Here are the 10 things we learned from week 13 of the Major League Soccer season.
1. Orlando City is the league’s best show
This week started strongly for Orlando City – the club announced last Wednesday that its new soccer-specific stadium in downtown Orlando would be completely privately financed, built on land the club has bought from the city, and will have a capacity 25,000-28,000 instead of the 19,500 it was originally planned to seat.
The stadium’s opening has been pushed back to the middle of 2016, meaning Orlando City will open next season at the Citrus Bowl. That isn’t a bad thing either – the Citrus Bowl packed another 31,000+ to watch Orlando come back for a draw 2-2 draw with Columbus on Saturday night.
Off the field, the Lions have done everything right. On the field, they’ve done everything dramatically. Against the Crew, an extremely harsh early red card to Michael Parkhurst set the stage for fireworks, and no one was disappointed as Pedro Ribero scored an 89th minute screamer to salvage a point for the home team against the valiant Crew.
No team in MLS has had more late goals in their matches, and especially at home, Orlando has delivered with a spectacle every time they’ve taken the field. No wonder they need more seats in their new stadium, and no wonder soccer is being received so warmly in Orlando.
2. The Timbers walk back from the brink
Things were getting ugly in Portland after an especially dire road-trip dropped the Timbers into a tie for last place in the Western Conference. But one week and six points later, the Timbers are back into the playoff places.
It was mostly contributions from forgotten men – Gaston Fernandez and Jack Jewsbury against the Colorado Rapids, especially – and an extremely fortunate slice of luck that has the Timbers’ season back on track.
DC United coach Ben Olsen decided to play a reserve team at Portland on Wednesday night – a decision that paid off, as the starters downed Philadelphia 2-1 at RFK Stadium on Saturday – and Colorado, clearly the West’s worst team, was Saturday.
We’re still waiting to see the Timbers truly at full-strength, with Diego Valeri and Will Johnson in the lineup, but summer reinforcements might be on the way at the striker position, where DP Fanendo Adi’s play has fallen off a cliff.