MLS Week 17 Roundup: San Jose Win Cali Clasico Clash as Wayne Rooney Rescues DC United

Things are hotting up in MLS. After a prolonged break the regular season is back and the matches are coming thick and fast as teams fight it out for a place in the post-season play offs. This week saw the Cali Clasico, a late Wayne Rooney goal and a record win for Minnesota United. A record crowd of 50,850 packed into the Stanford Stadium for the ‘Cali Clasico’ between Californian rivals San Jose Earthquakes and LA Galaxy. It was a dominant performance from a San Jose side who are the most in-form team in the Western Conference. Georgian midfieler Valeri Qazaishvili got San Jose off to the perfect start after 11 minutes, opening the scoring with a well taken strike from the edge of the area. Two late goals from Shea Salinas and Tommy Thompson sealed a 3-0 win which moved them to fifth place in the table and extended their unbeaten run to six matches. The Galaxy remain in second place, six points behind Western Conference leaders LAFC who have a game in hand. Meanwhile Wayne Rooney followed up his extraordinary goal in midweek by scoring a stoppage time penalty to rescue a point for DC United at home to Toronto. It’s a result that keeps both teams firmly in the play-off picture in the Eastern Conference, although Toronto will be kicking themselves for failing to secure back-to-back victories. In a scrappy game Toronto took the lead after 19 minutes through Nick DeLeon’s close range effort. It looked like it would be enough to secure victory against a sub-par DC United, but following an extensive VAR review the hosts were awarded a stoppage time penalty for a handball. ​Rooney smashed it down the middle to rescue a point and increase his tally to ten goals this season, as DC closed the gap on Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union, who were beaten by New York City FC. In an entertaining game at Yankee Stadium it was the conference leaders who got off to a perfect start. A smart turn and finish from Fafa Picault gave the Union the lead in the seventh minute against the side who eliminated them from the Audi MLS Cup play-offs last season. The hosts found a way back into the game when they were awarded a penalty, which was dispatched by Maxi Moralez. Parity didn’t last long as the visitors re-took the lead shortly after when Polish striker Kacper Przybylko fired home with a well taken strike. Ten minutes after the restart a second penalty was awarded to NYCFC, which was again converted by Moralez. In the second half the home side began to take control and on 71 minutes they took the lead through the impressive Valentin Castellanos, who swiftly added a fourth goal to seal the win. ​​At the other end of the Eastern Conference, bottom side FC Cincinnati suffered a 7-1 hammering at the hands of Minnesota United.  It was Minnesota’s biggest ever margin of victory. The result set an ​MLS record as the first time in the league’s history that seven goals have been scored in two matches in the same season, as Sporting Kansas City beat Montreal Impact by the same scoreline back in March. FC Cincinnati were missing some key players due to their Gold Cup commitments and it showed. This was their heaviest defeat in MLS and their sixth in succession.  It was a result that saw Minnesota leapfrog Houston Dynamo in the hunt for the play offs, following Houston’s 2-1 loss at New England. ​​In the Western Conference, leaders LAFC suffered only their second defeat of the season as they lost 1-0 against the improving Colorado Rapids. Danny Wilson’s 19th minute strike was enough to secure their fifth win from their last seven games. Seattle Sounders kept up the pace in the West with a 1-0 win over Vancouver, and Real Salt Lake capitalised on Vancouver’s loss with a 2-0 victory against Sporting Kansas City, in a result that keeps the play-offs within their reach. Columbus Crew’s miserable season continued as they were beaten 2-0 at home by Orlando City. The Crew have only managed to win one of their last 12 matches and it was the first time in five attempts that Orlando have tasted victory in Ohio. In the remaining matches from week 17 Atlanta United defeated play-off rivals Montreal Impact 2-1 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as a late goal from Justin Meram secured the win. Finally, New York Red Bulls boosted their play-off aspirations with a routine 3-1 win at home to a Chicago Fire team that are now four points adrift of a post-season berth.

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