MLS 2012, Week 17: Houston Demolish 10-Man DC

There were a combined 31 goals in the nine MLS matches this weekend as the league thrilled from start to finish.

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Major League Soccer 2012, Week 17: What We Learned

After a week that saw a few scoreless draws, many goals were found in a busy Week 17 in Major League Soccer. San Jose expended their lead in the Western Conference while Sporting Kansas City found their way back to the top in the East.

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Houston Dynamo Vs. D.C. United, 2012 MLS: 10-Man D.C. No Match For Houston

D.C. United hoped to pick up three points on Sunday to keep pace with Kansas City atop the Eastern Conference, but once Bill Hamid was sent off those hopes were dashed. The D.C. goalkeeper was shown red in the 17th minute and Houston cruised from then on in a 4-0 demolition at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Hamid was sent off when he wiped out Macoumba Kandji. The Senegalese was in all alone on goal and when he touched the ball past Hamid, who had come off of his line to cut down the angle, the goalkeeper took out Kandji's legs. The referee had an easy call and he made it, pointing to the spot and showing Hamid a red card.

Up a man, Houston took complete control. Brad David knocked home the penalty awarded for Hamid's foul and Houston was a goal up. Will Bruin then had an easy tap in to make it 2-0 after some pretty play by Luiz Camargo and Oscar Boniek Garcia. Garcia then got a goal of his own on the other side of halftime before Brian Ching capped things with an 89th minute tally.

D.C. obviously did not keep pace with Kansas City atop the East and sit in second place, while Houston has gotten some breathing room in fifth place, the final playoff spot. They are six points clear of sixth place New England.

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New York Red Bulls Vs. Seattle Sounders, 2012 MLS: Fredy Montero Earns Sounders A 2-2 Draw

After going ahead early, the Seattle Sounders probably thought that they would be on their way to another win. They have been nearly unbeatable when scoring first, but this one wouldn't be easy at all. The New York Red Bulls stormed back to take a 2-1 lead and it looked like the Sounders would go down in the New Jersey heat, but Fredy Montero found a late goal that earned the visitors a 2-2 draw.

The opening goal came through Alvaro Fernandez, but as much, if not more credit belongs to Adam Johansson. The Swede was given space on the right and he took advantage with an inch-perfect ball to Fernandez at the back post. The Uruguayan finished well, using just one touch to find the back of the net and the Sounders were a goal up.

But New York wouldn't be down for long. Not 10 minutes after falling behind, their newest player got them even. Kenny Cooper hit a hard shot from more than 20 yards than Bryan Meredith parried right in front of goal. That allowed Sebastien Le Toux, who was just acquired by the Red Bulls this week, to jump on the rebound and get the home side even.

Just before halftime it looked like the Red Bulls would go in front, but an unfriendly referee and crossbar kept them from taking the lead. A clear handball by Osvaldo Alonso was ignored by the man with the whistle, then a minute later on a corner kick a header hit the crossbar and New York would have to go into halftime with just a tie.

The Red Bulls did get that lead in the second half and it came thanks to Joel Lindpere. The midfielder got the ball 20 yards from goal and cut in before rifling a shot inside the near post that put the Red Bulls a goal up.

New York wasn't just ahead, they were also in control of the match. They had possession and were putting far more pressure on the Sounders than the Sounders were putting on them, but Montero changed that with the help of Brad Evans. A good run by Evans put him in space down the right and he spotted Montero in front. A low cross found the Colombian, but Montero still had some work to do. He did it beautifully, turning the cross onto goal with a good bit of skill and handing the Sounders a good road point.

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Portland Timbers Vs. LA Galaxy, 2012 MLS: Galaxy's Stars Lead Them To Fun 5-3 Win

At JELD-WEN Field on Saturday night defense was optional, but fun was guaranteed. The Portland Timbers and LA Galaxy played an absolutely thrilling match and combined for eight goals, sometimes with the help of poor defense, in front of a vocal and enthusiastic Timbers crowd. That crowd didn't leave happy, though. That is due in large part to the Designated Player trio of David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, who played exceptionally and led the Galaxy to a 5-3 win in hostile territory.

The Timbers were actually the ones who got off to a dream start. Kalif Alhassan was given far too much time on the right to cross and he found Kris Boyd at the near post. The Scot finished coolly and just three minutes into the match the home team was in front.

But LA stormed back in a big way with four goals in nine minutes. First, Beckham lined up a shot from 30 yards and hit an absolute rocket into the upper corner for a stunning equalizer. He followed that up with a brilliant free kick from 20 yards that got over the wall and just squeezed inside the post for his second great goal and the Galaxy lead.

The Galaxy still weren't done. Kosuke Kimura got caught napping and ended up behind Michael Stephens. Kimura then ran through Stephens, giving away the penalty that Donovan would convert to make it 3-1. Keane then ended the Galaxy's furious rally after Donovan raced down the right and delivered a perfect cross that the Irishman just had to tap in for the three-goal lead.

Amazingly, all of that craziness came before 30 minutes had even passed. Kimura did his best to make up for giving away the penalty when he was able to knock home a rebound given away by Josh Saunders, who couldn't hold a Boyd free kick. The Timbers were still down 4-2, but that didn't look insurmountable at halftime.

The Timbers' hopes of getting back in the match were wiped out just after the break, though, and Beckham and Keane were involved yet again. Beckham started the play with a gorgeous one-touch ball over the top right into the path of Sean Franklin, who had a great match. Franklin ran free down the right before spotting Keane in the middle. A simple low cross found Keane, who knocked it home with one touch and with a 5-2 lead it was over.

One more by Boyd made the scoreline look better, but Portland was simply outgunned by LA's big guns on Saturday night. Not even a raucous big crowd could bring them back, as the Galaxy put four points between them and the Rapids for the final playoff spot in one heck of an entertaining match.

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San Jose Earthquakes Vs. Real Salt Lake: Final Score 5-0, Quakes Demolish RSL

The San Jose Earthquakes pulled off an impressive victory against Real Salt Lake, cruising past their closest competitors for the Western Conference summit with a 5-0 home win. Chris Wondolowski made it happen, opening the scoring with a close-range 18th minute header after a game of head pinball in Nick Rimando's penalty area. RSL were relatively toothless throughout the match, and San Jose's strong defending was clearly frustrating the visitors.

That frustration came to a head in the second half, when Kyle Beckerman took offence to Sam Cronin's tackle on Javier Morales, coming in late on the Earthquakes midfielder before stupidly picking a fight with the referee. Allen Chapman had no choice but to show a red card to the RSL captain, and from then on we all knew what would happen.

Alan Gordon doubled the hosts' lead in the 63rd minute, getting a fortunate rebound as Victor Bernardez's header hit the post, then his knee and finally the back of the net. The rout was on. Wondolowski would score two more goals (with Simon Dawkins also netting -- from a Wondolowski cross), grabbing his third career hat trick, before being pulled off in what I'm assuming is some sort of mercy rule-mandated substitution.

San Jose ended up finishing with five goals, although they could easily have had more if they wanted to. This certainly wasn't what Jason Kreis was expecting when he took his team to California, but it's fantastic news for the Earthquakes as they bring their lead at the top of the table to four points.

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Philadelphia Union Vs. Montreal Impact, 2012 MLS: John Hackworth Keeps It Going

Carlos Valdes scored a stoppage-time goal off a deflected Sheanon Williams throw-in to give the Philadelphia Union a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact on Saturday. The Union have now won three straight for the first time this season and have also won 4 of 6 games under new coach John Hackworth.

This one seemed to be headed for a 0-0 tie as all the highlights during the first 80 minutes belonged to goalkeepers Donovan Ricketts and Zac MacMath. MacMath came up big on two separate 1-on-1 situations with Impact Designated Player Marco Di Vaio, while Ricketts made a pair of back-to-back diving saves in the 79th minute on Gabriel Farfan and Lionard Pajoy.

Pajoy finally broke the deadlock in the in the 82nd minute. Antoine Hoppenot did most of the hard work, working the ball down to the endline and somehow finding Pajoy in front of the goal. The ball deflected off an Impact defender, but Pajoy was able to control it and pound it into the back of the net.

The Impact were able to tie the score in the 89th minute. Patrice Bernier sent in a corner kick that Keon Daniel headed in for an own-goal.

The tie was short-lived, though, as Valdes put the Union ahead to stay two minutes later.

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