D.C. The Quakes are on a 5-0-2 run on home turf and host the Fire Wednesday. Chris Wondolowski is scoreless in three games and has only three goals in his past 11.
Houston is 0-3-2 in its past five after earning in Connecticut against NYCFC and host LA on Wednesday. “[It’s] is the most important game of the season for us. It’s a final,” goalie Tyler Deric said. “This is the most important game of our lives.”
The Revs, under interim manager Tom Soehn, are still in it after defeating Toronto and now are four points behind NYRB for the East’s last playoff spot (although New York has a game in hand). Lee Nguyen became the 51st player in MLS history to have at least 10 goals and 10 assists in a season when he got one of each against TFC.
Montreal was unable to build on its stunning win in Toronto and fell at Atlanta, 2-0, on Sunday. The Impact have now lost five of six and host NYCFC on Wednesday. Anthony Jackson-Hamel, who scored twice in Toronto, leads all homegrown players with nine goals.
FCD has yielded at least three goals five times during its 10-game winless streak. The 23 goals allowed during the freefall compares to the 19 conceded in the club's first 19 league games this year.
Overlooked amid the buzz surrounding Mullins’s half for the ages: DP midfielder Paul Arriola notched his first two assists for his new club and goalkeeper Steve Clark made his United debut as starter Bill Hamid’s contract impasse continues.
Colorado has won just one of its past 12 and is back in the West cellar, a point behind LA and with a game in hand. Some good news: Dominique Badji has goals in three straight.
“We felt we had to win all of our remaining matches. So I think the chances [to make the playoffs] look really grim,” coach Jason Kreis said after Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the Timbers. Two Orlando players saw red in Portland and the club now leads MLS in ejections with eight.
LA has just one win in 15 games (1-12-2) after losing at SKC on Sunday—a game that featured Gyasi Zardes at right back. “If that’s where he ends up playing, it’ll come,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “He’s an intelligent guy. He’s got the engine to play there. Today, he was helping me out as much as anything else.”