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MLS Monday: Everything you need to know about Matchweek 22

Wales, Golf, MLS: Gareth Bale scores, Philadelphia win on the road (no surprise), Chicago win on the road (big surprise), Austin stumble, Toronto is bad at soccer but good at calcio

MLS: Charlotte FC at Toronto FC
É bravo a calcio.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: On Monday, July 25, New York City FC announced that Taty Castellanos will join Girona FC in La Liga for a one-year loan.

There wasn't much movement at the top of the tables after Matchweek 22 – LAFC, Philadelphia, and NYCFC all won their games – but there is some jockeying father down the standings as Chicago extends their winning streak to climb out of the basement and Toronto threatens to play like a team that is good at soccer.

Top Games

Orlando City 0 - 1 Philadelphia Union
The Union just know how to get the job done: Only 36% possession and one shot on goal but that’s all they needed to beat Orlando in swampy Florida and maintain their position at the top of the Eastern Conference. Dániel Gazdag scored his 10th goal in 22 games — this ridiculously efficient and opportunistic Philadelphia does not squander their chances.

Toronto FC 4 - 0 Charlotte FC
Gli italiani arrivono a Toronto, e loro sono bravi a calcio. The work-in-progress that has been Bob Bradley’s Toronto FC finally has all the pieces in place – Lorenzo Insigne on the left, Frederico Bernardeschi on the right – and they look lethal. Four shots on target, four goals: Toronto vastly outperformed their xG of 1.38, and the whole squad looked hopped up as they dominated a Charlotte that played better than the scoreline suggests. Bottom line: Toronto didn’t look like tied for the third-fewest points in the league.

Vancouver Whitecaps 1 - 3 Chicago Fire
Even Chicago can put together a winning streak. Xherdan Shaqiri, aka the $13 Million Man, set the tone with a 13’ goal and the Fire never looked back as they dominated Vancouver on the plastic grass of BC Place. The game follows a 2-0 win over Toronto and a 1-0 upset over Seattle Sounders — once hapless Chicago now sit just two points off a playoff spot.

Sporting Kansas City 0 - 2 LAFC
The rest of MLS should be very afraid of an already-unstoppable LAFC that added the pedigree of two for-reals European stars who still have some gas left in the tank. Giorgio Chiellini got his second start since joining the club, and Gareth Bale came off the bench in the 65’ — then scored 18 minutes later. LAFC lead the Supporter’s Shield race with 45 points after 21 games — the New England Revolution had 43 points after 21 games last year on their way to breaking the single-season record.

Austin FC 3 - 4 New Jersey Red Bulls
What should have been a cake-walk for New Jersey turned into a weirdly thrilling game as they faced an Austin that was hobbled without NYCFC alum and all-around mensch Brad Stuver, who tested positive for COVID. New Jersey roared to a 1-3 halftime lead only to let the game almost slip out of their hands. It was a vintage Red Bulls performance with just 22% possession and a game-winner on the counter. New Jersey committed just 15 fouls, which is low by their standards, but still lead MLS with 343 on the season.

Goal of the Week

We’ll always go for technique and elegance over bombast: Ladies and gentlemen, presenting Gareth Bale’s first goal in LAFC black and gold. There's more to it than you might think — he advances towards goal at a run, moves the ball to the left to create a few inches of space and mislead the keeper, then lashes it just inside the near post. Watch it a few times and you’ll come to appreciate it more.

Scoreboard

Saturday, July 23

NYCFC 2 - 0 Inter Miami

Orlando City 0 - 1 Philadelphia Union

Columbus Crew 0 - 0 New England Revolution

FC Cincinnati 1 - 1 Nashville SC

Toronto FC 4 - 0 Charlotte FC

DC United 1 - 2 CF Montréal

Huston Dynamo 1 - 2 Minnesota United

Sporting Kansas City 0 - 2 LAFC

Seattle Sounders 2 - 1 Colorado Rapids

Vancouver Whitecaps 1 - 3 Chicago Fire

Real Salt Lake 0 - 1 FC Dallas

Portland Timbers 2 - 1 San Jose Earthquakes

Sunday, July 24

Austin FC 3 - 1 New Jersey Red Bulls

LA Galaxy 2 - 0 Atlanta United

Tables