MLS Review: Atlanta clinch play-off spot, Kaka bags brace in Orlando rout
Atlanta United's inaugural MLS season will see them feature in the play-offs following their win over Philadelphia Union, while a Kaka double inspired Orlando City to a crushing victory.
Led by former Barcelona and Argentina head coach Gerardo Martino, in-form Atlanta made sure of a postseason berth with four regular-season fixtures remaining via a 3-0 victory on Wednesday.
Julian Gressel, red-hot Venezuela international Josef Martinez and Jacob Peterson were on target as Atlanta – who became the first expansion side since 2009 to reach the play-offs – extended their unbeaten streak to seven games, a run which has resulted in five clean sheets and 24 goals scored.
More than 43,000 fans packed into the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where Gressel opened the scoring with the outside of his boot in the 27th minute.
It's truly a party in the
Relive the historic night: pic.twitter.com/eykyvYV4EH
— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) September 28, 2017
Martinez's 18th goal of the season made it 2-0 six minutes later after the Venezuelan forward rifled a powerful low effort across Union goalkeeper
Andre Blake and into the net.
After Hector Villalba's second-half goal was ruled out following a video review, Peterson came off the bench to complete the scoring with two minutes remaining.
Atlanta are third in the Eastern Conference as they prepare to join Supporters' Shield leaders Toronto FC and New York City, who edged Montreal Impact 1-0, in the postseason.
Chicago Fire will also take part in the play-offs after dismantling the San Jose Earthquakes 4-1 thanks to Nemanja Nikolic's brace.
Former AC Milan and Real Madrid star Kaka was at his trademark best in Orlando's 6-1 humiliation of lowly 10-man New England Revolution.
Before we get this second half started enjoy some magic from our . pic.twitter.com/3vzRXVk0Qo
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) September 28, 2017
In his first start in four matches, the 2007 Ballon d'Or winner scored twice to remind the world he is not a spent force.
After Xavier Kouassi was sent off in the 11th minute, Orlando took control thanks to 35-year-old captain Kaka, who netted in either half.
The pick of the bunch was his stunning effort from outside of the box two minutes before half-time in Orlando.
Struggling LA Galaxy surrendered 2-0 and 3-1 leads as Alberth Elis scored twice in four minutes to rescue a dramatic 3-3 draw for Houston Dynamo, while New York Red Bulls and DC United also shared the spoils following a six-goal thriller.
Reigning MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders accounted for Vancouver Whitecaps 3-0 and FC Dallas defeated Colorado Rapids 2-0.