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Americans at home: Western Conference turn around

There were some low lights this week as well...

MLS: D.C. United at Real Salt Lake Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Well nearly any American worth getting excited about is with the national team as the Stars and Stripes embark on their summer friendlies, but that doesn’t mean that everyone in the player pool was inert this week. Let’s take a look at how some of the names that might be on a USMNT team sheet at some point did this past weekend...

Comeback in Columbus

Toronto FC looked like they were on the way to a comfortable 3-0 win against the Columbus Crew in Ohio. That is until Gyasi Zardes scored the first of what would be three goals for the Crew by beating Michael Bradley to the ball and finishing past Alex Bono.

Zardes would also play a role in the goal that would even the score at three when he was fouled by Bradley in the box and Federico Higuain would take the penalty to steal a point for the Crew.

SLC Punk’d

What’s this, Real Salt Lake is - my word - third in the bewildering Western Conference now? How’d that happen? Well partly it’s due nine points in three games, including a pair of wins this week, thanks to a newly cohesive defense. Justen Glad seems to be anchoring a backline that is showing that it can keep the ball out of the net and the ageless wonder Nick Rimando is helping keep things organized. RSL allowed just one goal on Wednesday night against the high-flying Houston Dynamo and kept the badly struggling Seattle Sounders off the scoreboard entirely with a clean sheet. Brooks Lennon also went the full 90 in each game at right back. Oddly, because MLS is the way that it is, it was the second loss in a row the Sounders were dealt by RSL who they played at home last weekend, falling 1-0.

Speaking of turnarounds...

FC Dallas continued creeping up the Western Conference table as the team also won both of their matches during the double game week. The defense wasn’t quite as stout as it was with the chances that the team was allowing Toronto to create last week turn into goals this week as FCD won on Wednesday 3-2 against the LA Galaxy followed by a 2-1 victory over LAFC on Saturday. Reggie Cannon and Jesse Gonzalez both went for 180 minutes in the games with Kellyn Acosta playing all but one minute midweek and going for 73 against LAFC.

A shinning homegrown performance in KC

Sporting Kansas City has been re-born this year as a fun, pressing, attacking team. One player that hasn’t quite fit into that is new designated player Yohan Croizet who has one goal in 14 games this year. After 18 minutes, Croizet would go down with an injury against Minnesota United to be replaced by homegrown player Wan Kuzain who just signed with SKC as an HGP on April 13. The 19 year-old made the most of his chance scoring a goal in the 35th minute to put Sporting ahead 2-1. The team wouldn’t look back taking all three points with a convincing 4-1 win.

Not only did Kuzain score in the game but he was extremely proficient with the ball completing 31 of his 32 passes in the match.

They’ll do better next time

Somewhere in Canada an American striker who beefs with his teammates surely was showing great restraint on social media...

Sacha Kljestan of the Orlando City Soccer Club stepped up to take a penalty to even the score with NYCFC in New York over the weekend. Kljestan, who hasn’t exactly always been proficient from the spot, wasn’t exactly proficient from the spot. To make things worse, someone made a very rude gif about it.

But the hits would keep coming for Americans in the league - and the best part of MLS, the refs! Alejandro Bedoya was on a yellow card when a penalty was called for a foul against Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez. Before the Venezuelan could take his shot, there was a bit of gamesmanship by Bedoya who was shown his second yellow for trying to delay the kick - that set off his teammate Haris Medunjanin who then got two yellows and himself was sent off. Martinez would convert the penalty and Atlanta would win 3-1.

After the match, Philadelphia Union manager Jim Curtin said he was told that referee Sorin Stoica forgot that Bedoya was already on a yellow before sending him off on his second yellow. A foul is a foul so perhaps that shouldn’t matter, but Bedoya being expelled is what set off Medunjanin. Oddly, Philly managed to keep themselves in the game despite being down two players. A Fafa Picault goal in the 52nd minute left the score at 2-1, but another penalty conceded by Philly sealed the 3-1 loss in Atlanta.