Manchester City are reportedly planning a move for Leicester City midfielder James Maddison at the end of the season.

Maddison, 26, has been one of the top goal-creating midfielders in the Premier League over the past couple of seasons, collecting seven goals and four assists from 14 fixtures this campaign after a 2021-22 season with 12 goals and eight assists.

He closed last campaign with goals in each of his final four Premier League outings and was heavily sought after in pre-season, but Leicester opted to hold onto their midfield star.

Regardless of what happens in the second half of the season, Maddison has less than 18 months remaining on his contract and has reportedly shown no interest in extending, which will likely force Leicester's hand unless they want to lose him on a free transfer as appears likely with Youri Tielemans.

TOP STORY – CITY VIEW MADDISON AS KEY COG IN THEIR FUTURE MIDFIELD

According to the Daily Mail, City boss Pep Guardiola is an admirer of Maddison, and with plenty of upheaval expected in the club's engine room, a space could open up for the Foxes star.

The report states Leicester set their asking price at £60million when Newcastle United came knocking prior to this season, but they held firm as the offers "did not come close" to their valuation.

City midfielders Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva are both expected to depart at the conclusion of the campaign, and their supposed £70m demand for the latter would likely pay for Maddison's arrival.

Leicester are already set to lose Tielemans on a free transfer after spending £32m to purchase his services in 2019, and they will likely be eager to avoid a similar fate with Maddison, while Brendan Rodgers could then use the fee to fund a mini rebuild.

ROUND-UP

– Calciomercato is reporting Chelsea enquired about 25-year-old Inter midfielder Nicolo Barella but were told the Italian club have no interest in selling, as he remains tied to the club until 2026.

– According to Sky Sports Italia, disgruntled Roma forward Nicolo Zaniolo had a change of heart and wanted to head to Bournemouth, but the English side turned him down after spending their funds elsewhere.

– Fabrizio Romano is reporting Barcelona have an anxious wait to see if their €4m ($4.35m) transfer for 21-year-old LA Galaxy defender Julian Araujo will be processed as the deal was signed seconds after the deadline.

– Manchester United captain Harry Maguire never considered a loan move to Inter and will remain with the club until at least the end of the season, per Fabrizio Romano.

As well as bringing an end to a long-running transfer saga, Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Al Nassr likely brings the curtain down on one of the greatest careers in elite European football history.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner will unquestionably become the highest-profile player to feature in the Saudi Pro League when he makes his debut, but he is by no means the first to make a move of that nature.

A tradition of elite players spending the twilight of their careers in an unfamiliar league – whether for one last payday or to raise the profile of the competition – is long-running.

Here, Stats Perform looks at how a series of other superstars fared after making comparable moves, including all-time greats Pele and Johan Cruyff, and a legendary Spanish midfield duo.
 

Pele (New York Cosmos)

When Pele joined the North American Soccer League (NASL)'s New York Cosmos in 1975, the Brazilian had already cemented his place among the very greatest to play the game by winning three World Cups – the first as a teenager and the last as part of one of the all-time great Selecao teams.

Despite his advancing years, Pele's class remained on display in the United States, where he scored 37 goals and registered 30 assists in three years with the Cosmos, who won the NASL's Soccer Bowl in 1977. 

 

Franz Beckenbauer (New York Cosmos)

Having signed one World Cup legend in Pele, the Cosmos repeated the trick in 1977 with the acquisition of Beckenbauer, who played four seasons for the club either side of a brief return to Germany with Hamburg.

The Bayern Munich great can certainly count his time in the NASL as a success, winning three Soccer Bowls – the latter two without Pele.

Johan Cruyff (Los Angeles Aztecs and Washington Diplomats)

As another highly decorated player moving to the NASL in the late 1970s, Cruyff represented both the Los Angeles Aztecs and the Washington Diplomats following his brief retirement in 1978.

The Dutch innovator complained of playing on artificial surfaces in the United States before bucking the trend of most players on this list – Cruyff returned to Europe in the twilight of his career, leading Ajax to two further Eredivisie titles as well as winning the division with their rivals Feyenoord. 

Samuel Eto'o (Anzhi Makhachkala)

While every transfer on this list was left-field, few created as much shock as Samuel Eto'o's 2011 move from Inter to big-spending Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala. 

Eto'o reportedly became the world's best-paid player with his move to Anzhi, for whom he scored 25 league goals before billionaire owner Suleyman Kerimov scaled back ambitions at the now-defunct club, leading the striker to head to Chelsea.

 

David Beckham (LA Galaxy)

The NASL established the tradition of footballing luminaries arriving in the United States, but Beckham's 2007 move to LA Galaxy helped Major League Soccer break new ground.

Beckham won two MLS Cups and two Supporters' Shields with the Galaxy, but the wider impact of his move – which inspired several other big names to head stateside and led the former England captain to found Inter Miami – was huge. 

Xavi (Al Sadd)

Xavi called time on his playing career with Barcelona as a Champions League winner in 2015, opting to spend four years representing Qatar Stars League side Al Sadd before cutting his managerial teeth at the same club.

The 2010 World Cup winner won the Qatari top-flight once as a player and once as a coach before returning to Camp Nou last year, having both played and managed over 100 games with Al Sadd. 

Andres Iniesta (Vissel Kobe)

The second of Barca's pass masters left the European game in 2018, when Iniesta joined J1 league side Vissel Kobe in a shock move.

Considering he still captains the side at the age of 38, Iniesta must have enjoyed his time in Japan, where he has since been joined by compatriots Bojan Krkic and Sergi Samper.

James Rodriguez (Al Rayyan)

Whenever the World Cup rolls around, the idea of breakout stars is discussed. Few players have been more deserving of that tag than Colombia's Rodriguez, who top-scored at the 2014 edition.

Having enjoyed title successes with European heavyweights Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and enjoyed a – rather less successful – spell at Everton, Rodriguez is now plying his trade with Al Rayyan, who are languishing in eighth place in the Qatar Stars League.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy)

Most of the players named on this list enjoyed some form of success – whether it be on or off the pitch – after making their surprise moves, but few can match the feats of Ibrahimovic.

Ibrahimovic was – like Ronaldo – 37 when he left Manchester United in 2018, scoring 53 MLS goals for the Galaxy in two hugely successful seasons before returning to Europe to help Milan win the Scudetto earlier this year.

While Ronaldo now looks unlikely to return to the pinnacle of European football, if Ibrahimovic can do it, few would bet against the Portugal great doing likewise. 

 

Lionel Messi is rumoured to become the latest superstar to move to MLS, with the Times reporting that the Argentina forward will join Inter Miami. 

Messi is out of contract with Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season and has been continually linked with a return to Barcelona, having left the Blaugrana in 2021.

But Inter Miami are said to be "confident" the 35-year-old will sign following the conclusion of the World Cup in Qatar, where he has scored in both of Argentina's group stage matches, though he would not move until the conclusion of PSG's season.

Should the move materialise, Messi would join a host of big names to ply their trade in the United States. Here are some of the most notable examples.

David Beckham

The former England captain shocked the world when he swapped Real Madrid for LA Galaxy in 2007, though his blockbuster move certainly put MLS on the map.

Beckham made 118 appearances during his five-year spell with Galaxy, scoring 20 goals, while helping the franchise to successive MLS Cup triumphs in his final two seasons.

Thierry Henry

Arsenal and France's all-time leading scorer scored 52 goals in 135 games for the New York Red Bulls between 2010 and 2014, helping them win the 2013 Supporters' Shield and making four All-Star appearances.

Henry also coached Montreal Impact from 2019 to 2021, guiding them into the playoffs during his only full season in charge.

David Villa

Spain's all-time leading marksman became New York City's first signing when he joined from Atletico Madrid ahead of their debut MLS season in 2015.

A four-time All-Star, Villa would go on to score 80 goals in 126 appearances before departing for Japanese side Vissel Kobe at the end of the 2018 season.

Kaka

The former Ballon d'Or winner became Orlando City's first designated player when he agreed to join the new franchise in 2014.

Kaka played 78 times for City, scoring 25 goals, while he was an All-Star in each of his three seasons.

Andrea Pirlo

A multiple Scudetto winner with Milan and Juventus, Pirlo was unable to truly leave his mark on MLS during his stint with New York City.

Nevertheless, the former Italy midfielder did help the franchise reach the playoffs in 2016 and 2017, while racking up 62 appearances and netting once.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Ibrahimovic certainly hit the ground running after switching Manchester United for LA Galaxy, scoring twice on his debut in a 4-3 win over rivals Los Angeles FC, including a 45-yard screamer.

That set the tone for a prolific two-year spell for the former Sweden international, who netted 53 times in 58 appearances before returning to Italy for a second stint at Milan.

Wayne Rooney

England's all-time leading scorer helped D.C. United reach the play-offs in his first season after joining from Everton in 2018, while he will always be remembered for his last-ditch tackle and cross-field assist to Luciano Acosta that sealed a dramatic 3-2 win over Orlando City.

Rooney scored 25 goals in 52 appearances for United and, following a spell at Derby County, he returned to the franchise as head coach in July. 

Gonzalo Higuain

A league title winner with Real Madrid and Juventus, Higuain swapped Italy for the States in September 2020.

Despite missing a penalty on his debut against Philadelphia Union, the former Argentina striker went on to score 29 goals in 70 appearances before retiring at the end of the 2022 MLS season.

Lionel Messi is rumoured to become the latest superstar to move to the MLS, with the Times reporting that the Argentina forward will join Inter Miami. 

Messi is out of contract with Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season and has been continually linked with a return to Barcelona, having left the Blaugrana in 2021.

But Inter Miami are said to be "confident" the 35-year-old will sign following the conclusion of the World Cup in Qatar, where he has scored in both of Argentina's group stage matches, though he would not move until the conclusion of PSG's season.

Should the move materialise, Messi would join a host of big names to ply their trade in the United States. Here are some of the most notable examples.

David Beckham

The former England captain shocked the world when he swapped Real Madrid for LA Galaxy in 2007, though his blockbuster move certainly put the MLS on the map.

Beckham made 118 appearances during his five-year spell with Galaxy, scoring 20 goals, while helping the franchise to successive MLS Cup triumph in his final two seasons.

Thierry Henry

Arsenal and France's all-time leading scorer scored 52 goals in 135 games for the New York Red Bulls between 2010 and 2014, helping them win the 2013 Supporters' Shield and making four All-Star appearances.

Henry also coached Montreal Impact from 2019 to 2021, guiding them into the playoffs during his only full season in charge.

David Villa

Spain's all-time leading marksman became New York City's first signing when he joined from Atletico Madrid ahead of their debut MLS season in 2015.

A four-time All-Star, Villa would go on to score 80 goals in 126 appearances before departing for Japanese side Vissel Kobe at the end of the 2018 season.

Kaka

The former Ballon d'Or winner became Orlando City's first designated player when he agreed to join the new franchise in 2014.

Kaka played 78 times for City, scoring 25 goals, while he was an All-Star in each of his three seasons.

Andrea Pirlo

A multiple Scudetto winner with Milan and Juventus, Pirlo was unable to truly leave his mark on the MLS during his stint with New York City.

Nevertheless, the former Italy midfielder did help the franchise reach the playoffs in 2016 and 2017, while racking up 62 appearances and netting once.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Ibrahimovic certainly hit the ground running after switching Manchester United for LA Galaxy, scoring twice on his debut in a 4-3 win over rivals Los Angeles FC, including a 45-yard screamer.

That set the tone for a prolific two-year spell for the former Sweden international, who netted 53 times in 58 appearances before returning to Italy for a second stint at Milan.

Wayne Rooney

England's all-time leading scorer helped D.C. United reach the play-offs in his first season after joining from Everton in 2018, while he will always be remembered for his last-ditch tackle and cross-field assist to Luciano Acosta that sealed a dramatic 3-2 win over Orlando City.

Rooney scored 25 goals in 52 appearances for United and, following a spell at Derby County, he returned to the franchise as head coach in July. 

Gonzalo Higuain

A league title winner with Real Madrid and Juventus, Higuain swapped Italy for the States in September 2020.

Despite missing a penalty on his debut against Philadelphia Union, the former Argentina striker went on to score 29 goals in 70 appearances before retiring at the end of the 2022 MLS season.

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly preparing to rival Chelsea in the pursuit of RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku, with this expected to be the forward's last season in the Bundesliga.

Nkunku, 24, burst onto the world stage this past season when he raised his goal tally in all competitions to 35 in 52 games, after previously never having scored more than seven goals in a season.

This season he has shown it was no fluke, with eight goals from Leipzig's first 11 Bundesliga fixtures, while adding another two in the Champions League, including one in Tuesday's home win against Real Madrid.

His form warranted his senior international debut for France in March, and as he is preparing to play a role for the defending champions at the World Cup, his old club have reportedly decided they want him back.

 

TOP STORY – PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN LOOK TO RECLAIM LEIPZIG'S NKUNKU

Nkunku spent nine years with PSG after arriving as a 13-year-old in 2010, earning 55 Ligue 1 appearances before being sold to Leipzig for a fee of €13million in 2019.

According to Fichajes, they now view that move as a mistake, and will look to reclaim France's new star as soon as January.

The report states both Liverpool and Chelsea are prepared to activate his €60m release clause in January, with Chelsea already said to have completed a preliminary physical in the previous transfer window, having been engaged with Leipzig in the sale of Timo Werner and an enquiry about Josko Gvardiol.

It is not known if PSG will have the funds to complete the move in January, especially while in contract renegotiations with superstar Lionel Messi.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to 90min, Bayern Munich are considering a move for 32-year-old German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan from Manchester City at the end of the season.

– Sport reports that Barcelona are in talks with Wolves about securing 25-year-old midfielder Ruben Neves, with a deal believed to be possible in January. 

– The Los Angeles Times claims Cristiano Ronaldo could come to Major League Soccer to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy, Los Angeles FC or Inter Miami if he can not find a European club.

– Calciomercato is reporting Manchester United have joined Chelsea and Barcelona with their interest in 25-year-old Ajax midfielder Edson Alvarez.

Paris Saint-Germain are prepared to pay €30m for 16-year-old Brazilian Endrick, per UOL Esporte. Endrick is playing in the Brazilian league with Palmeiras, and will not be allowed to make the jump to Europe before turning 18.

Cristian Arango fired home a dramatic 93rd-minute winner as LAFC won their Battle of the LA Conference Semifinal 3-2 over LA Galaxy in the MLS Cup on Thursday.

Arango's goal capped a wild final 15 minutes where three goals were scored in the clash at Banc of California Stadium, with Galaxy substitute Devan Joveljic having curled in an 85th-minute equalizer.

The win means Western Conference top seed LAFC progressed to the Conference Finals where they will host either Dallas or Austin.

LAFC had taken a 23rd-minute lead when Carlos Vela slipped in a pass for Denis Bouanga to clinically score, but Galaxy leveled before the break when Samuel Grandsir lashed home a bouncing shot.

Bouanga restored LAFC's advantage in the 80th minute when he tapped in Ryan Hollingshead's low ball across goal.

But Joveljic scored barely a minute after entering the game as a substitute, curling in from the edge of the box.

LAFC would find a winner in the third of six additional minutes in stoppage time, when Kellyn Acosta's corner found Bouanga whose volley was parried by Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond into Arango's path and he lashed in the rebound.

Eastern Conference top seed Philadelphia Union also advanced into the last four, winning 1-0 over Cincinnati at Subaru Park.

Leon Flach scored the winner in the 59th minute with a left-foot strike, marking his first goal since October last year.

Union goalkeeper Andre Blake made several key saves, including an 83rd-minute block to deny Brandon Vasquez's chance to ensure Philadelphia hosted the Eastern Conference Final for the second straight year. They will welcome either 2021 MLS Cup winners New York City or Montreal.

Cristian Arango fired home a dramatic 93rd-minute winner as LAFC won their Battle of the LA Conference Semifinal 3-2 over LA Galaxy in the MLS Cup on Thursday.

Arango's goal capped a wild final 15 minutes where three goals were scored in the clash at Banc of California Stadium, with Galaxy substitute Devan Joveljic having curled in an 85th-minute equalizer.

The win means Western Conference top seed LAFC progressed to the Conference Finals where they will host either Dallas or Austin.

LAFC had taken a 23rd-minute lead when Carlos Vela slipped in a pass for Denis Bouanga to clinically score, but Galaxy leveled before the break when Samuel Grandsir lashed home a bouncing shot.

Bouanga restored LAFC's advantage in the 80th minute when he tapped in Ryan Hollingshead's low ball across goal.

But Joveljic scored barely a minute after entering the game as a substitute, curling in from the edge of the box.

LAFC would find a winner in the third of six additional minutes in stoppage time, when Kellyn Acosta's corner found Bouanga whose volley was parried by Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond into Arango's path and he lashed in the rebound.

Eastern Conference top seed Philadelphia Union also advanced into the last four, winning 1-0 over Cincinnati at Subaru Park.

Leon Flach scored the winner in the 59th minute with a left-foot strike, marking his first goal since October last year.

Union goalkeeper Andre Blake made several key saves, including an 83rd-minute block to deny Brandon Vasquez's chance to ensure Philadelphia hosted the Eastern Conference Final for the second straight year. They will welcome either 2021 MLS Cup winners New York City or Montreal.

New York Red Bulls blew a lead to be bundled out of the MLS playoffs by first-time participants Cincinnati 2-1 with Brandon Vasquez netting an 86th-minute winner on Saturday.

Lewis Morgan, who scored 14 goals in the regular season, had put the Red Bulls ahead with a rifled strike from outside the box in the 48th minute at Red Bull Arena.

But Cincinnati replied with two goals in the final 15 minutes to secure their spot in the Conference Semifinals where they will face top seed Philadelphia Union. Fourth-year franchise Cincy had finished last in the Eastern Conference during its previous three campaigns.

Cincy thought they had an equalizer in the 60th minute when the Red Bulls failed to clear a long throw and Junior Moreno's strike was deflected in, but that was by an offside Jeff Cameron.

But the visitors found an avenue back when Red Bulls defender Andres Reyes clumsily brought down Alvaro Barreal, with Luciano Acosta stepping up to send Carlos Coronel the wrong way with the 74th-minute penalty.

New York were stunned when Cincy took the lead with less than five minutes of regulation time left as Vasquez sidefooted home substitute Sergio Santos' left-flank pass.

Cincy goalkeeper Roman Celentano denied Aaron Long's 88th-minute header, while Red Bulls defender Sean Nealis headed over in stoppage time.

LA Galaxy moved into the Conference Semifinals where they will face LAFC after a 1-0 home victory over Nashville at Dignity Health Sports Park.

The hosts thought they had gone ahead in the 50th minute when they raced forward in a four-on-two situation with Riqui Puig laying off for Javier Hernandez to fire home but the goal was disallowed on review after a Ronald Araujo foul in the build-up.

Pink-haired Araujo, who hit the post with a wayward 60th-minute cross, made amends when he headed in Samuel Grandsir's cross from the byline on the right side.

Galaxy could have added another but Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis made saves from Riqui Puig and Kevin Cabral late.

Real Salt Lake and Orlando City both claimed Decision Day victories to book their spots in the 2022 MLS playoffs on a dramatic final day of the regular season.

RSL moved above Portland Timbers into the last playoffs spot in the Western Conference with their 3-1 victory, while Orlando achieved the same feat in the east after beating Columbus Crew 2-1 after a late penalty.

Pablo Mastroeni's RSL will take on two seed Austin in the first round of the MLS playoffs, navigating their way past Portland who started the day in sixth spot, but dropped to eighth, with Minnesota United also qualifying with their 2-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps.

Jefferson Savarino settled any nerves for RSL, who had claimed only three wins from their past 17 games, by curling in a 19th-minute opener before Rubio Rubin's deflected shot doubled their lead in the 48th minute.

Bode Hidalgo sealed RSL's playoffs spot with a classy finish in the 82nd minute, with Dairon Asprilla scoring a late consolation for the Timbers.

Minnesota, who will take on Dallas in the first round of the playoffs, got their win after Franco Fragapane's low 17th-minute drive. Jonathon Gonzalez added a second with a left-foot volley in the 77th minute to seal the Loons' spot.

Hany Mukhtar was confirmed as the MLS Golden Boot winner with 23 goals, although he did not score as Nashville locked in the five seed with a 1-0 win over Supporters Shield winners LAFC.

Teal Bunbury scored the only goal in the 53rd minute, with Nashville to face LA Galaxy in the playoffs. Galaxy beat Houston Dynamo 3-1 with Riqui Puig and Javier Hernandez among the scorers.

Facundo Torres converted an 84th-minute spot kick to send Orlando into the playoffs with a 2-1 victory over the Crew. The Lions will take on Eastern Conference two seed Montreal.

Columbus came into the game one point ahead of Orlando and had gone ahead through Derick Etienne in the 38th minute.

Junior Urso leveled for Orlando in the 56th minute before Milos Degenek's handball led to Torres' decisive penalty, condemning the Crew to missing the playoffs.

Cincinnati clinched their spot in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, leapfrogging up into the five seed slot, with their 5-2 win at struggling DC United.

Brenner hit a hat-trick for Cincy, who will take on New York Red Bulls in the playoffs. The Red Bulls won 2-0 over Charlotte after Elias Manoel's double to secure the four seed.

Inter Miami lost 3-1 at home to Montreal, meaning Phil Neville's side slipped to the six seed and will take on reigning MLS Cup champions New York City. City beat Atlanta United 2-1 to clinch the three seed.

In other games, Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes drew 2-2, Chicago Fire drew 1-1 with New England and Austin and Colorado Rapids ended 1-1 after Diego Rubio's late equalizer for the visitors.

Eastern Conference winners Philadelphia Union thrashed Toronto 4-0 with Daniel Gazdag netting a hat-trick, while Western Conference three seed Dallas got past Sporting KC 2-1.

LA Galaxy clinched their first playoff berth since 2019 after Javier Hernandez earned them a late penalty to secure a 1-1 draw away to Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

Douglas Costa converted the 68th-minute penalty won by Hernandez, after Riqui Puig had his 17th-minute spotkick saved by RSL goalkeeper Zac MacMath.

RSL had gone ahead in the 25th minute from Sergio Cordova's header, but were left to lament Justen Glad failing to convert two late golden opportunities from headers, denting their playoff hopes and extending their winless run to five games.

Ex-Manchester United forward Hernandez earned Galaxy's reprieve after review when bundled over by Marcelo Silva inside the box, with Costa sending MacMath the wrong way.

The draw was enough for the Galaxy, who are perched fourth in the Western Conference with 47 points from 33 games, with RSL sitting eighth, just outside the playoff spots, with 44 points from 33 games.

Derrick Etienne scored two late goals against his former side to earn Columbus Crew a 2-1 win over New York Red Bulls, who suffered their third defeat in four games.

Etienne equalized Franuel Amaya's 53rd-minute thunderbolt with an 89th-minute strike on the turn, before grabbing a 93rd-minute winner by lashing home a rebound.

Philadelphia Union handed the initiative to LAFC in the Supporters' Shield hunt after being thrashed 4-0 by Charlotte, for whom Daniel Rios netted four goals, achieving a franchise-first hat-trick.

The defeat means Philadelphia have failed to win in their past two games, leaving them on 64 points from 33 games, while LAFC have the same number of points with two games to play, starting with Portland Timbers on Sunday.

Donovan Pines scored an own goal and was red carded as DC United lost 1-0 to Montreal, who closed within two points of Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia with one game to play.

Sergio Santos was sent off amid a late scuffle as Cincinnati missed a chance to practically clinch a playoff spot with a 3-2 home loss to Chicago Fire. Cincinnati fought back from 3-0 down after Jhon Duran's double for Chicago.

Minnesota United's winless run extended to six games after going down 2-0 to San Jose Earthquakes, leaving them in a precarious position in the race to qualify for the Western Conference playoffs.

Vancouver Whitecaps capitalized on Minnesota and RSL's results and beat Austin 2-0 to keep alive their playoff hopes with their third straight victory. The Whitecaps are ninth in the west with 43 points with one game to play, with seventh-placed Minnesota on 45 and RSL on 44.

Josef Martinez scored a spectacular scissor-kick goal but Atlanta United went down 2-1 to New England, while playoff-bound Dallas lost 1-0 at Colorado Rapids.

Javier Hernandez netted a double to silence the San Jose Earthquakes crowd as LA Galaxy triumphed 3-2 to boost their playoffs aspirations on Saturday.

The former Mexico international took his season tally to 17 goals, mimicking a clown when celebrating both his goals in retaliation to a pre-game San Jose tifo that read: "The LA circus – same clowns, different costumes".

The result moves Galaxy up two places into fifth in the Western Conference on 46 points from 32 games, having secured back-to-back wins for the first time in MLS since April.

Julian Araujo's right-side ball for Hernandez led to the opener in the 12th minute, with the ex-Manchester United forward poking home.

Gaston Brugman doubled Galaxy's lead in the 42nd minute, capitalizing on a sloppy turnover to rifle in a rocket in off the underside of the bar.

Hernandez added their third in the 69th minute, producing a classy finish after Efrain Alvarez threaded an excellent ball into the box for him.

Cristian Espinoza pulled a goal back in the 74th minute, converting a penalty he won after before brought down by Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond before Hernandez fizzed a chance for his hat-trick wide.

The Earthquakes grabbed another goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Nathan's deflected header went in from Miguel Trauco's bouncing volley but it was mere consolation for the west's bottom side.

Sporting Kansas City treated their home fans to an impressive 4-1 upset win against Minnesota United on Saturday, with William Agada netting a brace on his birthday.

Against the Western Conference's fourth-placed side in Minnesota, 12th-placed Sporting closed the first half in style, with three goals in the space of 15 minutes.

The first was courtesy of a friendly bounce, with a hard, low cross in the 31st minute being deflected by the Minnesota goalkeeper straight off the legs of centre-back Michael Boxall and into the back of the net for an own goal.

Johnny Russell then hit the post in the 41st minute, but was able to track down the rebound and dish one off for Erik Thommy in the box, who sidestepped a challenge before firing home Sporting's second goal.

Capping off a terrific first half, Ben Sweat whipped in a dangerous ball in the 45th minute for Agada to meet with his head, sending his side into the sheds leading 3-0.

Mender Garcia Torres was able to peg one back for Minnesota in the 57th minute, but Agada would put the game to bed with his second goal in the 81st, tapping in a smart low cross from Daniel Salloi.

Earlier in the day, in a battle between two of the Eastern Conference's top four teams, New York City won their local Hudson River Derby against New York Red Bulls 2-0 at Yankee Stadium.

The opening goal came just 50 seconds into the contest, when a corner was expertly flicked on by Santiago Rodriguez, giving defender Alexander Callens an easy close-range header.

City doubled their lead in the 23rd minute, and it was again the result of a well-worked corner, this time with Rodriguez on the receiving end of a floated ball that he was able to control and bring down before sliding it past the keeper.

It was a match bereft of chances in open play, as City finished with just 0.60 expected goals, while the Red Bulls had 0.71.

In a match with similarly few goal scoring opportunities, the top-ranked Philadelphia Union were the ones holding on for a point in their 0-0 draw away against non-playoff side Atlanta United.

Philadelphia could only muster 0.16 expected goals, while Atlanta United controlled 60 per cent of the possession and won the shot count 16-5, finishing with 1.30 expected goals.

Showing off some excellent finishing, Orlando City defied their 0.95 expected goals to hammer Toronto FC 4-0, netting two goals in each half.

The East's second-placed team, CF Montreal, were good enough to leave their away fixture against the New England Revolution with a 1-0 win, with Alistair Johnson finding the winner 72 minutes in.

Charlotte conceded goals in the third and 30th minutes to fall behind early against the Chicago Fire, but they rallied back and scored in the 68th and 76th to tie things, before stealing the points with a 96th-minute winner.

The league's top goalscorer Hany Mukhtar scored his 23rd of the season as he helped Nashville take a 1-1 draw on the road against Austin, while Cincinnati strengthened their playoff position with a 2-1 win at Real Salt Lake.

In the late window, the Vancouver Whitecaps rode two quick strikes in the first half to a 2-1 home win against the Seattle Sounders, while Chicharito was one of four Los Angeles Galaxy goal scorers in their 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids, and FC Dallas secured a hard-fought 1-1 draw with 10 men against the San Jose Earthquakes.

The Vancouver Whitecaps found another gear in the second half of Wednesday's home game against the Los Angeles Galaxy, finding the back of the net three times after the break in the 3-0 win.

It was all Galaxy in the first half, controlling 71 per cent of the possession while not allowing a single shot on target, but that all changed after what must have been an inspired half-time team talk in the Vancouver dressing room.

While Los Angeles still had the bulk of the possession in the second half (64 per cent), it was the Whitecaps generating the chances, with six shots on target to the Galaxy's two.

It took a corner to produce the opening goal, with an initial sharp header from close range being saved by Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond, before Ryan Gauld was able to force home the rebound in the 57th minute.

The advantage was doubled 11 minutes later when an unsuccessful Los Angeles corner launched a Vancouver counterattack, with a cross into the near post being expertly flicked on for Pedro Vite to tap-in at the back post, marking his first MLS goal.

Tosaint Ricketts came off the bench to complete the rout, getting behind the defence and finishing off a one-on-one in the 88th minute to trim the gap between Vancouver and the last Western Conference playoff spot to six points.

Meanwhile, it was the first time since July that Atlanta United have kept a clean sheet as they left Orlando City with a 1-0 result.

The only goal of the game – despite a combined 30 shots – came in the 72nd minute when Thiago Almada snaked his way into the penalty box, getting on the end of a one-two with Andrew Gutman before tucking away his match-winning finish.

Atlanta are now two points out of an Eastern Conference playoff spot, while Orlando City are one point inside that line, while also having a game in hand.

Austin FC strengthened their position as the West's second-best team, comfortably handling the challenge of fellow playoff side Real Salt Lake 3-0 at home.

Just like Vancouver, Austin piled on all of their goals in the last half-hour, with Moussa Djite bagging a hat-trick as he came on in the 58th minute and struck in the 60th, 76th and 80th.

In the final game of the day, the San Jose Earthquakes remained stuck to the bottom of the table as they went down 2-1 on the road against the Colorado Rapids.

Javier Hernandez missed another spotkick before Riqui Puig took over penalty duties to net a season-saving 99th-minute equaliser in the LA Galaxy's 1-1 draw at Nashville on Saturday.

Nashville had gone ahead in the 28th minute from Hany Mukhtar's penalty but Hernandez was the centre of attention once again.

The former Manchester United forward failed to convert a 97th-minute penalty attempting a Panenka last Sunday against Sporting KC, spurning a hat-trick and winner.

Hernandez stepped up again in the 55th minute after being bundled over by Shaquell Moore but had his low shot tipped around the post by goalkeeper Joel Willis.

With their season on the line, the Galaxy earned a late reprieve after a penalty was awarded for a Walker Zimmerman handball following VAR review, with the defender receiving a second yellow card.

But Riqui Puig grabbed the ball and took the responsibility instead of Hernandez, before firing just beyond Willis' fingertips for the goal.

The result means the Galaxy are winless in three games and sit eighth in the Western Conference on 40 points.

Western Conference leaders LAFC stumbled again, suffering their fourth loss in their past five games with a 2-1 defeat to Dallas.

Jesus Ferreira boosted his claims on a spot in USA's World Cup squad with a double for Dallas, while LAFC were reduced to 10 men after Ryan Hollingshead's 13th-minute red card.

Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union showed why they are arguably the best team in the MLS with a 5-1 thrashing of Orlando City securing their fifth straight victory.

Lewis Morgan scored a 78th-minute penalty to help New York Red Bulls secure a 2-1 home win over New England to firm up their grip on third in the east.

New York City suffered their seventh defeat from their past nine games, going down 1-0 to Charlotte.

Brenner scored a hat-trick as Cincinnati extended their unbeaten run to nine games, winning 6-0 over San Jose Earthquakes

Thiago Almada fired in a golazo as Atlanta United defeated Toronto 4-2, while Inter Miami slumped to a third straight loss with a 3-1 defeat at Chicago Fire.

Seattle Sounders toppled Austin 3-0, Houston Dynamo and Sporting KC drew 0-0, Portland Timbers edged Minnesota United 1-0, Colorado Rapids beat Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 and Real Salt Lake and DC United ended goalless.

Reigning MLS Cup champions New York City slumped to their fifth loss from their past six games as Christian Benteke debuted for DC United who claimed an upset 2-1 win on Wednesday.

City had ended a three-game losing run with a 2-0 win at Chicago Fire 10 days before losing to Orlando City on the weekend but their poor form continued at Red Bull Arena.

Ola Kamara tapped in from point blank range to give the visitors at 24th-minute lead, but Heber side-footed in an equalizer three minutes later.

Steven Birnbaum restored United's lead with a header from a Martin Rodriguez free-kick in the 57th minute and City could not find a response with David Ochoa palming away Gedion Zelalem's 95th-minute effort.

The win is Wayne Rooney's second since taking over at United who are still last in the Eastern Conference, while it sees City slide down to fourth in the east.

Riqui Puig scored a spectacular late equalizer with a long-range curler after a give-and-go to earn LA Galaxy a 2-2 draw away to Toronto.

Douglas Costa had put the Galaxy into a 24th-minute lead before Toronto hit back with second-half goals to Jesus Jimenez and Filippo Bernardeschi before the Spaniard's 89th-minute strike.

Riqui Puig was making only his third appearance for the Galaxy following his August move from Barcelona.

The result dents star-studded Toronto's playoffs aspirations, leaving them 10th in the east, while the Galaxy are eighth in the west.

Philadelphia Union became the second team behind LAFC to book their postseason berth with a 4-1 home win over Atlanta United.

Julian Carranza, Mikael Uhre, Daniel Gazdag and Nathan Harriel were all among the goals for Union who are eight points clear in the east.

New York Red Bulls moved up to third in the east with a 1-0 win at second-placed Montreal with Lewis Morgan hitting the winner in the 43rd minute.

LAFC suffered a shock 2-1 loss to lowly Houston Dynamo, who condemning the Western Conference leaders to their third straight defeat.

Inter Miami slumped to back-to-back losses with a 1-0 defeat at Columbus Crew, while New England's winless run extended to four games after a goalless draw with struggling Chicago Fire who snapped a three-game losing run.

Hany Mukhtar netted a hat-trick as Nashville beat Colorado Rapids 4-1, while Orlando City came from two goals down to defeat Seattle Sounders 3-2.

Real Salt Lake proved too good for Minnesota United 3-0 and Portland Timbers moved into the west's top seven with a narrow win against second-placed Austin 2-1.

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