Voices: Sacha Kljestan

Stock Up, Stock Down: San Jose Earthquakes show life, Sporting KC need new blood


I could write about Inter Miami winning again. Or I could write about FC Cincinnati winning again. And I could even write about Atlanta United losing again!

But I wrote about them last week, and there's plenty more to cover across a wild weekend in MLS where eight road teams came out victorious!

Matchday 13, or part one of Rivalry Week presented by Continental Tire, is in the books.

D.C. United logo
D.C. United

Christian Benteke was at it again, scoring his second hat trick of the season to lead D.C. United to a 3-2 win at Atlanta. That puts the talented striker at 11 goals, tied for the Golden Boot presented by Audi lead with Chicho Arango and Luis Suárez.

Almost unbelievably, the Belgian star scored all three goals with his head. He is by far and away the best player in MLS in the air, with nobody yet figuring out a way to stop him. His connection with Jared Stroud is special. They really understand how to play to each other's strengths, as Stroud set up two of Big Ben's goals at the Benz.

There might not be another player in MLS who has a bigger influence on how their team plays than Benteke.

Don't get it twisted: San Jose Earthquakes are still second from bottom in the Western Conference. But they have won three straight across all competitions, highlighted by a 3-2 comeback win at the Colorado Rapids this past weekend.

Down 2-0 in the first half, everyone would have expected San Jose to fold. But this team showed a great mentality to fight their way back and eventually find the game-winner in the second half. Hernán López and Cristian Espinoza were particularly influential.

The bigger question will be is this just a blip? Or can the Earthquakes harness momentum and push themselves back into the playoff picture soon?

Real Salt Lake logo
Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake are now eight games unbeaten after a wild trip to the LA Galaxy ended 2-2. They sit at the summit and are the most balanced team in the Western Conference.

Arango led the way (again) with two goals. It was an end-to-end game with both teams creating a lot of chances, and Salt Lake will be disappointed to allow a stoppage-time equalizer to Miguel Berry, but the result was fair.

RSL are the team to beat in the West and have two big upcoming home games this week, hosting Seattle on Wednesday (9:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass) before welcoming rival Colorado on Saturday (9:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).

Philadelphia Union logo
Philadelphia Union

After dropping a 3-2 result to Orlando City SC, it's three straight home losses for the Philadelphia Union for the first time since 2012! Long a dominant team at Subaru Park, things have gone awry for Jim Curtin's squad very quickly.

Philly have a chance to make things better right away with another home game on Wednesday vs. New York City FC (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass) before traveling to the New England Revolution on Saturday (7:30 pm ET | Apple TV - Free).

Both are very winnable games for the Union. Six points from those two matches will go a long way in making us forget about this bad patch.

Sporting Kansas City logo
Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City have now hit six games without a win, and Saturday's 2-1 setback vs. Houston Dynamo FC made it three straight losses. This team needs new blood injected into the lineup ASAP and a lesson in mentality.

You've got to believe manager Peter Vermes is looking into the transfer market for new signings this summer. It's the oldest team in MLS in average age of the starting lineup and it's starting to show. I don't think Vermes trusts his bench either – he rarely uses all five of his allotted substitutions. This team needs more depth and quality.

Vermes figured out a way back into the playoffs after last season's disastrous start. Can he do it again this year?

Portland Timbers logo
Portland Timbers

"How can you put us in the Stock Down column when we drew on the road against the defending champions!?" – what every Timbers fan cried at me three weeks ago.

Since then, Portland have lost three straight and are now at nine games without a win. Phil Neville and the Timbers are desperate for the win as pressure starts to mount in the basement of the Western Conference. After previously dominating the Sounders in recent history, Seattle came to town and took home a 2-1 win this weekend.

Portland must respond right away before it's too late and the season is lost. They host San Jose at Providence Park on Wednesday (10:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).