Wednesday was jam-packed with MLS action as Sporting KC beat Atlanta United and the Seattle Sounders beat Toronto FC in a rematch of the last two seasons' MLS Cup.
ATLANTA (AP)—Daniel Salloi and Gerso Fernandes scored second-half goals and Tim Melia came up with several huge saves, leading Sporting Kansas City to a 2-0 victory over short-handed Atlanta that snapped United's eight-game unbeaten streak Wednesday night in a showdown between the two conference leaders in Major League Soccer.
United played the last 56 minutes a man down after goalkeeper Brad Guzan was given a red card for taking out Kansas City's Khiry Shelton just outside the penalty area as he broke in all alone. Rookie Paul Christensen, an emergency signee filling in for injured backup Alec Kann, made a big save shortly after entering but couldn't hold off a Sporting team with an extra player.
In the 67th minute, Salloi curled a shot from beyond the box to beat a diving Christensen just inside the right post. In the closing minutes, with United pressing forward in search of the tying goal, Fernandes took a long pass and went in all alone on Christensen, deking out the 22-year-old keeper and guiding the clinching goal into an open net.
Melia made eight saves, including a pair of acrobatic stops on free-kick specialist Kevin Kratz that could've allowed United to escape with a point. Finishing off the clean sheet, Melia got a hand on Miguel Almiron's last-gasp attempt, knocking the ball off the post and leaping on top of the loose ball.
Almiron walked away shaking his head, and the referee blew the whistle to end the game. Melia was swarmed by his teammates, celebrating his brilliant performance before a crowd of 44,696 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Atlanta went a man down in the 34th minute. Shelton broke in all alone and Guzan darted off his line to challenge the streaking Kansas City player. But Guzan got there a split-second too late, clipping Shelton's left ankle with his right foot to send the forward flying through the air.
The referee immediately brought out the red card, meaning United would have to go the rest of the way without its No. 1 keeper. Atlanta was already short-handed at that position, having brought up Christensen from Atlanta United 2 in the second-tier United Soccer League when Kann couldn't suit up because of a knee injury.
Right away, the rookie had to face a dangerous free kick from the top of the box but the shot curled harmlessly wide of the post. Early in the second half, Christensen came up huge when Johnny Russell raced past a defender to collect a pass in the area. Christensen darted aggressively off his line and blocked the left-footed blast with his stomach.
Until Guzan's flagrant foul, United had largely controlled play in the opening half.
Josef Martinez appeared to put the home side ahead in the sixth minute after collecting a deflected pass in front of the goal, losing defender Ike Opara with a nifty move to his left foot and ripping a shot past Melia. But Martinez was clearly offside, leading to a video review that overturned the goal.
United had several more chances to break up the clean sheet. Melia swatted away a header by Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, got in front of a backfooted flick by Martinez and stuffed a chance by Hector Villalba when he broke free in front of the net on a perfectly timed pass from Darlington Nagbe.
The red card on Guzan cost United in several ways. Villalba was subbed out to get Christensen on the field, costing Atlanta one of its top scoring threats.
Seattle 2, Toronto 1
TORONTO (AP)—Handwalla Bwana scored early in the second half and the Seattle Sounders beat Toronto FC 2-1 on Wednesday night in a rematch of the previous two MLS Cup finals.
Seattle won the championship in a shootout in 2016, and Toronto won 2-0 in December.
Will Bruin also scored for Seattle (2-4-2), and Stefan Frei made five saves. Jonathan Osorio scored for Toronto (2-5-1).
Tosaint Ricketts had a chance to tie it in stoppage time off Jordan Hamilton's header, but Frei was able to re-direct the shot wide.
Bwana scored his first career MLS goal, taking a through ball from Bruin and beating Bono between the legs in the 54th minute.
Seattle opened the scoring in the 25th minute when Bruin picked up a through ball from Magnus Wolff Eikrem, outran Gregory van der Wiel and beat Bono for his third of the season. Osorio tied it for Toronto in the 40th minute on a header off Sebastian Giovinco's feed.
Columbus 1, Philadelphia 0
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—Gyasi Zardes scored his sixth goal of the season and the Columbus Crew kept the Philadelphia Union winless on the road with a 1-0 victory Wednesday night.
Columbus (5-3-3) extended its unbeaten streak to four matches. Philadelphia (2-5-2), which has lost four of its last five, hasn't won on the road in 16 matches.
Zardes' 40th career goal came in the 53rd minute on an easy tap-in. Cristian Martinez ran to a loose ball along the end line and his cross got past goalkeeper Andre Blake to find an open Zardes at the far post.
Harrison Afful had the best scoring chance for either team in the first half when the Columbus midfielder curled a shot off the far post in the 41st. Columbus goalkeeper Zack Steffen denied C.J. Sapong's close-range shot in second-half stoppage time.
Philadelphia's six goals this season—none on the road—are the fewest in the league.
Chicago 1, Montreal 0
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (AP)—Chicago defender Kevin Ellis scored in the 89th minute and the Fire beat the Montreal Impact 1-0 on Wednesday night.
Chicago (3-4-2) has won three of the last five games in the series despite outscoring the Impact by just two goals, 7-5. Montreal (3-7-0) has lost five of its last six games.
Ellis came forward along the right side, gathered a pass near the corner flag and took seven touches to get inside the box for a deflected shot that froze goalkeeper Evan Bush.
It was Ellis' second straight game with a goal. On Saturday, Ellis settled an attempted clearance with his chest and smashing it for his first goal with the Fire.
Chicago goalkeeper Richard Sanchez had his second clean sheet of the season.
LAFC 2, Minnesota 0
LOS ANGELES (AP)—Eduard Atuesta and Mark-Anthony Kaye each scored their first MLS goal—six minutes apart—and Los Angeles FC beat Minnesota United 2-0 on Wednesday night.
LAFC (6-2-1) extended its undefeated streak to five matches since a 5-0 loss to Atlanta United on April 7. Minnesota (4-6-0) had its two-game winning streak snapped.
Atuesta, a 20-year-old Colombian making his second MLS start, settled Diego Rossi's pass at the penalty spot and slotted it home through traffic in the 31st minute to open the scoring. Minutes later, Kaye volleyed home Latif Blessing's leaping header in the box.
Tyler Miller had his fourth shutout of the season to help LAFC remain undefeated at home.