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MLS Week 26, Mexicans Abroad: What we learned

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Philadelphia Union Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Marco Fabian and the Philadelphia Union earned a monumental win over Atlanta United, while a Vela-less LAFC suffered their first home defeat of the season. Here’s what we learned from Week 26 in Major League Soccer.

Fabian and the Union go top of the Eastern Conference

As far as wins go for the Philadelphia Union, they don’t get any bigger than the one they achieved on Saturday night over the Atlanta Union. With first place of the Eastern Conference on the line, the Union came from a goal down to earn a late 3-1 win over the defending champions.

Marco Fabian played 85 minutes on this one, and while it was one of his quieter games, his team did what it had to do to earn perhaps their biggest regular season win in years. More than anything, this game served as something of a statement victory. Whether Fabian has contributed or not, the Union are having a heck of season and they have let the rest of the league know they mean business. They are now officially qualified to the MLS Cup Playoffs, and if they manage to clinch home-field advantage through the MLS Cup Final, watch out!

Antuna scores but Galaxy lose crucial match versus Sounders

If there was ever a “six-point” match in Major League Soccer, it was definitely this one between the LA Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders. With only three points separating second place from seventh in the Western Conference standings at the start of the week, this was essentially a must-win match for both of these teams.

The Sounders started off best and jumped to a 2-0 lead at the half-hour mark, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Uriel Antuna got things leveled with 15 minutes left in the match. For Antuna, this was only his third goal of the season, and it gave his side some hope of at least leaving Seattle with a point.

But the Sounders soon got back in front through Jordan Morris, and while Jørgen Skjelvik managed to level things once again, ultimately it was a Cristian Roldan goal that would give the Seattle the victory. The defeat was costly for the Galaxy, to say the least, and it moved them all the way down to seventh with one more game played than eighth place Portland.

The problem now is things aren’t going to get any easier for the Galaxy, as they will have to play without both Antuna and Jonathan dos Santos for their next two games. The Mexican duo will be participating with the Mexico National Team for the friendlies against the United States and Argentina, forcing the Galaxy to be without two key players in two more crucial matches in the playoff race.

Vela-less LAFC lose first home match of the season

Undefeated no more. It took a Carlos Vela injured hamstring for LAFC to lose their first home match of the season. The Black and Gold clearly missed their star player in this one, and despite enjoying a whopping 76% possession, they were widely inefficient in a match that ended 2-0 in favor of Minnesota United.

Call it sitting back, parking the bus, whatever. Minnesota United came to this match with an objective in mind and they achieved it. LAFC simply lacked the necessary dynamism to break down the Loons defense, and you can undoubtedly attribute a lot of that to Vela’s absence. After the game, coach Bob Bradley confirmed Vela remains questionable for next week’s match against Orlando City, and with LAFC basically already assured first place in the Western Conference standings, it may be best to remain cautious with the Mexican superstar.

But while one Mexican player missed out, another got the start. Goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega got the nod over regular Tyler Miller, and coach Bob Bradley keeps insisting there is battle there for the starting spot. Unfortunately, apart from a superb one-legged save in the second half, Sisniega didn’t have much to do in the match. Odds are that even with the occasional Sisniega start in the remaining six games of the season, Tyler Miller will be the starting goalkeeper in the playoffs. That said, it would be nice to see Sisniega get an extended chance in the future, especially with Tyler Miller’s current contract up at the end of the season.