23 down, 11 to go. The race for the Playoffs is on in Major League Soccer!
This latest round of matches was about as entertaining as they come, with two 4-4 draws, the Philadelphia Union’s 6-0 win over the Houston Dynamo, and DC United scoring two late goals to beat Orlando City 2-1 in Wayne Rooney’s debut as head coach.
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Those were the standout fixtures, but what about the players? Here are 90min‘s top five from MLS Week 23:
Brandon Vazquez is right back at it again and there are now big questions asked about why he wasn’t included on the MLS All-Star roster – not to mention USMNT calls.
It’s no wonder with performances like Saturday, where the striker hit the net twice to pull FC Cincinnati from 3-2 down to 4-3 up against Inter Miami. Though, unfortunately, it was a lead they couldn’t hold.
But Vazquez is far more than just a goalscorer now and has found a way to become integral to almost everything Cincinnati do well. He and striker partner Brenner, who also scored a brace, must be livid with their defense for not holding out.
Sebastian Blanco is just timeless. The 33-year-old was on his A-game again to put the Portland Timbers 1-0 up after just a minute in Minnesota, before hitting another goal to reduce their arrears having fallen 3-1 behind.
On another day, Blanco might have had a couple more goals and an assist, too, but just the brace in another 4-4 draw will do nicely for this list.
After a slow start, Mikael Uhre is hitting his stride with the Philadelphia Union.
The Danish striker’s latest exploit was to score three goals in two minutes just after half-time to help the Union demolish the Houston Dynamo 6-0 at Subaru Park.
Uhre has developed a great habit of finding the right run at the right time, making himself easy to pick out and impossible to mark.
Luis Amarilla has picked his moments throughout 2022, scoring huge goals at important moments for Minnesota United. On Saturday, he put the Loons 3-1 up just before half-time, but it was his goal in the 69th minute that was most critical, coming just moments after the Timbers had dragged themselves 4-3 ahead.
That’s season goals on the season for Amarilla, with four of them turning out to be winners and this weekend’s brace salvaging a point.
It’s been a tough old season for Gonzalo Higuain, who has had to sit back and watch as Leonardo Campana has scored all the goals and dominated the No.9 position.
But Saturday was Higuain’s time to shine as the Argentine grabbed a first-half hat-trick in Inter Miami’s crazy 4-4 draw with FC Cincinnati.
The Argentine veteran hit a rocket of a free-kick to open the scoring, made a fool of the Cincy backline for his second, and grabbed his third from the spot just before half-time to take his total for the season to seven.
We’re all hoping this is the start of Higuain’s revival.
Honorable mentions: Brenner, Alejandro Bedoya, Jack McGlynn, Sebastian Driussi, Maarten Paes, Juan Jose Purata, Djordje Petrovic, Gabriel Slonina.