It's the week after after an international break and teams should have all their players back. So what happened in Week 16 in MLS?
Gary A. VasquezGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta United take a leap with Josef Martinez back
Atlanta United finally have all three of their Designated Players again: Miguel Almiron, Hector Villalba and, for the first time in weeks, Josef Martinez. And they looked pretty darn convincing on Saturday. They got their first-ever win after losing a lead hosting Columbus and they were firing on all cylinders in a 3-1 win.
It's notable that Martinez came onto the pitch and was able to make an impact, scoring a sensational third goal for Atlanta. As good as Martinez was before his injury, the worry was that he might take him some time to get back into the swing of things. Now it appears he is ready to pick up where he left off because he is just that good.
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The Galaxy continue to truck along, even if they can't win at home
The LA Galaxy just barely squeezed out a draw vs. the Houston Dynamo at home, and it's a big thanks to Romain Alessandrini, who has been their best player this year. But what's notable was that Saturday marked another match at home where the Galaxy seemed to struggle a bit. That's weird because teams in MLS generally do better at home and struggle on the road, and the trend is only growing even stronger this season.
But the Galaxy continue to perplex. They are now at 1-3-3 at home, but 4-2-1 on the road. It was a four-game road trip that marked what looked like a revival for the Galaxy, as they got 10 out of a possible 12 points in that swing. But on Saturday, back in their own house, they looked less convincing, even as they are now unbeaten in seven. They look like a strong team, despite some concerns in goal, but they are taking an usual path to grab points.
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The Timbers dropped another lead
The match on Saturday in Colorado was there for the taking, but the Portland Timbers gave up a pair of second half goals, including one in the 89th minute, that gave the Rapids the win. Between a terrible goalkeeper decision from Jake Gleeson on the first Rapids goal and a flubbed Fanendo Adi sitter only moments before that, the Timbers can blame themselves for the end result.
The match itself can be explained by the altitude in Colorado and how hard it is to win on the road in MLS generally, but Timbers seem to have a problem with finishing out matches and holding onto the points on the table. Whether it's finishing teams off when they have the chance or just staying defensively stout, the Timbers seem to lose composure later in games. Even Merritt Paulson, the owner of the Timbers, lamented the team's failure to put the match away, tweeting that it was "awful." They've got to figure it out.
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How is D.C. United's attack this bad?
There's no shame in losing to Toronto FC, the best team in the league, but D.C.'s scoring drought is another story. They've only scored 10 goals through 16 weeks of the MLS season, which is easily the worst in MLS. Even worse, they've gone 665 minutes without a goal in the run of play. The entire team has just four assists among the entire roster. For comparison, 33 different players around MLS have four or more assists on their own.
It hasn't helped that Patrick Mullins and Patrick Nyarko have been battered with injury. But Luciano Acosta just hasn't been as good as last year, among others. Coach Ben Olsen has tried adjusting his formation and trying different partnerships on the field, but nothing is clicking. They need some better attacking firepower and will probably need to make a move in the summer transfer window before this season is an absolute lost cause.
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The Fire are looking more and more dominant
It's pretty tough to argue with the Chicago Fire's form these days. Toronto FC may be everyone's favorite for the Supporters Shield and the MLS Cup, but the Fire should be right behind them. They beat a New England Revolution team that played better than the 2-1 score suggested, and they did it by making the most of their chances.
Striker Nemanja Nikolic continues to be on fire and leads the league in goals, thanks to the many players setting him up with golden opportunities. Bastian Schweinsteiger played deep on Saturday, but he still delivered through balls while getting involved in the defensive side of things. Dax McCarty also created one of the Fire's goals with a lovely through ball from a deep position into the attacking third. Everything is working right in Chicago.
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But Toronto FC still look unstoppable
The top of the Eastern Conference is looking mighty scary lately and the TFC are leading the way. Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco are a big reason for it – the two of them alone have 13 goals this season, and they combined for another one on Saturday night.
Beating a struggling D.C. United team at home isn't necessarily proof of much, but TFC continue to dominate at home, which is the goal of every team in MLS. TFC now have a six-game winning streak when in Toronto and they haven't lost a regular season match there since last year.