MLS

MLS: Philadelphia down champions New York City, Shaqiri nets maiden goal in Chicago victory

By Sports Desk March 19, 2022

Early Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union made a statement with a 2-0 win away to reigning MLS Cup champions New York City on Saturday.

Union scored first-half goals from Alejandro Bedoya and Daniel Gazdag, while Sergio Santos had a goal disallowed on the stroke of half-time, as Philadelphia got some revenge after last season's Eastern Conference final defeat to City.

Bedoya put Philadelphia ahead in the 12th minute, but City thought they had an avenue back into the game when referee Ted Unkel awarded them a penalty and sent off Jack Elliott for a 28th-minute last-man push on Santiago Rodriguez.

However, VAR intervened and determined that Rodriguez had illegally used his hand in the lead-up, meaning the penalty and red card were overturned.

The win was Philadephia's first at Yankee Stadium and came despite City bossing the possession count with 74 percent.

Former Liverpool and Bayern Munich attacker Xherdan Shaqiri netted his first MLS goal as Chicago Fire won 3-1 over Sporting KC.

Shaqiri scored from the spot in the 50th minute to make it 2-0 as Chicago extended its unbeaten start to the new season with Kacper Przybylko hitting a double.

Jesus Ferreira scored a first-half hat-trick as Dallas defeated Portland Timbers 4-1 in a sign of intent for the forward ahead of USA's upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

All three of Ferreira's goals came in a 10-minute span, marking his first-ever MLS hat-trick.

Gonzalo Higuain scored, but Inter Miami remain winless this term after a 3-1 loss away to last season's strugglers Cincinnati.

The result leaves Phil Neville's side with an MLS-worst record of one point from four games, having conceded 10 goals and only scored two.

Karol Swiderski netted a double as Charlotte upset New England Revolution 3-1, while Luis Amarilla's 32nd-minute strike lifted Western Conference leaders Minnesota United past San Jose Earthquakes 1-0.

Tyler Pasher's 90th minute goal salvaged a 1-1 home draw for Houston Dynamo against Colorado Rapids, while 10-man Atlanta United scored twice in the final five minutes to rescue a 3-3 draw with Montreal.

Facundo Torres' early goal got Orlando City past LA Galaxy 1-0, Bob Bradley's Toronto knocked off DC United 2-1 and Real Salt Lake edge 10-man Nashville 2-1.

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  • Colorado Rapids v CF Montreal: Armas has faith in hosts' squad, plots rotation Colorado Rapids v CF Montreal: Armas has faith in hosts' squad, plots rotation

    Chris Armas has full faith in the depth of his Colorado Rapids squad as he ponders potential changes ahead of Saturday's clash with CF Montreal in MLS.

    The Rapids are enjoying an impressive campaign and currently sit fifth in the Western Conference standings, nine points adrift of leaders Real Salt Lake.

    They thrashed St. Louis City 3-0 on the road on Wednesday after overcoming Austin FC last weekend, and at the end of a busy week, Armas will likely make some changes.

    "We'll take a hard look and think about fresh legs and then tactically what makes the most sense, but I have a lot of confidence in our roster," Armas said.

    "I have a lot of confidence in the depth, confidence in players' abilities to suffer and increase the comfort zones to suffer and to endure a little bit more physically. 

    "It's a difficult part of any coach's job. Only 11 guys can start and you only use a finite amount to divvy out. We'll take a close look, but again, I have a lot of confidence. 

    "We have really strong internal competition that's driving the team forward and then I can take the tough decisions, but that's my job."

    Montreal, meanwhile, sit 12th in the Eastern Conference after being pegged back in a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls last time out.

    Midfielder Bryce Duke believes adjusting to the altitude in Denver will be a major test for them next time out, saying: "Getting here two days before the game helps us with our preparation. 

    "It gives us an extra day of practice in these conditions. Our staff is working on a gameplan to help us acclimate to the altitude."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Colorado Rapids – Djordje Mihailovic 

    Mihailovic secured the first hat-trick of his career against St. Louis City on Wednesday, becoming the third Rapids player with a treble in a road game in any MLS competition and the first to do so since 2009, joining Conor Casey (twice) and Jeff Cunningham.

    CF Montreal – Sunusi Ibrahim 

    Ibrahim scored the opening goal in Montreal's draw against the Red Bulls on Wednesday, his 12th goal in MLS play, all before turning 22 years old. 

    That is double the number of regular-season goals scored by any other player before turning 22 in Montreal's MLS history (six by Orji Okwonkwo).

    MATCH PREDICTION: COLORADO RAPIDS WIN

    This will be the first meeting between the Rapids and Montreal since a 6-3 home win for Colorado in August 2019. Those six goals are the most Colorado have ever scored in a match.

    While it may not be as convincing as that win, Colorado are fancied for another victory here.

    They have won each of their last two games to nil. The last time the Rapids had consecutive shutout victories was in March 2022, and the last time they won three straight with shutouts was in August 2007.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Colorado Rapids – 45.3%

    CF Montreal – 27.8%

    Draw – 26.9%

  • St. Louis City v Atlanta United: Markanich says home advantage must tell St. Louis City v Atlanta United: Markanich says home advantage must tell

    St. Louis City must use this week's home clash with Atlanta United to turn things around after seven games without a victory, says defender Anthony Markanich.

    St. Louis were thrashed 3-0 by the Colorado Rapids in midweek to extend their miserable run of form, with their last victory coming against the Chicago Fire back on May 12.

    They have slipped to 12th in the Western Conference standings after topping the pile in their first campaign in MLS in 2023, and Markanich says they need to harness the support they receive at CITYPARK.

    "I think every home game should be a win," Markanich said. "These next two games are very important."

    Reflecting on their midweek defeat, head coach Bradley Carnell said: "At the moment, we can have certain things not going our way. We're not looking for excuses or for help, we have to help ourselves out of this situation. 

    "I'm confident in my group that we can do that. It's not been what we were looking for and we know we can do better."

    Atlanta, meanwhile, have won back-to-back matches to rise to ninth in the Eastern Conference, looking revitalised under interim head coach Rob Valentino.

    Thiago Almada scored their winner against D.C. United last time out, leading Valentino to heap praise upon the 2022 World Cup winner.

    "He ends up showing his quality, that's what he's there for," Valentino said of Almada.

    "He works hard in training to do that, whether he's got pressure on him or not. As a staff we try to take the pressure off everyone in the group and let them go out and enjoy their football."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    St. Louis City – Joao Klauss

    Klauss' five goals in MLS this year are more than any other St. Louis player, while only Celio Pompeu and Eduard Lowen (three apiece) have bettered his two assists among his team-mates.

    Atlanta United – Thiago Almada 

    Almada scored the only goal of the match from outside the box in Atlanta's win over D.C. United on Wednesday, his 12th career MLS goal from outside the area, four more than any other player since he joined the league in 2022.

    MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW 

    This will be the first ever meeting between St. Louis and Atlanta. The hosts are winless in four straight games on their own turf for the first time in club history.

    Atlanta, meanwhile, have recorded back-to-back road wins for the first time in almost three years, since victories over the Columbus Crew and D.C. back in August 2021.

    The Five Stripes had drawn four of their previous five away matches across all competitions, though, and another draw could be on the cards here.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    St. Louis City – 37%

    Atlanta United – 36.6%

    Draw – 26.4%

  • Nashville SC v New York City: Munthali's hosts in a good spot Nashville SC v New York City: Munthali's hosts in a good spot

    Rumba Munthali believes his Nashville SC side are in a good spot ahead of Saturday's clash with New York City, having continued their climb up the standings by beating Toronto FC 2-1 in midweek.

    Sam Surridge's 90th-minute strike handed Nashville their second win in their last four MLS matches on Wednesday, and they now sit eighth in the Eastern Conference.

    Interim boss Munthali has overseen a resurgence since taking over from the fired Gary Smith last month, and he is excited by the chance to keep it going against NYCFC.

    "It's really good to pick up more points and move up the standings," Munthali said. 

    "I thought the guys showed some heart and had a good second half and deserved to win.

    "Now we just have to talk to our staff, make sure the guys are in a good place for Saturday in the space we have and hopefully again have good performances."

    Nick Cushing's visitors sit six points clear of Nashville in fourth place, though they have lost ground on those above them by recording back-to-back losses.

    Having gone down 3-2 at home to the Columbus Crew last week, they were beaten 2-0 at the LA Galaxy on Wednesday.

    Cushing knows acclimatising to different conditions on their travels is somewhere his team can improve, saying: "We made changes, but we've got a squad that allows us to make changes.

    "If you want to be a consistently winning team, a team that is successful in MLS, you have to cope with travel and time zones and all of those things, the heavy schedule too."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH 

    Nashville SC – Sam Surridge

    Surridge scored both of Nashville's goals in their midweek victory over Toronto, his third match with two or more goals in MLS.

    Of Surridge's nine MLS goals, seven have arrived in the three matches where he scored more than once (one hat-trick, two braces).

    New York City – Santiago Rodriguez

    Rodriguez led NYCFC on Wednesday with five shot involvements (two chances created, three shots attempted), extending his team-leading shot involvements tally to 95 for the season. 

    If he maintains his lead, he will have led the team for shot involvements in each of the last three seasons, joining David Villa (2015 to 2017) as the only NYCFC players to do so in three straight campaigns.

    MATCH PREDICTION: NASHVILLE SC WIN

    The home team has not lost any of the four all-time meetings between these teams, with Nashville winning both of their home games and NYCFC recording a win and a draw on their own turf.

    New York's 2-0 defeat to the Galaxy last time out was their fifth shutout defeat of the year, tied with the New England Revolution and Orlando City for the joint-most in MLS.

    Nashville, meanwhile, have only lost one of their last seven regular-season games (three wins, three draws), and are chasing their first pair of consecutive wins since May-June 2023.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Nashville SC – 44%

    New York City – 29.2%

    Draw – 26.8%

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