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Sporting Kansas City and DC United could very well be fighting each other down to the wire for one of the final playoff spots in Major League Soccer, but only one of those teams looked interested in the playoffs tonight. For the second straight week, DC was disappointing as they fell to Kansas City 1-0, thanks to a great goal by Kei Kamara.
The home side, backed by a fantastically loud crowd, was sharper, created more chances, passed the ball better and out-worked their opponents throughout the match. Whether there was a home field advantage at play or Sporting KC is just plain better is impossible to determine, but for whatever reason, they were the better side on the night and deserved their win.
Kamara scored the goal that would ultimately prove to be the game winner in the 19th minute, assisted by Omar Bravo. After taking a very good first touch on a cross swung in from the left by the Mexican international, Kamara created a shooting lane for himself and took a rip low and to the near post, beating DC's stand-in goalkeeper Joe Willis from 20 yards.
Sporting Kansas City now sit in second place in the East, sixth place overall. DC are in a tie for 11th, just outside of the playoffs.
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.
Dominic Oduro scored his eighth goal of the season to send the Chicago Fire into halftime leading Toronto FC 1-0 on Sunday. Oduro has now scored in three of his past four games, continuing what has been a career year for the sixth-year MLS player.
On the goal, Oduro was fighting for position in front of the goal when Gonzalo Segares sent in a low pass. Oduro was able to deftly flick it inside the far post.
Since coming to the Fire in a trade with the Houston Dynamo earlier this year, Oduro has been one of the Fire's few bright spots. He leads the team in goals and is tied for the team lead in assists, with two. He has regularly been able to stretch defenses with his blazing speed, a skill he has been unable to maximize in previous seasons. His eight goals are tied for the sixth most in the league.
In the middle of a three-game stretch over nine days, DC United has opted to rest a couple of their starters against Sporting Kansas City. Dwayne De Rosario is starting the match on the bench and Charlie Davies was given the entire day off and is not even in the 18. Blake Brettschneider will see his first action since July 30 and Santino Quaranta returns to the starting lineup in their places.
DC United will be relying on another reserve in goal, although not necessarily by choice. First-year goalkeeper Joe Willis will receive his second start in three games as Bill Hamid is nursing a quadriceps injury. In Willis' first MLS start, he made five saves and registered a shutout against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Sporting KC, which is currently locked in a fight with United for one of the final playoff spots, counters with what is essentially a first-choice starting lineup. Jimmy Nielsen is apparently fully recovered from getting hit in the head with a bobble-head doll on Wednesday. Coach Peter Vermes is going with a bit of a new look for this one, as Omar Bravo appears to be the starting central midfielder behind the forward trio of Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury and CJ Sapong.
Sporting KC starters: Nielsen; Myers, Cesar, Besler, Sinovic; Espinoza, Zusi, Bravo; Kamara, Bunbury, Sapong. Bench: Kronberg, Thomas, Harrington, Aiyegbusi, Diop, Stojcev, Saad
DC United starters: Willis; Kitchen, Jakovic, McDonald, Woolard; Najar, Simms, Quaranta, Pontius; Wolff (c), Brettschneider. Bench: De Rosario, Ngwenya, King, da Luz, White, Burch, Cronin
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.
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.
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.
An early goal from Mauro Rosales was enough to give the Seattle Sounders a 1-0 win tonight over FC Dallas. Rosales scored in the 15th minute on a counter attack for the Sounders after Fredy Montero played him into open space. It was his forth goal of the season.
From there on the name of the game was hearing the center official's whistle. Both teams combined for 41 fouls on the night, including eight bookings, one being a second yellow to Dallas midfielder Daniel Cruz.
Dallas had to play a man-down for the better part of the second half after Cruz was sent off for his second yellow of the night.
Dallas did create plenty of chances throughout the game as they had 25 shots on the night, but only four of them were on target. One of the best came in stoppage time when Dallas had a free kick that fell into the box, a couple players from both sides went for it and it ended up bouncing out of the penalty area to a wide open Bruno Guarda. His shot was saved somehow from Kasey Keller, who made an amazing diving stop to keep the shutout.
With the win Seattle moves into second place in the Western Conference with 45 points, Dallas falls to third with 43 points. These two will meet again later this month in the semifinal round of the US Open Cup.
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.
As FC Dallas was starting to pour on the pressure against the Seattle Sounders, the Toros encountered another set back in this 1-0 game. In the 56th minute newcomer Daniel Cruz picked up his second yellow card and now Dallas must play the next half hour and change with ten men.
Cruz was starting his first regular season game with Dallas.
He picked up his first yellow card early in the game on a hard challenge against Osvaldo Alonso.
Dallas is still trailing in this game after Seattle scored early in the first half from Mauro Rosales. The Sounders haven't had many chances on goal since they scored while Dallas has pressed for goal many times. The home side has the edge in shots and in set pieces tonight.
With Dallas down to ten men, I'd expect this one to open up a lot more for both sides. Each team still has subs to used and with the way this official is calling the match it could continue to get more interesting as we go on.
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.
A quick counter attack in the 16th minute from Mauro Rosales has the Seattle Sounders ahead of FC Dallas 1-0. Rosales was wide open on the counter as Lamar Neagle took over the ball in the midfield after Ugo Ihemelu, he then found Fredy Montero who slid Rosales the ball.
The goal was Rosales' forth on the season.
Dallas held the possession and the bulk of the chances from then on but were unable to capitalize on them. The Toros had plenty of corner kicks and free kicks in the first half, especially late. The best chance came in the 31st minute when Daniel Hernandez sent in a ball on a free kick into the box where Ihemelu headed it onto goal but Seattle keeper Kasey Keller was up to the challenge and he brushed the chance aside.
Schellas Hyndman had to go to his bench early in the half though after the Rosales goal as Zach Loyd, who was starting in the middle of the defense in the place of the suspended George John, had to come out with a hamstring injury.
This game has been very physical as the center official has issues a couple yellow cards and called numbers fouls. Thankfully he is calling this game fairly down the middle in terms of fouls but he isn't letting anything go here so far this evening. We shouldn't be shocked if we see a red card at some point tonight.
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.
In the 15th minute, Seattle countered with speed as Lamar Neagle took over things over in the midfield after Ugo Ihemelu misplayed the ball at midfield, Lamar then found Fredy Montero quickly passed a wide open Mauro Rosales who beat Kevin Hartman at the neat post with a laser of a shot.
The goal was Rosales' forth of the season.
Seattle hadn't been pressing that much before the goal as really this was their first real chance on goal all night. Shortly after the goal was scored the Sounders got a free kick outside the Dallas penalty box and nearly scored again with Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. Luckily for Dallas, Hurtado was a few paces off side.
Dallas' defense is looking fairly disjointed so far this evening as they are having to deal with the loss of George John. S
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.
Dallas will be without George John, who is out with a red card suspension. In his place tonight will be Zach Loyd who will shift into the middle of the defense. Midfielder Jackson Goncalves will move into the defense to help accommodate the loss of John.
Milton Caraglio, the New England Revolution's first-ever Designated Player, now has first MLS goal. The 22-year-old Argentine opened his MLS account in the 15th minute to give the Revs a 1-0 lead over the New York Red Bulls.
The goal was created almost entirely by Caraglio. He first dribbled through a couple defenders and fired off a shot that Bouna Condoul was able to save. But the rebound came back out to Caraglio, who had time to settle the ball, move it to his dominant left foot and beat Condoul with his second attempt.
Caraglio wasn't finished, though. About 22 minutes later, Caraglio gave the Revs a 2-0 lead when he scored his second goal of the match on a header from a Kenny Mansally free kick.
While Caraglio may have entered the league as one of the lesser-known DPs in league history, this two-goal performance essentially guarantees that he will not go down as the biggest DP bust.
No shortage of interesting matchup this week as FC Dallas hosts the Sounders and the Timbers renew their Cascadia Cup rivalry with the Whitecaps.
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