MLS Saturday: New England, FC Cincinnati pull clear at top of Eastern Conference

The New England Revolution and FC Cincinnati pulled five points clear at the top of Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference standings on Saturday with wins over Sporting Kansas City and the Portland Timbers, respectively.

New England bagged its sixth win of the season after two goals in four minutes from in-form striker Giacomo Vrioni set up a 2-1 win over winless Kansas City.

Both goals came from good work down the left flank from Emmanuel Boateng, who set up the first on 31 minutes with a swift break before crossing for the Italian-born Albanian international to sweep home the finish.

Vrioni was on hand to double the lead in the 35th minute, lashing home a rebound after Carles Gil's shot was parried by Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia.

Johnny Russell pulled one back for Sporting five minutes into the second half, but Kansas City's hopes of turning the game around dimmed when Andreu Fontas was sent off in the 61st minute to leave Sporting down to 10 men.

Cincinnati, meanwhile, kept pace with New England with a 2-1 win over Portland that came after goals from Sergio Santos and Brandon Vazquez. Dairon Asprilla raised hopes of a fightback with a 60th-minute strike to cut the Cincinnati lead, but the Timbers were unable to find an equalizer.

The win was a welcome return to form for Cincinnati, 5-1 by St.Louis in their previous game.

"We lost that one pretty badly, and we wanted to make sure it was an anomaly and that we bounced back," Cincinnati's U.S. international Matt Miazga said.

Elsewhere in the MLS on Saturday, champion Los Angeles FC needed a second-half equalizer from Denis Bouanga to preserve their unbeaten record in a 1-1 draw at Nashville SC.

With one eye on next week's Concacaf Champions League semifinal first leg against Philadelphia Union, Los Angeles coach Steve Cherundolo rested several first-choice players.

The move nearly backfired after Nashville took the lead through German midfielder Hany Mukhtar in the 35th minute. But Bouanga rifled home his 12th goal of the season in all competitions to give Los Angeles a share of the points.

LAFC is one point behind Western Conference leaders St. Louis, which was held to a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids later Saturday, and Seattle, a 1-0 winner over Minnesota United.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, warmed up for Wednesday's clash with Los Angeles with a comfortable 4-2 win over struggling Toronto FC.

Union all but made sure of the points in the first half, when a freak own goal from Toronto's Lukas MacNaughton gave Philly the lead before two goals from Danish striker Mikkel Uhre made it 3-0 at half-time.

Uhre completed his hat trick in the 56th minute before Italian international Lorenzo Insigne and Richie Laryea scored consolation goals for Toronto.

Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, D.C. United boosted Wayne Rooney with a 3-1 win at Orlando that lifted United into the playoff positions.

Greece international Taxiarchis Fountas gave United a 1-0 lead after 15 minutes before Duncan McGuire leveled for Orlando in the 23rd minute.

United made sure of all three points early in the second half with goals from Donovan Pines and veteran Belgian striker Christian Benteke.


© Agence France-Presse

Photo: Giacomo Vrioni (New England Revolution)

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