Wild nights in Atlanta and Columbus as the East's top teams stand firm at home

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Adam Hagy
The defending MLS champion fell apart after taking a three-goal, while a double red card helped the Five Stripes to a win at home

Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference standings did not change order on Saturday, but there was plenty of drama and big statements made on a wild day of action.

Atlanta United capitalized on a pair of first-half Philadelphia Union red cards to halt the Union's unbeaten streak in a heated affair at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, while Toronto FC watched a three-goal lead evaporate at MAPFRE Stadium in a 3-3 slugfest against the streaking Crew.

New York City FC also maintained its hold on second place in the East with an emphatic 3-0 victory against Orlando City on a night when David Villa was left out of the starting lineup.

The Union went to Atlanta riding a four-match unbeaten streak, having allowed just two goals in four matches, but things fell apart for Philadelphia in the 21st minute when Josef Martinez drew a penalty that led to heated protests from the Union.

Alejandro Bedloya drew his second yellow card for attempting to delay Martinez's penalty kick, which then set off Haris Medunjanin, who drew consecutive yellow cards for verbally attacking referee Sorin Stoica.

Martinez eventually converted the penalty kick, but the Union still managed to make the match competitive despite being down to nine men.

Philadelphia trailed 2-1 in the 83rd minute when defender Fabinho was rightly whistled for a handball in the penalty area, leading to another Martinez penalty kick, thus ending the Union's chances for an improbable result.

TFC looked well on its way to a badly-needed victory when Sebastian Giovinco scored one of his trademark free kicks in the 54th minute to give the visitors a 3-0 lead on Columbus.

But the Crew rallied with three unanswered goals, all coming on plays where Michael Bradley was at fault.

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Bradley was beaten on a 67th minute header by Gyasi Zardes, then dropped a failed clearance attempt right in front of goal that Alex Crognale slotted home to pull the Crew within 3-2. Bradley's nightmare concluded with him fouling Zardes in the penalty area for the game-tying penalty kick, converted by Federico Higuain in the 90th minute.

The only top Eastern Conference team to lose on Saturday was the New York Red Bulls, who fell to New England at Gillette Stadium. Playing without Tyler Adams and Tim Parker, who were with the U.S. national team for its loss to Ireland, the Red Bulls watched an early lead disappear as the Revolution rallied to a victory that moved them into a tie on points with the Red Bulls for fourth place in the East (though the Red Bulls have two games in hand on New England).

A busy week lies ahead, with U.S. Open Cup action taking place on Wednesday, before some more big Eastern Conference clashes headline the MLS slate next week. Atlanta United travels to New York to face NYCFC, while the Red Bulls head to Columbus to try and snap the Crew's league-best eight-match unbeaten streak.

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