Whoa, okay folks. Buckle in. MLS has gone off the rails this weekend. Pirlo makes his New York City FC debut, FC Dallas sneaks their way into the Supporter’s Shield lead, and good-lord, there was a lot of goals! Btw, who had DC United leading the Eastern Conference at the All-Star break? Not me.

New York City FC 5 – Orlando City 3

Pirlo and Kaka in MLS

Andrea Pirlo made his highly anticipated debut for New York City Football Club in a 5-3 thriller from Yankee Stadium that was run by a couple of youngsters from the two MLS expansion franchises. Orlando’s Cyle Larin put one hand on the Rookie of the Year trophy with a hat trick on national television, while Kwadwo Poku helped earn all three points for NYCFC with a hat trick of assists.

A David Villa strike just before half time set this game on fire. Villa was assisted by on-loan 18-year-old winger Anglino from Manchester City. It was the teenager’s first professional assist.

Cyle Larin’s hat trick was a great welcome to the Orlando City supporters who had waited over 300 minutes for a goal in MLS play. Larin’s first in the 50th minute was a reward for his drive to win the ball played ahead to him. The strike beat Josh Saunders to his near post. The goalkeeper has conceded twelve goals in his past five appearances for New York City.

Javier Calle tapped in a simple ball across the 6-yard area to make it 2-1, momentarily. Orlando countered immediately with a sharp pacy attack. Darwin Ceren’s deep ball into Carlos Rivas was played across goal for a Larin to smash into the net for his second goal after 61 minutes.

NYCFC would add two goals this time and put Orlando in their clutches, both assisted by Poku. Villa received another ball at the top of the goal area and spun Aurelien Collin. The all-time Spanish leading goal scorer placed a bouncing finish past the shielded Orlando goalkeeper, Tally Hall, to take the lead.

Cyle Larin scored his hat trick in the 85th minute. The strong center forward rifled a smart shot from the top of the goal area that shocked the NYCFC backline. It lined the top corner and put Orlando within a goal late.

Mix Diskerud put the nail in the coffin during extra time. The 5th NYCFC goal came off of a Kaka free kick that (could have tied the match at 4-4) rebounded off the post and launched a 3v1 counter attack.

After this weekend’s draw and a Montreal win, both teams find themselves equal on 24 points with 21 games played, but outside of a playoff position. These expansion franchises look to be on the top of the red line come November. Expect to see them fight and claw their way there in the coming months.

Next week: New York City host Montreal & Orlando hosts Columbus

Columbus Crew SC 3 – Toronto FC 3

A 3-0 second half lead for the Columbus Crew would not be enough to shake the visiting Reds from Toronto. TFC was able to keep their hands up and fought for a hard-earned point that would not come without controversy.

MLS Golden Boot leader Kei Kamara continued his career season with his 15th goal of the season in the 17th minute. Ethan Finley’s half volley was saved by Joe Bendik and was redirected towards goal by Federico Higuain. Kamara was Johnny-on-the-Spot to nod in the first goal from a tight angle.

Kamara ended the night with just one goal to add to his collection. The Sierra Leone international had many more chances that just went wide of the post. On another day, this would have been a multi-goal performance from the hottest feet in the league.

Columbus would go ahead 2-0 when Tony Tchani’s pass to Ethan Finley was mistouched and was well placed into the bottom corner of the goal by Tchani. Finley over ran the pass and was accidently back heeled back to the forward moving Tchani.

Two minutes into the second half, Columbus would get the third goal that they had been working on. Federico Higuain’s long diagonal run would distract the TFC backline. Justin Meram’s through ball into the goal area for Ethan Finley would give the Crew a 3-0 cushion. It was Finley’s fifth goal in six games.

Toronto FC and Giovinco would not blink at the scoreboard. The Reds came out and continued their pursuit to goal. Their reward would be two goals within six minutes before the hour mark.

Collen Warner played a lofted cross to Giovinco into the goal area. The Italian took the ball of the volley and placed it firmly to the side netting. The second goal came from Warner, who made a late run into the goal area and connected with a Daniel Lovitz cross.

In the 88th minute, Waylon Francis tripped Jozy Altidore from behind in the goal area. This certainly was a foul, because Francis did not play the ball. However, the penalty will be seen as a controversial call because of the previous pushing outside of the goal area and because it seemed as though the cross was out of reach from both players. Altidore converted the penalty and the match ended in a 3-3 draw.

The teams took the tie and go their separate ways. Giovinco did score once, but took an outstanding eight shots on the night (only three on frame). Both goalkeepers managed four saves apiece, despite conceding three goals.

This was the first time Columbus and Toronto have drawn since April 2011. The past five meetings between these two teams have resulted in an average of four goals per game. The two sides will meet again on the second to last weekend of the season at BMO Field.

Next week: Columbus visit Orlando & Toronto visits New England

DC United 3 – Philadelphia Union 2

DC United win

Image: USA Today Sports

Philadelphia jumped out to 2-0 goal advantage against DC United Sunday, but that was not enough to stop the Eastern Conference leaders.

CJ Sapong and Sebastian Le Toux both scored before some United supporters were even to their seats. Officially, Sapong’s goal came after 20 seconds. Cristian Maidana’s slicing pass into the goal area lead Sapong to turn and shoot.

Le Toux managed to score from a slow rolling diagonal through ball that was too far ahead of Sapong. The pass was across goal and was just out of reach and untouched. It teased United goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra and was out of reach and into the corner of the goal before he knew it.

United thought they may be let of the hook in the 32nd minute. A penalty was awarded to the home team when Davy Arnaud was taken down by Raymon Gaddis. Fabian Espindola approached the kick and soared it over the goal.

The newest member of the United family was there to help put the pieces back together. Alvaro Saborio scored his first goal in a non-RSL shirt thanks to a well placed cross by Chris Korb.

Nick DeLeon’s special effort leveled the match to the delight of the Barra Brava. The wide midfielder followed up a shot from Espindola and cleaned up the spill by Union keeper Brian Sylvestre.

Philadelphia was not able to amount many more dangerous chances throughout the match. United tightened down on defense and kept possession of the ball for the most of the game. Sapong had a chance to give the Union a third, but the forward’s chip over Dykstra came off the woodwork

Espindola would write off his wrongs in the 79th minute to give DC the lead for good. Chris Korb’s second assist of the game took advantage of Gaddis’ height disadvantage and lack of man marking through the goal area. Espindola launched towards the ball and headed the ball into the goal with a commanding finish.

DC United may now be a lock for the playoffs and the Union has some ground to make up. Philadelphia is averaging one point per game, which is second worst in the league. The Union will look to gain some momentum in August, where they play four of six matches at home.

Next week: DC United host Salt Lake & Philadelphia hosts New York RB

Other scores in MLS Week 21:

Real Salt Lake 2 – Sporting KC 1

Montreal 1 – Seattle 0

Chicago 2 – New England 2

FC Dallas 4 – Portland 1

Houston 3 – LA Galaxy 0

Vancouver 3 – San Jose 1

I have to go with Benny Feilhaber on this one guys. Let me know what you think below. Did you watch the games this weekend? Was there a better goal out there?


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