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Around the Leagues: Crazy Happenings Highlight Eventful Week for the Beautiful Game

By Alex Crook, 07/20/21, 3:00PM PDT

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A six-minute hat trick, a goal after 20 seconds and a growing own goal streak headline the past week’s of action

United Soccer League

Top dogs fell in both conference across a wild week and weekend in USL Championship play. 
 
The Eastern Conference is up for grabs after a wild weekend that saw top-of-the-conference Tampa Bay drop two straight matches, allowing the top four spots in a hotly-contested Atlantic Division to be separated by just four points.

Louisville City FC widened its lead in the Central Division after a convincing 3-1 win over an OKC side clinging to thedivision’s final playoff spot. 

Out west, Orange County followed Tampa Bay’s suit of dropping two matches and entering uncharted territory. Despite the recent results, OCSC’s playoff positioning remains strong: the Southern California side now sits tied for second in the Pacific Division with San Diego Loyal SC, who downed OC in San Diego in last week’s midweek action. Phoenix Rising FC, meanwhile, returned to winning ways with a 5-0 drubbing of LA Galaxy II and Austin Bold climbed into the playoff race with a 1-0 win at Real Monarchs. 

Another #USLonESPN game is on this week as well, as San Antonio FC face New Mexico United on ESPN 2 on Wednesday. 

Not only did Colorado Springs’ 3-2 loss to San Antonio throw to the wayside a golden opportunity to strengthen the Switchbacks’ playoff positioning, but it allowed Austin to leapfrog them in the Mountain Division into fourth.

Major League Soccer

Minnesota United secured its first win in club history over Seattle as an MLS side, putting a stop to the Sounders’ MLS-record 13-match unbeaten run to open the season.

Toronto FC and Orlando City SC played to a 1-1 draw in the first game at BMO Field in almost a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as Jozy Altidore scored in the Reds’ long-awaited return to their home pitch.

Columbus Crew SC also stymied NYCFC as both clubs look to lock up a playoff spot. 

As if that wasn’t enough drama for the country’s men’s topflight, Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar entered the MLS record books with a hat trick in a six-minute span to help Nashville beat Chicago 5-1. 

New England Revolution increased its hold on the top spot in the Eastern Conference against an Atlanta United side that’s in the market for a new manager, while the Los Angeles Galaxy squandered a chance to climb the Western Conference ladder after Seattle’s loss and Sporting Kansas City’s bye week. 

National Women's Soccer League

You asked for drama? Enter the NWSL.

Having now won their last three matches, Chicago Red Stars are steadily creeping up the table after a 3-1 win over OL Reign on Sunday. But if you thought a six-minute hat trick or stopping a league-record streak was wild, yesterday’s win over Reign made it five – yes, five – consecutive own goals for the Windy City side.

Meanwhile, Portland tightened its grip on the top of the table with a 2-1 win over Orlando Pride after an absolute screamer from Sophia Smith while Gotham FC climbed into the playoff picture with a 3-2 win over Washington Spirit to wrap up a quiet weekend in the NWSL.

Gold Cup

The United States Men’s National Team secured the top spot in Group B at the Gold Cup with a 1-0 win over Canada on Sunday. Shaq Moore etched his name into the USMNT record book with the fastest goal in team history, scoring just 20 seconds into the match.  

The U.S. and Canada entered Sunday level on both points and goal differential, with the win giving the U.S. the group outright.

Knockout play awaits the Stars and Stripes next, as Gregg Berhalter’s side will face the Group C runner-up on Sunday, July 25 at 6:30 p.m. PT in Arlington, Texas.

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