Week 32 of the 2022 MLS season is done and the pressure is on.
Some teams are already eliminated but across both conferences, the battle to make the MLS Cup Playoffs is heating up. Further up the standings, LAFC and the Philadelphia Union are locked together on 64 points in the race to win the Supporters’ Shield.
With just two gameweeks left, now is the time for heroes and difference-makers.
So, who rose to the occasion this weekend? Let’s rank our top five players.
The summer signing of William Agada has been revolutionary for Sporting Kansas City and on Saturday, the Nigerian forward bagged another two goals to take his tally to seven in 10 MLS appearances.
That helped SKC to a resounding 4-1 win over Minnesota United, extending their unbeaten run to six matches.
Unfortunately, this turnaround has come a little too late for SKC. However, Agada – whose brace came on his 23rd birthday – is spearheading a movement that should offer fans hope next season.
Atlanta United put in arguably their strongest performance of the season against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday and, yet, still left with just a single point.
That was in no small way thanks to Andre Blake, who made five saves and preserved his clean sheet despite facing 1.14 xGOT.
It was a performance that may cost Atlanta United their Playoffs spot and prove vital in the Union’s Supporters’ Shield hunt. It certainly shows exactly why Blake is regarded as the best goalkeeper in MLS right now.
FC Cincinnati move another step closer to their first-ever Playoffs berth with a 2-1 win away at Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
As has been the case so many times this season, Brenner was the difference maker. The Brazilian striker scored twice as Cincy came from 1-0 down to take three points that might just be enough to make the post-season.
More than that, it was another electric all-round performance from Brenner, who attempted four shots and completed all three of his dribbles, all while putting in another big defensive shift.
While Cincinnati are almost there, Charlotte FC kept their slim Playoffs hopes alive in the most dramatic of circumstances, scoring three goals in 28 minutes to beat the Chicago Fire 3-2 from 2-0 down.
DP striker Karol Swiderski was the catalyst for CLTFC’s heroics, firing his side back into the game in the 68th minute before keeping his cool amid penalty-box chaos to score the winner in the sixth minute of stoppage time.
Swiderski’s debut season in MLS has now yielded 10 goals in 28 appearances, but none have been as important as these.
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Gaston Brugman covered every single blade of grass for the LA Galaxy in their 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, making three tackles, four recoveries, and winning six of his 11 ground duels.
The Uruguayan was also flawless on the ball, turning in a 100% pass completion rate and creating two chances.
What all that in mind, it’s incredible that Brugman even had time to score two goals, but that’s just what he did, arriving late in the box to put LA 1-0 up in the 22nd minute before finishing the job from outside the 18 in the 52nd minute.
A lot of focus has been on Riqui Puig’s creative exploits following this match, and the Spaniard was excellent. But Brugman was inspired and spearheaded what could be a vital result in the Galaxy’s Playoffs hunt.
Honorable mentions: Alexander Callens, Leonardo Campana, Ryan Hollingshead, Jakob Glesnes, Facundo Torres, Santiago Sosa, Riqui Puig.