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If there was an MLS game taking place at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night, no one bothered to inform Chivas USA. DC United showed up, however, and managed to notch a 3-0 win to solidify their playoff position. Charlie Davies was fantastic with a hat trick, but to be completely honest, he should have scored six. Despite the fact that Davies netted a hat trick, the man of the match was almost certainly an other man - Chris Pontius. Davies' striker partner was absolutely brilliant, setting up all three of the goals.
The first two goals came in the 11th and 15th minutes, effectively ending the game before it really got started. DC continued to dominate throughout the first half, but missed numerous good chances to extend their lead. Chivas got a bit more into the game after the halftime break, but order was restored in the 66th minute when Davies completed his hat trick.
DC United now moves up to fifth place in the East on 34 points, but they have either two or three games in hand on every team above them in the schedule, and they're actually in an excellent position to potentially shoot to the top of the East.
The San Jose Earthquakes and Chicago Fire played a match that nobody watched. I suppose it matters. 2012 MLS SuperDraft (can we drop the "Super" from the name please?) positioning is on the line so there is that. Anyways, the Earthquakes won 2-0 and all 14 of their fans were excited, while the Fire fans that gave up on their team a year and a half ago pretended they were shocked and outraged at the play of their team.
It took 10 minutes for the opening goal and it was a quality finish by Chris Wondolowski that won it for the Quakes. Rafael baca whipped a ball in from the left that found Wondolowski at the back post and the striker hit it first touch on the volley for the opener. This being a match-up between two bad teams, an awful had to equal out that good by Wondowlski so he had a penalty saved later in the match. Not that it mattered. Ramiro Corrales added a second goal and San Jose still won.
Coming off a 6-2 loss to the Seattle Sounders in their last game before the international break, the Columbus Crew were probably licking their chops at the opportunity to face Trillium Cup rivals Toronto FC, a team to whom they had never lost. Instead, it was TFC that pulled out the rather unlikely victory, beating the Crew 4-2. It was the Reds' first road victory of the season and, coupled with their tie against the Crew earlier this year, marked the first time they won the Trillium Cup.
The Reds jumped out to a 2-0 first-half lead on goals from Nick Soolsma and Ryan Johnson and never surrendered the lead. The Crew twice pulled with in a goal, first a Tommy Heinemann strike in the 67th minute, and then on an Andres Mendoza blast from about 20 yards in the 87th minute. But each time the Reds answered. Julian De Guzman and Danny Koevermans finished off the scoring for TFC.
The Crew have now been outscored 10-4 in their past two games and have now been caught by Sporting Kansas City atop the Eastern Conference. The teams are level with 40 points apiece, but the Crew do have a game in hand, but SKC are eight better on goal difference.
The win keeps TFC's faint playoff hopes alive, but also marks a benchmark in the franchise's history. Ever since TFC joined the league in 2008, the Crew have been a somewhat forced rival. Taking even more sting out of the rivalry has been the Crew's domination of it. TFC had never beaten the Crew in nine previous meetings. TFC are six points behind the No. 10 playoff spot.
It's not a great result, as results go, but the New York Red Bulls showed something they've been missing for months in their 1-1 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday evening - some effort. It took a while for it to come out, however - the hosts went down fairly early thanks to a close-range finish by Davide Chiumiento, and worse was to come after a farcical display from referee Terry Vaughn saw New York reduced to ten men.
It's not as though they didn't deserve it, because they totally did, it's that the wrong person entirely was sent off. First Rafael Marquez, who was sitting on a yellow card, performed a beautiful example of the good old tow-footed scissor lunge on Eric Hassli, who was minding his own business when he was basically assaulted from behind. As Hassli was writhing on the ground in some pain, the referee happily pointed out that in the process of attempting to detach the Frenchman's legs, Marquez managed to nick the ball, and the defender went unpunished.
The fact that something was slightly off about this must have dawned on the hapless Vaughn a few minutes later, because he then decided to give a straight red card to Jan Solli for what one would call a 'denial of a clear goal-scoring opportunity' only because one has evaluated all other options and found them to be even more insane. Which is to say he bundled over Camilo Sanvezzo thirty yards from goal with adequate cover. It remains to be seen whether or not Vaughn's 'penultimate man' interpretation of the rules will form a precedent, but I would guess no, because it was pretty stupid.
Anyway, that was NYRB down to ten, with Solli falling on his sword to make up the karmic gap created when Marquez wasn't sent to an early shower, and they were also looking at that 1-0 deficit as well. Not to worry - they decided to actually show up in the second half, putting the Whitecaps under sustained pressure for long periods of time before finally making the breakthrough via substitute Juan Agudelo in the 69th minute. It was a deserved reward for some very positive play in the second half, and the Red Bulls nearly added to it before the full time whistle went (and Vancouver also came close in injury time, when a curling effort from Sanvezzo buzzed Bouna Coundoul's far post).
A point's not a good result, but the fact that New York managed to come back at all was pretty impressive. However, when showing heart in the face of adversity in a 1-1 draw against rubbish opposition is one of the best parts of one's season, one has had a rubbish season.
The New England Revolution are a very bad team. Don't get that wrong because they are, but don't tell FC Dallas that they are completely incapable of playing some decent soccer upon occasion. Dallas, considered one of the elite teams in MLS went to Gillette Stadium on Saturday evening and were punched in the gut by the Revs, who got goals on each side of the halftime break to get a deserved 2-0 win over Dallas.
At no point did Dallas look like they would win the match. They had one quality chance all match, an early opportunity for Maicon Santos who got a free header from seven yard, but the Brazilian headed it weakly and right at Matt Reis. Besides that, it was all New England.
A 14th minute clinic by Shalrie Joseph got the Revs on the scoreboard. First, he made Dallas pay for some sloppy passing by taking the ball away in the midfield. Then he opened up the play with a good ball out wide before making a run to the center. There he got a good cross and made no mistake, heading the ball down and just inside the post for the opening tally.
Sloppy passing almost gave the Revs a second goal when Jair Benitez's back pass was right into the path of Milton Caraglio, but Kevin Hartman did well to come off his line and force a heavy touch from Caraglio. The ball ran almost to the endline, where Caraglio finally got to it, but shot into the side netting from a difficult angle.
It didn't matter that Caraglio wasted his chance though because Ryan Cochrane was able to flick a corner kick onto the back post where Rajko Lekic was waiting. The Dane hit the ball first touch right inside the post, good enough to beat Hartman and put a bow on New England's upset.
The Philadelphia Union made an incredible comeback on Wednesday night, coming from 3-0 and 4-1 down to earn a 4-4 draw with New England thanks to three second half goals. They hoped to carry that momentum over to Saturday when they hosted the Portland Timbers in a match they had no excuse to not get three points from. The Timbers aren't a good team and have just one away this season so this was a match the Union should have easily taken three points from, but they didn't. Instead they played 90 scoreless minutes and were forced to split the points at PPL Park.
The best chance of the first half belonged to the Union. Roger Torres chipped a ball into Sebastien Le Toux, who held off his man, did a great job chested the ball down, turned and shot on the volley. In short, he did the hard part, but then he missed with the shot, sending it wide of the post.
It looked like the Timbers might actually take a lead late in the second half when Kenny Cooper was free on the right and running at goal, but Zac MacMath did well to close down the angle and forced Cooper to put the shot wide. Then the Union came right back with the best chance of the match when Justin Mapp dragged a cross back for Kyle Nakazawa who struck the ball well with his left foot. He did enough to beat Troy Perkins, but he couldn't beat the bar as the shot clattered off of the crossbar.
With Columbus and Houston both losing and New York dropping points at home, this was a golden opportunity for Philadelphia to make up ground in the Eastern Conference. They had the momentum, they had the home field and they had a weak opponent, but they couldn't find the net and instead just get a disappointing draw.
Sporting Kansas City have developed a reputation as the kings of drama. Whether it be coming from behind to snatch points or giving points away by blowing late leads, they've had their fair share of drama and then some. Saturday was not one of those days though. Sporting finally got an easy match thanks to a Houston Dynamo side that played horribly, had a man sent off and barely put up a fight. Teal Bunbury was all too happy to take advantage, scoring twice as Kansas City cruised to a 3-0 victory at Livestrong Sporting Park.
It didn't even take 10 minutes for Bunbury to get his first and put Kansas City on top. Graham Zusi played a good ball in behind the Dynamo defense that Bunbury showed great pace to run onto. The striker got to the ball, shook off a defender then cooly poked home the goal with the outside of his boot for a sweet goal that gave the home side a lead.
In the 64th minute the Dynamo's chances at earning a point vanished with Carlos Costly's red card. The striker got frustrated and went in on a stupid challenge on Chance Moyers. Costly's studs cost Myers' foot a foot off of the groun and send Myers' flying into the air, earning Costly his red card.
The Costly sending off may have wrapped things up for Kansas City and allowed them to add to their lead, but there's no doubt that they deserved the win anyways. Houston were terrible, giving the ball away at every opportunity and that's only when they weren't playing hopeful long balls that amounted to nothing. Meanwhile, Kansas City were getting chances and very well could have been up by a few more goals, but Tally Hall made a few fine saves.
Once Costly was sent off though, Kansas City finally broke through again. While Zusi played a good ball for Bunbury's first goal, Julio Cesar was lucky to pick up the assist for his second. He booted the ball up field from the back line and the out of sort Dynamo defense let it get past all of them. That allowed Bunbury to put into another long ball and slide home his second of the match.
A late goal by CJ Spong finished the scoring to give Kansas City a much deserved three points. The win moved Kansas City into a tie with Columbus atop the Eastern Conference, although the Crew do have two matches in hand. Meanwhile, Houston remains tied with Philadelphia for third place, but the Union also have two matches in hand.
When things have been going as well as they have for the Seattle Sounders, results like Saturday's 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake seem to come out of nowhere. The Sounders dominated the run of play, outshooting RSL 19-10 and claiming 66 percent of the possession, but it was RSL who made more of their chances. They rode an own goal in the 13th minute, a missed penalty from Mauro Rosales and a goal from Alvaro Saborio in the 56th minute to walk out of CenturyLink Field with a hard-fought victory. It was the first time RSL had beaten the Sounders in Seattle.
This game featured a good dose of strangeness, much of it courtesy of referee Mark Kadlecik, who has now issued five red cards and five penalties in 14 career matches. Two of those reds and one of those penalties came in this game.
Kadlecik's first interesting decision was to award the Sounders a penalty in the 17th minute on what replays seemed to clearly show as fairly incidental contact in the box between Robbie Russell and Mike Fucito. The Sounders failed to capitalize, though, as Rosales sent the penalty wide of an open goal.
From there, the game just got weirder. Kadlecik gave a second yellow to RSL defender Tony Beltran in the 35th minute. At first, Kadlecik didn't seem to realize he had previously carded Beltran, waiting several moments before pulling out the red card. In what seemed to be a bit of a makeup call, he then showed a straight red card four minutes later to Sounders defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, after he tussled for a ball with RSL forward Alvaro Saborio.
Although the Sounders eventually equalized, with Fredy Montero scoring his seventh goal of the MLS season just as stoppage time of the first half ran out, it proved too little for the Sounders. Despite rolling out a decidedly more defensive set of players for the second half, RSL grabbed the lead back on Saborio's eighth goal of the season.
From there, RSL managed to withstand a barrage of opportunities. The Sounders' best chance came in the 69th minute when Tyson Wahl collected a ball inside the goal box and fired a shot that Nick Rimando was able to save with the side of his face.
With the win, RSL kept their slim hopes of claiming the Supporters' Shield alive. Although they trail the Los Angeles Galaxy by 10 points, they do have two games in hand. The Sounders now trail the Galaxy by seven points with each team having six games left to play.
Alvaro Saborio gave Real Salt Lake a 2-1 lead over the Seattle Sounders with a well-taken goal in the 55th minute. Saborio collected a Fabian Espindola pass near the edge of the penalty area, took one shot that was blocked by Sounders defender Tyson Wahl. But the rebound came right back out to him and he beat Kasey Keller to the far post. It was Saborio's eighth goal of the season.
The Sounders came out at halftime the more aggressive of the sides, employing a 3-4-2 formation after going down to 10 men. RSL countered by bringing Chris Schuler on for central midfielder Luis Gil and going to 4-3-2, with Kyle Beckerman the lone central midfielder.
The Sounders' first substitution of the second half was to bring on Lamar Neagle for Alvaro Fernandez. The move is essentially like-for-like as both play as attacking left midfielders. Neagle is coming off a hat trick performance against the Columbus Crew.
Fredy Montero made sure the Seattle Sounders went into halftime with something to feel good about. The Sounders Designated Player scored a beautiful goal in the 2nd minute of stoppage time, collecting a Mauro Rosales cross, popping it up to himself and blasting it past Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando to send the game into halftime tied 1-1.
That goal put a cap on what had been an absolutely crazy first half. RSL took the early lead when Kasey Keller mishandled a cross into the box and essentially threw the ball into the back of his net for an own goal. Just a few minutes later, the Sounders were awarded a questionable penalty when Mike Fucito and Jamison Olave got tangled in the box. But Mauro Rosales sent the ensuing penalty wide, missing a wide open net, to preserve RSL's lead.
That was just the beginning, though. Tony Beltran was shown a second yellow card for what looked to be a pretty innocuous foul, and referee Mark Kadlecik didn't seem to realize that he had already booked Beltran. Just four minutes later, Kadlecik showed Jhon Kennedy Hurtado a straight red for a soft foul to leave both teams with 10 men.
An odd game continues to get weird and weirder. In a match that has already seen an own-goal by a goalkeeper, a questionably called penalty and a missed penalty now has two red cards with Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders both playing with 10 men.
First, Real Salt Lake defender Tony Beltran was given a second yellow for what appeared to be persistent infringement. What made the situation especially strange, was that referee Mark Kadlecik didn't appear to realize that it was Beltran's second yellow.
Just a few minutes later, Kadlecik seemed to decide to make up for the call, showing Sounders defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado a straight red card. Hurtado was fighting for the ball with Alvaro Saborio and did hit him in the face, but it was the kind of call that goes unpunished as much as it is even called a foul. Kadlecik also was the referee in these teams' first meeting of the year, showing a red card to Jamison Olave in that one.
Kasey Keller's final MLS season has gone almost perfectly, but the goal he allowed in the 13th minute of the Seattle Sounders' match against Real Salt Lake will probably stick with him awhile. The veteran goalkeeper had a cross from Fabian Espindola slip through his fingers, officially going in the books as an own goal.
Keller was not under any pressure, with defender James Riley the closest player to him, but the ball just seemed to spin through his fingers. It was the first goal RSL had scored against the Sounders in Seattle in three years of MLS play.
Shortly after the goal, the Sounders were given a golden opportunity to tie the score when they were awarded a penalty. Mike Fucito and Robbie Russell got tangled in the box and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. But the normally reliable Mauro Rosales sent his attempt wide as goalkeeper Nick Rimando dove the opposite direction. It was the Sounders' third missed penalty of the season. They tied 0-0 in each of the previous games in which they missed penalties.
Considering the injury concerns of both the Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake, Saturday's lineups are about as close to first-choice as you can reasonably expect. RSL is without full back Chris Wingert, who is nursing a broken wrist, but everyone in their starting lineup has started at least nine times. Everyone of the Sounders starters has at least eight starts.
Sounders starters: GK Keller; DEF Riley, Parke, Hurtado, Wahl; MID Rosales, Alonso, Friberg, Fernandez; FWD Fucito, Montero. Bench: Ford, Carrasco, Ianni, Jaqua, Neagle, Noonan, Scott
RSL starters: GK Rimando; DEF Russell, Olave, Borchers, Beltran; MID Beckerman, Johnson, Williams, Gil; FWD Espindola, Saborio. Bench: Melia, Alexandre, Alvarez, Paulo Jr., Grabavoy, Schuler, Warner.
In reality, the Los Angeles Galaxy clinched a playoff spot weeks ago. Leading the league for most of the year and well ahead of the teams actually battling it out for the final playoff spot, there hasn't been any question that the Galaxy would be back in the postseason this year. On Friday night they made it official though, defeating the Colorado Rapids 1-0 at the Home Depot Center thanks to a Landon Donovan goal. More importantly, the Galaxy now sit seven points clear of second place Seattle in the race for the Supporters Shield.
At no point in the first half did it look like the Rapids might win. Gary Smith inexplicably decided to leave Sanna Nyassi and Omar Cummings on the bench meaning the visitors were without a threat up top. With little to worry about from the Colorado forwards, the Galaxy defense and midfield pressured the Rapids at every opportunity and forced giveaways left and right. Paolo Cardozo got a surprise start ahead of Robbie Keane, who was on the bench after playing two Euro 2012 qualifiers for Ireland this week, and was a threat from the opening whistle. Twice he forced fantastic saves from Matt Pickens.
Pickens was up to each Galaxy challenge, making several fine saves before the Galaxy got past him in the 36th minute. David Beckham was quick to move the ball on the right side and got it right back before playing the ball into space for Chad Barrett to run onto. Barrett got to the ball and quickly played to Sean Franklin in the center, 20 yards from goal. The quick passing continued with Franklin playing it to a streaking Donovan on the left, who hit the ball hard and low, into the side netting for the winning goal.
Both Nyassi and Cummings came on, evening out the match some. LA got a little sloppy after the break too, not passing the ball around nearly as crisply, but they were still the better side. Only once all match was Donovan Ricketts tested. The LA keeper, who returned from a two and half month injury layoff on Friday, did well to get down on a shot, but spilled the rebound. Wells Thompson was there to put the rebound home, but the flag was up and replays showed him to have been correctly ruled offside.
In the end, LA will take their three points and playoff berth. Colorado has to wonder if they would have had a chance with Nyassi and Cummings in from the start, but odd lineup choices are the norm with Smith. Now the Galaxy will just have to hope that Seattle drops points on Saturday against Salt Lake before they get ready for a vital CONCACAF Champions League match against Morelia on Tuesday.
What happens when you're the Colorado Rapids, Conor Casey goes down with a season-ending injury and you don't start either Omar Cummings or Sanna Nyassi? You look terrible, of course. Exactly what Gary Smith was thinking when he decided to sit the two is unclear, but he is getting exactly what he deserves. Landon Donovan clinically put home a shot at the end of a fantastic move by the Los Angeles Galaxy to put the home side up 1-0 at the Home Depot Center, where they haven't lost a match from ahead all season.
The play that led to Donovan's goal started with David Beckham combining well on the right to clear space before playing the ball in behind the Rapids defense. Chad Barrett got to is and quickly played to Sean Franklin, who made a good run from deep. Franklin quickly moved the ball all the way to the left where Donovan was rushing in and buried his shot low and into the side netting.
It wasn't just the goal that the Galaxy had to put the Rapids on alert. Paolo Cardozo looked bright from the beginning, shooting from distance multiple times and once forcing a very good save from Matt Pickens. That, along with an anemic Rapids attack make for an opening 45 minutes that have been all Galaxy.
Smith still have Cummings and Nyassi on the bench so there is a spark waiting them, but who knows when Smith might go to them. Meanwhile, LA still has Robbie Keane available, who could come on and put this match out of reach.
If the Los Angeles Galaxy want to stay atop the league they're going to have to make sure they get maximum points from their home matches and that starts tonight with the Colorado Rapids in town. The Sounders are on fire and chasing the Galaxy down so any slip up and they will be made to pay for it. Four points clear with seven matches to go, the Galaxy are in a good, but hardly invincible position.
They do get a boost in this match as Donovan Ricketts returns to the team after missing the past two and half months with a broken forearm. He'll be in goal and he very well may be needed with Bryan Jordan at right back. Up top, the Galaxy are going with Paolo Cardozo, a talented, but inexperienced youngster as Robbie Keane starts on the bench after playing two tough Euro 2012 qualifiers this week for Ireland.
The Rapids have a bit of a different lineup with Sanna Nyassi starting on the bench and Caleb Folan starting with Macoumba Kandji up top. Outside of that it is the standard Rapids starters, led by the punishing duo of Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz in the center of the midfield.
Seattle hosts Salt Lake and Colorado visits Los Angeles in the marquee match-ups of the weekend while a lot of other bad teams play a lot of other bad teams in MLS action
Colorado have gone 5-1-3 across all competitions since Conor Casey went down with a season-ending injury.
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