The soccer news starts with one game making a difference in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia's 3-1 win over Atlanta United on Saturday reset the table, with the Union in 1st-place on 51 points, NYCFC in 2nd on 50, and Atlanta two points behind in 3rd. There's now a six-point gap between Atlanta and 4th-place DC United, with that now the easy line that separates the contenders in the East. Games played also separates them.
"I think New York is an important decision," Atlanta coach Frank de Boer said. "We have to wait, they have the best possibility to be on top. We have one game less than Philly we can still be on top if we win that game. I have confidence that we will do after our two week break."
It's a hallmark of MLS that the schedule makes the standings deceptive for most of the season. Philadelphia is top of the table, but with 29 games played to NYCFC's 27. Atlanta has played 28, with DC on 30. That recasts the contenders for the Eastern Conference title, with NYCFC as the team with the best points per game average 1.85 to Philadelphia's 1.76 and Atlanta's 1.71. Those are the 2nd through 4th highest points per game in MLS, trailing Western Conference leaders LAFC at 2.21.
September should tilt in NYCFC's favor. They play six times, with only the home game against Atlanta on the 25 against a team currently in the top three in either conference. That could setup an interesting regular season finale on October 6 at Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, Atlanta is in a familiar situation this season. Their loss at Philadelphia doesn't overshadow their two cup wins in August, but it does ask a basic question about this team.
"We had a good run of games before it, so we know we’re a good side," Atlanta midfielder Emerson Hyndman said. "We might have had some tired legs out there towards the end. It’s normal with the stretch we had so we’ll look at the game and come back better, especially after the break when we have time and a chance to work on everything."
Also in the soccer news, USMNT forward Andrija Novakovich is now a member of Frosinone in Italy's Serie B. Novakovich completed the move from Reading after spending the last two seasons on loan in the Netherlands. Novakovich returned to Reading for the 2019-20 Championship season, making one appearance.
SI.com's Jonathan Wilson looks at the state of PSG with Neymar not completing a transfer to Barcelona. Inside World Football's David Owen reports on transfer spending in Europe. BBC Sport's Mandeep Sanghera with the Premier League reconsidering when their transfer window closes.
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