The 2016 MLS Cup playoff picture becomes clearer with each passing week. With few chances remaining for teams to accumulate the needed points to qualify, the pressure builds.
New leaders emerged in the Eastern Conference, and FC Dallas closed in further on capturing the Supporters’ Shield.
We review the key MLS matches from the past weekend.
HOUSTON DYNAMO 0 NEW YORK CITY FC 2 – BBVA COMPASS STADIUM
Forward David Villa and NYCFC dominated the Houston Dynamo on Friday night en route to a 2-0 victory. New York City are now tied for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Villa’s brace brings his goal total to 21 for the 2016 season, tied for the league lead.
Strong defensive work from both clubs saw the match open up in the second half, as Villa struck in the 51st minute and in stoppage time to seal three points for the visitors.
NEW YORK RED BULLS 3 PHILADELPHIA UNION 2 – RED BULL ARENA
In a match filled with drama, the New York Red Bulls defeated the Philadelphia Union 3-2 to join New York City FC atop the Eastern Conference.
A physical start to the match saw Philadelphia centre-back Joshua Yaro carried off the pitch with a concussion, while a 1-1 scoreline was taken into halftime.
Striker Bradley Wright-Phillips and team captain Dax McCarty scored in the second half to give the Red Bulls a crucial home win. The victory extends New York’s unbeaten streak to 14 league matches (18 across all competitions).
Wright-Phillips’ 21 goals for the season is level with David Villa for the league’s Golden Boot.
TORONTO FC 1 D.C. UNITED 2 – BMO FIELD
D.C. United midfielder Lamar Neagle stole the show at Toronto FC on Saturday night, as his brace lead the visitors to an impressive 2-1 victory.
Despite the home side taking the lead in the 39th minute through forward Jozy Altidore, Neagle’s output ultimately won the contest.
Toronto FC and manager Greg Vanney will be hoping to have last season’s MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco back in the lineup from injury this month.
The loss now leaves the Reds third place in the Eastern Conference, two points behind leaders New York Red Bulls and NYCFC.
FC DALLAS 1 LOS ANGELES GALAXY 0 – TOYOTA STADIUM
A strong defensive performance and a first half goal were enough for FC Dallas to defeat Los Angeles 1-0 on Saturday evening.
Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman scored in the 39th minute to give the hosts a lead that they would not relinquish.
LA saw the home side control possession throughout much of the second half and could not get forward into the attack often.
The victory gives Dallas a five-point lead in the Supporters’ Shield standings, as manager Oscar Pareja’s team is on the verge of a regular season title.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS 1 SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC 2 – BC PLACE
A fiery and intense match Sunday night saw the Seattle Sounders continue their fine form in a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Seattle defender Brad Evans scored the winning penalty kick (81’), only to be sent off three minutes later for violent conduct. Vancouver’s Pedro Morales had been sent off in the 53rd minute after scoring a penalty for Vancouver in the first half (25’), as the match finished with ten players on each side.
Seattle’s fourth consecutive win has them in one of the Western Conference playoff spots as the final weeks approach.
SCORES AROUND THE LEAGUE
SATURDAY OCTOBER 1ST
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION 3 – SPORTING KANSAS CITY 1
COLUMBUS CREW SC 3 – CHICAGO FIRE 0
COLORADO RAPIDS 1 – PORTLAND TIMBERS 0
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES 2 – REAL SALT LAKE 1
SUNDAY OCTOBER 2ND
ORLANDO CITY SC 0 – MONTREAL IMPACT 1