Game of the Matchday week 14

Week 14 didn’t disappoint, as several Major League Soccer sides put on wonderful displays of football. 

Rivalry Week always brings out the best in every team, but these three games stood out above the rest. 

Atlanta United and Chicago Fire battled it out to the end. St. Louis CITY made their names known against Sporting KC and FC Cincinnati, and the Columbus Crew showed that hell is real in their fiercely contested matchup. 

Here are the three games from Rivalry Week that are worth taking a closer look at….

Atlanta and Chicago fight it out to a 3-3 draw.

Atlanta and Chicago fight it out to a 3-3 draw. / Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

While not traditional rivals, the Chicago Fire and Atlanta played a hard-fought game where both teams shared the points. 

Both sides lined up in a 4-2-3-1, so they were numerically matched. 

In typical United fashion, they mainly used their speedy wingers Luiz Araujo and Derrick Etienne and creativity in attacking midfielder through Thiago Almada to dictate the tempo.

However, Chicago had their own creativity in midfield with Xherdan Shaqiri and Brian Gutierrez. Because Atlanta had the majority of possession (56% to 44%), Chicago had to strike on the break.

Atlanta calmly worked the ball from one side to the pitch to the other, looking for an opponent in Chicago’s back line. The Five Stripes struck first in the 29th minute, with fullback Andrew Gutman scoring off a set piece. 

Luckily, the Fire didn’t collapse and held onto the game just long enough to get an equalizer in the 42nd minute with an own goal off Atlanta defender Juan Purata. 

The back and forth would continue in this match until the very last minute, where the Fire would get the final say with a Georgios Koutsias goal in the 89th minute. 

In summation, this game was quintessential MLS. Both sides were quite open and attacked with vigor, which eventually ended in a 3-3 draw. As previously stated, though these two teams aren’t typical rivals, they put on an entertaining match that the neutral viewer will love. 

FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew battled it out in a fairly even match-up.

FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew battled it out in a fairly even match-up. / Albert Cesare/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

Hell is real for the Columbus Crew as they narrowly fell short to rivals FC Cincinnati.

It was Luciano Acosta’s show as the men in orange earned three points over their opponents. Each side lined up in a back three, but Cincinnati had the advantage of Acosta deployed as a pure playmaker in their 3-4-1-2. 

Columbus had almost all of the possession. Due to this, Cincinnati was content to sit back and hit on the counter. The Crew struggled to deal with Cincinnati’s movement up top and were – oftentimes, stretched too thin at the back. 

Cincinnati’s first goal was a perfect example of this. Striker Dominique Badji got through the Crew defense to the end line and put in a cross where Acosta finished with ease to put them up 1-0.  Acosta would score again just shortly after that in the 23rd minute with a penalty, given away by Crew defender Philip Quinton. 

By now, Cincinnati was up by two goals, and the Crew were digging themselves into a hole.

Fortunately for the Crew, they got back into the match through some a scintillating finish by Lucas Zelarayan in the 40th minute. The Cincinnati defense was caught napping, and Columbus exploited their flat-footedness. 

In the second half, the Crew would score again through winger Malte Amundsen, bringing the game level. 

Eventually, Cincinnati’s fluid front three and pressure became too much, and they sealed all three points with a Junior Moreno strike in the 67th minute. 

St. Louis CITY got the best over Sporting KC in their 4-0 win.

St. Louis CITY got the best over Sporting KC in their 4-0 win. / Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis CITY made its name known in their 4-0 thrashing over Sporting KC.

Lining up in 4-2-3-1, St. Louis has made it their tactical identity to press from the front, disrupting their opponent’s attack, forcing them into mistakes, and capitalizing on the loose ball. 

Leading the line for STL was forward Nicholas Gioacchini, who is the ideal number nine to lead from the front. 

St. Louis struck first in the 19th minute with an Eduard Lowen penalty drawn by midfielder Indiana Vassliev. Sporting has not started the season well, and St. Louis pounced on their weaknesses. St. Louis continued to hunt them with a high press and scored again in the 25th minute through Vassliev. 

From that point on, it was all St. Louis.

Their high-tempo style was too much for Sporting as the STL knocked another two goals in the 55th and 75th minute via Vassilev and Gioacchini.

St. Louis continues to show why they’re still in the hunt for the Supporters Shield, sitting on t22 points through twelve games. 

They’re organized, determined and have a roster filled with players who fit in well with the physicality of MLS. 

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