Seattle and LAFC bookended their rematch in thrilling fashion, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic has a new sworn enemy and Minnesota United fans officially broke in their new home with their postgame tradition in MLS Week 9.
Last season's MLS Supporters' Shield winner and MLS Cup finalists have found 2019 to be less enjoyable, but all three were able to taste the spoils of victory during a very loaded Week 9.
Between the midweek and weekend action, MLS sides were busy over the last five days. For the New York Red Bulls, Atlanta United and Portland Timbers, their wins don't necessarily signal a total change of fortune, but they certainly represent building blocks for clubs not accustomed to failure in league play.
Elsewhere, an old tradition in Minnesota found a new home, an opponent had enough of Zlatan's antics and fans in Vancouver had enough of their club's inactivity over some very serious allegations.
Here's what stood out the most from MLS Week 9, starting with two of the league's top teams:
I. Wild start, wild finish in wild Western Conference rematch
The second meeting in a week between Western Conference contenders Seattle and LAFC was considerably closer than the first one–though perhaps it shouldn't have been.
The Sounders played over 70 minutes with 10 men after a red card to Cristian Roldan and finished with nine after a stoppage-time sending-off for Kelvin Leerdam, holding on for a 1-1 draw a week after suffering a 4-1 loss. VAR confirmed that Leerdam's takedown of Diego Rossi in the final minutes indeed took place outside the box, taking a potential game-winning PK away from LAFC and allowing Seattle to escape with the point.
All of that followed goals in the opening four minutes, with Jordan Morris's strike less than 60 seconds in matched by Carlos Vela's league-leading 11th three minutes later.
That figured to set the stage for a shootout, but it wound up being it for the scoring for a pair of teams that won't face each other again during the regular season. Given what both bring to the table, a one-off playoff battle between the two would be sensational.
II. Old tradition, new place
Minnesota United's new Allianz Field has officially been broken in after the first, stirring rendition of "Wonderwall" by the Loons faithful, something reserved for post-win celebrations at home. The club has previously explained the origin of the tradition in depth, and if it has its way, you'll be seeing this on national TV broadcasts plenty in the years to come.
III. Not everyone is enamored with Zlatan
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had his four-game scoring streak snapped in a midweek scoreless draw in Minnesota, and he appeared to take out his anger as he began a new one with a game-winner Sunday night vs. Real Salt Lake.
Nedum Onuoha received Zlatan's wrath, and after the game revealed that Ibrahimovic came into the RSL visitors' locker room to try to apologize. That ... didn't go over so well. Ibrahimovic tried to bring the fight to the game, but Onuoha was the one who left with some fighting words.
IV. An unlikely contender for game of the season
When you see Sporting KC vs. New England Revolution on the schedule, you don't expect an eight-goal thriller, yet that's what developed at Children's Mercy Park, with the two playing to a 4-4 draw. The result will feel like a loss for the Revolution in more ways than one. For starters, they had two-goal leads on two occasions, yet couldn't finish the job after having to finish the match with nine men following a pair of red cards. Making matters worse, Krisztian Nemeth, who scored all of one goal in his 21 appearances as a member of the Revs in 2017 and 2018, scored twice Saturday, including the eventual equalizer. Simply outrageous.
V. Making an Impact
What a week for the Montreal Impact. Travel nightmares threatened to derail the club for its midweek match in New England, yet they persevered and took the Revs to the woodshed by pulling away late in a 3-0 win. They returned home a few days later, and while it was far from a masterpiece of a performance, they dealt the Chicago Fire ther second 1-0 loss in four days on Omar Browne's late, debut goal.
The six points have vaulted Montreal into a first-place tie in the Eastern Conference–something made even more impressive by the fact they've done it without star playmaker Ignacio Piatti for the last seven games. Credit goes to Remi Garde, who entered the season on the hot seat but has taken steps to cool it off considerably.
VI. They really needed this win, Part I
The Red Bulls have lost their way this season, struggling to replicate their Supporters' Shield-winning methods, but maybe, just maybe, this will be the one that saves them.
A 1-0 win over an expansion side won't prompt any title preparations, but it's a start. The victory snapped a five-game winless skid, marked the club's first clean sheet of the season and was achieved without the suspended Kaku or injured Bradley Wright-Phillips. The goal came from the unlikeliest of sources, with Connor Lade blasting home a rocket for his first goal in almost three years. At this point, it's a case of whatever it takes for the Red Bulls.
VII. They really needed this win, Part II
Atlanta United is still the lowest-scoring team in the league. Yes, some teams have played up to two more games than the champs, but six goals scored in seven games is a staggering number nevertheless, considering the firepower for which the team has become synonymous. Like with the Red Bulls, a 1-0 win over a struggling side like the Colorado Rapids team won't allay any of the worry surrounding the Frank de Boer-led effort. And this fit from star signing Pity Martinez after he was subbed out of the match will put a damper on any positivity taken away from the win, too.
But three points are three points, and Atlanta really, really needed them. It says a lot that there's cause for celebration given the club is no longer in the Eastern Conference cellar. Life comes at you fast!
VIII. They really needed this win, Part III
The Portland Timbers got off the shnide with last week's win in Columbus, and now they've got some momentum building after following that up by winning in Toronto against a Jozy Altidore-less TFC. Jeremy Ebobisse's game-winner secured the three points, but how about this strike from defender Bill Tuiloma to open the scoring?
With four games left on their season-opening road trip while the finishing touches are put on the renovated Providence Park, the Timbers can start to feel a bit better about their standing, though they're not out of the woods just yet.
IX. What to make of NYCFC?
On one hand, Dome Torrent's side has only lost once in nine games. On the other, it's only won twice and has a negative goal differential. But perhaps Heber's arrival is helping set the rest of the dominoes in place. The Brazilian forward has two goals and two assists in his three games as a starter, giving the club the presence up top it had been sorely missing.
The club's standing is very much still in wait-and-see mode, but that's better than the earlier alternative, which appeared to be trending quickly toward "also-ran."
X. What to make of San Jose?
Matias Almeyda's Earthquakes played to a pair of road draws this week, blowing a two-goal lead in Seattle and then dueling FC Dallas to a scoreless draw. They're results that follow an impressive thrashing of Sporting KC and indicate that the manager's methods are taking hold after four straight losses to open the season.
With matches vs. Cincinnati and New England on deck, there's ample opportunity for Almeyda's project to keep building in the right direction as the early impression continues to wear off.
XI. Vancouver fans have had enough
And not with their struggling Whitecaps, who have wobbled through the first nine games of their rebuilding project.
For a second straight match, fans of the official supporters group The Southsiders, staged a walkout, in protest of the club and its alleged mishandling of some very serious problems. The first came to light in February, when former Whitecaps women's player Ciara McCormack detailed allegations of abuse from over a decade ago. That was compounded by the club hiring a coach for its youth program who had allegedly been under investigation for heinous acts of racism in his previous job at Notts County.
Fans will put up with losses, and they'll sit through the early phases of a total rebuild, but the line has been drawn at BC Place, and it's on club ownership and leadership to make things right. The Southsiders and club owners met prior to Saturday's 35th-minute walkout in the 1-1 draw vs. the Philadelphia Union, but that's just the start of dealing with some very real and valid supporter concerns regarding the club and what it hasn't properly addressed.