Here are the ten things we learned from Week 16 of the MLS season:
1. The LA Galaxy Are Back
The Galaxy got healthy. Robbie Keane, Robbie Rogers, AJ DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez – the band was back together in front of an unusually strong StubHub Center crowd on Saturday night, and the home team responded by drubbing the hapless Philadelphia Union 5-1.
This hasn’t been a fun year for Keane especially – he’s battled injury since March – but the Galaxy signed him to a long-term contract extension just a few weeks ago for a reason: When he’s on, he’s still one of the most prolific players in MLS.
Keane makes the ever-improving Gyasi Zardes that much better, and their work on LA’s third goal was a counter-attacking clinic.
In LA’s midfield, Brazilian stalwart Juninho has had to take on more responsibility this year, from the captain’s armband, to penalty taking duties in the absence of the stars the Galaxy are known for, and he’s responded with his best year since 2012.
In just a few weeks, Juninho will have Steven Gerrard next to him in the LA engine-room, and with Sebastian Lleget impressing as well off the bench, MLS’ perennial winners appear to moving into position for another Cup run.
2. All’s Well In The City
New York City was in dire straits at the beginning of June, last in MLS in points and in points-per-game. Now though, though, NYCFC has reeled off three straight wins – their most impressive victory coming on Saturday away at Toronto FC.
What was especially heartening about NYCFC’s performance at BMO Field was the grit it took defensively. It wasn’t pretty, but roughing up Giovinco worked – and the quality of Mix Diskerud, David Villa, and, surprisingly enough, Tommy McNamara told in the 2-0 win.
Everything is coming together for Jason Kreis’ team. While they were winning in Canada, Andrea Pirlo was in New York watching the Yankees. His signing appears to be imminent, and Frank Lampard is finally on his way as well.
Of more immediate concern is next weekend’s first home tilt in the Hudson River Derby against the New York Red Bulls. Yankee Stadium will be opened up to its full capacity and sold out, and unlike in the first derby at Red Bull Arena in early May, NYCFC will have all the momentum heading into this one.