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Teal Bunbury tore his ACL while picking up an assist in Sunday's game against the Red Bulls.
Goals were easy to come by in Week 23 as teams racked up a total of 30 goals on the weekend.
Sporting Kansas City and the New York Red Bulls entered their Sunday night tilt as the first and second place teams in the Eastern Conference and they played with all the intensity that you would expect from such a big match. In the end, the intensity and chippiness won out because neither team could separate themselves in a 1-1 draw at Livestrong Sporting Park.
Kei Kamara put Sporting in front less than four minutes in thanks to some terrible defending by the Red Bulls. Graham Zusi chipped over the top of the New York defense for Teal Bunbury, who shrugged off Markus Holgersson's feeble attempt to stop him. Bill Gaudette came charging out, but he didn't get to it in time, allowing Bunbury to pop the ball over his head. That's where Kamara was waiting to head it into the open goal for the early lead.
Being the kind fellow that he is, Kamara thought it only fair to also put the ball into his own goal. When Sebastien Le Toux's long free kick floated into the Sporting six-yard box and Jimmy Nielsen inexplicably failed to come and collect it, Kamara was left in an awkward defending position. While falling backwards, the forward looked every bit like a non-defender, nodding the ball into his own net and leveling the match at one apiece.
From that point on, the two teams took turns assaulting each other. Only five yellow cards were given out, but it could have been many more and they did combine for 32 fouls. Kansas City was the better team, but they couldn't quite find the final ball and New York was happy to absorb the pressure then look to counter-attack.
That almost paid off for the Red Bulls late when Dax McCarty had the winner sitting on his foot. Le Toux got in behind the Sporting defense and while Chance Myers was able to track the Frenchman down, Le Toux played a square ball to McCarty in front of goal. He had an easy winner, but then he inexplicably took too many touches, failed to get a shot off and then made a laughable attempt at diving to draw a penalty.
Neither team was able to find the winner, with McCarty's opportunity being the last one for either side and they settled for a draw. The result keeps both teams in their places in the table, with Sporting sitting atop the conference and New York in second.
The LA Galaxy were coming off of a Thursday CONCACAF Champions League match, did not have the services of Landon Donovan and were going up against red hot FC Dallas so a loss looked inevitable. LA didn't look interested in what was supposed to happen, though, getting second half goals from Juninho and Todd Dunivant to pick up an impressive 2-0 win on Sunday at the Home Depot Center.
While the Galaxy did look very good for stretches, they only had that opportunity thanks to some good fortune early on. David Ferreira hit a lovely ball through the LA defense and right into the path of Fabian Castillo, who was in behind the Galaxy defense. Dunivant went to ground and took down Castillo and immediately, it looked like a foul that would draw a red card. But the referee decided against it, showing Dunivant a yellow card, likely because he though Josh Saunders had a chance to get off of his line and get to the ball. Whatever the reason, LA got very, very lucky.
LA had the better of the play early on and continued that throughout the first half. They earned corner kicks and free kicks in dangerous areas, but couldn't take advantage of them. Despite being the better side and putting themselves in good places, they didn't test Kevin Hartman much. That is also due in part to George John, who was good all match, but was especially excellent in the first halftime and helped send the match into halftime scoreless.
The match opened up after the break and Dallas got some opportunities going forward. They tested Saunders as much as LA tested Hartman as the match even out, but like the Galaxy, the Hoops couldn't break through.
After more than an hour of misses, it took a 66th minute blunder by Matt Hedges for the scoreboard to finally get some work. The rookie took a touch too many and comically gave the ball away to Jose Villarreal, who took it off of Hedges' foot. Villarreal then rounded Hartman before squaring for Juninho. The Brazilian then only had to knock the ball into the open net and LA were in front.
Both teams continued to get their chances after the 66th minute and it looked like LA was beginning to tire. Dallas tried to stretch them out and play in space to take advantage, but some more quality goalkeeping by Sanders and some excellent tackling by Omar Gonzalez kept the Hoops at bay.
Dunivant, who was lucky to still be on the field, put the match away in the 84th minute after some fine team play by the Galaxy. Dunivant made the initial pass to get LA into the attacking third, then while a trio of LA players passed to keep the ball and stretch the Dallas defense wide, Dunivant ran forward and found a seam in the Dallas defense. Michael Stephens delivered a pass right onto Dunivant's foot, which put the veteran in on goal and after a clinical finish, LA had the goal that sealed up a good win at home.
The Portland Timbers may be an awful team, but they are actually somewhat respectable at home. Not good, mind you, but you only kind of make fun of them at JELD-WEN Field. On Saturday night they showed why, topping their Cascadia rivals with a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Some lax defending by the Whitecaps allowed the Timbers to strike first in the 41st minute. Jack Jewsbury was afforded too much space in the midfield so he ran up, and got within 25 yards of goal. Still without pressure, Jewsbury was able to slide a ball in for Darlington Nagbe, who was also given acres of space. His defender was several yards off of him so it was no problem for him to get to the center and shoot past Joe Cannon for the opening tally.
Portland should have been a goal up at halftime, but they fell asleep in stoppage time and allowed Vancouver to level. They didn't clear a corner kick far enough and couldn't get the next ball in away. That gave the Whitecaps a third chance, which Jay DeMerit took as an opportunity to shoot. He shot poorly and it was going well wide of the goal, but luckily for him, Kenny Miller was wide of the goal. DeMerit's shot found Miller, who was all alone and beat Donovan Ricketts for his first MLS goal.
Once level, conventional wisdom was that the Whitecaps, being the better team, would find a winner. Conventional wisdom did not account for a Cannon mistake, though. Franck Songo'o hit a decent free kick, but it was from far and not that hard. Cannon got to the ball in time and should have made a pretty simple save, but he let it slip through his fingers and into the goal to put the Timbers up 2-1.
The Whitecaps did their best to get back in it, but they couldn't break through and an 84th minute red card to Darren Mattocks essentially killed their chances. The rookie elbowed David Horst in the faced and was sent off, wrapping up a tidy 2-1 win for Portland and some supporters that really needed a happy night.
The San Jose Earthquakes have seen their lead for the Supporters' Shield shrink in recent weeks so they made sure to stretch that lead out a bit on Saturday night. With the Colorado Rapids in town, the Quakes were clicking and showed their visitors just how dangerous they can be. Alan Gordon and Simon Dawkins each notched a brace as San Jose rolled to a dominating 4-1 victory at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Dawkins got the Quakes going in the 11th minute when he was freed up by some nifty play by Gordon. The forward brought the ball down well, turned and then hit a good ball out to the left for Dawkins. The Englishman cut in to his right then ripped a good shot to beat Matt Pickens for the opening tally.
Just before halftime, San Jose doubled their lead and this time Gordon got to do the finishing. Some nice play down the left by Rafael Baca cleared space for him to get to the endline and cross. There were several Colorado defenders at the top of the six-yard box, but they all allowed the cross to drop within inches of the ground, which allowed Gordon to knock it in for a 2-0 Quakes lead.
Tyrone Marshall did his best to get the Rapids back in the match with a goal on the other side of halftime, but it didn't slow the Quakes down.
A 68th minute goal put the Quakes firmly back in charge and it was Dawkins who did the honors, notching a brace. The Rapids completely forgot to mark Sam Cronin on a throw-in so he was able to stride right down the middle of the field and bring the Colorado defense his way. As soon as they converged on him, he fed Dawkins, who was free to fire past Pickens to make it 3-1.
Dawkins had a pair so Gordon had to match him and late on he did. Ramiro Corrales fed him for his brace as the Quakes made an emphatic statement that they are still the top team in MLS.
It might seem a bit strange, but Fredy Montero had never scored a hat trick in his MLS career. Until Saturday, anyway. The Seattle Sounders forward scored three goals, all off assists from Mauro Rosales, and added an assist of his own to lead his team to a 6-2 victory over Chivas USA.
Montero has now scored in four straight games and has seven goals in his past six, giving him 11 for the season. It was less than a month ago that he was coming off the bench and many were wondering if he could co-exist with teammate Eddie Johnson, who also has 11 goals.
Those questions have clearly been put to rest. Montero got the Sounders started on the right foot when he fed Brad Evans on the left wing. The wide open Evans was able to put it past Dan Kennedy for the 1-0 lead in the 10th minute.
Montero doubled the Sounders' lead a few minutes later, taking a feed from Rosales and hitting it beyond a diving Kennedy. Montero made it 3-0 before the half, taking a pass from Rosales and popping it over Kennedy who had come off his line.
After a pair of Chivas USA goals -- a penalty by Juan Agudelo and a strike from Miller Bolanos -- Montero basically put the game away with his best goal of the match. Again taking a pass from Rosales, Montero cut it back to allow a defender to fly past him and then beat Kennedy to the far post.
The Sounders have now gone 5-1-1 in their past seven to pull even with Real Salt Lake for second in the West. Seattle does hold a three-goal lead, though, with two games in hand.
The Houston Dynamo remained unbeaten at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday night, but they won't be happy about the result. They surrendered an 85th minute goal and were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw with lowly Toronto FC on a night that they thought they would surely take all three points.
While Houston may have only scored once against the sieve that is the Toronto defense, they did make sure that their one goal was gorgeous. First, Ricardo Clark hit a clever chip to Oscar Boniek Garcia, who did very well to elude a defender before hitting a wonderful ball to Will Bruin. It was a brilliant piece of passing that put Bruin in alone on Freddy Hall and Bruin hit a nice chip to beat the TFC keeper.
For much of the match, it looked like that goal would hold up. Toronto didn't look particularly dangerous and the Houston defense held up well, but one blown offiside trap ruined the Dynamo's night. Darren O'Dea chipped a ball into the Houston box from deep and several TFC players beat the trap. One of those was Terry Dunfield, who got a free header and buried it to earn Toronto a good draw on the road.
The Columbus Crew topped the New England Revolution 4-3 in a pants-on-head crazy match on Saturday night to move within four points of D.C. United for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Revs went 2-0 up at Crew Stadium before the home side answered with three goals of their own to go in front. But New England had an answer, leveling in the 81st minute before Jairo Arrieta scored his second goal of the match late to earn Columbus all three points.
Six minutes later, New England was 2-0 up thanks to a perfect ball from Benny Feilhaber. He chipped over the top of the Crew defense right into the path of Jerry Bengtson, who was in behind the back line. Gruenebaum came out of the box to try and beat Bengtson to the ball, but he was too late and the Honduran rounded him before finishing into the empty goal.
The Crew could have easily fallen apart down by two goals, but they didn't. In fact, they got one back just three minutes later. Federico Higuain hit a gorgeous free kick that cleared the wall and found the corner of the net to cut New England's lead to 2-1.
Arrieta then found the net in the 32nd minute and things were all even, but the Crew weren't done yet. That's because Higuain still have one more fabulous free kick left in him, hitting another great one in the 43rd minute to send the Crew into halftime 3-2 up.
That scoreline lead held until the 81st minute when a silly foul by Julius James gifted New England a penalty. Lee Nguyen buried the spot kick and things were level once again with a draw seemingly the only way that this match could end.
But this being the crazy match that it was, there was one goal left in it. Tony Tchani chipped over the top of the New England defense for Arrieta, who was in all alone on Matt Reis. The birthday boy, who turned 29 on Saturday, finished clinically, earning himself a brace and the Crew a valuable win.
The once seemingly ironclad playoff position of D.C. United is suddenly looking quite precarious. Following their 3-0loss to the Montreal Impact on Saturday, United are clinging to the final playoff position with a one-point lead.
The Impact are the team closest to United, and are suddenly one of the hottest teams in the league having won 7 of 9, but the Columbus Crew were just four points behind with two games in hand. The Crew were playing the New England Revolution later on Saturday. It was only about a month ago that United was challenging for the Eastern Conference lead.
In this game, the Impact jumped out to a first-half lead when Marco Di Vaio was given a wide open chance from about 10 yards out. Di Vaio was kept onside by left back Mike Chabala, who seemed caught in no-man's land. Di Vaio received the pass from Patrice Bernier and calmly pounded it inside the far post.
Bernier finished it off with a stoppage-time goal, dribbling in from around midfield and beating Bill Hamid with an awkward shot. He now has three goals and two assists in his past two games.
The Philadelphia Union and Real Salt Lake played to a 0-0 draw in MLS league action Friday at PPL Park. Both teams appeared to be tired, and RSL had good reason to be fatigued, as they played a key match in the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday and never showed any of the sharpness that has been a hallmark of their playing style. For both clubs, playing in a single striker formation meant neither side had many scoring chances on the night from their forwards.
The first half was dull for both sides. Real Salt Lake appeared to be the stronger side in the first 15 minutes, but the Union got back into the match and seemed to end the half as the brighter side. Still, neither team had much attacking intent, as the play continued was bogged down in midfield and neither side could keep possession for very long. In the 30th minute, Javier Morales sent a very good free kick into the box for RSL, but Philadelphia midfielder Michael Lahoud marked target man Alvaro Saborio well and cleared the ball. Then, in the 42nd minute, Michael Farfan showed a good bit of skill as he dribbled the ball through traffic, then sent a centering pass to Danny Cruz, who was making a run into the box. But Cruz slipped as he was taking the shot and the ball sailed well over the crossbar. Neither goalkeeper had much work in the opening half, and neither side really created much danger in the offensive zone.
In the second half, Philadelphia still controlled the run of play, and had plenty of corner kicks to try and get a goal on the board, but they couldn't capitalize. Both teams ramped up the physical play in the second half, and the game nearly got out of control on a few occasions. Carlos Valdes was confronted by several RSL players a few minutes into the half, in a measure to protect goalkeeper Nick Rimando. In the 57th minute, both sides got into a protracted scrum after a rough 50-50 challenge by both Michael Farfan and Chris Wingert, but the referee was able to calm matters down before issuing a yellow card to both players. And Michael Farfan elbowed Ned Grabavoy in the face 15 minutes later, forcing Grabavoy to come off.
Grabavoy was key to maintaining a clean sheet for RSL. In the 54th minute, Danny Cruz took a corner kick that looked like it would curl into the goal, but Grabavoy made a late run to the near post to block the ball, and he appeared to bump his head against the post in the process. Replays indicate that Grabavoy likely handled the ball, instead of heading it out of danger, as it appeared live, but the call was so tight that there were no calls on the field for a penalty on the play. The Union were a bit unlucky, but those are the breaks sometimes.
Meanwhile, for RSL, substitute Jonny Steele had a late chance to snatch a winner for the visitors, when he beat Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath in the 85th minute and appeared to have an open goal. But Steele's touch failed him, and MacMath was able to recover and pull the ball away. Amobi Okugo and Antoine Hoppenot appeared to have good chances in RSL's box in second half stoppage time, but neither could convert their chances and the match ended in a boring 0-0 draw.
San Jose, Kansas City, New York, Salt Lake, Houston and Chicago are all in the race for the Supporters' Shield as the MLS season nears its stretch run.
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