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FC Dallas continues their slide, D.C. United doesn't look like a playoff team, the Fire stay hot and the LA Galaxy are inching closer to the Supporters' Shield.
It looked like the Philadelphia Union were going to get the three points that would put them atop the Eastern Conference. They were ahead 1-0 in the 90th minute and just had to hold on for a little longer, but then Juan Pablo Angle came flying in with a header that beat Zac MacMath to level the match and force a 1-1 draw. It was a disappointing result for the Union, who were so close to a win, while Chivas USA just barely kept their playoff hopes mathematically alive with the draw.
Justin Mapp opened the scoring when he picked up a loose ball 40 yards from goal, got around one Chivas man and dribbled towards goal. No one on the Goats' back line bothered to step up and close him down so Mapp let a shot go from 20 yards and it was a good one. The low shot just squeezed inside the post and the Union were ahead.
While the Union weren't particularly good, they were good enough to hold onto their lead. MacMath was strong in goal and the defense gave away chances, but managed to clear the danger at the last moment. That is until the 90th minute, when a cross found its way to the back post. Angel was waiting all alone there and nodded the ball down for the tying goal.
The result leaves the Unions second in the Eastern Conference on 44 points, even with Columbus and one point behind Kansas City with a match in hand. Chivas sits four points out of the final playoff spot, but there are three teams between them and 10th place, with all of them having at least one, if not two matches in hand.
Eddie Gaven hadn't played in nearly two months, but that didn't stop him from scoring the game-winner as he made a triumphant return from injury to lead the Columbus Crew to a 2-1 victory over DC United. The midfielder came through with a diving header to put an end to Columbus' six-match winless streak and more importantly, move the Crew up to second place in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, DC remained two points out of the last playoff spot and now just have one match in hand on the team holding the final playoff spot, New York.
Daniel Woolard scored two goals in the match, one for each team. The first goal went into the right net as the defender knocked home a long free kick from Dewayne De Rosario after Julius James decided he didn't feel like marking Woolard.
Just after halftime, Woolard answered his own go-ahead goal. He got in front of Andres Mendoza's shot as he attempted to block it, but all he did was deflect it into his own net to level the match at one apiece.
Gaven had a winner in him though. Sebastian Miranda shocked everyone with a rare run upfield and the defender looked plenty comfortable in the attacking part of the pitch. He played a cross for Gaven that the midfielder met with his head to snap past Bill Hamid and hand Columbus the win.
The Portland Timbers knew they needed a win to keep alive their hopes of making the MLS playoffs in their inaugural season. That's exactly what they got, beating the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 to move even on points with the New York Red Bulls for the final playoff spot. The Timbers will have to move ahead of the Red Bulls to make the playoffs, though, as New York holds the tiebreaker.
It wasn't necessarily a pretty performance, but considering the Timbers had won just once on the road prior to this game, they will absolutely take it. Kenny Cooper scored in the 25th minute when he one-timed a pass from Diego Chara. It was Cooper's third goal in his past four games, just another sign that he may be heating up just when the Timbers need him most.
From there, the Timbers really just held on. They only took two shots in the second half and effectively limited the Whitecaps' chances.
The Whitecaps were playing the first-ever MLS game in the renovated BC Place, but could not repeat the magic of their first home opener of the season when they beat Toronto FC 4-2. Davide Chiumiento had their best chance of the day, but his shot late in the first half went just wide. As it is, they have just four wins, which would be the fewest wins in a season in MLS history.
Kenny Cooper scored a 25th minute goal to send the Portland Timbers into halftime leading the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 in the first-ever MLS game at BC Place. The goal was Cooper's sixth of the season and his third in his past four games.
The Timbers got their goal off a Whitecaps mistake. Alain Rochat sent a pass into the middle of the field that Diego Chara was able to pick off and get the counter-strike going the other way. Cooper received the ball on the outside edge of the penalty area and one-timed a shot into the far right corner.
The Timbers came into the game knowing that they essentially needed to win to have any chance of making the playoffs. They currently trail the New York Red Bulls by three points for the final playoff spot.
The Whitecaps have had some opportunities of their own. Camilo Sanvezzo and Davide Chiumiento have each had quality chances, but sent their shots just wide. Chiumiento, in particular, appeared to have scored, but his ball was actually in the side netting.
For all the latest updates on Week 29 of MLS action, be sure to follow this StoryStream.
The LA Galaxy all but confirmed their status as Supporters Shield winners with a 2-1 home win over Real Salt Lake, although they left the victory fairly late in an exciting match that saw the visitors take the lead before Bruce Arena's men mounted a comeback at the Home Depot Centre. The match meant more than just LA's pride - RSL needed a win to have any hope of catching the Seattle Sounders for second place in the west, and while that looked likely for a while they ultimately made far too many mistakes to come away from this match with the points.
Neither side really had the edge in the first half, although RSL looked fairly dangerous on the break. It wasn't a counterattack that gave them the lead, however. LA were far too lax about their defending from set pieces, and Fabian Espindola was left free to nod home a corner in the 44th minute with Josh Saunders helpless. That wasn't the only action around half time: Referee Kevin Stott also issued no less than six less cards in an eleven minute spell around the break.
The game was threatening to get a little out of hand at this point, but fortunately matters went back to actual play soon enough. Fortunate, that is, unless you're a Real Salt Lake fan. A calamitous mixup between Nick Rimando and Jose Olave allowed little Chad Barret to steal in between the pair and lay in a cheeky flick, prodding the ball home when he had essentially no right to do so and netting the game up at 1-1.
Worse was yet to come for the visitors, who was a double deflection lead to an own goal a quarter of an hour later. Todd Duinivant got on the end of a free kick and tried to fire a shot back across the goal to the waiting Barrett, put instead several pairs of RSL legs intervened and the play ended with a baffled Nat Borchers putting the ball into his own net. At this point, the game was more or less finished - the visitors would never again mount a coherent threat, and the Galaxy looked more likely to extend their lead than give it up. Eventually, Stott blew his whistle, and 2-1 was the final score.
It looks like the West is more or less wrapped up at this point. It'd take a miracle for Seattle to dislodge LA for the top spot, and it would be almost as unlikely for RSl to grab second from the Sounders. Despite FC Dallas' loss to Colorado today, they're hardly going to finish out of the playoff spots either. Over to you, Eastern Conference.
Fredy Montero scored a pair of goals and a mostly reserve lineup led the Seattle Sounders to a 2-1 win over the hapless New England Revolution on Saturday. The Sounders' lineup featured just five players who started against the Vancouver Whitecaps, but that didn't stop them from improving their record to 6-6-3 when they allow the first goal.
The Revolution opened the scoring in the 35th minute when Diego Fagundez was left unmarked on a Benny Feilhaber corner kick and headed the ball past Kasey Keller for his first career goal. Fagundez, 16, was also making his first MLS start.
But Fagundez's good feelings were short-lived as the Sounders tied the score just second later when Montero pounced on a mishandled ball by Ryan Cochrane and beat Matt Reis with a left-footed shot. Montero gave the Sounders' their first lead in the 47th minute. Nate Jaqua chested down a ball to Montero, who poked it past Reis.
Montero now has a goal or an assist in six straight MLS games. During that time, he has five goals and three assists, including four goals in his past two games. He now has 11 goals and eight assists in MLS play, and an MLS-leading 15 goals across all competitions. He did pick up a yellow card, though, which means he'll miss the Sounders' next MLS game on Saturday against the Philadelphia Union.
The win gave the Sounders 57 points on the season, just four behind the Los Angeles Galaxy, who had yet to play their game on Saturday against Real Salt Lake.
For the latest updates on all the MLS Week 29 action, be sure to follow this StoryStream.
Toronto FC vs. the New York Red Bulls isn't really a game in which one expects to see moments of magic, but with Thierry Henry around anything is possible. The French striker ignited a dull game by putting on a second half show following Toronto's opener and eventually earned a beautiful equaliser right at the death to earn New York a split of the points at BMO Field.
The Red Bulls didn't look great in the first half, but neither did their hosts and it came as a bit of a surprise to see Toronto taking the lead in the 50th minute, Danny Kovermans picking up ball on the left side and sending a shot home off the despairing body of Frank Rost. Staring at an unpalatable 1-0 loss in Canada, Henry proceeded to take the game by the scruff of its next, threatening the hosts whenever he had the ball and generating all of the visitors' best chances of the half in a bid to draw them level.
It looked like his efforts were going to be for naught when Luke Rodgers skied a shooting chance after being sent clean through by his strike partner, but there was time for one more opportunity in the 88th minute. Dax McCarthy swung in a corner, with Henry and minder Andy Iro standing on the penalty area. Iro lunged for the ball and missed, because a deft flick of the boot by the Frenchman had already taken it into space beyond him. Henry completed his pirouette by slamming the ball past Milos Kocic and into the back of the net.
It was a lovely goal, and it was enough to split the points here. If only New York's other high-profile designated player would bother showing so much class.
Diego Fagundez scored his first career goal, but Fredy Montero answered less than a minute later as the New England Revolution and Seattle Sounders headed into halftime tied 1-1 on Saturday. The Sounders started a lineup leaning heavily on reserves in anticipation for Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup final against the Chicago Fire and very much looked the part.
The Revolution had an earlier goal by Milton Caraglio incorrectly waved off for offsides and they had 13 shots to the Sounders' three. Kasey Keller was forced into several sprawling saves, but he couldn't stop Fagundez's open header off Benny Feilhaber corner kick. The 16-year-old had previously looked shaky on a couple scoring chances, but easily put that chance away.
The lead was short-lived, though, as Montero scored just after the restart. Nate Jaqua was able to send a header forward that Revs defender Ryan Cochrane badly misplayed to the feet of Montero, who beat Matt Reis for his 10th goal of the season.
With the Chicago Fire and Houston Dynamo really needing three points to bolster their playoff aspirations, the two sides were forced to settle for a 1-1 tie that doesn't do much to help either team. The Dynamo moved level on points for second place in the Eastern Conference, but are still just five points clear of the No. 11 team despite having played two more games. The Fire moved two points behind the No. 10 playoff spot, but have played one more game than the New York Red Bulls and have just three matches remaining.
Both teams scored their goals in the first half. Colin Clark opened the scoring in the 33rd minute when he pounced on a free ball inside the goal box after a corner kick bounced off a Fire defender. The lead was short-lived, though, as Dominic Oduro scored his 12th goal of the season 10 minutes later to tie it up.
Oduro's goal was his seventh in his past 10 games and helped the Fire continue a rather impressive turnaround since they bottomed out on Aug. 7. Since then, the Fire have gone 5-1-2 to climb out of the East's basement and move within striking distance of the playoffs.
Part of the Fire's problem in this game was coach Frank Klopas trying to balance his team's already thin playoff hopes with the reality that they will be playing for the team's record-tying fifth U.S. Open Cup title on Tuesday. Pavel Pardo, Patrick Nyarko and Marco Pappa were all held out of the starting lineup in an attempt to rest them. The Fire were also without Dan Gargan and Sebastian Grazzini, who are nursing injuries. Oduro was eventually pulled in the 52nd minute, leaving the Fire considerably less dangerous for much of the second half.
For more updates on this weekend's MLS games and playoff implications, be sure to follow this StoryStream.
Dominic Oduro continues his torrid run, this time scoring a goal against the team that traded him earlier this year. The Ghanian's 12th goal of the season came in the 43rd minute and allowed the Chicago Fire to head into halftime tied with the Houston Dynamo 1-1 on Saturday.
Oduro was traded to the Fire back in March in exchange for Calen Carr. It took Oduro awhile to get going, but once he did he's been one of the top scorers in all of MLS. His goal on Saturday gave him seven goals in his past 10 games. The goal on Sunday also gave him twice as many in 30 games with the Fire as he scored in 44 games with the Dynamo.
The Dynamo, who could grab a share of the Eastern Conference lead with a win, got a goal from Colin Clark in the 33rd minute. Clark was able to pounce on a free ball following a corner kick.
An odd thing has happened as we've wound our way toward the end of the season. Instead of teams dropping off our MLS playoff watch list, we've actually had to add a team. The Chicago Fire, on the strength of a recent 5-1-1 run are suddenly just three points off the pace and could theoretically move into playoff position with a win over the Dynamo on Saturday.
We've also been forced to adjust the way we're looking at the teams as the once-comfortable Colorado Rapids suddenly need to be worried about just making the playoffs. Sitting at 42 points, they are just four points ahead of the No. 11 spot.
The race for the Supporters' Shield is basically over as the Los Angeles Galaxy can clinch it with a win and anything less than a Seattle Sounders victory on Saturday.
Sporting Kansas City: A season that started with 10 games on the road will curiously enough end with 2 of 3 away from Livestrong Park. They currently lead the race by one point and have played one more game than the Union. Facing the San Jose Earthquakes this is a game they need at least a point from.
Philadelphia Union: They are in great position to win the East, considering they have a game in hand and are just one point back. Their win on Thursday against DC United was huge in getting them here. The question they need to ask themselves, though, is winning the East and facing the top wild card team really better than playing the No. 3 team in the conference?
Houston Dynamo: With just three games left to play and only four points separating them from the No. 11 spot, they can't be worried about anything other than piling up points. Facing the suddenly surging Chicago Fire, they absolutely need at least a point.
Columbus Crew: At -4 goal-difference they are probably the worst team in contention for a playoff spot -- yes, worse than Chivas USA or the Fire -- but amazingly can still win the East with a strong finish. On the other hand, a loss to United on Sunday could leave them outside of the playoff picture.
Colorado Rapids: As recently as a week ago, we weren't listing the Rapids in this because we figured they were free and clear. After they completed a winless September, though, they are suddenly in trouble. Another loss this week could leave them on the precipice. They need points at home against FC Dallas in a bad way.
New York Red Bulls: As much as this season has failed to live up to expectations, the Red Bulls still have a chance to turn it all around. A strong finish coupled with a solid playoff run and who knows what can happen? They won a huge game last week against the Timbers. Now they have another big one against Toronto FC. Three points are vital.
DC United: Despite a loss to the Union on Thursday, they are still in solid position. But their margin of error is quickly slipping away. A loss to the Crew on Sunday and suddenly they are needing to almost win out. They aren't just chasing the No. 10 spot, they are also trying to keep pace with those chasing them.
Portland Timbers: Just two points back of the No. 10 spot, they were dealt a huge blow last week when they lost to the Red Bulls. If they lose to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday, go ahead and close the book on them.
Chicago Fire: Believe it or not a win on Saturday could put them right back in the playoff picture. Of course, a loss probably ends that conversation, too. Judging from their lineup choice, coach Frank Klopas is more concerned about Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup final.
Chivas USA: As much as I'd like to start crossing names off this list, the Goats won last week and are still alive. Their margin for error is still nil, though. A win on Sunday against the Union is an absolute must.
LA Galaxy: A win on Saturday against Real Salt Lake basically locks it up. A loss doesn't really change much.
Seattle Sounders: They need to beat the New England Revolution on Saturday to have any hopes at the Shield. They could run the table and still fall short. This race is basically over.
Every game on the MLS schedule has some kind of playoff implications, especially in the Eastern Conference.
After a horrible start that say them fall into last place as late as Aug. 7, the Fire have surged back into the playoff race with 17 points in their past eight games.
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