Seattle hits rock bottom, heroic Howard, Revs win, NYCFC's run ends
It's starting to get real in the land of Major League Soccer, where teams dragging behind into the second week of July had better make a move, lest they find themselves missing out on the playoffs.
Considering some of the high-profile and high-talent teams laboring below the line, the dog days of summer are going to be interesting.
Seattle's slump continues
The Sounders free fall is over. Not because Sigi Schmid's team has turned things around, but because there is simply nowhere else to fall. Seattle has hit rock bottom, at least when it comes to the Western Conference standings.
In combination with the single point Houston managed to get against Orlando, it was LA that relegated their rivals to the foot of the table. Robbie Keane latched onto an outside-of-the-foot cross from Gyasi Zardes to tally the lone goal in the Galaxy's 1-0 win at CenturyLink Field.
Things are so bad for the Sounders that even 40,000 fans and the advantage of their artificial surface didn't amount to much of a boost. The few chances they created obviously went begging, but other than that was the lack of real danger. Only a Jordan Morris chance, blocked off of the line by a AJ DeLaGarza, looked anything like a big moment for the home side.
As dire as things look, though, sitting last is more a sign of the work the club has to do than a deathknell. This is still Major League Socce, and there's at least a reasonable chance that Seattle can turn things around and make the playoffs. It has a lot of teams to jump over and the lineup desperately needs a playmaker to spring Clint Dempsey, Nelson Valdez and Morris, but teams have come back from worse.
Life after Heath begins badly for Orlando
There's not much to say about Orlando City's first game without Adrian Heath on the sidelines, but it does deserve mention. The club had never played a game under the direction of anyone other the Englishman before Friday and, if the 0-0 draw with Houston is any indication, there's some work to do.
Orlando was without Kaka, however, which is an important fact to note as we try and figure out what's next for the second-year MLS club. Toothless possession can somewhat be chalked up to the Brazilian's absence, though they'll need to find ways to play without the 34-year-old, since injuries are part-and-parcel of what he brings.
Kei Kamara going up against his former team for the first team was a prominent subplot for Columbus' visit to New England, but the main storyline revolved around the desperation both teams were feeling heading into the game, having each underwhelmed this season.
Thanks in large part to Kamara, it was the Revs who emerged from the clash feeling better about themselves. The striker scored the third in a 3-1 win, but it was his work earlier in the game that allowed New England to jump out to a lead and coast to an important win. His replacement in Columbus, Ola Kamara, also scored. It was his seventh goal in seven games, though Crew SC has won just one once in that span.
The win boosted the Revolution into a playoff spot in the East. While there's no guarantee it'll maintain a grip on it -- New England has played 19 games, a disadvantage when most of their rivals have games in hand -- it represents a response when they desperately needed one.
Howard the hero
Pinning down how Colorado continues to outplay expectations and grab points where there should be none is nearly impossible.
This time the Rapids pulled off their brand of magic in Vancouver, where Tim Howard made a jaw-dropping save to keep his team in the game before center-back Alex Sjoberg popped up to head home a late equalizer to make it 2-2.
The game was Howard's second with the team and his first on the road. The U.S. legend showed why the club handed him a DP slot and invested millions in his salary: Not only will he bring attention to the club in their home market, he could be the difference between grabbing points and leaving empty-handed.
End of the road
New York City FC and Patrick Vieira will have to be content with sharing the honor of having the league's longest winning streak in 2016 with the Red Bulls, at least for now.
A bid to extend their excellent recent run to five games came crashing down in Kansas City, where Sporting won 3-1 and, in doing so, managed to score three times for the second consecutive game. The win, and good performance overall, was secured without Graham Zusi, Matt Besler, or Dom Dwyer in the lineup.
NYCFC remains atop the Eastern Conference despite the loss. Regardless of the setback at Children's Mercy Park, Vieira's team has a healthy supply of confidence, an in-form Frank Lampard -- he scored his fourth goal in five games -- and every reason they can be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.
Keep an eye on that move by Peter Vermes not to play Matt Besler; there are no indications the U.S. international is carrying an injury, so perhaps he has been benched purely on performance.
Team of the weekend
Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.