MLS

NYC slump continues with shock loss to Rooney's DC United in Benteke debut, Riqui Puig nets stunning Galaxy equaliser

By Sports Desk August 31, 2022

Reigning MLS Cup champions New York City slumped to their fifth loss from their past six games as Christian Benteke debuted for DC United who claimed an upset 2-1 win on Wednesday.

City had ended a three-game losing run with a 2-0 win at Chicago Fire 10 days before losing to Orlando City on the weekend but their poor form continued at Red Bull Arena.

Ola Kamara tapped in from point blank range to give the visitors at 24th-minute lead, but Heber side-footed in an equalizer three minutes later.

Steven Birnbaum restored United's lead with a header from a Martin Rodriguez free-kick in the 57th minute and City could not find a response with David Ochoa palming away Gedion Zelalem's 95th-minute effort.

The win is Wayne Rooney's second since taking over at United who are still last in the Eastern Conference, while it sees City slide down to fourth in the east.

Riqui Puig scored a spectacular late equalizer with a long-range curler after a give-and-go to earn LA Galaxy a 2-2 draw away to Toronto.

Douglas Costa had put the Galaxy into a 24th-minute lead before Toronto hit back with second-half goals to Jesus Jimenez and Filippo Bernardeschi before the Spaniard's 89th-minute strike.

Riqui Puig was making only his third appearance for the Galaxy following his August move from Barcelona.

The result dents star-studded Toronto's playoffs aspirations, leaving them 10th in the east, while the Galaxy are eighth in the west.

Philadelphia Union became the second team behind LAFC to book their postseason berth with a 4-1 home win over Atlanta United.

Julian Carranza, Mikael Uhre, Daniel Gazdag and Nathan Harriel were all among the goals for Union who are eight points clear in the east.

New York Red Bulls moved up to third in the east with a 1-0 win at second-placed Montreal with Lewis Morgan hitting the winner in the 43rd minute.

LAFC suffered a shock 2-1 loss to lowly Houston Dynamo, who condemning the Western Conference leaders to their third straight defeat.

Inter Miami slumped to back-to-back losses with a 1-0 defeat at Columbus Crew, while New England's winless run extended to four games after a goalless draw with struggling Chicago Fire who snapped a three-game losing run.

Hany Mukhtar netted a hat-trick as Nashville beat Colorado Rapids 4-1, while Orlando City came from two goals down to defeat Seattle Sounders 3-2.

Real Salt Lake proved too good for Minnesota United 3-0 and Portland Timbers moved into the west's top seven with a narrow win against second-placed Austin 2-1.

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  • FC Cincinnati v Nashville SC: Noonan praises hosts' adaptability FC Cincinnati v Nashville SC: Noonan praises hosts' adaptability

    Pat Noonan believes being able to win in different ways has been the key to FC Cincinnati's fine run of form, as the Orange and Blue look to make it eight straight victories against Nashville SC on Wednesday.

    Cincinnati have won their last seven league games to surge up the Eastern Conference standings, and they currently sit just one point adrift of leaders Inter Miami with a game in hand.

    They overcame fellow high-fliers Toronto FC by a 4-3 scoreline in a thriller last time out, and Noonan has praised his players for being adaptable in the face of different challenges. 

    "It's hard to win in this league and it's hard to win consecutively like we've done," Noonan said. 

    "I think what we're able to do is adapt in games and win in different ways. When we need to have the quality with the ball and score goals, we were able to do that. 

    "We've seen the one-goal wins, and finally being able to win a game by two goals last week against St. Louis City. So we can win in different ways, which is important."

    Nashville, meanwhile, are still awaiting their first win under interim coach Rumba Munthali, having played out back-to-back draws with Atlanta United (1-1) and CF Montreal (0-0) since they fired Gary Smith.

    "It's been good, it's been positive," Munthali said of the team's work on the training ground. 

    "The guys have done the work that was asked of them and have been really positive and receptive, especially at a tough time in this transition."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH 

    FC Cincinnati – Luciano Acosta

    Acosta assisted Cincinnati's winner last Saturday, his ninth straight regular-season match with a goal contribution, equalling the longest run in MLS since the start of the 2023 season. 

    Since 2000, only six players have recorded a double-digit streak of regular-season games with a goal contribution.

    Nashville SC – Hany Mukhtar 

    Mukhtar created five chances for team-mates in Nashville's draw with Montreal last time out, his most in a match this season. 

    Nine of the 19 chances Mukhtar has created this year have come in two games against Montreal, with just 10 in his other 10 matches. Will that performance be a turning point? 

    MATCH PREDICTION – FC CINCINNATI WIN

    Nashville have only won only one of their last 16 MLS away matches (six draws, nine defeats including playoffs), including going winless in their last eight (four draws, four losses). 

    Nashville's last road win over an Eastern Conference foe came over a year ago, a 2-1 victory at Charlotte FC on May 20, 2023.

    Cincinnati's 4-3 win at Toronto last time out was their 31st victory in their last 50 regular-season matches dating back to October 2022, the most wins in a span of 50 regular-season matches in MLS in the post-shootout era (since 2000).

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    FC Cincinnati – 56.5%

    Nashville SC – 21.6%

    Draw – 21.9%

  • Shaw hits back at critics questioning Man Utd loyalty Shaw hits back at critics questioning Man Utd loyalty

    Luke Shaw has hit back at those "questioning his loyalty" to Manchester United following an injury-hit campaign.

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    Despite that, Shaw received a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s provisional 33-man squad for Euro 2024, though the England manager said he is a "long shot" to make the final squad.

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  • Pineda confident things will turn for Atlanta ahead of Miami trip Pineda confident things will turn for Atlanta ahead of Miami trip

    Gonzalo Pineda remains confident things will turn for Atlanta United after nine MLS games without a victory, as the Five Stripes prepare to visit Inter Miami on Wednesday.

    Atlanta sit 12th in the Eastern Conference, 21 points adrift of pacesetters Miami, after failing to win any of their last nine matches since the start of April (four draws, five defeats).

    Sporting Kansas City (two) are the only team in MLS to earn fewer than the four points Atlanta have picked up in that span.

    However, Pineda believes the fact Atlanta are still creating chances is a major positive, saying Thiago Almada's return to full fitness will surely lead to an upturn.

    Speaking after Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Los Angeles FC, he said: "I'm very confident in the team, honestly. 

    "Once again I thought we created some big chances, and we didn't have Thiago available for more than 30 minutes. With that, we have our backline being stable again and we'll have our best attacking pieces together again.

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    Miami, meanwhile, continued their strong form with a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps last time out, despite Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets all being rested.

    While Messi's absence infuriated many of the 55,000 fans present in Vancouver, coach Gerardo Martino says it was important to give the Argentina great a breather, and he is expected to feature on Wednesday.

    "It must be stressed that he has played a lot of minutes this season, so we had to find a moment to give him a break and to rest him for a match," Martino said of Messi.

    "In this specific case, the trip to Vancouver made the most sense. We understand people's frustrations, especially because of the desire these fans have to see these players. 

    "But as coaches, we have to make these decisions that are uncomfortable and that will frustrate people. Ultimately we have to look after our players and the team."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Inter Miami – Leonardo Campana

    Prior to missing last week's trip to Vancouver, Messi had gone consecutive starts without a goal contribution for the second time since joining Miami last year. 

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    Atlanta United – Brooks Lennon

    No Atlanta player has recorded more key passes in MLS this year than Lennon's 33, a tally only Almada can match. 

    If the Five Stripes are to end their dismal run of form, he could have a key role to play.

    MATCH PREDICTION – INTER MIAMI WIN

    Atlanta are winless in 13 straight away matches in all competitions (seven draws, six defeats), and have now managed just four wins in their last 43 road games.

    Miami, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last 10 MLS matches, winning seven of the last eight. They even showed they can cope without Messi on Saturday, recording just their third win in 14 matches without the Argentine since his arrival last July (five draws, six losses).

    Miami have never lost a home game against Atlanta, winning four and drawing two versus them, including winning each of the teams' last three clashes in Fort Lauderdale.

    The only road win in the 12-match history of the teams' series was a 2-1 victory for the Herons at Atlanta in September 2020.

    Martino's team enter Wednesday's game as big favourites, regardless of the status of their stars.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Inter Miami – 51.2%

    Atlanta United – 25.7%

    Draw – 23.1%

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