Here are the ten things we learned from Week 13 of the 2017 MLS season.
1. The Once And Future King?
The Seattle Sounders held off the Portland Timbers to win the first meeting of the storied rivals in 2017 by a score of 1-0 on Saturday.
It was another frustrating afternoon at CenturyLink Field for the Timbers, who outshot Seattle 15-5 in the first half and had two legitimate penalty claims waved away by Mark Geiger. Portland is now winless in five.
The Sounders, meanwhile – even after back-to-back wins – don’t look themselves. They were pretty well handled by the Timbers on their home field on Saturday, to the point that goalkeeper Stefan Frei got a yellow card for time wasting in the first half.
Seattle’s attack, despite boasting so much firepower, looked out of sorts. It’s an issue that Sounders manager Brian Schmetzer has to figure out sooner rather than later.
Schmetzer is a beloved figure in Seattle soccer – he was the featured figure in the Emerald City Supporters’ tifo before the game – but he has work to do this season to prove that last year’s post-Nicolas Lodeiro surge to MLS Cup wasn’t a fluke.
2. Atlanta Continues To Roll
There’s no stopping Atlanta United right now.
Atlanta poured in three goals in the space of seven first half minutes and coasted to a 3-1 win over NYCFC – one of the league’s best teams – on Sunday afternoon at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Atlanta may be back in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, but they boast the league’s second-best goal differential at +10 and lead the league in goals scored with 27.
Taylor Twellman said on the ESPN broadcast that he’s never seen a team as explosive as Atlanta in the history of MLS. He’s right. It’s awfully hard to think of another team that could bury you in the blink of an eye like Atlanta can.
Miguel Almiron, by the way, now has five goals in his last two games. He’s one of the early frontrunners for MVP.
3. California Clasico Delivers
No rivalry in MLS is as dependable for fireworks as is the California Clasico, and LA and San Jose delivered again on Saturday night at Avaya Stadium.
San Jose struck first through Chris Wondolowski, but this was the Galaxy’s evening. After six goals in all, LA ended the night with a 4-2 win and Jelle Van Damme screaming “California is Los Angeles!” into a camera as he walked off the field.
The Galaxy are feeling themselves right now. They’ve won three straight road games and scored nine goals in the process, with Giovani dos Santos reemerging as one of the league’s best attacking players alongside another MVP candidate in Romain Alessandrini.
When LA plays the kind of offense they have since Jermaine Jones got hurt, teams like San Jose simply can’t score with them – and the Galaxy attack will only improve when Gyasi Zardes, still without a goal this year, begins to round into form.