Reviewing Days seven and eight of the MLS is Back Tournament

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The last two days of the MLS is Back Tournament has been a whirlwind. Action from Group A and Group B saw some teams get their first win while others clinched spots in the knockout rounds. Here’s a look back at the action.

San Jose won a thriller over Vancouver on day eight 4-3. This was their amazing celebration. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Day Seven

Chicago v.s. Seattle

The early match of day seven followed the trend of 9:00 a.m. kickoffs. Both teams started a little slower, and there were no goals from either team in the first half. Both sides looked to hold possession and progress forward in a structured way. Neither team were able to do it well enough to warrant the same style of play in the second half.

Changes from each side tactically saw the match open up to a full on sprint in the second half. Chicago Fire were the team to open the scoring just seven minutes into the half. A bad pass from Seattle allowed Chicago’s DP striker Beric to pick up the ball and run from half field in on goal. He held off a Seattle defender, and curled a shot past Stefen Frei.

Seattle’s second half substitute Jordan Morris provided some much needed pace into their attack. In the 77th minute he made his way to the end line and picked a perfect pass to Handwalla Bwana who put home the chance. The match was tied and looked to stay that way until late on.

A Chicago fire corner was taken, Seattle allowed the ball to bounce though their box to the back post. There to meet it was Mauricio Pineda. The young homegrown had the composure to take a first time hit with his left foot. This confused Seattle keeper Frei, and Chicago secured three points in their first match of the tournament.

Group B is an interesting one with some teams who have played more matches than others due to the changes that needed to be made to the tournament. Chicago now has three points from one match and Seattle has only one point from two. The Chicago Fire Homegrown that slotted home the game-winner takes the man of the match honors!

Man of the Match

NYCFC v.s. Orlando

In a pivotal match in Group A, NYCFC needed to fight for their life to stay relevant in the group standings over an Orlando City side that already had a win. For New York City, they seemed to be sluggish at the start and Orlando was not.

After 10 minutes in the first half, Orlando was up 2-0 from a pair of Chris Mueller goals. Orlando dominated possession and made great passes to find the open man. They let the ball do the work, which is a testament to the work of their head coach, Óscar Pareja. With Orlando’s dominating lead, it seemed like NYCFC was doomed from the start.

In the 38th minute, Jesus Medina hit a wonder strike off the half-volley to cut Orlando’s lead in half just before halftime. This was a stunning goal, and it gave New York City the hope that they could turn the momentum to their side in the second half.

When the second half kicked off. It was clear Orlando still had a stranglehold on the match. New York City FC tried to get into the match, but their combination play in the midfield was lacking. They could not find a way to possess the ball long enough to change the way Orlando was playing. Eventually, Orlando found a third game-clinching goal from Tesho Akindele.

The 3-1 win meant that with a Philadelphia win over Inter Miami that they would be through to the knockout rounds of the MLS is Back Tournament after just two matches. Chris Mueller and his two goals helped him secure the man of the match honors. He and Orlando are flying high in this tournament!

Man of the Match

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Philadelphia v.s. Miami

For an in-depth look at this match, check out Philly Sport’s Networks full recap on the Union’s 2-1 win over Inter Miami:

Man of the Match

The prescribed man of the match from this late-night clash is nonother than Brenden Aaronson of the Philadelphia Union. His assist to the game-winning goal may be the only assist that shows up on the stat sheet, but he set up the first goal as well. He has been very good and looking dangerous since the start of the MLS is Back Tournament. He could be the next up-and-coming American attacker.

With all the teams in Group A playing two matches, two teams won both securing six points and a trip to the knockout rounds! Here’s a look at Group A.

Day Eight

Vancouver v.s. San Jose

In a special edition of MLS after Dark (trademark pending), Vancouver played in their first match of the tournament against a team that had already played a match in San Jose. This match was wild from the jump. Both teams went back and forth at each other. It was nonstop action!

In the first half, Vancouver scored two goals in the first 25 minutes. The fresh legs for the Whitecapsreally gave them the upper hand in going full speed ahead. Ali Adnan scored first for Vancouver he used speed and grit to get into the box and placed a great curler by the keeper. In the 22nd minute, Vancouver’s lead was doubled in a crazy way. San Jose failed to convert a corner kick and allowed Yordy Reyna to charge the length of the field for Vancouver. A teammate joined Reyna in the San Jose box as did a trailing San Jose defender. Reyna looked to square the ball rather than shoot on goal, and San Jose’s Judson got in the way of the pass but deflected the ball into his own net. While the earthquakes were down they were not out. They converted a corner in first-half stoppage time as Andres Rios scored.

As the teams came out in the second half it was clear the intensity would not drop. A misplayed ball from San Jose keeper Daniel Vega allowed for an easy goal for Vancouver, Cristian Dajome scored to make it 3-1. This is when things went even more bonkers.

San Jose looked more like fault lines rather than earthquakes in the first 60 minutes of the match. They flipped the on switch up once their captain Chris Wondolowski scored to bring them within a goal. A headed effort in the box somehow made it’s way past Maxime Crépeau in the 72nd minute.

at 3-2 San Jose continued to press. In the 81st minute, the Quakes scored a second goal from a corner as  Oswaldo Alanis headed home an effort to tie the match. At 3-3 with only minutes left in the match, it seemed like this one may end in a thrilling draw. Then another moment of brilliance happened. Shea Salinas picked up the ball for San Jose near the halfway line and went on a run! He made his way to the Vancouver box and answered between defenders, willing the ball past them. He put a shot on target and it went in. In the eighth minute of stoppage time in the second half, San Jose led for the first time, and celebrated a game-winning goal in some chaotic fashion!

Salinas’s final effort awarded him man of the match honors, but there has to be an honorary mention for the member of the San Jose Earthquakes staff who used the “magic spray” as a makeshift smoke bomb to celebrate the goal with his team!

Man of the Match

Group B now has two teams who have played a match and two who have played two matches. San Jose has four points from two matches, Chicago has three points from one match, Seattle has one point from two matches and Vancouver has no points from one match.

What’s on deck for Day Nine?

Atlanta United and FC Cincinnati played in the 9:00 a.m window this morning. Montreal and Toronto face-off in their rivalry match at 8:00 p.m, and New York Red Bulls take on Columbus Crew SC to end the day at 10:30 p.m. Don’t miss the action! The matches tonight will be on FS1!

Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for more Philadelphia Union, Union II, and other soccer content!

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Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

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