Voices: Sacha Kljestan

Stock Up, Stock Down: Philadelphia Union find their way, FC Dallas struggles continue


Hat tricks! Red cards! Heroes! Villains! LA Galaxy leading the Supporters’ Shield race!!

If you're not watching MLS every weekend, you’re missing out on pure chaos and entertainment. On any given week, anyone can beat anyone. The best way to watch all the action is by joining me every Saturday night at 7:30 pm ET on MLS 360, where we show all the action in every game, live as it happens!

Another week down, another opportunity to take stock of what's happening across MLS. Here we go.

Real Salt Lake logo
Real Salt Lake

You know I have to start off the column with a hat trick, even if Chicho Arango was lucky not to be sent off when Real Salt Lake were down 1-0 to St. Louis early in the second half. But the referee didn't see it that way and Chicho got to work, scoring all three goals in the last 20 minutes of their eventual 3-1 win.

The second goal was a thing of beauty. Receiving the ball with his back to goal and about 22 yards out, Chicho took a perfect first touch and unleashed a laser into the corner. The icing on the cake though was the third goal, when young playmaker Diego Luna rode a tough tackle and laid a perfectly weighted pass into Chicho, who just had to slam it home at the near post. Game. Over.

Chicho is up to five goals and four assists on the season, leading MLS in goal involvements. Head coach Pablo Mastroeni described Chicho afterwards as the "driving force of everything we do with this group." When your best player is also your leader and is putting up the goals and assists, good things happen. Salt Lake are heating up.

Houston Dynamo FC logo
Houston Dynamo FC

So far, this is a different Houston Dynamo team than in 2023. I chalk that up to simply being without Héctor Herrera.

The Mexican midfielder is so important to everything Houston do – dictating the game with the ball, keeping possession while under pressure and his set-piece delivery with both feet (!!) is impeccable. HH hasn't played yet this season after dealing with a knee injury, but I've heard he is training very hard and diligently to get back on the pitch soon.

So for now, Houston have had to show grit and grind out results. They did it again this week, wearing down the San Jose Earthquakes and eventually getting the 2-1 comeback win in the last 10 minutes. That's three wins in a row without your best player. Kudos to Ben Olsen for getting the best out of this group.

Philadelphia Union logo
Philadelphia Union

It was a classic Philadelphia Union performance against the previously unbeaten Minnesota United, winning 2-0 at home. This looked like the team we've come to expect for the last five years: hard-working, fast, tenacious and relentless.

Nobody encompasses that more right now than Quinn Sullivan. He was immense on Saturday, making runs down the right side for 90 minutes, winning his duels and setting up chances. As the season goes on, I expect him to get even better in the final third and get more goals and assists.

Julián Carranza, though, is the most important player for Philly as the difference-maker in the final third. He is so strong and powerful and took his goal really well, off a beautiful headed assist from Alejandro Bedoya. The Union are still quietly unbeaten this season (2W-0L-3D) in league play.

Colorado Rapids logo
Colorado Rapids

The Rapids got their best win of the season against the visiting LAFC this weekend, a 3-2 comeback result. And they also got their best performance from their cornerstone DP, No. 10 Djordje Mihailovic.

Djordje provided a first-half assist, followed by a free-kick banger to tie the game and then the late winner. This is the vision Colorado had in mind when they signed Djordje. Your DPs have to be your best players on the pitch, and he showed his quality but also his hunger against LAFC.

Colorado started the Chris Armas era by giving up four first-half goals in Portland. Since then, they have looked much better and are busy building belief in the team. This win will go a long way in building that belief and confidence.

Had it not been for a late handball penalty against Nashville and the absolutely bonkers ending against Houston a week ago, we might be looking at this Rapids team much differently. In what seems like a wide-open Western Conference, the Rapids are a tough matchup every week now.


Preston Judd... what are you doing!? In the era of Video Review, you can not get away with throwing an elbow anymore.

Judd had wrangled the starting striker spot away from Jeremy Ebobisse, but in a terrible moment of bad judgment, he threw an elbow and got sent off with the Earthquakes up 1-0 over Houston in the first half. That is how you lose trust in the manager and your teammates. Playing down a man for 60 minutes is rough and the dam finally broke with Houston getting two late goals to get the 2-1 win.

That's five losses in six to start the season and this one was the worst because it was self-inflicted. To make matters worse, captain Jackson Yueill was sent off in the waning moments as well and is now set to miss next week's clash at Austin FC. For a team struggling with quality play, the lack of discipline has hurt them now too.

FC Dallas logo
FC Dallas

Four straight losses, this one 2-1 to in-state rival Austin FC.

Yes, FC Dallas are having injury problems. Yes, their best player Jesús Ferreira was out. However, look at what Houston are doing without Héctor Herrera. You have to find ways to still be competitive even without your key players, and Dallas have not been able to do that yet.

They were dominated in possession and chances against Austin. Quite simply, they didn't deserve to win. Head coach Nico Estévez has to find a way for this team to be harder to play against.