MLS

MLS: Johnson heroics helps NYC move into top spot, Revs denied by Union

By Sports Desk May 28, 2022

New York City have extended their winning streak to four games and moved into top spot in the Eastern Conference after a 1-0 road win over Minnesota United on Saturday.

City defender Alexander Callens netted the game's only goal in the 29th minute, while goalkeeper Sean Johnson was outstanding for the visitors.

Callens powered in the winner with a bouncing header from Santiago Rodriguez's corner.

Minnesota almost equalised in the 90th minute but were thwarted by a spectacular double save by Johnson from Emanuel Reynoso and Robin Lod efforts.

City moved ahead of Philadelphia Union in the east, after they could only manage a 1-1 draw away to under-achieving New England Revolution.

The Revs, who won last season's Supporters' Shield, have rallied after a poor start to their campaign, going unbeaten in their past five, but have only collected 16 points from 13 games.

Gustavo Bou had put New England ahead from the penalty spot in the 75th minute, but Union levelled two minutes later after Omar Gonzalez's inexplicable error allowed Mikael Uhre to score.

Montreal, who are third in the east, got back on the winners' list with a hard-fought 4-3 victory over Cincinnati with a double from Rommel Quioto.

Luquinhas netted a brace as New York Red Bulls stayed in touch with the Eastern Conference's top three with a 4-1 home victory over struggling DC United.

In the Western Conference, LAFC remains four points clear at the top after Brian Rodriguez's 47th-minute winner clinched a 3-2 triumph over San Jose Earthquakes.

LAFC had raced to a 2-0 lead inside 13 minutes but San Jose equalised after two goals from in-form Jeremy Ebobisse, who has scored an equal-league high nine times this term.

Rodriguez, who got the assist for Ryan Hollingshead's 13th minute goal, scored when a loose ball arrived at his feet unmarked at the back post, firing past Earthquakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski.

Nashville ended the Colorado Rapids' remarkable 23-game unbeaten run at home with a 3-1 victory.

Charles Sapong netted in the eighth minute, before Hany Mukhtar's quickfire double had Nashville 3-0 up inside 18 minutes. The win moves Nashville up to fifth in the west.

Dallas came from behind to win 3-1 at Orlando City, Real Salt Lake won their third straight with a 3-0 victory over Houston Dynamo and Vancouver Whitecaps moved off bottom spot with a 1-0 triumph at Sporting KC.

Inter Miami extended their unbeaten run to four games with a 2-1 home win over Portland Timbers, Columbus Crew triumphed 2-1 over 10-man Atlanta United and Toronto won 3-2 over Chicago Fire after two late Pozuelo goals.

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  • San Jose Earthquakes v Orlando City: Gonzalez certain things will turn San Jose Earthquakes v Orlando City: Gonzalez certain things will turn

    The San Jose Earthquakes may sit bottom of the Western Conference standings ahead of Saturday's clash with Orlando City, but Luchi Gonzalez is certain they will be just fine.

    The 'Quakes saw their mini revival halted by a 4-2 loss to the Portland Timbers in midweek, having previously won three straight games across all competitions.

    Their 10 points are fewer than all MLS teams except the New England Revolution (seven) have won this season, but Gonzalez has seen positive signs.

    "We're going to be fine. This is a great group, and they continue to fight for each other. It's hard when we drop points," he said.

    "I expect nothing but a fire in their belly and a response against Orlando and then in the next one, and it's really fun and exciting to coach this team. 

    "These guys work for each other and they want to keep getting better, and I'm confident they will keep getting better as the season continues."

    Orlando have also made a stuttering start, earning 13 points from 12 games to sit 11th in the Eastern Conference standings.

    The Lions did shut out a Lionel Messi-less Inter Miami side in a goalless draw on Wednesday, though, and midfielder Wilder Cartagena has seen signs of progress.

    "Especially in the last few games, we've been showing ourselves to be more dangerous and attacking," Cartagena said.

    "It's similar to how we were in the last half of last year but obviously there are a couple of minor adjustments that we have to make. I think we are playing a lot better in that area."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    San Jose Earthquakes – Amahl Pellegrino 

    Pellegrino has scored in three straight games, becoming the first San Jose player to do so in MLS play since Cristian Espinoza between July and August last year (four straight). 

    It's Pellegrino's first time scoring in three straight league matches since he netted in four in a row for Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt in 2023.

    Orlando City – Cesar Araujo

    Orlando allowed 29 shots against the Philadelphia Union last Saturday but just seven against Miami on Wednesday. It was the first time in their MLS history that Orlando faced at least 20 fewer shots from one game to the next.

    Araujo protected the backline admirably in midweek and will look to do likewise again here.

    MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

    The home side has never lost in six all-time meetings between San Jose and Orlando. 

    The first three meetings were all drawn before the hosts won each of the last three, with San Jose winning at home in 2019 and Orlando recording home wins in 2018 and 2021.

    After their midweek stalemate against Miami, Orlando have been shut out five times in league play this season. That is tied for the most in MLS in 2024, while their six times being held scoreless in all competitions this term also equals the most by any MLS outfit. 

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    San Jose Earthquakes – 38.4%

    Orlando City – 33.4%

    Draw – 28.2%

  • Toronto FC v CF Montreal: Courtois accepts blame amid ongoing winless streak Toronto FC v CF Montreal: Courtois accepts blame amid ongoing winless streak

    Laurent Courtois has accepted that it is on him to find a winning formula as CF Montreal look to snap their winless run against Toronto FC.

    Montreal were beaten 3-1 by Columbus Crew in midweek and are now without a victory in six games in all competitions.

    That includes a three-game losing streak in MLS, leaving them 13th in the Eastern Conference, and Courtois is eager to get back on track.

    "It's up to me to find the winning formulas and discern the phases of the game," head coach Courtois said after the loss to Columbus.

    "We have to grit our teeth and find solutions. The difficult times we are going through help me identify my group. I want to know the players better. 

    "From all the negative aspects we can observe, I can identify a few individual aspects to improve the game or the team itself."

    Monreal's rivals Toronto have themselves lost back-to-back games ahead of Saturday's Canadian Classique at BMO Field.

    Nashville SC scored twice late on to snatch a 2-0 win in the Reds' most recent match, but acting head coach Jason deVos admits there can be no excuses.

    "The last ten minutes, two mistakes cost us and that's the cruelty of football sometimes - that it's a 90-minute match and you need to put in a 90-minute performance in," he said. 

    "The players are aware of that. They know where the growth areas are for us as a team."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Toronto - Federico Bernardeschi

    Bernardeschi missed the loss to Nashville but will hope to start this weekend in a fixture he has fond memories of. 

    The Italian has scored in each of his two home games against Montreal, making him the third Toronto player to score in two successive home games against them after Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley.

    Montreal - Joel Waterman

    Montreal have conceded three or more goals five times across their 12 MLS games this season, which is tied with San Jose Earthquakes for the most in MLS.

    They quite simply need to sharpen up at the back, with Joel Waterman needing to step up and hope others around him also do so.. The centre-back led the way for interceptions (three) and clearances (four) against Columbus, yet it was still not enough.

    MATCH PREDICTION: DRAW

    Montreal have won five successive matches against Toronto, following a run of neither side ever winning more than three on the spin in this fixture.

    Toronto have won seven and drawn one of their eight matches in which they have held opponents under two goals since September, while they have lost all 13 in which they have shipped two or more.

    Keeping the opposition quiet is therefore key, and this could present a chance to do just that against a Montreal side with fewer points (five) than any side in MLS since mid-March.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Toronto - 39.6%
    Draw - 28.5%
    Montreal - 31.9%

  • Fiorentina 2-2 Napoli: Kvaratskhelia keeps visitors' slim European hopes alive Fiorentina 2-2 Napoli: Kvaratskhelia keeps visitors' slim European hopes alive

    Dethroned Italian champions Napoli's hopes of playing European football next season are hanging by a thread after they played out a 2-2 draw at Fiorentina in Serie A on Friday.

    Napoli took the lead in the eighth minute through defender Amir Rrahmani, who nodded home a corner by Matteo Politano.

    Cristiano Biraghi levelled for Fiorentina in the 40th minute from a free-kick, before M'Bala Nzola put the hosts in front two minutes later when he fired a shot into the bottom corner of the net.

    Napoli's Khvicha Kvaratskhelia responded with another stunning free-kick early in the second half to rescue a point for his team.

    Eighth-placed Fiorentina, on 54 points and with a game in hand, are five points behind Lazio in seventh.

    They can still earn a Europa League spot either by leapfrogging the Rome side or by winning the Europa Conference League final in which they face Greece's Olympiakos on May 29.

    Ninth-placed Napoli, on 52 points, still have a slim chance of making the Europa Conference League playoffs.

    Data Debrief

    Fiorentina left-back Biraghi has now scored six goals from direct free-kicks since the start of 2021-22, which is behind only James Ward-Prowse (seven) - now of West Ham and formerly of Southampton - as the most across Europe's top five leagues in that period.

    Kvaratskhelia also levelled via a direct free-kick, making this the first Serie A match in which both teams scored via that route since Fiorentina against Lazio in April 2018 (Jordan Veretout and Luis Alberto in that case).

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