Major League Soccer 2011 (Mid)Week 31: FC Dallas Clinch Playoff Spot, DC's Postseason Bid Takes Hit

Two games with significant playoff implications kick off Week 31 of the MLS season.

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6 Total Updates since October 12, 2011
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Vancouver Whitecaps Vs. DC United, 2011 MLS: Quick Strikes Propel Caps

Two goals coming within the first minute of each half were the difference Wednesday, as the Vancouver Whitecaps defeated DC United 2-1. The loss means DC's playoff hopes took a hit, as they were not able to leapfrog the Portland Timbers for 11th place in the overall table. For Vancouver, the win means they are out of the basement in the league standings, as they have moved ahead of the New England Revolution. It was a good night for the home fans, but it could hurt their draft position next season.

The scoring started quickly, when Camilo Sanvezzo scored in the box on a cross from the left by Jordan Harvey less than a minute into the match. It was Camilo's 12th goal this season. DC did not look ready for the match, and Vancouver capitalized on their sleepy defending. For the rest of the half, the play was not particularly entertaining, as Vancouver sought to double their lead. DC's attack surprisingly ran through Marc Burch, who took several long-distance shots and free kicks in the match, none of them effective. Following the restart, the Whitecaps managed the same feat as the first half, as a cross on the left by Alain Rochat crossed the ball into the box to Long Tan, who scored on a header in the 46th minute. It was Tan's first career goal in Major League Soccer, and the first goal ever scored by a Chinese player in MLS. Not coincidentally, Tan is the first Chinese-born player in MLS.

United tried to get back into the match in the second half, and Brandon McDonald scored in the 57th minute on a Santino Quaranta free kick. Overall, DC just didn't have the quality on the night to get even a point, although they may have had a chance in the 76th minute. Burch had a shot that bounced off Jeb Brovsky's arm in the box, and while DC players appealed for a penalty, no call was given. Based on the replays, it was unclear if it was ball to hand or not. From there, Vancouver were content to hold onto possession and see out the victory, their sixth of the season.

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Chicago Fire Vs. FC Dallas, 2011 MLS: Toros Regain Scoring Touch, Clinch Playoff Spot

It has been a tough slog for FC Dallas over the past two-plus months. Their once promising season had gotten to the point that they entered Wednesday's match against the Chicago Fire on a four-match losing streak in which they had not scored a single goal. Maybe the 2-1 win that officially clinched a playoff spot turns all of that around.

FC Dallas received goals from Jackson and Daniel Cruz and then held on for just their second victory since the beginning of August. Sebastian Grazzini scored in the 86th minute to make it interesting, but the Fire were already down to 10 men at that point after Pavel Pardo was shown a straight red card and never really threatened to tie it.

This was clearly Dallas' best performance in quite some time. Dallas out shot the Fire 15-7 and only some dazzling saves by Sean Johnson kept it as close as it was. 

The loss leaves the Fire needing nothing short of a miracle to make the playoffs. They now trail the No. 10 playoff spot by six points with two matches left to play. Just as importantly, they would have to leapfrog two additional teams.

For the latest updates on Wednesday's action, be sure to follow this StoryStream.

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Chicago Fire Vs. FC Dallas, 2011 MLS: Toros Snap Scoreless Streak, Lead At Halftim

It's just one half of soccer, but FC Dallas is finally showing signs of life. Jackson scored in the 41st minute, snapping what had been a 400-minute scoreless drought and FC Dallas took a 1-0 lead into halftime of their game against the Chicago Fire on Wednesday.

The Fire entered the game knowing that they needed a victory to keep any realistic hope of making the playoffs alive. They currently trail the field by six points and have just two matches remaining after this.

FC Dallas was absolutely dominant throughout the half. They held a 10-2 shots advantage and only the spectacular play of Sean Johnson kept it from being 3-0. Johnson made great stops on both Jackson and Fabian Castillo. On Jackson's goal, he got behind defender Jalil Anibaba and beat Johnson to the far post, despite the goalkeeper getting a hand on the ball.

For the latest updates on Wednesday's action, be sure to follow this StoryStream.

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Chicago Fire Vs. FC Dallas, 2011 MLS: Lineups

In what has to be considered the biggest game of their season, the Chicago Fire will be as close to full strength as they can be. Injured starters Dominic Oduro and Sebastian Grazzini will both be in the starting lineup against FC Dallas in a game the Fire absolutely need to win to have any realistic hope of making the playoffs.

FC Dallas will counter with a lineup that is missing at least one major piece. Brek Shea, who played in Tuesday's United States national team friendly against Ecuador, will start on the bench. Coach Schellas Hyndman has said he hopes to not have to play Shea, who has appeared in 20 matches over the past 76 days.

Fire starters: Johnson; Gargan, Anibaba, Gibbs, Segares; Pause (C), Pardo, Nyarko, Grazzini; Oduro, Chaves. Bench: Conway, Mikulic, Videira, Pineda, Husidic, Paladini, Barouch

FC Dallas starters: Hartman, Loyd, Ihemelu, John, Benitez, Jacobson, Villar, Cruz, Castillo, Chavez, Jackson. Bench: Seitz, Hall, Warshaw, Stewart, Guarda, Shea, Santos.

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Fixture Congestion Has Caught Up To FC Dallas, Brek Shea

FC Dallas have gone into a tailspin basically ever since they started their CONCACAF Champions League season.

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Major League Soccer 2011 (Mid)Week 31 Preview and Schedule: Fire, DC United Face Virtual Must-Wins

Two games with significant playoff implications kick off Week 31 of the MLS season.

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