MLS Week 23: Sporting KC Defeats DC United, Jumps Into Playoff Spot

DC United could jump into tie for eighth overall if they are able to beat Sporting, who currently sits two points ahead.

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Chicago Fire Vs. Toronto FC: Dan Gargan Seals Win Against Former Team

Dan Gargan picked quite the time to score his second career goal. The Chicago Fire defender, with more than 6,500 minutes in his MLS career, notched his goal in the 69th minute off a Pavel Pardo corner kick against his former team in a 2-0 win over Toronto FC on Sunday. The Fire also got a goal from Dominic Oduro, who now has eight goals this season.

The win was the Fire's first since they beat the Columbus Crew on June 12, a span of 11 games that had seen them fall into last place in the Eastern Conference. They jumped over both the New England Revolution and TFC in the standings by grabbing all three points.

It was also the Fire's first shutout since June 22. At that point, the Fire were in the midst of a run of form that had seen them allow just one goal in five matches. In the eight matches between then and now, they had allowed 13 goals and gone 0-4-4.

For Toronto FC, this ends what had been a decent little run of their own. TFC had entered the match on a six-match unbeaten run in all competitions that included five points in their past three MLS games.


LA Galaxy Vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Robbie Keane Has Sterling Debut

Robbie Keane did not wait long to make a good debut with his new team. The newly minted Designated Player opened his MLS account with a 21st minute goal, leading the Los Angeles Galaxy to a 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes to sweep the California Clasico on Saturday. Keane's goal was not exactly pretty, as he basically took advantage of some awful Earthquakes defending, but few people are likely to remember that small detail.

The Galaxy extended their lead in the Western Conference to six points after FC Dallas lost to the Seattle Sounders. They now have 51 points through 26 matches, or two points more than the Columbus Crew's Supporters' Shield-winning total in 2009.

Mike Magee scored the insurance goal for the Galaxy in the 90th minute. In the teams' first meeting this season, Magee played 47 minutes in goal to help the Galaxy shut out their oldest MLS rival. The Earthquakes are mired in a 12-match winless streak and have not won since June 11.


Portland Timbers Vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: Jorge Perlaza, Diego Chara Carry Timbers

Diego Chara and Jorge Perlaza each scored a goal and the Portland Timbers beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 to pick up their first Cascadia Cup victory of their MLS existence on Saturday. Chara scored in the 2nd minute off an assist from Perlaza, who then pushed the lead to 2-0 with a goal in the 33rd minute.

Chara, who became the Timbers' first Designated Player this year, had not scored a MLS goal before this game and had only one assist. He made a nice first touch to control the ball and then beat Joe Cannon

The Whitecaps cut the lead in half when Camilo Sanvezzo scored his eighth goal of the season. But the 88th minute strike proved too little too late.

Since beating the Los Angeles Galaxy 3-0 on Aug. 3, the Timbers have gone into a bit of a slide and were in danger of falling out of the playoff race. This was their first win in four matches and leaves them just three points behind the final playoff spot.


Colorado Rapids Vs. Chivas USA: What Happened To Altitude Advantage?

Playing home games at altitude is supposed to be a significant advantage. In recent years in particular, the Rapids have been very good at home, going 16-4-10 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park from 2009-10. This year, they haven't been bad at home, per se, but they've dropped a frustrating number of points there. The latest example came on Saturday, when they twice blew one-goal leads and settled for a 2-2 tie with Chivas USA. The Rapids have now won just 5 of 12 at home, and have ties against four teams currently outside of playoff qualification.

The equalizer in this one came in the 86th minute on a Laurent Courtois' first MLS goal. The recently signed Frenchman took a nice pass from Michael Lahoud and beat Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens inside the far post. Chivas USA also got a goal from newly acquired forward Juan Pablo Angel, who scored in the 36th minute.

The Rapids got goals from Caleb Folan and Jeff Larentowicz, but were unable to win their fourth straight game.f


Houston Dynamo Vs. Real Salt Lake: Alex Dixon Wins It In 93rd Minute For Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo twice erased deficits and beat Real Salt Lake 3-2 on a 93rd minute goal from Alex Dixon on Saturday. Both of the Dynamo's equalizers came in the second half with Bobby Boswell getting the equalizer in the 69th minute on a glancing header from Brad Davis corner kick.

Fabian Espindola opened the scoring for RSL, who have now lost four of their last five matches. Espindola was able to get a ball on the right wing behind the Dynamo defense and beat Tally Hall inside the far post. Brian Ching, though, equalized in the 47th minute, scoring his fifth goal and his fourth in the past five games.

Luis Gil got the lead back for RSL, heading in an Espindola cross in the the 60th minute. It was Gil's second goal in three matches.

It was all just setting the stage for Dixon, though. In the 93rd minute, Dixon collected a free ball just outside the penalty area, dribbled around a struck a left-footed shot that beat Nick Rimando to the far post.


Columbus Crew Vs. Philadelphia Union: Crew Open Up 6-Point Lead In East

The Columbus Crew opened up a six-point lead in the Eastern Conference after beating Philadelphia Union 2-1 on Saturday. The Crew got goals from Emilio Renteria and Andres Mendoza, their two leading scorer.

Mendoza's game-winner came in the 51st minute when Robbie Rogers' attempted cross hit Sheanon Williams in the hand and a penalty was called. Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon actually was able to get his hand on Mendoza's shot, but it hit off the sidebar and ricocheted back across the goalline. It was Mendoza's eighth goal of the season, and ended a six-game goalless drought.

The Crew took an early lead on Renteria's sixth goal of the season. It came in 37th minute and, like Mendoza's, just barely dribbled across the line.

The Union got their goal on a corner kick when Veljko Paunovic lost his mark at the far post on Keon Daniel's perfectly placed corner kick. The Union continued to press, racking up 17 shots to the Crew's six, but never were able to find the second goal.


New England Revolution Vs. New York Red Bulls: Dane Richards Nets Late Equalizer

Dane Richards was able to able to get on the end of a Joel Lindpere pass to score the equalizer in the 87th minute and salvage a point for the quickly fading New York Red Bulls, who tied the New England Revolution 2-2 on Saturday. Richards was left entirely unmarked at the near post and was able to easily head the ball pass Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth

The goal was Richards' second of the match and allowed the Red Bulls to overcome an early 2-0 deficit against one of the league's worst teams. Richards' first goal came in the 53rd minute. On that one, Tim Ream was able to find Richards as he broke behind the defense, giving him a one-on-one opportunity. The goals were Richards' first since June 23, a span of eight matches.

Earlier in the match, newly minted Designated Player Milton Caraglio gave the Revs a 2-0 lead with goals in the 15th and 37th minutes. They were Caraglio's first two goals of his now four-match-old MLS career.

With the tie, the Red Bulls ran their winless streak to eight matches. They have won just once since June 19, a span of 13 matches.


Columbus Crew Vs. Philadelphia Union: Tied 1-1 At Halftime

Two of the best defensive teams in MLS have each managed to score, as the Philadelphia Union got a 43rd minute goal to send their game against the Eastern Conference-leading Columbus Crew tied 1-1 at halftime. On the tying goal, Veljko Paunovic was left completely unmarked at the far post and was able to practically walk into Keon Daniel's perfectly served corner. It was Paunovic's third goal of the season.

The Crew had taken the lead just five minutes earlier when Emilio Renteria was able to nudge a Robbie Rogers pass past Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon. Renteria now has six goals and has scored in two straight weeks.

The Union currently trail the Crew by three points in the Eastern Conference and they played much of the first half like a team intent on closing that gap. The Union outshot the Crew 7-2 and earned eight corner kicks to none for the Crew.

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