July 18, 2012; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski (8) celebrates with forward Alan Gordon (16) and midfielder Sam Cronin (4) after scoring penalty kick, but it was called back during the second half at Buck Shaw Stadium. The San Jose Earthquakes defeated the FC Dallas 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

MLS 2012, Midweek 18: San Jose Builds Cushion Atop West

The Earthquakes won 2-1 to extend their lead in the West, while Houston took down Kansas City, New York beat Chicago and LA came back to draw Vancouver.

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San Jose Earthquakes Vs. FC Dallas, 2012 MLS: Quakes Barely Hang On To Win

Jair Benitez stood at the penalty spot in stoppage time with a chance to earn FC Dallas a come from behind road draw against the MLS best San Jose Earthquakes. It sounded too good to be true for a team that was in the midst of a 13-match winless streak just a week ago. Well it was too good to be true because Benitez sent the penalty over the bar and San Jose held on for a 2-1 win to extend their lead atop MLS to seven points.

That the match was even in doubt was a shocker. The best in MLS, the Quakes, were 2-0 up after goals by Marvin Chavez and Alan Gordon. Not only that, but they had MLS's leading scorer at the penalty spot with a chance to put them up 3-0 at home. And it looked like that's exactly what Chris Wondolowski appeared to do, beating Kevin Hartman with his spot kick. But the referee made him take the kick over again because a teammate entered the box too soon and when he retook the kick, Hartman made the save.

It was game on for Dallas, but they sure left things until late. They didn't get on the scoreboard until the 89th minute when Hernan Pertuz got on the end of a Jackson cross and snapped it past Jon Busch to get the visitors within one.

Then in stoppage time it looked like the Hoops had done the job. Simon Dawkins hip checked Zach Loyd and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. All Benitez had to do was convert the penalty and Dallas would have themselves an unexpected draw, only Benitez didn't concert the penalty.

Dallas were losers once again and San Jose had somehow managed a win even when it felt like they had no chance at getting all three. They seem to have made a habit of that and their spot atop the league proves it.


Vancouver Whitecaps Vs. LA Galaxy, 2012 MLS: Galaxy Come From Behind To Earn Draw

Down 2-0 on the road and playing horribly, it didn't look like the LA Galaxy had much of a chance to make a comeback. But then the last 10 minutes happened. First, old man David Beckham scored in the 81st minute to bring LA to within one, then the 18-year-old kid Jose VIllarreal scored in just his second career match to cap the comeback and earn the Galaxy a 2-2 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The Whitecaps were all over the Galaxy from the very start and Gershon Koffie got them a well-deserved goal in the 18th minute. The referee played advantage after a Galaxy, only the LA defense stared at Koffie as if the referee whistled for a foul and the play was dead. With plenty of room, Koffie took te ball into the box and finished well, hitting the ball low and hard to beat Josh Saunders.

Not even 10 minutes later, Vancouver doubled their lead. Lee Young-Pyo was given space and he took advantage by hitting a perfect cross for Barry Robson. The Scot then snapped a great header past Saunders and the Whitecaps had a 2-0 lead.

Just because the Whitecaps were two goals up didn't mean they were going to slow down. They kept pressing and continued to put pressure on the Galaxy. It almost paid off on two occasions in the second half when they hit the crossbar, but Vancouver could only get two.

That would come back to haunt the Whitecaps, starting with a strike from Beckham. After a cross hit the crossbar (no, that's not a typo), it fell to Landon Donovan, who laid that ball off for Beckham. The Brit then ripped a shot that got some help from a deflection and cut the Whitecaps' lead in half.

That set the stage for Villarreal, the Galaxy's highly-touted homegrown teenager. A chip over the top by Beckham was cleverly turned to Villarreal by Juninho. Villarreal gathered the ball just inside the box with a defender on him, but then he wheeled around to create space and hit a great left-footed shot towards the back post. The shot left Joe Cannon helpless and found the back of the net for the equalizer. Not bad for a first career goal, and it earned LA a point they probably didn't deserve.


Houston Dynamo Vs. Sporting Kansas City, 2012 MLS: Calen Carr's Brace Delivers Win

Calen Carr hadn't started since June 16 so he had a little something in the tank. Apparently that "little something" was two goals, which was a good thing for the Houston Dynamo, who needed both of those goals to defeat Sporting Kansas City, 2-1, on Wednesday at BBVA Compass Stadium.

A rematch of last year's Eastern Conference final, the match was chippy very early on and the referee didn't do much to crack down on the physical play. That didn't both Carr or Will Bruin. The latter ribbled through three would-be Sporting defenders before slipping the ball in for Carr, whose shot squeezed inside the post for the opening tally.

Sporting were able to get even from the penalty spot after Kei Kamara got free down the right and crossed for Jacob Peterson. Andre Hainault was caught behind Peterson and couldn't do much else besides drag the Sporting man down, which he did and the referee rightly pointed to the spot. Kamara then knocked home the penalty and the match was even.

Most thought that the match would be level at halftime and it was on the scoreboard, but not on the lineup sheet because Peterson Joseph picked up a red card in first half stoppage time. The Haitian recklessly went in on a slide tackle from behind on Carr. Joseph did try to pull out, but by then it was too late. It would be argued that the red card was harsh, but it wasn't ridiculous by any means and harsh or not, it was a really bad tackle from Joseph.

Up a man, Houston controlled the second half. Carr had a chance early in the half and Jimmy Nielsen had to push a deflected cross off of the post to keep Sporting even. The visitors were hanging on for dear life, but 11 minutes from time they couldn't hang on any longer.

Carr fed Brad Davis to open up Davis down the left. With plenty of space, Davis hit a low cross into a glut of Dynamo and Sporting defenders in front of goal. The ball found Carr, who was able to get the ball redirected towards goal and over the line for his second goal, which proved to be the winning goal for Houston against 10-man Kansas City.


Chivas USA Vs. Portland Timbers, 2012 MLS: One Nice Goal, Lots Of Bad Shooting In Goats Win

Chivas USA and the Portland Timbers played a very wide-open game that produced plenty of good shooting opportunities on Wednesday afternoon, but they only managed to get one of those shots into the back of the net between them. It wasn't exactly a day for the strikers ... or the defenses or midfields, really. Okay, so it wasn't a great game, but Ryan Smith and Miller Bolaños managed to make a pretty in the first half, combining for the only goal in Chivas' 1-0 win.

Steven Smith was made to look a bit silly on the goal in the 16th minute, when Ryan Smith of Chivas turned him inside-out before putting a ball across the face of goal. The entire Portland defense completely overperused the ball, allowing the cutback ball to find an unmarked Bolaños. He hit a classy finish into the roof of the net, giving Chivas an early lead.

Portland had 14 shots on the game, but Chivas had the much better scoring opportunities and looked like the better side for most of the match. This win ties Chivas for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, with a game in hand on their rivals, the LA Galaxy. Portland are still in the West's basement. The Galaxy play on Wednesday as well, and the two Los Angeles sides meet up in their second SuperClasico of the year on Saturday.


New York Red Bulls Vs. Chicago Fire, 2012 MLS: Thierry Henry's Gorgeous Goal Wins It

It was over 100 degrees on Wednesday at Red Bull Arena, the humidity was unbearable and despite dominating the Chicago Fire for more than an hour, the New York Red Bulls didn't have a lead to show for it. In short, New York was in the midst of a horrible afternoon. But then Thierry Henry got involved and scoring a tremendous goal to deliver a 1-0 win for the home side and all was well in Red Bull Land.

Chicago looked happy to play defensively, maybe out of respect for the slew of attacking talent that New York has, maybe because they they were content with a draw or maybe because they thought the Red Bulls would wear themselves out in the heat. Whatever the reason, New York had the bulk of the chances, especially through Sebastien Le Toux, who had several opportunities to give the Red Bulls the lead.

Despite their chances, the Red Bulls couldn't break through. Le Toux fired right at Sean Johnson or missed the goal all together and his teammates were much better. Their frustration got even worse when Pavel Pardo handled the ball in the box, but the referee failed to whistle for a penalty kick. Nothing was going the Red Bulls' way.

But there is that Henry fellow. In the 71st minute Le Toux hit a long diagonal ball for the Frenchman, who chested the ball down and hit a left-footed volley from a sharp angle. The ball rocketed past Johnson, hit the far post and crossed the line for a gorgeous goal. It was Henry's first tally since April 28 and more importantly, one that earned the Red Bulls a win they most definitely deserved.

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