Chad Barrett of Los Angeles Galaxy celebrating. He scored the game-winning goal over rivals Chivas USA on Sunday, October 16, 2011.

Major League Soccer, Week 31: Galaxy Defeat Chivas USA In SuperClasico

Chad Barrett's struggled with his finishing in 2011, but he provided LA with a nice goal to give them yet another win over their rivals

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Major League Soccer 2011, Week 31: What We Learned

Week 31 produced six playoff tickets, shed some light on the MVP race and showed a game is never truly over until the final whistle is blown.


Los Angeles Galaxy Vs. Chivas USA, 2011 MLS: Full Time, Chad Barrett Goal Gives Galaxy SuperClasico Win

Though this edition of the SuperClasico didn't mean anything in the standings, both Chivas USA and the Los Angeles Galaxy decided to play like the game was meaningful for the vast majority of the match. Though the effort was there for 90 minutes, the quality was not, and the game didn't have a lot of clear-cut scoring chances. LA was the better team, though, and eventually sealed a deserved win, taking the match by a final score of 1-0.

Chad Barrett scored the winner, and it can only help his confidence going into the playoffs. Barrett somehow squandered a clear one-on-one with the keeper in the first minute and failed to make the most of a couple of half chances in the first half. Unfortunately, this is not exactly an uncommon occurrence. However, he went on to more than make up for his mistakes.

In the 53rd minute, Barrett flicked on a header to the feet of Adam Cristman, then took off towards the goal. Cristman played a great ball towards the far post and no one picked up the run of Barrett, as the ball hit his head perfectly from five yards out before going into the back of the net. 

For reaction from this game, check out LA Galaxy blog LAG Confidential and Chivas USA blog The Goat Parade


Seattle Sounders Vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 2011 MLS: Sounders Come Back For Win In Front Of Huge Crowd

It was Kasey Keller Day in Seattle as they celebrated the career of the 41-year-old hometown hero in his final regular season home match. 64,140 fans showed up at CenturyLink Field and created one of the greatest atmospheres that MLS has ever seen. With all that going on, there was just no way the Seattle Sounders were going to lose. Down 1-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes after 81 minutes, the Sounders came storming back with a pair of goals to cap an incredible night in Seattle with three points.

Things got off to a bad start for the Sounders because Chris Wondolowski decided he wanted to move into a tie for the Golden Boot lead. The Quakes' striker got in behind the defense thanks to a good one-touch pass from Rafael Baca and wasn't about to miss once he was in alone on Keller. He finished simply and the visitors were ahead 1-0.

As te match went on, the match turned more and more in favor of the Sounders. Spurred on by their giant and raucous home crowd, Seattle grabbed a hold of the match and adding Mauro Rosales with a late substitution only helped. It was Rosales who set up the first Seattle goal, hitting a perfect through ball to Sammy Ochoa, whose perfectly timed run put him in alone on Jon Busch for the one-touch finish that equalized things.

Only five minutes later, Seattle got their winner. Lamar Neagle snuck a ball into Fredy Montero, who was kept onside by Jason Hernandez, and the Colombian made no mistake with his finish. He put the ball into the side netting and the stadium erupted as the Sounders got the victory you felt they were destined to get on a great night at CenturyLink Field.


FC Dallas Vs. Vancouver Whitecaps. 2011 MLS: Shea Leads Dallas To 2-0 Win

After being quiet for the better part of the last two months, FC Dallas midfielder Brek Shea is back on track with his MVP candidacy - after a goal and an assist in a 2-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. 

Shea volleyed home a header from a free kick that wasn't cleared out to give the home side the insurance goal they were looking for. The goal was Shea's 11th of the season and the assist up his season total up to four. 

The first goal came in the 34th minute - when Shea headed on a clearance by keeper Kevin Hartman to Marvin Chavez. The Honduran used his pace to beat the Vancouver defense and hammer home the game's first goal. The goal was Chavez's sixth goal of the season. 

Dallas controlled the pace and the possession in this match. The Whitecaps only registered a couple shots on Hartman all game - only one from striker Camilo that really tested the veteran keeper. The shutout was also Hartman's 13th of the season - which is tied for the league lead with Real Salt Lake's Nick Rimando

The win was Dallas' first back-to-back win since their three-game winning streak at the end of June. The Toros are now sitting at 52 points on the season - tied with Real Salt Lake for third in the Western Conference. 

The loss was Vancouver's 12th of the season on the road, marking the first MLS side to go winless on the road since the 2009 New York Red Bulls


Seattle Sounders Vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 2011 MLS: Lineups

It's the biggest home game in Seattle Sounders history and US goalkeeping legend Kasey Keller's sendoff, but there's more than just ceremonies and crowds tonight - there's a football match going on as well as Seattle take on the San Jose Earthquakes. The Sounders will be playing for pride in front of a crowd of well over 60,000 people, while ... the Earthquakes will be playing for pride - they've long ago been eliminated for meaningful competition. Here are your lineups:

Seattle Sounders (4-1-3-2): Kasey Keller; Tyson Wahl, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, James Riley; Osvaldo Alonso; Lamar Neagle, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez; Fredy Montero, Mike Fucito.

Substitutes: Bryan Meredith, Eric Friberg, Roger Levesque, Pat Noonan, Sammy Ochoa, Mauro Rosales, Zach Scott

San Jose Earthquakes (4-4-2): Jon Busch; Steven Beitashour, Bobby Burling, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow; Simon Dawkins, Sam Cronin, Brad Ring, Rafael Baca; Chris Wondolowski, Khari Stephenson.

Substitutes: David Bingham, Chris Leitch, Joey Gjertsen, Ellis McLoughlin, Jacob Peterson, Matt Luzunaris, Maxwell Griffin.


DC United Vs. Chicago Fire, 2011 MLS: Ludicrous Stoppage Time Comeback Sees Fire Win 2-1

So as it turns out, you need five minutes to turn a game from one of the worst matches ever to be played into what was quite possibly the most thrilling comeback in MLS history. The Chicago Fire and DC United played insipid, uninspired football for 89 minutes, neither team bothering to attack - it was as though nobody told them that the match was a must win for both sides. Playoff hopes hung on the line and a draw simply wasn't going to be good enough for either. A draw, however, is what it looked like we'd get. Until those last five minutes, you could count the number of good scoring chances for both teams on one finger.

And then all hell broke loose.

With no time remaining, Gonzalo Segares clipped DC United's Santino Quaranta in the box for a penalty. It wasn't a particularly egregious foul, but it looked like the correct call, and as Dwayne de Rosario stepped up, everyone watching knew - knew - that if he scored the spot kick the hosts would have the win locked up. He did, sending Sean Johnson the wrong way in the process, and DC had buried Chicago's playoff hopes with three minutes left to play.

If the bulk of the match was any indication, Chicago would respond to this setback by using the considered approach of rolling over and dying. Fortunately (unless one happens to be a DC fan), it wasn't. Instead, the visitors flipped the switch, going into a furious attacking mode that swiftly paid dividends. Within seconds, the score was level as Sebastian Grazzinitook advantage of Bill Hamid being unsighted to send a long range shot to make the game 1-1.

Exuberant celebrations followed, but everyone by this point knew that a draw wasn't going to do, and both teams pressed for an extra goal. DC even went so far as to send Hamid halfway up for a corner, a decision that nearly backfired on them as the Fire broke while Hamid was twenty yards from his own box, but when that threat died down the game looked done.

Of course, there was time for one more twist - a brilliant pass found a runner in behind the United defence, the ball was squared to Diego Chavez, and the substitute slid home into the empty net, scoring what must surely go down as one of the biggest goals in Chicago's history with virtually the last kick of the match. The 2-1 win, of course, doesn't guarantee a playoff spot for the Fire - they're still long shots to make it. But for an evening, at least, they've done the impossible. It's a great win for them, and a great reminder to all of us that this sport can spring some absolutely wonderful surprises on all of us.

Oh, and Segares, the man responsible for conceding that last-minute penalty? He got the assist on both goals. Talk about redemption.


DC United Vs. Chicago Fire, 2011 MLS: Boring Game Goalless At Halftime

Is there a word for games that make you want to hurry up and die that little bit quicker? If there was, I'd be using it to describe DC United against the Chicago Fire at the RFK Stadium. With both teams desperately needing to win to have much hope of securing one of MLS' ten playoff spots, one might have expected to see two sides go on the attack and a bit of a goalfest. How differently things have turned out.

The first twenty minutes featured nothing apart from what looked like a minor thigh injury to Fire midfielder Michael Videira, but after that this game sparked to life. Ish. As long as we allow slime moulds to be included in 'life'. There were a few shots and a few decent chances - Marco Pappa probably should have scored after wiggling his way into the penalty area and Bill Hamid was lucky to get away with spilling a long-range effort by Dominic Oduro shortly thereafter, but in general it looks like both teams are playing for (and getting) a 0-0 draw. Someone should probably tell them it does neither of them any good.


D.C. United Vs. Chicago Fire, 2011 MLS: Lineups

Major League Soccer is down to its final two weeks, with everyone having just a few games remaining to solidify their playoff position. Following their losses on Wednesday, both D.C. United and the Chicago Fire have their backs against the wall and must win Saturday night at RFK Stadium. A draw does neither team much good at all, though it would not eliminate DCU. The New York Red Bulls fell earlier on Saturday, giving both teams hope, and the Columbus Crew will be playing at the same time as this match. Check out how the teams stood before Saturday's matches kicked off. Here are the lineups.

D.C. United Lineup (4-4-2): Hamid; Korb, McDonald, Kitchen, Woolard; Najar, Simms, King, da Luz; De Rosario, Wolff

Substitutes From: Davies, Ngwenya, Brettschneider, Quaranta, White, Burch, Willis    

Chicago Fire Lineup (4-3-1-2): Johnson; Videira, Anibaba, Mikulic, Segares; Pause (C), Paladini, Pappa; Grazzini; Oduro, Nyarko

Substitutes From: Conway, Cuesta, Pantazopoulos, Husidic, Bone, Chaves, Barouch 

Kickoff is at 7:30 pm ET from Washington, DC. We'll have live coverage of the match right here. You can catch the game on MLS Direct Kick or Matchday Live.


Philadelphia Union Vs. Toronto FC, 2011 MLS: Draw Enough For Union To Clinch Playoff Spot

Playing at home against a Toronto FC team missing Danny Koevermans, the Philadelphia Union would have liked three points. They didn't get it, instead settling for a draw, but they won't be too upset because that point was enough to clinch the club a playoff spot, the first in their history. It also leaves them level on points with Sporting for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with just once match remaining in the regular season.

A bad giveaway by Ty Harden opened the door for the Union and Sebastien Le Toux was only too happy to take advantage. He took the ball, dribbled a bit then ripped a shot that curled just inside the far post for the opener. Toronto wasn't going to take it lying down though. Nick Soolsma got the ball to the end line and crossed low for Ryan Johnson, who did well to redirect the ball on goal for the equalizer.

From there it was just about holding on for Toronto. They asked Milos Kocic to make a couple nice saves and he did. Philadelphia were frustrated, but they got what they needed. They got a point and with it, a playoff spot.


Sporting Kansas City Vs. New York Red Bulls, 2011 MLS: Sporting Clinches Playoff Spot With 2-0 Win

Once Thierry Henry was sent off, the New York Red Bulls had no chance. They were already in a tough spot, desperate for a road result against a team that has been tremendous at home and playing well of late, but down a man? Forget about it. The Frenchman got the boot, Teal Bunbury and CJ Sapong got goals and Sporting Kansas City got a 2-0 win. With it came a spot in the playoffs, which they clinched with the win, as well as a spot tied atop the Eastern Conference with just one match left. Ohhhh, this is getting fun!

Henry got tangled up with Roger Espinoza in the 28th minute and a couple moments later when Espinoza was lying on the ground, Henry ran into him and kneed him in the back of the head. intentional? Maybe, but he certainly could have avoided Espinoza if he really wanted to so he saw red and Sporting saw a 10-man side they could tear apart.

Bunbury wasted two golden chances in the first half, but didn't waste his first chance of the second half. When a ball was chested down for him, he hit a beauty of a side volley and Sporting were ahead 1-0. It was just for a striker that had been a handful for the Red Bulls' back line all match, but then he got help from Sapong.

Just a minute after coming into the match as a substitute, Sapong scored a great goal, knocked the ball home from close range and around a defender to put the home side up 2-0, locking up the win and the playoff spot in front of a full house at Livestrong Sporting Park.


Portland Timbers Vs. Houston Dynamo, 2011 MLS: Dynamo Grab Huge Three Points

Jeld-Wen Field played host to a huge playoff six-pointer, but the green-clad fans that filled the stadium were sent home unhappy. That's because the Houston Dynamo went into the Portland Timbers' raucous stadium and thanks to goals by Andre Hainault and Danny Cruz came away with a 2-0 win.

The loss leaves Portland three points out of the final playoff spot with just two matches left and they have the worst goal difference of all the contenders. Meanwhile, Houston jumped from the final playoff spot to second in the Eastern Conference, although they have played one more match than their competition.

Hainault opened the scoring in the 36th minute when he got just enough of a head on a Brad Davis free kick to deflect the ball home. Cruz's goal was far prettier as he lofted a shot from 30 yards up and over Troy Perkins just before the hour mark for a great goal that sealed a deserved Dynamo win.

It was the visitors who carried the play for most of the match and put the Timbers on their heels. Davis turned in yet another sterling performance for Houston and John Spencer's decision to leave Jorge Perlaza on the bench turned out to be awful as Kenny Cooper struggled and with him, so did the Portland attack.

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