Nick Cushing has been impressed with New York City's preparations for their MLS return against the Columbus Crew on Saturday. 

NYCFC headed into the international break having achieved their longest winning run in a single domestic campaign since 2019 (five games), leaving them third in the Eastern Conference and six points behind Inter Miami with two games in hand. 

Cushing explained the break in play halted his side's momentum, but was pleased to see a renewed focus among the players upon their return to training. 

“You can look at the break in two ways,” Cushing said. “It wasn’t the perfect timing because we had momentum and results, but at the same time, you have to take the rest when you get it because the schedule is so brutal.

“It was a great opportunity to rest and recover and give the players some family time as well as refresh and regenerate. I was really pleased with the focus they came back with.

“We know Columbus is going to be difficult, but I’m really pleased with the way the players have prepared this week.”

Columbus come into the fixture on a winning streak of their own, beating Orlando City 2-0 away from home to secure a third straight away success last time out in MLS.

The Crew have had two weeks to recover from their CONCACAF Champions Cup defeat against Pachuca, in which many of their players spent the two days leading up to the match suffering from food poisoning. 

"It’s true that something happened over there," head coach Wilfried Nancy said. "We were all good, and suddenly when we woke up, we were all sick.

"So, it was difficult for me, during the game also, to assess and to do changes and to help my team to get better because they weren't in a normal state."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

New York City – Alonso Martinez

Martínez came off the bench to score a hat-trick in nine minutes and 57 seconds in the second half of NYCFC’s win over San Jose Earthquakes last time out.

In doing so, Martínez became the seventh player in MLS history to score three goals from the bench.

Columbus Crew – Diego Rossi 

Rossi has scored four goals in his last three MLS games, the fourth time he has managed to do so in his career. 

New York City are one of only seven teams in MLS that Rossi has failed to score against since his move to America in 2023. 

MATCH PREDICTION – COLUMBUS CREW WIN

The Crew have won their last three regular-season matches, all on the road, including a 2-0 win at Orlando in their last MLS match on May 25. Columbus have won four straight regular-season road matches just once before in club history, doing so in August-September 2015.

Columbus are unbeaten in their last three encounters against NYCFC, last tasting defeat against Saturday's opponents in August 2022. 

But, New York have lost only one of their last 10 home matches against the Crew (seven wins, two draws, including playoffs) after losing the first meeting in 2015, also scoring in all 11 home matches against them. 

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

New York City – 34%

Draw – 25.8%

Columbus Crew – 40.3%

Oscar Pareja admires the fight Orlando City are showing as they prepare to welcome Columbus Crew to Inter & Co Stadium on Saturday.

Orlando are unbeaten in their last three matches, including a late victory over San Jose Earthquakes last weekend.

They are now within one point of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, sitting 10th on 16 points.

Pareja praised his team for being able to hold onto results in recent weeks, but he now wants to translate that into consistent success at home.

"I see a team that is growing," Pareja said. "Their confidence is growing.

"The way we're playing is much better in terms of efficiency on the other side of the box, and we're proud. The thing that we're most happy with is seeing them try to do the right thing.

"They've got through difficult moments together. The way they fight every single game is always the same. We're more knowledgeable now that we're getting results, but I haven't seen one game where they gave up.

"Now we need to go and do it at home in front of our fans. Nothing has changed, we just haven't been very good in some home games, but we will be."

Columbus sit five points above Saturday’s opponents, having won back-to-back games against CF Montreal and the Chicago Fire.

Going into the third of their successive away matches, head coach Wilfried Nancy hailed the Crew’s spirit.

"It's true that last year I didn't like the spirit that when we were playing away - it was not the same spirit," he said.

"Now, they try to play their game home or away. This is something that for me, this is growth. This is something that has been better."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Orlando City – Pedro Gallese

Gallese has kept clean sheets in two straight matches after Orlando managed just two in their first 11 regular season matches in 2024.

The Lions have never kept a clean sheet in three straight league matches within a single season before.

Columbus Crew – Diego Rossi

Rossi managed a goal and two assists in Columbus’ win over Chicago last Saturday. It was his sixth MLS match with at least three goal contributions (including playoffs) but his first with the Crew.

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

Orlando City have won just one of their first seven home matches this MLS season (three draws, three losses), with their six points won equalling the fewest they have ever recorded in their first seven home matches of a season (also in 2015).

Meanwhile, Columbus have lost only one of their last eight away matches in MLS (four wins, three draws incl. playoffs), including winning their last two in a row on the road. The Crew have not won three consecutive away matches in the league since a four-match run between August and September 2015.

Columbus knocked Orlando out of last season’s MLS Cup Playoffs with a 2-0 road win in the Conference Semifinals. That win was just the Crew’s second in their last 11 meetings with Orlando dating back to October 2018 (one draw, eight losses).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Orlando City – 34.5%

Draw – 26.8%

Columbus Crew – 38.7%

Frank Klopas admits he is finding things "extremely difficult" amid Chicago Fire FC's poor form as they prepare to welcome Columbus Crew to Soldier Field.

The Fire have lost three MLS games in a row, most recently going down 1-0 to Charlotte FC in midweek, and are now winless in six.

Without a win since early April, Chicago have slipped down to 14th in the Eastern Conference ahead of Saturday's visit of Columbus.

Klopas, who was appointed head coach in December after previous spells as caretaker and assistant, knows it is on him to turn things around.

"We need confidence - we're very low on that," he said. "It's not easy because I'm asked the same questions, and I'm trying to find solutions and answers. I know I keep saying it, but we have to keep going and find a way out of this. 

"I love this club and felt I could help it, so it's a difficult one for me because I wouldn't do this for any other team. It's extremely difficult in this moment because I haven't found solutions. We'll keep trying."

Columbus are seventh in the East, eight points better off than their opponents, having played a game less, and enter this contest on the back of a 3-1 win at CF Montreal.

That snapped a seven-game winless run, culminating in a 2-1 home reverse to FC Cincinnati – a loss that may prove to be a turning point for the reigning league champions.

"After the game against Cincinnati, we discussed about a specific topic," head coach Wilfried Nancy said after the win against Montreal. "For me, that was a weird game, and I explained the situation.

"That's why we were able to score goals [against Montreal]. That's why we were able to control the game. That's why we had a really good performance."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Chicago Fire - Hugo Cuypers

The Fire have failed to score in four successive home matches for the first time in their history. That leaves them just one blank short of equalling the all-time MLS record of five, set by Toronto FC in 2007 and matched by FC Cincinnati in 2020.

The onus is on the forward players to find a way past Columbus, with Hugo Cuypers registering three shots against Charlotte, each of which were on target but none finding the net. The Fire quite simply need Cuypers to find his range this weekend.

Columbus Crew - Steven Moreira

Defender Moreira proved to be Columbus' unlikely hero in the win over Montreal as he set up two goals - the first multi-assist game of a Crew career that spans 100 games in all competitions.

Moreira, who also netted in the recent 2-2 draw with Portland Timbers, is the only player to register multiple assists in a single game for Columbus in MLS this season.

MATCH PREDICTION - COLUMBUS CREW WIN

Columbus have won five of their past six meetings with Chicago, including the past three in a row. Never before have they won four straight regular-season meetings with the Fire.

Chicago's three-game losing run is their worst of the season and their worst since a five-match losing streak that ended in September last year.

The Fire's 10 points after 13 matches are the fewest they have ever registered at this stage, meanwhile, and it does not get any easier for them against a Columbus side that have won back-to-back games 3-1 on their travels.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Chicago Fire - 32.6%
Draw - 29%
Columbus Crew - 38.4%

Wilfried Nancy says the Columbus Crew will use their next three road games in MLS to prepare for the CONCACAF Champions Cup final, starting with Wednesday's trip to CF Montreal.

MLS Cup holders Columbus will face Mexican side Pachuca in the Champions Cup final on June 1, having seen off Monterrey in the semi-finals earlier this month.

Before then, they face visits to Nancy's former employers Montreal, as well as the Chicago Fire and Orlando, in MLS. Last Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to FC Cincinnati left the Crew eighth in the Eastern Conference standings. 

Asked about the challenges presented by their road stretch, Nancy said: "It's exciting. We'll play many games, we'll face different kinds of teams. 

"We want to challenge ourselves. We want to get better and find ways to have good performances. We have this spirit.

"This is the spirit of my team, the spirit of wanting to do well. We'll play Montreal, then Chicago and Orlando, then we play the final. Three games to prepare the final. This is the way we see it."

Montreal are just three points behind Columbus, having seen a 2-0 lead evaporate in their 3-2 defeat to Inter Miami last time out.

Despite the loss, midfielder Bryce Duke was encouraged by the way Montreal kept Lionel Messi quiet, saying: "We need to keep going in this direction and get results. 

"It's going to be a tough month ahead. It will be important to recover and be ready for Wednesday.

"It's a great achievement to contain Messi, now the aim will be to keep the lead next time and play the full 90 minutes."

PLAYERS TO WATCH 

CF Montreal – Jules-Anthony Vilsaint

Vilsaint recorded a goal and an assist against Miami, his second MLS game with one of each, with the other coming versus Columbus last September. 

The only Canadian with more such games than Vilsaint for Montreal in MLS is Patrice Bernier, with five.

Columbus Crew – Max Arfsten 

Arfsten scored what proved to be a late consolation off the bench against Cincinnati, his third career goal as a substitute in MLS (including playoffs).

Only three players have more goals off the bench in MLS play since the beginning of last season – Duncan McGuire with six, Josef Martinez with five and Tyler Wolff with four.

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

Columbus are unbeaten in their last four meetings with Montreal, including a scoreless draw when the sides met in April.

The Crew's longest ever unbeaten run against Montreal is five matches, their last streak of that length being recorded between 2016 and 2018.

They had their nine-game unbeaten streak across all competitions snapped by Cincinnati last time out, though seven of those matches had finished level. Montreal tend to be solid at home, so another draw could be on the cards.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

CF Montreal – 36.8%

Columbus Crew – 34.7%

Draw – 28.5%

Wilfried Nancy questioned why limits should be placed upon his Columbus Crew side after they reached the CONCACAF Champions Cup final.

Having taken a narrow 2-1 lead into the second and away leg, Columbus then impressively won 3-1 in Monterrey to secure their place in the final against Pachuca in June.

Columbus are also sitting fifth in the MLS' Eastern Conference, and Nancy believes his side can keep pushing the boundaries of their potential.

"For me, this is about trying to be limitless, and this value for me is so important," Nancy told reporters. "Why are we going to put limits on what we do?"

Nancy's men turn their attentions back to domestic football this weekend, hosting FC Cincinnati on Saturday.

Cincinnati are flying themselves having rattled off three straight MLS victories to leave them second in the East and three points behind leaders Inter Miami with a game in hand.

Despite winning 1-0 at Orlando City last time out, Noonan was not impressed with his side's showing, saying: "I don't think anybody in there is doing cartwheels because of their, and our, performance.

"We won a game on the road and did things well enough to get a win, but didn't perform anywhere near what we know we're capable of.

"Hopefully, we use this as a chance to learn a little bit about ourselves and grow from it and then hopefully, have a good week and a strong performance in Columbus."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Columbus Crew – Cucho Hernandez

Hernandez leads the Crew for goals so far this season, netting four times in eight appearances. His tally is twice as many as his team-mates have managed, and Hernandez looks the most likely to lead his team's attacking threat this Saturday.

FC Cincinnati – Luciano Acosta

Acosta scored 17 seconds into Cincinnati’s 1-0 win over Orlando last weekend. It was the earliest goal ever scored in a 1-0 win in MLS history, and if his team are to pick up three points again this weekend, another fast start from Acosta could prove helpful.

MATCH PREDICTION – COLUMBUS CREW WIN

Columbus have lost only two of their 13 all-time MLS meetings with Cincinnati (seven wins, four draws), including winning the last two in a row. The Crew have scored multiple goals in 11 of those 13 matches, including each of the last seven in a row (incl. playoffs).

Cincinnati, meanwhile, have won three straight matches in all competitions for the first time since a four-match winning run in May-June last season. Two of those wins have come on the road with Cincinnati winning seven of their last 11 away matches in all competitions dating back to last September.

Columbus are unbeaten in 27 consecutive home matches in all competitions dating back over a year, though, with only two longer home unbeaten streaks in all competitions by an MLS club before, and they look the favourites to claim victory on Saturday.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Columbus – 52.5%

Cincinnati – 21.2%

Draw – 26.3%

Wilfried Nancy was delighted with the spirit and grit his Columbus Crew team displayed as they sealed a 2-1 CONCACAF Champions Cup win over CF Monterrey.

The Crew are in a great position to progress to the Champions Cup final after their first-leg win in midweek.

Now, Nancy will turn his focus to a league clash with his former club CF Montreal, but he stressed his pride with his team for their performance against Monterrey.

“I'm really proud of the guys,” said Nancy.

“Because we did a really good game in terms of when we had the difficult moments, we were together. And when we had the ball, we tried to play our game and we had good opportunities also, and we were able to unbalance them.

“We try to convince [the squad] that when we play high-level sport, it's a game of mistakes.

The idea is no matter what happened, can we find a way to bounce back? So we work on that during the practice, but at the end of the day, you have to live this situation. And I think that we've worked upon in the past. So now they’ve been better and the chemistry is better. And they were able to sort it out.”

The Crew are the reigning MLS Cup champions, though they have drawn their last three league fixtures.

While Columbus sit fourth in the Eastern Conference, Montreal are three points back in 10th place.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Columbus Crew – Cucho Hernandez

Hernandez scored his 34th MLS goal (including playoffs) in the Crew’s draw on Saturday. Only the Philadelphia Union’s Daniel Gazdag (36) has more goals than Hernández since he made his MLS debut in July 2022.

CF Montreal – Ariel Lassiter

Lassiter put CF Montreal ahead against Orlando on Saturday with an 88th-minute goal, only to see the Lions equalize in stoppage time. It marked just the second time in club history that Montreal scored a go-ahead goal after the 75th minute but failed to win the match, also doing so against the Fire in 2017.

MATCH PREDICTION: COLUMBUS WIN

Montreal have lost 17 of their 25 away matches in all competitions (W5 D3) dating back to the start of last season, being outscored, 56-21, in those games.

Columbus are unbeaten in 17 straight regular-season home matches (W12 D5) following a pair of draws with D.C. United and the Portland Timbers. The only longer run in club history was a 22-match streak in 2008—09.

Columbus won both of their matches against Montreal last season after winning just two of the previous eight (D2 L4). Montreal (2-1 in August 2022) are one of two visiting teams to record a win at Lower.com Field since June 2022.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Columbus Crew – 56.4%

CF Montreal – 18.6%

Draw – 25%

Former Trinidad and Tobago winger Kevin Molino is set to make another important transition in his career, as he has parted ways with Major League Soccer (MLS) team Columbus Crew by mutual agreement.

Molino's departure from the club after three seasons, follows his retirement international duty in September last year.

Columbus Crew President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko, said after discussions with the 33-year-old Molino, both parties mutually agreed to terminate the midfielder’s contract.

“On behalf of the Club, I would like to thank Kevin for his contributions to the Crew over the past three seasons. He is a talented and solid professional who brought good, positive energy to the team, on and off the field,” Bezbatchenko said in a release on the club website.

“After speaking with Kevin, we have agreed to allow him to pursue other opportunities. It’s been a pleasure to work with him, including winning an MLS title last season, and we wish him all the best in the future," he added.

Molino joined Columbus Crew as a Free Agent on January 7, 2021, and appeared in 31 regular season games, 11 of which he started, scoring two goals and adding two assists.

In the Crew’s 2023 post-season campaign, Molino made five appearances and provided two assists, including a right-footed ball to Cucho Hernandez, who headed it across the face of the goal to Christian Ramirez for the game-winning goal in the 115th minute of the Eastern Conference Final, propelling the Black & Gold to MLS Cup.

Caribbean Cup champions Robinhood of Suriname joined Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup winners Columbus Crew as the biggest movers in the latest edition of the Concacaf Club Rankings (CCR).

The Confederation launched a revamped rankings system earlier this year, with clubs gaining points for results in official domestic league matches, regional cup matches, and Concacaf Champions Cup play. The CCR was also used to determine draw seedings and pots for the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup.

Club America retain top spot

Mexican giants and seven-time Champions Cup winners, Club America remain atop the rankings for the second straight month. Club America marched their way to the final of the 2023 Liga MX Apertura, eliminating 2023 Champions Cup winners Club Leon and Atletico San Luis along the way with respective 4-2 and 5-2 aggregate victories. Club America will face Tigres in the final.                                                                                                                       

MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew vault into Top 10

For the first time, Columbus Crew are in the top 10, thanks to their 2-1 victory over Los Angeles FC in the 2023 MLS Cup final. The victory also earned Columbus Crew their third MLS crown, as they moved into ninth position in the Rankings.

The top four remained the same, with Club America, Monterrey, Tigres and Club Leon. Philadelphia Union and Toluca swapped places, as the former inched up to fifth, while Toluca were relegated to sixth.

There was also a change in places between Pachuca and Chivas. Pachuca moved to seventh and Chivas in eighth. MLS Cup runners-up LAFC rounded out the top 10.

Eight of the top 10 clubs will contest the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup - Club America, Monterrey, Tigres, Philadelphia Union, Toluca, Pachuca, Chivas and Columbus Crew.

Saprissa surge past Alajuelense in Central American Top 10

There was a shake-up in the Central American top 10. Honduran giants Olimpia maintained their spot as the top Central American side at 39th overall, ahead of Costa Rican club Deportivo Saprissa, who surged to 44th overall, and Alajuelense, who fell to third in Central America and 46th overall. Saprissa did so on the strength of reaching the Costa Rican final, while Alajuelense were eliminated in the semi-finals by Herediano.

Herediano (49th) and Comunicaciones of Guatemala (52nd) remained fourth and fifth in the region, while newly-minted Panamanian champions CAI (53rd) reclaimed sixth spot in front of seventh-place Municipal of Guatemala (56th). Rounding out the Central American Top 10 was Motagua of Honduras (57th), Guatemala’s Antigua GFC (58th) and Tauro of Panama (59th).

Robinhood keep climbing in Caribbean

Recently crowned Concacaf Caribbean Cup champions Robinhood of Suriname made another big move in the Caribbean top 10, after they picked up another eight points to go from sixth to fourth in the region and 100th overall.

Haiti’s Violette (68th) kept their lead as the top Caribbean club, with no change in the second and third Caribbean spots held by Cibao FC of the Dominican Republic (92nd) and Jamaican side Mount Pleasant (99th). Following Robinhood is Haitian club Arcahaie in fifth (106th), while Caribbean Cup finalists Cavalier of Jamaica are sixth (108th), one spot ahead of Caribbean Cup third-place series winners Moca FC (109th) of the Dominican Republic. The rest of the Caribbean top 10 is rounded out by Trinidad and Tobago’s Defence Force (110th), ASC of Haiti (113th) and Jamaican club Arnett Gardens (114th).

Robinhood register biggest upset win

Robinhood’s 3-0 aggregate victory over Cavalier in the final of the 2023 Caribbean Cup, also went down as the biggest upset win over the course of last month. Heading into the final, Robinhood were 110th, overall while Cavalier were 100th, but now Robinhood have moved past Cavalier with their victory, as the Jamaican club slipped eight places.

With over 20 major trophies to his name and nearing the end of an illustrious playing career, 39-year-old Giorgio Chiellini could be forgiven for enjoying the latter part of his career in the heat of Los Angeles.

But the fire for another trophy to add to his cabinet still burns true ahead of Los Angeles FC's MLS Cup showdown with Columbus Crew on Saturday.

It does perhaps not have the pressure of a European Championship final against England at Wembley, or the annual tussles Chiellini's Juventus had with Milan and Inter in Italy in Serie A, but the veteran defender did not come to LA for everything Hollywood brings with it.

Opta's predictive model suggests the final is too close to call, with LAFC and the Crew both given a 34.5 per cent likelihood of coming out on top.

Chiellini helped LAFC, who were inspired by Gareth Bale, win MLS Cup last year, and despite his countless honours, he is full of desire to make it two titles in the space of two years in the United States.

"We are so happy because last year was a different journey," he told Stats Perform. "We were top of the league for all the season, the play-off for just three games before the World Cup. That was easier. We skipped the first round.

"We played all the games at home and was very different. This year we pushed it hard until June because of the [CONCACAF] Champions League, [but] then we lost the final. We spent a lot of energy on that, and we had some injuries, some periods where we were not so focused, but we came into the playoffs in good condition.

"We fought until the end. We won in Vancouver, we won in Seattle.

"And now in order to win, to take the cup, we have to win in Columbus. And we know how hard it will be, but we are very happy to be here.

"We respect Columbus a lot and the way they play, that style of play, but for sure we want to go there and try to go all the way to win."

Chiellini has a plethora of trophies to his name, including the European Championship with Italy and nine Serie A winners' medals with Juve, but there is room for another one in his cabinet.

"I'm enjoying every day I spend here, training and everything. It's my life. I love what I do," he said when asked if he was considering retirement or leaving LAFC.

"I watch more MLS games than most of my team-mates in their career in this year and a half and I love that. But it's not something I do for me. It's something normal. It's my way of life, this job, I live this life.

"I will see, but I'm enjoying it a lot and there's no heavy situation for me about this stuff, I just enjoy it and it's very fun."

Even though the Italian has been coached by the likes of Roberto Mancini and Massimiliano Allegri, Chiellini does not see his future in the dug-out, though he hopes to remain in the game in some capacity.

"I did a degree in economics and the NBA, and I always had that type of management in my mind," he said.

Mikael Uhre netted a hat-trick as Philadelphia Union snapped their five-game MLS winless run with a 4-2 victory over Toronto on Saturday.

Union took an early lead after Lukas MacNaughton's 16th-minute own goal before Denmark international Uhre bagged a double before half-time.

Uhre added a third in the 56th minute to round out his hat-trick, tapping in Julian Carranza's low ball across goal and put the contest to bed.

Toronto pulled one back through Italy international Lorenzo Insigne in the 66th minute, before Richie Laryea's stoppage-time consolation.

New England reinforced their grip on top spot in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 home win over Sporting KC, who are last overall.

Giacomo Vrioni netted a first-half brace for the Revs, but Sporting pulled one back in the 50th minute from Johnny Russell, only to be reduced to 10 men when Andreu Fontas was sent off 10 minutes later.

The Revs are ahead of second-placed Cincinnati on goal difference, with Cincy winning 2-1 over Portland Timbers after strikes from Sergio Santos and Brandon Vasquez.

New York City moved up to fourth in the East with a 3-1 home win over Dallas sparked by Santiago Rodriguez's double.

Western Conference leaders St Louis City were denied victory after Michael Barrios' 90th-minute equaliser as they drew 1-1 at Colorado Rapids.

St Louis remain top in the West but only on goal difference from Seattle Sounders who condemned Minnesota United to three straight losses with a 1-0 victory.

Denis Bouanga netted his seventh goal of the MLS season as LAFC drew 1-1 at Nashville, while LA Galaxy snapped their winless start to the campaign with a 2-0 home victory over Austin.

Inter Miami's losing run extended to six in a row, compounding the pressure on boss Phil Neville, as they went down 1-0 at Houston Dynamo.

Real Salt Lake beat San Jose Earthquakes 3-1, Charlotte defeated Columbus Crew 1-0, struggling Montreal edged New York Red Bulls 2-0 and Christian Benteke scored as DC United won 3-1 at Orlando City.

St Louis City snapped their two-game losing skid with a statement win where they piled on five goals within an hour in a 5-1 hammering over Eastern Conference-leading Cincinnati on Saturday.

The MLS expansion side had suffered back-to-back losses after creating league history by winning their first five games but responded at CityPark.

Jared Stroud fired in a third-minute opener from a set-piece before Eduard Lowen lashed home a volley in the 39th minute.

Kyle Hiebert glanced in Stroud's cross in first-half stoppage-time and St Louis did not relent after the break, with Nicholas Gioacchini adding another from Rasmus Alm's classy touch in the 53rd minute.

It was five in the 57th minute when Alm's rifled strike from outside the box hit the post and deflected in off goalkeeper Roman Celentano.

Sergio Santos grabbed a consolation for Cincy, who were unbeaten coming into this encounter.

Dairon Asprilla netted an early goal of the year contender with an acrobatic bicycle kick to equalise for Portland Timbers before they raced away with a 4-1 win over Seattle Sounders.

Asprilla brilliantly netted in the 71st minute before Portland added a further three goals in the final 20 minutes, meaning Seattle slipped from top spot in the West.

Sean Zawadzki netted a 90th-minute equaliser as Columbus Crew pinched a 1-1 home draw with 10-man New England, who move up to top spot in the Eastern Conference ahead of Cincinnati.

Lorenzo Insigne returned from a groin injury as Toronto drew 2-2 with Atlanta. Toronto have drawn four games in a row.

DC United ended their six-game winless run with a 1-0 victory over last-placed Montreal, while New York Red Bulls' streak without a win extended to four games after a 1-1 draw with Houston Dynamo.

Keaton Parks and Maxime Chanot scored excellent early goals as New York City moved up to fifth in the East with a 2-1 win over Nashville.

Austin drew 0-0 with Vancouver Whitecaps, while Orlando City rallied from behind to get past Minnesota United 2-1.

Bernard Kamungo scored an 88th-minute winner as Dallas moved up to fourth in the West with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake, while San Jose Earthquakes crushed Sporting KC 3-0 with a Jeremy Ebobisse double.

Struggling Charlotte drew 2-2 with Colorado Rapids and Philadelphia Union's winless run extended to five games with a 2-2 draw at Chicago Fire although they fought back from 2-0 down.

Denis Bouanga netted a hat-trick as reigning MLS champions LAFC claimed a statement win with a 3-0 rout of Austin on Saturday.

Bouanga opened the scoring with a low strike with five minutes left in the first half, before adding further goals in the 57th and 68th minutes.

The Gabonese winger fired in a powerful right-foot volley from a corner for 2-0, before side-footing home at the back post for the third.

The result meant LAFC kept in touch with the top two in the Western Conference, with Seattle Sounders moving above St Louis City into top spot with a 3-0 win in the late game.

The Sounders netted three second-half goals to condemn the expansion side to their second straight loss after winning their opening five MLS games.

Phil Neville's Inter Miami slumped to their fifth straight loss, going down 1-0 at home to Dallas. US international Jesus Ferreira scored the only goal in the 27th minute. Dallas moved up to fourth in the West with the victory.

Cincinnati remained top of the Eastern Conference with a 1-0 home win over Philadelphia Union, who are winless in four. New England are second in the East behind Cincy, thrashing Montreal 4-0.

Tom Barlow scored deep into stoppage time to rescue a 1-1 draw for New York Red Bulls against San Jose Earthquakes, while Colorado Rapids edged Sporting KC 1-0 on the road.

New York City and Atlanta United drew 1-1, Nashville and Toronto drew 0-0, while Columbus Crew secured their third straight win with a 2-0 victory at D United.

Kei Kamara scored a double as Chicago Fire won 2-1 over Minnesota United, while Amine Bassi also netted a brace as 10-man Houston Dynamo beat nine-man LA Galaxy 3-0.

Real Salt Lake came from behind to win 3-1 over Charlotte, while Vancouver Whitecaps beat Portland Timbers 1-0.

Expansion franchise St Louis City's perfect start to their inaugural MLS season was ended by Minnesota United who triumphed 1-0 after Luis Amarilla's 78th-minute penalty on Saturday.

City had made MLS history by winning their first five games but that was ended by the Loons with Amarilla drilling home the spot kick after a needless challenge by Kyle Hiebert.

Hiebert brought down Amarilla just inside the box with a rash tackle when Jakob Nerwinski appeared to have Kervin Arriaga's wayward pass under control.

Substitute Samuel Adeniran came closest to equalising for St Louis, with a 95th-minute shot going over the bar after a great first touch from Klauss' right-wing cut back.

St Louis remain top of the table with 15 points from six games, but unbeaten Minnesota climb up to fourth in the Western Conference.

Cincinnati continued their impressive start to the season with a 1-0 home triumph over Inter Miami who slumped to their fourth straight defeat.

Yerson Mosquera scored the 45th-minute winner for Cincy, who are top of the Eastern Conference.

Giorgos Giakoumakis scored an early winner as Atlanta United moved up to second in the East with a 1-0 home win over New York Red Bulls, who are down in 12th in that conference.

Jordan Morris and Leo Chu scored first-half goals as Seattle Sounders stayed second in the West with a 2-1 victory at LA Galaxy, who are without a win and have only three points from five games.

LAFC remained unbeaten and third in the West despite a 0-0 draw at the winless Colorado Rapids, while SJ Earthquakes climbed to fifth with a 2-1 victory over Houston Dynamo with all three goals coming from penalties.

Vancouver Whitecaps snapped a run of three straight draws with a resounding 5-0 win over 10-man Montreal with Simon Becher scoring a double. Becher is the fastest player (87 minutes) in MLS history to score his first four goals.

Franck Boli rescued a 1-1 draw for Portland Timbers at Dallas, Chicago Fire and DC United drew 0-0 and Nashville triumphed 2-0 at Orlando City.

Federico Bernardeschi netted another spectacular goal with a strike straight from a corner in Toronto's 2-2 home draw with Charlotte.

Sporting KC remained winless after a 0-0 draw at Philadelphia Union, New England drew 1-1 with New York City and Real Salt Lake suffered their fourth straight loss, going down 4-0 to Columbus Crew.

Atlanta United lost their position atop the MLS' Eastern Conference standings after a surprise 6-1 hammering at the hands of the Columbus Crew on Saturday.

Atlanta boasted three wins and a draw from their first four matches of the season – and had won their past two by a combined margin of 8-1 – but they were no match for an inspired Columbus outfit in front of their home fans.

Crew forward Christian Ramirez bagged a brace in the second half, while Alexandru Matan was credited with three assists in Columbus' second win of the campaign.

Meanwhile, Seattle Sounders striker Jordan Morris raced out into the Golden Boot lead with a four-goal haul in his side's 4-1 away win against Sporting Kansas City.

The 28-year-old American more than doubled his three goals from the opening four matches, opening up a two-goal lead on rest of the competition.

With Atlanta going down, it was the New England Revolution capitalising and taking over as the Eastern Conference leaders, overcoming a first-half strike from Christian Benteke to defeat D.C. United 2-1.

The loss left D.C. near the bottom of the standings with four points from five matches, where they are joined by Charlotte after their 1-1 home draw against New York Red Bulls.

Cincinnati are the only undefeated team in the East through five matches, securing their third win with a 1-0 triumph over Nashville, to go with two draws as they sit one point behind New England.

A 92nd-minute winner gave the Chicago Fire a 3-2 victory away from home against Inter Miami – their first win of the season – while two goals in the first 10 minutes were enough for Orlando City to prevail 2-1 against the Philadelphia Union.

LA Galaxy remain winless after battling out a 0-0 draw against the Portland Timbers, while it was more dramatic for the Vancouver Whitecaps as they needed a 98th minute equaliser to snatch a point in their 1-1 tie with Minnesota.

Austin FC let a golden opportunity to climb the Western Conference slip away as they dropped points in a 1-1 home draw against the cellar-dwelling Colorado Rapids, who doubled their points tally for the season with the result.

A 55th-minute penalty from Amine Bassi was enough to give the Houston Dynamo a 1-0 win against New York City, while expansion side St. Louis City continued their perfect start to their first season with a convincing 4-0 drubbing of Real Salt Lake, leaving them the only side with the maximum 15 points from five matches.

In the late window, Los Angeles FC benefitted from a first-half red card to defeat FC Dallas 2-1, while Toronto FC battled out a scoreless draw with the San Jose Earthquakes.

St Louis City extended their dream start to life in the MLS with a 3-0 win over San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday making league history as the first expansion team to win its first four games.

The Missouri club powered past the Earthquakes with first-half goals from Nicholas Gioacchini and Joao Klauss, before Tomas Ostrak sealed the win in the 68th minute.

St Louis' fourth straight win surpassed the Seattle Sounders' three-win start in their debut MLS season in 2009.

The new franchise have scored 11 goals in four games, with Saturday's win marking their first clean sheet, having been forced to come from behind in all three other victories.

Argentinian midfielder Thiago Almada continued his stellar start to the new campaign with a  double in Atlanta United's 5-1 win over Portland Timbers.

The 21-year-old, who was called into Argentina's squad for the upcoming international window, netted a stunning free-kick in first-half stoppage time to make it 2-0.

Montreal upset 10-man Philadelphia Union with a comeback 3-2 win aided by a game-changing video review for Chinonso Offor's 90th-minute equaliser which split opinions.

The goal had initially been disallowed upon video review, only for that to be overturned when it was realised Union left back Kai Wagner, who was off screen from the initial angle, had actually played Offor onside.

Reigning MLS Cup winners LAFC were held to a goalless draw at Seattle, while last year's beaten conference finalists New York City got past DC United 3-2.

New England made it three wins from four games with Gustavo Bou netting the winner in a 1-0 triumph over Nashville, while New York Red Bulls came from behind to win 2-1 over Columbus Crew.

Chicago Fire remain winless after blowing a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 with Cincinnati, while LA Galaxy are also without a win after a 1-1 home draw with Vancouver Whitecaps.

Charlotte bounced back from their losing start to the season with a 2-1 home win over Orlando City, while Toronto beat Inter Miami 2-0, Dallas won 2-1 over Sporting KC, Houston Dynamo downed Austin 2-0 and Miguel Tapias scored late to earn Minnesota United a 2-1 win at Colorado Rapids.

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