MLS, Week 18: New York, RSL Win; Earthquakes Streak Ends

MLS is looking more wide open after this weekend, which featured wins for Real Salt Lake and the New York Redbulls, but a loss for the San Jose Earthquakes.

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2012 Major League Soccer, Week 18: What We Learned

Home teams cruised to a 13-0-2 mark in Week 18. New York took over first place in the East and trouble continues for Colorado and Portland.

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Real Salt Lake Vs. Colorado Rapids, 2012 MLS: RSL Owns Rocky Mountain Cup

The Rocky Mountain Cup is supposed to be a rivalry, but rivalries are balanced and competitive. When Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids play, it is hardly competitive. To put it simply, RSL owns the Rapids and they proved it again on Saturday night in a 2-0 win that clinched a sixth consecutive Rocky Mountain Cup for the boys in claret and cobalt.

While Alvaro Saborio scored the opening goal for RSL, he didn't do the work. Fabian Espindola deserved the opening goal after pressuring Marvell Wynne into a bad back pass, then getting a foot on Matt Pickens' clearance. That deflected the ball toward goal where Saborio just had to tap it in and Salt Lake was 1-0 up.

Saborio did do more work on RSL's second goal, even if he didn't score it. He swiped the ball from Tyrone Marshall then hit a great pass to the streaking Will Johnson. The Canadian then buried the shot and another Rocky Mountain Cup was heading to Rio Tinto Stadium.

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FC Dallas Vs. Portland Timbers, 2012 MLS: The Timbers Are A Joke

It wasn't John Spencer's fault. Like his managing or not, he wasn't the sole reason that the Portland Timbers were awful and since he has been fired, it seems like the team is intent on proving that. They sure proved it on Saturday, getting routed by lowly FC Dallas, 5-0, in a match that made the Timbers look like a bunch of AYSO players*.

* Not the good AYSO players. The really bad, probably fat ones who are more excited for their orange slices than the match.

The Timbers should have known that they were in for a long night when Hanyer Mosquera scored an own goal to open things. Andrew Jacobson, Jackson, Scott Sealy and Ruben Luna then added goals of their own. Congratulations to Dallas on the win, which they deserved, but let's be honest -- this was more about how putrid Portland was.

Portland has now allowed five goals in two of their last three matches. MLS should adopt relegation just for them.

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Houston Dynamo Vs. Montreal Impact, 2012 MLS: Dynamo Keep Rolling With 3-0 Win

Few teams in MLS are playing as well as the Houston Dynamo right now. They're rolling off wins and looking a lot like the team that went to the MLS Cup final last year, with strong play at the back and dangerous forwards who can get on the end of some great crosses. Thats the exact Dynamo team that showed up to BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday, too, where they trounced the Montreal Impact, 3-0.

Macoumba Kandji was the Dynamo's hero on this night, scoring twice in the win. He opened the scoring in the seventh minute, then capped it in the 89th minute when he got on the end of a Brad Davis pass. Bobby Boswell also benefitted from a Davis pass, scoring five minutes before Kandji got his second as the Dynamo cruised.

The Dynamo are nearly unbeatable at home, having gone undefeated in their last 18 dating back to last season. With the way that the Impact played, they sure weren't going to ruin the streak, even if Houston was playing without the recently sold Geoff Cameron for the first time.

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Sporting Kansas City Vs. New England Revolution, 2012 MLS: Revs Get Rare Road Draw

Sporting Kansas City leading the East and the New England Revolution losing away from Gillette Stadium are two of the more usual things in MLS so naturally, most expected Sporting to beat the Revs on Saturday in Kansas City and move back atop the Eastern Conference. But New England had other ideas, staying strong at the back and defending well enough to come away from Livestrong Sporting Park with a 0-0 draw.

Each team had one great chance in the match, but the goalkeepers came up huge on both occasions. In the first half, it was Jimmy Nielsen doing the exceptional goalkeeping when he was able to save a Ryan Guy header and keep the home side from going in front. In the second half, it was Matt Reis with the heroics, saving a Jacob Peterson header to keep the match scoreless.

Sporting will not be happy to take just one point at home against a poor road team and relinquish their spot atop the East, but that's what they have to deal with. Meanwhile, the Revs get a sweet point to take home.

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Columbus Crew Vs. D.C. United, 2012 MLS: Final Score, 1-0 Crew As Black And Red Continue Skid

D.C. United's position in the Eastern Conference playoff race is starting to look a bit shaky. The Black and Red put together a second consecutive poor performance on Saturday, falling to the Columbus Crew 1-0.

Chris Birchall scored the game's only goal just after halftime with a fantastic finish after a set piece that caught United off guard. Jairo Arrieta took a free kick quickly in the 46th minute and DC's defense was caught napping. His through ball was perfect and Birchall got behind the defense, then placed a low left-footed shot past Joe Willis into the back of the net at the near post.

D.C. United managed 18 shots on the night, but very few of them went anywhere as they struggled to break down Columbus. Things got a bit shaky at the back for the home side after the 76th minute, when central defender and captain Chad Marshall was forced off with an injury, but the Crew were able to hold on. This was mostly due to the play of goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum, whose decision making and command of his area was fantastic on Saturday. He regularly made the right decisions on when to come out and claim crosses and through balls, preventing the need to make saves at all.

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New York Red Bulls Vs. Philadelphia Union, 2012 MLS: Kenny Cooper Brace Leads RBNY

Kenny Cooper's career was left for dead just a year ago. A failed stint in Europe followed by an unimpressive year led led most to give up on the formerly prolific striker. But those who thought Cooper was done look pretty foolish now. The striker scored goals No. 12 and 13 on the season on Saturday, leading the New York Red Bulls to a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union as the home side looked very much the part of a MLS Cup contender.

The first goal came thanks to a cross from Connor Lade, who hit an absolutely gorgeous ball from the left. Cooper then got across his marker, rose high and nodded the ball into the corner to give the Red Bulls a lead just before halftime.

Connor then put the match away in the second half, this time form a Thierry Henry cross. Once again, the ball came from the left, but Cooper didn't have much of a mark to beat this time. He was able to slip in behind the napping Union defense and head home from right in front without a defender around to put a bow on the New York win.

The Union did score a goal late, only to have it ruled off for a controversial offside call, but they didn't deserve the goal anyway. New York was the far better side, getting great play from Lade and Joel Lindpere in the midfield, as well as Cooper and Henry up front. Sebastien Le Toux was a menace cutting in and made the Red Bulls look nearly unstoppable in spurts en route to a deserved three points that has them atop the Eastern Conference now.

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