Major League Soccer Week 20: What We Learned

VANCOUVER, CANADA - JULY 30: Goal-scorer Sean Franklin #5 of the Los Angeles Galaxy is congratulated by teammates Landon Donovan #10, Juninho #19 and Adam Cristman #17 during their MLS game against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC July 30, 2011 at Empire Field in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. L.A. won 4-0. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Between the All-Star Game, the CONCACAF Champions League, and the Emirates Cup, week 20 had plenty to offer.

Week 20 in Major League Soccer was a busy one. Between the MLS All-Star Game, the three CONCACAF Champions League games and the New York Red Bulls winning the Emirates Cup in London, there was no shortage of topics to discuss from this past week. 

Teams are heading into August now and the transfer window will certainly continue to give us names to talk about. Teams will likely continue to make moves in the coming week as they all push for the playoffs here.

For the first time in a while the Eastern Conference provided the smart over the weekend in the inter-conference matches. The right coast side had a convincing 3-1-1 record against their left coast counter-parts. 

Galaxy continue to hold lead

One thing is certain here - or at least until the Champions League group phase - the Galaxy will continue to lead the league in the standings. It was almost not fair at times on Saturday when the Galaxy were facing expansion side, the Vancouver Whitecaps. Landon Donovan returned from a few days off (where he sat out the All-Star game) and looked all the better for it. 

It could be hard to gage a worst-place team against the first place team in league game like this but LA put their stamp on this game and made sure the rest of the league knew they still mean business. A 4-0 drubbing always sends a message. 

The Galaxy extended their unbeaten run to 14-games. 

Dallas battles heat and travel 

We expected some sort of CONCACAF hangover for FC Dallas, Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders but in the end really only Dallas was able to overcome all the odds in their weekend game. Sure Toronto battled back in Portland and got an unlikely draw at JELD-WEN Field but you have to tip your hat to Dallas here. They arrived back in Dallas from El Salvador in less than 24 hours before their kickoff against Chivas USA

But that wasn't all that they had to battle. The heat in Frisco was a steamy 102 at kickoff with field temperatures reaching upwards of 115 degrees according to some. 

Guys like Health Pearce and Justin Braun were quick to say that they lost the game to themselves rather than to Dallas and the heat but it was fairly clear early on that the heat got to them as much as the quick attack from Brek Shea, Marvin Chavez and Ruben Luna from Dallas. 

The return to Dallas was particularly unkind to Pearce who not only had the game's lone goal deflect off him but he also had a goal called back when he shoved down Ugo Ihemelu in the penalty box on a corner kick. 

Another late comeback for Sporting

I would hate to be the beat writer for Sporting Kansas City these days. With games getting close to the final minutes and having Sporting trailing a goal at home, you usually as a writer have a good chunk of your story written but before the game even ends. For someone in KC they likely have to rewrite everything in the final minutes or they've gotten used to this club scoring goals in the final minutes like they did again against New England on Saturday.

The Revolution frustrated this Sporting club all over in the first half and got an early lead thanks to Rajko Lekic's early goal. But a late red card to AJ Soares helped open up things a bit in the final moments for Kansas City. As you would have it Teal Bunbury was able to put away the game-tying goal with the extra bit of space in the penalty box. 

Sporting's unbeaten run is now at 12 games but these draws continue to frustrate general observers of this club. KC is much better than their play is leading on to be and even though they have a nice long home stretch here they do have plenty of tough clubs to face in the coming weeks that won't be as easy to come from behind against.

Fortress broken

Blame it on the All-Star game injury to Jamison Olave or blame it on something else, either way the Columbus Crew managed the unlikely on Saturday and got a big result at Real Salt Lake

Where has this performance been all season though for guys like Robbie Rogers or Eddie Gavin. Somehow the two turned up their play a notch and it showed up early for the Crew. Rogers had two assists on the evening and the Crew's defense got a very convincing shutout on the road. 

I always say every team gets at least one bad performance at home each season and this had to be it for RSL. Their offense lacked a punch, until late at least with Fabian Espindola. Speaking of the emotional striker, he nearly got into it after the game with Julius James. Espindola had about four guys holding him back after the final whistle blew. I wouldn't be shocked if we hear his name on the weekly fine and suspension list. 

DC and Houston staying in thick of things

We've talked a lot this season how the Western Conference would likely have six of the 10 playoff spots, if not seven of them. Right now that doesn't appear to be the case with clubs like the Houston Dynamo and DC United making their case to be included in the post season dance. 

Both United and the Dynamo provided the two most surprising results of the weekend though. DC went out to San Jose and smacked around the Earthquakes a good bit with former Quakes star Dwayne De Rosario. DeRo's two goal effort surely will get him votes for the Player of the Week nod from the league.

Houston on the other hand took care of business in a big way against the Seattle Sounders, who probably blamed the CCL hangover as a reason for the 3-1 loss. The big story in this one was seeing Brian Ching score a pair goals, one in each half. It feels like ages since we last saw Ching play that well in a league match. 

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