And so, the countdown begins…

The 2022 World Cup is just over a year away, with Qatar set to begin the tournament against a still-to-be-decided opponent on November 21, 2022.

Even writing it feels strange. A World Cup… starting in November. But that is the reality, with Qatar's controversial – to put it kindly – hosting of the competition effectively rendering a tournament in June/July impossible due to the conditions.

With only a year to go, 13 of the competing nations (including Qatar) have confirmed their qualification, including record five-time winners Brazil and defending champions France.

Of course, most countries will have a fairly settled group of players, but a year is a long time in football, and a few newcomers will make the breakthrough.

As such, Stats Perform has identified 11 uncapped players who could break into their respective national teams by this time in 2022, and those players' progress will be tracked over the next 12 months in follow-up features.

Without any further ado, here are the chosen players...

Luis Maximiano (Portugal) – 22, goalkeeper, Granada

Yes, yes, Maximiano's inclusion here already implies a massive assumption that Portugal will even make it to Qatar, given their 2-1 home defeat by Serbia left them needing to go through the play-offs.

Nevertheless, it's reasonable to expect them to make it, and if they do, Maximiano may fancy himself as being in with a shot, particularly after a strong start to 2021-22.

He replaced compatriot Rui Silva – who left for Real Betis – between the posts at Granada after falling out of favour at Sporting CP, and he's showing his quality.

 

According to Opta's xGOT (expected goals on target) conceded data, Maximiano has already prevented 3.7 goals in LaLiga this season, the second-most in the division.

Of course, such metrics are weighted in favour of goalkeepers in teams are that kept defensively busy, and Granada are 17th in LaLiga, but we can create a fairer comparison by standardising for the number of shots each keeper faced by looking at their 'goals prevented rate'.

Maximiano's goals prevented rate of 1.37 means he was expected to concede 1.37 goals for every goal actually conceded, and again this is the second best in the league this season.

His shot-stopping abilities have reportedly caught the attention of Barcelona, and given Portugal's lack of a standout goalkeeper (and that's including first-choice Rui Patricio), Maximiano certainly isn't out of the running for Qatar 2022.

Jonathan Clauss (France) – 29, right-back, Lens

Football loves a late bloomer; maybe it's because they convince some of us we can still make it as a professional player. Lens star Clauss is a fascinating embodiment of the phenomenon.

Now 29, Clauss did not make his top-flight debut until the start of 2020-21, but it's fair to say he's been a revelation in a Lens side who have truly captured the imagination since they were promoted back to Ligue 1 in 2019-20 – 13 games into the current campaign, they're second to PSG.

A year out from Qatar 2022, Clauss is being mentioned in France media conferences, with Didier Deschamps last week asked why he wasn't called up. Of course, the coach's decision to go with options he knows when qualification wasn't assured is fair enough, but the Lens man is seemingly now in contention.

He has already had a hand in eight Ligue 1 goals this season, with six assists the joint-most in the division. His positivity on the flank as a wing-back is proving a massive asset to Lens, for whom he also set up six goals last term.

Of course, his greater comfort as a wing-back rather than an orthodox full-back may in the long run count against him, but Clauss is demonstrably effective going forward – usual France right-back options Benjamin Pavard and Leo Dubois aren't, and that may be his 'in'.

 

Bremer (Brazil) – 24, centre-back, Torino

Playing in a generally poor team can go one of two ways for a centre-back: you're either considered a big part of the problem, or you thrive because you're given more opportunities to show your strengths.

For Bremer in a Torino team that have finished 16th and 17th in the past two seasons, it's definitely been the latter.

The 24-year-old has reportedly attracted the interest of numerous Premier League clubs, with Liverpool seemingly the team that are most keen.

While he's not a particularly great progressor of the ball, his 4.9 passes into the final third per 90 minutes since the start of last season being almost half the figures of the highest-ranking Serie A defenders, Bremer is a reliable centre-back first and foremost.

His four clearances per game is up there with the best (only one player averages more than 4.7), while Bremer's positional sense is highlighted by 2.6 interceptions every 90 minutes, a figure bettered by only five defenders (min. 1,000 minutes played since 2020-21 started).

Similarly, the centre-back wins 3.2 aerial duels per 90 minutes, which again is the sixth-highest among that group of defenders.

Brazil don't have outstanding depth at centre-back, all the more reason why Bremer is in with a shot – a move to Liverpool or another 'giant' would only help his cause.

Sven Botman (Netherlands) – 21, centre-back, Lille

Ball-playing centre-backs grow on trees in the Netherlands, or so you'd think. Botman is another off the very reliable production line, having come through the esteemed ranks at Ajax.

Lille signed him for roughly €9million in July 2020 after he enjoyed a promising loan spell with Heerenveen, and he went on to play in all but one Ligue 1 match as Les Dogues won the title.

Life's been a little tougher for Lille this term following the loss of coach Christophe Galtier to Nice, but Botman remains a key player and retains a fine reputation from 2020-21.

Since the start of last season, his 1,295 forward passes is the second most in the division and he ranks 11th for the most ball carries (635).

He's a progressive centre-back who offers plenty of forward-thinking but is also reliable when it comes to getting stuck in.

Over the same period, he's come out on top in 67.8 per cent of his duels, which is the second-best success rate among players to have engaged in at least 150.

Granted, the Netherlands' centre-back options are deep, but Botman's been in the squad before and there's little doubt he would be a good fit for them stylistically.

Angelino (Spain) – 24, left-back, RB Leipzig

It may surprise a few people to learn Angelino has never played for Spain. In fact, he's never even received a call-up to the senior side.

Let's not forget, Spain are blessed with a lot of quality in left-back and wing-back roles. Currently, Jordi Alba, Marcos Alonso, Jose Gaya and Sergio Reguilon are the favoured options, but Angelino is arguably in better form than any of them.

All five players are probably at their best as wing-backs rather than full-backs, and Luis Enrique's current system does allow for such players, which is another reason for Angelino's suitability. Then it comes down to effectiveness on the pitch.

Since the start of last season, in league competition Angelino tops a host of attacking metrics among the aforementioned players. He creates 2.2 chances per 90 minutes on average, with Alonso and Alba next on 1.6.

While Angelino's 0.16 assists every 90 minutes is lower than Alba's 0.22, the Leipzig man is seemingly being let down by poor finishing as his expected assists each game is 0.31 – again, this is the highest.

On a per-90-minute basis, Angelino creates the most chances from open play (1.6), plays the most crosses (5.5) and passes into the box (9.9) most frequently among this group.

Of course, this is partly explained by him playing slightly further forward than his counterparts, but Spain spend most of the time on the ball anyway – having someone as effective as Angelino in attack must be a consideration for Luis Enrique.

 

Riqui Puig (Spain) – 22, midfielder, Barcelona

It feels like Puig has been around for a long time, because even before he was around the first-team squad, Barca fans were singing his praises.

He had been considered as potentially their next legendary midfielder, such was his blend of technical excellence and fine passing skills, two staples of Barca's La Masia academy.

But it's not quite worked out that way.

In the past three seasons, he's only played more than 300 minutes over the course of a LaLiga campaign once, under Quique Setien in 2019-20. While he did feature in 14 league games for Ronald Koeman last term, that amounted to 283 minutes at an average of 20.2 mins in each appearance, and that did not improve this term prior to the Dutchman's sacking.

So, why is he even on this list?

Well, as much as anything because his progress will be intriguing to watch once again now that Xavi is at the helm. If there's anyone who can appreciate Puig's qualities, it'll surely be him.

Christopher Nkunku (France) – 24, midfielder, RB Leipzig

While Nkunku has generally been considered a versatile central midfielder for much of his career, he's excelled in a slightly different role since Jesse Marsch's introduction as Leipzig coach.

He's operated more from the flanks and is getting into the opposition's penalty area with greater frequency, his touches in the box up from 5.2 per 90 minutes to 7.7 this season.

As such, he's getting more shots away in the area (2.2 every 90 minutes, up from 1.7) and that's unsurprisingly led to an increased xG average of 0.45 each game.

He's already got 11 goals across all competitions, four more than he managed in 2020-21, suggesting the change in role is paying dividends, though he remains an able option in the middle such is his quality on the ball and ability to break forward.

In each of the past two seasons, Nkunku didn't manage to start more than 21 league games, but he's already on 11 this term. He's maturing and seemingly found his niche – now all he needs is that elusive first call-up.

 

Alan Velasco (Argentina) – 19, winger, Independiente

Lionel Scaloni has restored a significant amount of respect for Argentina's national team, guiding them to Copa America success earlier this year – that was their first international title at senior level in 28 years.

During his three years in charge, Scaloni has used 75 different players in matches, which shows both the wealth of options he has but also how willing he is to give individuals a chance.

In attack is arguably where Argentina's depth is greatest, but Independiente talent Velasco is surely one of the likeliest to earn a first cap over the next 12 months.

A positive and direct left-winger who likes to cut inside onto his right foot, Velasco has been enjoying something of a breakthrough season in Argentina's Primera Division, particularly during the second stage.

 

He has five goal involvements (one goal, four assists) since mid-July, with no one in the division managing to set up more than five in the entire year, and he has unsurprisingly become a bit of a target for opponents, as highlighted by his 2.9 fouls suffered every 90 minutes being the third-most among players with at least five appearances.

But that doesn't deter him. His 41 chances created is the third highest in the division, and the most among under-21 players, while his 91 dribbles completed and 4.8 per 90 minutes are both league highs.

Velasco also works hard off the ball, making 47 recoveries in the opposition's half, which is fifth among all players. The teenager is a big talent who also boasts strong work ethic – Scaloni will surely have him earmarked as one to watch.

Cade Cowell (United States) – 18, forward, San Jose Earthquakes

There aren't many countries in the world producing more exciting young talent than the United States at the moment, with their squads for the next few World Cups shaping up to be very promising.

While 2022 will probably come too soon for Cowell – arguably the wildcard of this list – he certainly shouldn't be written off, given he has already spent time training with the senior squad before.

A dynamic, quick and strong attacker who play out wide as well, Cowell is the third-youngest player in MLS history to reach 50 appearances, having reached that landmark at 18 years and 16 days old. Only Freddy Adu (16y, 2m, 25d) and Alphonso Davies (17y, 7m) got there quicker.

 

This season, despite only starting for 14 of his 33 MLS appearances, Cowell has amassed 11 goal involvements (five goals, six assists), which only Jesus Ferreira (17 – 8g, 9a) and Ricardo Pepi (16 – 13g, 3a) can better among under-21 players.

There's no mistaking Cowell is very much a rough diamond. He doesn't create a huge amount of chances (1.3 per 90 mins), his duels (32.2 per cent) and dribble (47.6 per cent) success rates aren't great, but he's young and raw. Improvements here should come naturally, and a big 2022 might just propel him into a national side that's not afraid to give youngsters a chance.

 

Amine Gouiri (France) – 21, forward, Nice

If there's one team in international football that would be the toughest to break into as a forward, it's probably France, but Gouiri looks special.

It now looks utterly astonishing that Nice managed to get him for as little as an initial €7million from Lyon in 2020, and the versatile forward – who is comfortable on the left or through the middle – is enjoying the kind of consistency not always associated with young players.

The 2020-21 season was his first as a regular starter in top-flight football and he went on to score a highly respectable 12 goals. While that failed to match his 14.6 expected goals (xG), perhaps showing a degree of inexperience, he did also lay on seven assists.

 

Once again, Gouiri's goals haul of six is a little behind his xG (8.1), suggesting a hint of wastefulness, but only three players are providing greater service than him, with his 3.3 expected assists (xA) ranking high.

Technically, Gouiri is exceptional and explosive, and this undoubtedly helps him create openings and space in the final third, with his combined average of 0.97 expected goals and assists every 90 minutes this season the second-highest in Ligue 1.

Gouiri is too good to never play for France – it's only a matter of time until he gets the call-up, and if he carries on his current trajectory for the next 12 months, Qatar will beckon.

 

Matias Arezo (Uruguay) – 18, forward, River Plate (URU)

Uruguay has produced some truly great strikers down the years. After more of a barren spell in that regard since Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez came through, there is once again a cause for optimism with Darwin Nunez, Agustin Alvarez and, arguably chief among them, Arezo.

The teenager turns 19 this November, so he's still got lots to learn and much room for growth, but the early signs are hugely promising – his stocky appearance, powerful style of play and feistiness (13 yellow cards over 2020 and 2021) have earned him the nickname 'Buffalo', and he's already a reliable source of goals despite his youth.

Arezo scored 13 times in 35 Uruguayan Primera appearances last term – he's matched that haul from 26 outings this year. For comparison's sake, Suarez got 10 in 27 in his first full season in the division with Nacional, while Cavani recorded nine in 25 appearances for Danubio before moving to Europe.

Qatar 2022 will almost certainly be the last World Cup for Suarez and Cavani if Uruguay make it, so they are likely to be involved – but otherwise, La Celeste's forward options are up in the air.

Arezo has been coping well in the physical competitiveness of South America's domestic football and must be in with a great shout of forcing his way into contention for the mission to Qatar.

The 2021 MLS Cup play-offs are set following a wild final round of the regular season which saw LA Galaxy dramatically eliminated from the post-season picture by Real Salt Lake.

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez scored twice for the Galaxy in a 3-3 draw with Minnesota United on Decision Day, but RSL's last-gasp 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City changed the landscape of the Western Conference.

RSL pipped the Galaxy – without post-season football for the second straight campaign – to the seventh and final play-off spot on victories for the season via a 95th-minute winner, having finished level on 48 points at the end of 34 rounds.

Minnesota finished fifth to clinch a post-season berth in the west, along with sixth-placed Vancouver Whitecaps, who drew 1-1 against Seattle Sounders.

Seattle's stalemate and Sporting KC's late loss allowed Colorado Rapids to secure top seed in the Western Conference following a 5-2 rout of Los Angeles FC, who were eliminated as a result.

In the Eastern Conference, Orlando City beat Montreal 2-0 for a spot in the play-offs, along with Atlanta United (2-1 over FC Cincinnati) and New York Red Bulls – the latter using a 1-1 draw against Nashville to extend their post-season streak to 12 years.

Supporters' Shield winners New England Revolution lost 1-0 to already eliminated Inter Miami, Portland Timbers eased past lowly Austin 3-0, DC United defeated Toronto 3-1, 10-man New York City drew 1-1 with Philadelphia Union and reigning champions Columbus Crew – who will not defend their title – beat Chicago Fire 2-0.

Chris Wondolowski scored in the San Jose Earthquakes' 1-1 draw against Dallas before the league's all-time leading scorer announced his retirement.

Inter Miami have been eliminated from the MLS play-off race following a 3-1 defeat to New York City, while San Jose Earthquakes teenager Cade Cowell produced a stunning moment of individual brilliance.

David Beckham's Inter Miami were looking to keep their fading play-off hopes alive on Saturday, however, second-half goals from New York City pair Valentin Castellanos and Talles Magno dashed that dream.

Inter Miami had never taken a point against New York City in their three previous meetings, losing all three. New York City were one of two teams Inter Miami had faced more than once without claiming a point, along with DC United.

That drought continued despite Inter Miami defender Jorge Figal initially cancelling out Castellanos' 33rd-minute opener at DRV PNK Stadium, where co-owner Beckham was in attendance.

But New York City – third in the Eastern Conference – hit back via Castellanos and Magno to clinch a play-off spot thanks to results elsewhere as Inter Miami were left to pick up the pieces in Phil Neville's first season as head coach.

Cade Cowell, meanwhile, scored a memorable solo goal as the Earthquakes outlasted Real Salt Lake 4-3 in a wild showdown.

The 18-year-old collected the ball in his own half with 21 minutes remaining before barging down the right flank, cutting in between two RSL defenders and finishing past David Ochoa with the outside of his boot.

Elsewhere, Fabio netted a dramatic stoppage-time winner as New York Red Bulls edged Montreal 1-0 to move into the seventh and final play-off spot in the east.

Defending champions Columbus Crew kept their slim play-off hopes alive with a 3-1 win over DC United, Toronto and Atlanta United drew 1-1 and 10-man Dallas edged Austin 2-1.

Supporters' Shield winners New England have made more history with Wednesday's 1-0 win over Colorado Rapids breaking the MLS record for most points in a single season.

Bruce Arena's side, who clinched their first-ever Supporters' Shield on Saturday, won thanks to Tajon Buchanan's 74th-minute strike.

The result took Revolution's season tally to 73 points from 33 games, eclipsing the previous record mark held by LAFC with 72 points in 2019.

New England have one more regular season match to extend their record, playing Inter Miami at home on November 7.

Canada international Buchanan came up with the winner, showing fast feet to make space for a low shot that beat Rapids goalkeeper William Yarbrough, who had sensationally kept out Henry Kessler from close range minutes earlier.

New York Red Bulls slipped out of the Eastern Conference play-offs spots after a 1-0 defeat to DC United who moved above them into seventh place.

United snapped a four-game winless skid, while also ending the Red Bulls' four-game running run and eight-game unbeaten streak in the process. Kevin Paredes side-footed home the ninth-minute winner for United.

Sporting KC moved into top spot in the Western Conference and dented LA Galaxy's play-offs aspirations with a 2-0 win.

Johnny Russell extended his scoring run to eight straight games with both goals for KC who clinched a top-four seeding as well.

Randall Leal scored two goals and grabbed an assist as Nashville came from two goals down twice to win 6-3 at Cincinnati.

Portland Timbers moved in the west's top four with a 2-0 home victory over San Jose Earthquakes, while Vancouver Whitecaps climbed up to fifth with a 2-1 triumph over Minnesota United.

New York City boosted their Eastern Conference top-four seed hopes with a 1-0 home win over Chicago Fire, while Josef Martinez's winner helped Atlanta United past Inter Miami 2-1 after Gonzalo Higuain had opened the scoring from the spot.

Columbus Crew upset Orlando City 3-2, Toronto held Philadelphia Union 2-2 as Jozy Altidore netted while Real Salt Lake scored twice in the final 10 minutes to win 2-1 at Dallas.

Sporting Kansas City and Colorado Rapids clinched play-off spots while New England Revolution secured the Supporters' Shield as the top team in the MLS regular season Saturday. 

Johnny Russell's 79th-minute goal gave Sporting KC a 2-1 win away to Seattle Sounders, locking up a play-off spot for the second-placed team in the Western Conference table as Russell netted for the seventh straight game.

Colorado also are in after defeating Portland Timbers 2-0 behind golas from Dominique Badji and Diego Rubio. 

The Seattle loss ensured New England, who face Orlando City on Sunday, will finish atop the overall table. The Revs are on 69 points, 20 points clear of Philadelphia and Nashville in the Eastern Conference and 11 clear of Seattle overall. 

Nashville had a chance to clinch the play-offs with a win but fell 1-0 to Philadelphia Union on Kacper Przybylko's first-half penalty. 

Inter Miami got a goal and three assists from Gonzalo Higuain, while his brother Federico also found the net in a 5-1 rout of Cincinnati, who lost their ninth in a row. 

Toronto dealt a blow to rival Montreal's play-off hopes as Jozy Altidore's free kick in the fifth minute of stoppage time secured a 1-1 draw after Sunusi Ibrahim had netted in the 55th minute for the visitors. 

Minnesota and LAFC also finished at 1-1, as did San Jose Earthquakes and Vancouver Whitecaps. 

New York City crushed DC United 6-0 and Sean Nealis' 87th-minute goal lifted New York Red Bulls past Columbus Crew 2-1. 

Sebastian Lletget's brilliant 83rd-minute equaliser gave LA Galaxy a 2-2 draw with Dallas, while Chicago Fire downed Real Salt Lake 1-0. 

LA Galaxy breathed life into their MLS play-off aspirations after securing back-to-back wins for the first time since August with a 3-0 victory at Houston Dynamo on Wednesday.

Galaxy, who had endured a nine-game winless skid, had beaten Portland Timbers 2-1 on the weekend before backing that up in Houston to reinforce their grip on sixth spot in the Western Conference midweek.

Greg Vanney's Galaxy went ahead in the 39th minute from veteran Sacha Kljestan's penalty, after Maynor Figueroa brought down Kevin Cabral inside the box.

Zarek Valentin's own goal on the stroke of half-time from Efrain Alvarez's cutback doubled Galaxy's advantage.

Two minutes into the second half, Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez provided a well-weighted pass for Kevin Cabral to add a third, moving Galaxy up to 45 points and above Real Salt Lake into fifth in the west.

New England Revolution moved another step closer to clinching the Supporters' Shield with a come-from-behind 3-2 win at DC United.

Adam Buksa, Carles Gil and Gustavo Bou all scored within 18 minutes as the Revolution responded to Nigel Robertha's 51st-minute opener for DC United.

The result moved Eastern Conference pacesetters New England to 69 points from 31 games, with Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders closest behind them on 58 points after 30 games after they lost ground following a 1-1 draw with third-placed Colorado Rapids.

Elsewhere, Nashville – second behind New England in the east – drew for the fifth straight game in a 1-1 stalemate against defending MLS champions Columbus Crew and Cristian Arango's hat-trick guided Los Angeles FC past Dallas 3-2.

Inter Miami snapped their six-game losing skid and kept alive their faint play-off aspirations with a 3-0 home victory over Toronto.

Gudmundur Thorarinsson equalised late for New York City but their winless run extended to six games after a 1-1 draw at Atlanta United, Minnesota United were 3-2 winners against Philadelphia Union, Orlando City and Montreal played out a 1-1 draw.

Chicago Fire prevailed 4-3 over struggling FC Cincinnati, Vancouver Whitecaps came from two goals down to win 3-2 away to Portland Timbers, while San Jose Earthquakes eased past lowly Austin 4-0.

Vancouver Whitecaps boosted their MLS play-off chances with a Brian White-inspired 3-0 victory over San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.

White scored a hat-trick as the Whitecaps moved within just one point of the seventh and final post-season spot in the Western Conference heading into the last seven matches of the regular season.

A recruit from New York Red Bulls following June's trade, White – who has scored eight goals in his past nine games – opened the scoring in the 26th minute.

White doubled the lead with a header approaching the hour mark before completing his first career hat-trick 17 minutes from the end – using his head to get on the end of Ryan Gauld's corner.

Montreal topped fellow Eastern Conference play-off hopefuls Atlanta United 2-1 courtesy of Romell Quioto's double.

Heading into the fixture, twelve of the last 15 goals conceded by Atlanta had come in the second half of their games and none of those 15 goals were shipped in the first half an hour.

Quioto scored a five-minute brace inside the opening 10 minutes of the second half to lift Montreal up to fifth in the east, while striking a blow to Atlanta's post-season chances.

Atlanta are eighth and outside the play-off spots – level on points with seventh-placed Philadelphia Union, who have played two games less.

Elsewhere, Orlando City catapulted themselves up to third in the Eastern Conference after Daryl Dike's 97th-minute goal snatched a 2-1 win over DC United, the Red Bulls edged FC Cincinnati 1-0, Austin defeated Real Salt Lake 2-1 and Dallas played out a 0-0 draw with 10-man Minnesota United.

LA Galaxy's play-offs took a hit after they suffered their third consecutive defeat, going down 2-1 to Real Salt Lake in MLS on Wednesday.

The defeat means the Galaxy are winless in their past eight matches and while they dropped down to sixth in the Western Conference, their form means they could find themselves only a point ahead of the post-season chasing pack.

Former Manchester United forward Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez stung RSL goalkeeper David Ochoa's palms early, before Damir Kreilach scored his 11th goal of the season to put the hosts 1-0 on the stroke of half-time.

Ochoa denied Chicharito again in a 57th-minute fast break, before the latter equalised with 14 minutes remaining midweek.

But in the fifth of six stoppage-time minutes, Anderson Julio lashed in a wonderful volley from outside the box to claim the win for fifth-placed RSL and boost their play-off chances.

United States teenager Ricardo Pepi netted his 12th goal of the campaign as 10-man Dallas went down 3-1 to Western Conference contenders and second-placed Sporting Kansas City.

Daniel Salloi scored a double for Sporting KC, taking his season tally to 14, while Dallas had Bryan Acosta sent off.

Seattle Sounders stayed top of the Western Conference, ahead of Sporting KC, as Raul Ruidiaz scored a brace in a 3-1 win away to San Jose Earthquakes.

Ruidiaz opened the scoring in the 25th minute, before firing home from the spot three minutes prior to the break. The Peruvian has 16 MLS goals this season, behind only DC United's Ola Kamara with 17.

Dairon Asprilla scored the winner as Portland Timbers claimed a 2-1 victory at Los Angeles FC to remain fourth in the west.

Supporters' Shield leaders New England Revolution maintained their 14-point advantage atop the Eastern Conference with a 4-1 triumph away to Montreal, extending their unbeaten run to six games.

Nashville, second in the east, blew a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Orlando City, while DC United got past Minnesota United 3-1.

Atlanta United boosted their play-offs hopes with a 1-0 win over Inter Miami, who have lost three in a row, while Toronto beat FC Cincinnati 3-2.

New York City suffered a second straight loss, going down 2-0 to Chicago Fire, and Philadelphia Union could only manage a 1-1 draw at New York Red Bulls.

Colorado Rapids eased past Austin 3-0 and Houston Dynamo played out a goalless draw with Vancouver Whitecaps.

Portland Timbers continued their impressive form with a 6-1 demolition of Real Salt Lake in MLS, while Philadelphia Union edged Atlanta United.

Sibling pair Diego and Yimmi Chara were among the goals as the Timbers – unbeaten in six matches – eased past RSL at Providence Park on Saturday.

Felipe Mora, Dairon Asprilla, Jaroslaw Niezgoda and Cristhian Paredes also scored for the Timbers, who have netted in 16 consecutive matches against RSL (including play-offs) – the second longest streak against any opponent in their history, behind the 17 straight versus Dallas from August 2012 to March 2018.

The Timbers led 2-1 at half-time before putting RSL to the sword in the second period to match their six-game unbeaten streak from September-October last season.

Portland are fourth in the Western Conference, six points behind leaders Sporting Kansas City, while RSL occupy the seventh and final play-off position in the west.

Los Angeles FC are three points outside the top seven following their 2-0 defeat to San Jose Earthquakes, while Vancouver Whitecaps are also on 33 points after topping Dallas 1-0.

The Union defeated Atlanta 1-0 thanks to Kacper Przybylko's goal with less than 20 minutes remaining.

Back-to-back wins sent Philadelphia up to fourth in the Eastern Conference as Atlanta's three-game winning streak came to an end to leave them eighth in the east and outside the post-season positions.

In other results, Supporters' Shield leaders New England Revolution were 2-1 winners over Orlando City.

The Revolution extended their MLS single-season record for wins by one-goal margins to 16. Nine of New England's last 10 MLS victories have come by a one-goal margin.

It continued Orlando's misery against New England – the team have never won at the Revolution (D1 L5), the only side they have visited more than three times without recording a victory in MLS play.

DC United prevailed 4-2 against FC Cincinnati, New York Red Bulls overcame rivals New York City 1-0, defending champions Columbus Crew won 2-1 against Montreal, Houston Dynamo lost 2-0 to Minnesota United, while Colorado Rapids and Toronto played out a 0-0 draw.

Emanuel Reynoso scored a double to breathe life into Minnesota United's playoffs hopes whilst denting LA Galaxy's with a 3-0 victory in the MLS on Saturday.

Reynoso scored twice inside the opening 20 minutes to set up the triumph which lifts United up to sixth spot after they had suffered back-to-back defeats.

The Argentine fired in a low left-foot shot to open the scoring in the fourth minute before jinking inside and netting from similar range in the 20th minute to double the lead.

United goalkeeper Tyler Miller saved well to deny Dejan Joveljic prior to half-time, before Ethan Finlay got in behind the Galaxy defence from Franco Frangapane's pass to add a third in the 66th minute.

The result sees Minnesota move up to sixth in the Western Conference with 34 points, while Galaxy stay fourth but are winless from their past six games.

Runaway league leaders New England were held to a 1-1 home draw with Columbus Crew.

Polish attacker Adam Buksa netted a 62nd minute equalizer after US international Gyasi Zardes had put Crew ahead in the 58th minute.

Zardes had missed a gilt-edged header in the 22nd minute but he took his opportunity early in the second half from Harrison Afful's cross.

Buksa levelled, swooping on a poor Jonathan Mensah pass in defence, handing the Pole a sniff on goal which he converted with a left-foot shot.

An injured Eloy Room made two crucial late saves to deny Buksa a winner as the Crew held on.

Struggling Austin slumped to a fifth straight defeat after blowing a 3-1 second-half lead to lose 4-3 to San Jose Earthquakes.

The Earthquakes scored three goals in 14 second-half minutes to complete the comeback headlined by Javier Lopez's double.

New York City firmed up their grip on a playoffs spot after a 2-1 win away to Cincinnati who were reduced to nine men after red cards to Alvaro Barreal and Isaac Atanga.

Damir Kreilach's early second-half goal was enough to get Real Salt Lake past Seattle Sounders 1-0, while Houston Dynamo won 3-2 over Dallas in the Texas derby.

Lowly Toronto ended their six-game losing run with a shock 2-1 home win over Nashville, while Atlanta United secured their third straight triumph with a 3-2 victory over DC United.

Sporting Kansas City crushed Minnesota United 4-0 in MLS to go top of the Western Conference standings, while Real Salt Lake prevailed in a seven-goal shoot-out.

Johnny Russell scored a goal and assisted two others as Sporting KC routed Minnesota at Children's Mercy Park on Wednesday.

Russell converted a penalty as part of a three-goal first half, with Khiry Shelton and Daniel Salloi also on target against the visitors.

Cameron Duke added a fourth goal seven minutes into the second half as Sporting KC found the back of the net in their 28th consecutive regular-season home game dating back to August 2019 – the longest active streak in MLS.

Sporting KC are a point clear in the west, though second-placed Seattle Sounders have played two games less, while Minnesota are two points outside the play-off positions.

San Jose Earthquakes star Javier Lopez scored a hat-trick, but Real Salt Lake still prevailed 4-3 in a wild clash.

Lopez opened the scoring in the 26th minute and completed his treble in the second half, however, RSL emerged victorious thanks to Rubio Rubin's brace.

The result snapped a five-match away losing streak for RSL, who ended San Jose's run of three consecutive wins over their rivals in MLS – a run that had equalled the longest streak by either team in history.

Elsewhere, former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez salvaged a 1-1 draw for LA Galaxy against Houston Dynamo.

Another ex-United star, Nani, was sent off in the first half as Orlando City were beaten 4-2 by Montreal, Ola Kamara's opening-half hat-trick lifted DC United past Chicago Fire 3-0, Atlanta United were 4-0 winners against FC Cincinnati courtesy of a Josef Martinez double, Los Angeles FC edged Austin 2-1 and 10-man Portland Timbers drew 2-2 with Colorado Rapids.

Gonzalo Higuain scored the winner as resurgent Inter Miami continued their excellent run of form with a fifth straight home win beating Columbus Crew 1-0 in the MLS on Saturday.

Higuain struck the winner in the 16th minute for Inter who have claimed 13 points from their past five matches to surge up to ninth in the Eastern Conference.

Inter had endured a six-game losing span in May and June but Phil Neville's side have bounced back, losing only once in their past 10.

The former Real Madrid forward swooped on a wayward back pass from Josh Williams, taking a touch inside the box and dinking a shot over Crew keeper Eloy Room, with Vito Wormgoor unable to clear it on the line.

New England maintained their stronghold on the lead at the top of the table with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over 10-man New York City.

Santiago Rodriguez had put City ahead with an 11th-minute volley before Revolution midfielder Emmanuel Boateng drive in a low leveller 10 minutes later. Tom McNamara may have put New England ahead when he hit the post late in the half.

Alfredo Morales was sent off for a second bookable offence, an heavy tackle on McNamara, early in the second half.

New England capitalized with in-form Tajon Buchanan coming up with a 65th minute winner from Carles Gil's assist.

Nashville maintained their strong season with a 1-0 victory on the road over Montreal after Walker Zimmerman's glancing 66th-minute header, keeping them second in the Eastern Conference behind New England.

Sporting KC struck twice inside the first 10 minutes from Jose Mauri and Johnny Russell as they won 2-0 over Chicago Fire to stay in touch with Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders.

Colorado Rapids squandered an opportunity to temporarily go top in the west after Samuel Grandsir's late equalizer for LA Galaxy in a 1-1 draw. The Rapids instead slip to third below KC.

Seattle Sounders remained first in the west with a 1-0 home win over Minnesota United thanks to Joao Paulo's 22nd-minute strike.

Teenage sensation Ricardo Pepi scored his 12th goal of the season as Dallas drew 1-1 with San Jose Earthquakes, while lowly Houston Dynamo won 3-0 over fellow Texas outfit Austin.

New York Red Bulls continue to struggle for wins, only managing a 1-1 home draw with DC United after a controversial penalty award for a Sean Nealis handball.

Cincinnati snapped their three-game losing run with a 2-0 home win over struggling Toronto, who have lost five in a row.

Junior Urso scored a late winner after Orlando City had blown a two-goal lead to claim second spot in the Eastern Conference with a 3-2 triumph over Columbus Crew.

Former Manchester United winger Nani had set up Daryl Dike for a 26th-minute opener with a tackle-cum-pass before Silvester van der Water doubled Orlando's lead three minutes later with a cross which eluded everyone.

But the visitors rallied after the break with a double strike inside three minutes, firstly with Antonio Carlos' 52nd-minute own goal.

Minutes later Lucas Zelarayan picked out Derrick Etienne Jr who cushioned a pass into the box for Miguel Berry to equalize.

Orlando grabbed all three points with Dike laying back a pass for Junior Urso to lash home a 69th-minute winner from the edge of the box.

The result moves Orlando above Nashville into second spot in the east with 38 points from 22 games, having gone six games unbeaten in the MLS.

Inter Miami continued their excellent recent form after Brek Shea's 90th-minute winner earned them a 1-0 victory away to Cincinnati.

The result extends Phil Neville's side's unbeaten run to four games and means they have lost only once in their past nine, climbing up to 10th spot in the east.

Dominique Badji also netted a late winner, scoring in the 89th minute to lift the Colorado Rapids into second in the west with a 1-0 victory at San Jose Earthquakes.

Real Salt Lake came from a goal down early to win 3-2 over Dallas, while Vancouver Whitecaps scored twice in the final 20 minutes to beat struggling Austin 2-1.

San Jose Earthquakes trumped LA Galaxy 2-1 to extend their unbeaten streak away from home to six matches and 10 in total in MLS.

The Earthquakes carried a five-match unbeaten away run (W1 D4) into Friday's contest – their longest streak since going six straight games (W4 D2, including play-offs) without a road loss from September 2012 to March 2013.

San Jose matched that run thanks to Nicholas Hamalainen's 71st-minute own goal against rivals the Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park.

Jeremy Ebobisse put the Earthquakes ahead seven minutes into the second half before the Galaxy's Victor Vazquez restored parity with 25 minutes remaining, having scored from a corner.

Only three of the last 41 MLS matches the Galaxy had played at Dignity Health Sports Park dating back to September 2018 ended in a draw (W24 L14). 

That theme continued after the ball took a wicked deflection off Hamalainen and into the back of the net 19 minutes from the end.

The Earthquakes – unbeaten home or away since losing 3-1 to the Galaxy on June 26 – are seventh in the Eastern Conference, 13 points behind leaders Seattle Sounders.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy are third in the east and nine points better off than the Earthquakes after 21 games.

LA Galaxy missed the chance to go top in the MLS Western Conference after suffering a 2-1 home defeat to Colorado Rapids on Tuesday.

Galaxy had been on a four-game unbeaten run leading into Tuesday's game but found themselves behind early from Jonathan Lewis' 13th-minute penalty.

The hosts equalised from emerging Madagascar international Rayan Raveloson, who scored his fifth goal in nine games in the 34th minute. Raveloson fired in a rocket volley from the edge of the box.

Rapids goalkeeper William Yarbrough made a spectacular save to deny Derrick Williams' header early in the second half.

Andre Shinyashiki came up with a winner for Colorado in the 73rd minute, nodding home at the back post from a corner.

The result means Galaxy remain third on 35 points from 20 games while the Rapids are up to fourth, one point behind LA with two games in hand in the west.

San Jose Earthquakes were reduced to 10 men as they held on for a 1-1 home draw with Minnesota United.

Bakaye Dibassy's own goal from Cristian Espinoza's cutback had put the Earthquakes ahead in the 12th minute before Brazilian defender Nathan was sent off in the 21st minute after video review for a studs-up challenge.

Minnesota leveled from Wil Trapp's low shot in the 22nd minute, marking his first MLS goal for United.

Chris Wondolowski was a late substitute for San Jose, notching up his 400th MLS appearance.

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