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MLS Post-Mortem: Revolution, Sporting KC look good in week six

The Revolution and Sporting Kansas City both impressed in MLS week six.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, no red cards! There wasn't a single sending off from MLS week six, and that's a good thing.

Here's what else happened:

Revs' improvement

The New England Revolution haven't enjoyed the successes that many expected them to this season. But against Toronto FC on Saturday, they found their footing in a 1-1 draw.

Although they would have liked to grab a full three points, there were multiple positives to take from the attack and from the backline. The front four—a rotating cast of Lee Nguyen, Charlie Davies, Teal Bunbury, Juan Agudelo, Kellyn Rowe and Diego Fagundez—impressed, often pinning TFC's defense in deep and keeping possession in the final third, something they have tried and failed over the first few weeks of the season.

Nguyen was a huge reason for that. Take a look at his passing map in the final third:

He was swinging the ball all over the field and helped New England complete 143 passes in the final third, or 65%. They only managed to come up with an end product once—courtesy of Rowe's sensational 14th-minute header—but they looked threatening all game.

The Revs also looked impressive on defense. They had the unlucky task of being the first team to have to face both Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco, but they shut the two down for the most part—save for a well-executed counter-attack—and proved that they can play defense.

New England's backline has looked shaky at times this season, most notably their 3-0 loss to C.J. Sapong and the Union, but they used their outstanding press defense—employed all throughout the team—to overwhelm Giovinco and keep Toronto from creating any real chances.

Everyone in that Revolution lineup wouldn't allow Giovinco any sort of breathing room, and were able to stack defenders behind the ball and keep Altidore from receiving any incisive through-balls. This was why Bobby Shuttleworth didn't have much to do in goal.

But alas, after New England held the ball in the attacking third for another extended period, they pushed too far up and Altidore got in behind the defense. Giovinco followed, and, using a significant deflection off a defender, he bounced the ball past Shuttleworth to equalize in the 58th-minute.

Still, there are signs of improvement from the Revs. And I'm sure D.C. United—TFC's next opponent—will watch the tape of that game closely.

SKC win again

Sporting Kansas City aren't undefeated—Real Salt Lake are the lone MLS team to hold that distinction—but they look like arguably the best club in the league right now.

Despite numerous injuries to starters, SKC have accumulated 12 points over five games and are currently first in the Supporters' Shield standings. They are clicking on all cylinders, from goalkeeper to forward, and earned their fourth win in five games in New Jersey on Saturday.

The main story coming out of that match—a 2-0 result to Sporting—was Bradley Wright-Phillips's epic finishing blunders (more on that later), but we also saw goalkeeper Tim Melia put on a show in front of the stunned Harrison, New Jersey crowd. He made six saves, dominating NYRB and confirming his place among the MLS elite.

Here's his most impressive save of the night:

Melia carried that team, but he certainly had help. The backline looked solid despite Matt Besler's absence, and also saw Saad Abdul-Salaam and Ike Opara play well coming on as injury substitutes. Opara—who hadn't played since early 2015 due to a serious leg injury—looked especially good.

The American defender may have earned himself some more time in the starting XI with that performance.

SKC had injury problems in the midfield too, with Paulo Nagamura and Soni Mustivar out. But with Benny Feilhaber in the starting lineup and Roger Espinoza back from suspension, the midfield trio played well enough to both provide service to the front three and provide cover for the backline.

The front three—without offseason acquisitions Justin Mapp and Brad Davis due to, you guessed it, injury—was also effective, using Connor Hallisey's creative dribbling skills and Dom Dwyer's hold-up play to tear apart a scrapped-together NYRB backline. Facing guys like Connor Lade and Chris Duvall may not be the best barometer for Graham Zusi and co., but this performance did go a long way to prove that they can still score goals without Krisztian Nemeth in the lineup.

Other notes:

Friday's match between the Philadelphia Union and Orlando City was won by Tranquillo Barnetta with a world-class free-kick in the 90th-minute. Take a look at this beauty:

The Union are better than you think they are. There's the obvious matter of C.J. Sapong, but there's also rookie full-back Keegan Rosenberry's rapid development, Andre Blake's success in his first year as a full-time starting goalkeeper, and the midfield's ability to adapt without Maurice Edu in the lineup. Not bad.

The Columbus Crew have some problems. They lost again against the Montreal Impact—this time by a score of 2-0—and had trouble challenging Evan Bush's goal despite multiple chances. There's some genuine concern for the defending Eastern Conference champions.

That tweet from ESPN's Taylor Twellman echoes the sentiments of many across the MLS spectrum.

Bradley Wright-Phillips is currently as snake-bitten as Cleveland Browns quarterbacks. Well, maybe not that much, but still, he's having a pretty tough season. So are the Red Bulls:

That's the complete shot chart from their 2-0 home loss to Sporting Kansas City. BWP had ten of those shots, including the penalty-kick. Jesse Marsch still has confidence in him, though.

D.C. United, Real Salt Lake and the Montreal Impact all played well in victories. The Chicago Fire came away with a nice result in New York, the LA Galaxy used a Nat Borchers own goal to draw Portland at home, and the Seattle Sounders won late in Houston against the Dynamo.

—A note from that Galaxy-Timbers game: Nigel de Jong should have been gone. His dirty tackle on Darlington Nagbe should have warranted a red card.