July 28, 2012; Montreal, QC, CAN; Montreal Impact teammates celebrate a forward Marco Di Vaio (second from right) against New York Red Bulls during the second half at the Stade Saputo. The Impact defeated the Red Bulls 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-US PRESSWIRE.
Road teams picked up their form in Week 19, going 5-3-1 on the week. The Eastern Conference standings got even tighter with New York and KC losing while Houston has moved up into a tie for second.
After last week's home dominance, road teams picked up the pace in Week 19, winning five matches and drawing one. This week proved that no game can be taken for granted.
Two games ended in high drama, with San Jose finding a late goal against Chicago and the Philadelphia Union following suit the next day against the New England Revolution -- teams are showing that they are willing to go the extra mile to get points as they push towards the playoffs.
Top Eastern Clubs Fall
The news surrounding the New York Red Bulls going into Saturday's match at the Montreal Impact wasn't about the game at all. It was mostly geared towards the fact that the Red Bulls now have midfielder Tim Cahill and whether or not the Red Bulls would begin running the table in the Eastern Conference. Cahill, however, was not available on Saturday. The Red Bulls could have used him.
For Montreal, newcomer Marco Di Vaio finally opened his MLS account. The veteran Italian snagged his first goal on the way to a surprising 3-1 romp by the Impact in a match that also featured Alessandro Nesta's debut.
For the first time in weeks, the Impact actually looked like a sound team from top to bottom. Jesse Marsch's defense was able to hold off the high pressure of the Red Bulls and all of their stars on Saturday.
New York wasn't the only top side in the East to fall over the weekend. Sporting Kansas City stumbled yet again despite managing to score a home goal for the first time in over 300 minutes. It looked like the Kei Kamara goal was going to be enough to hold off the Columbus Crew, but their guests had different plans on Saturday.
Newcomer Jairo Arrieta bagged his first two goals with the Crew to lift his side to an impressive victory. Now with a couple games in hand, the Crew are within striking distance of a playoff spot, just four points back of fifth in the East and five back of forth place - this Crew side may very well have a playoff push in them after all.
Kansas City will probably be kicking themselves for not picking up another striker before the international transfer window closed last week, but they'll really be upset over Kamara's big miss late in the game.
No Beckham? No Donovan? No Problem
Need a way to spoil the biggest crowd at FC Dallas Stadium? Simple -- let Mike Magee crash the party. It was that simple for the LA Galaxy on Saturday night in Frisco. Landon Donovan was out on yellow card accumulation and David Beckham was busy watching Great Britain at the Olympics and doing all of that torch nonsense, but that didn't stop the Galaxy snatching a 1-0 win in Texas.
LA entered the game as the league's hottest club and exited the same way. Over the last five games no club has more points than the Galaxy (13), and with guys like Donovan, Beckham, Robbie Keane and even Magee going, who knows when they will be stopped.
LA executed the perfect plan against Dallas -- limit David Ferreira in the midfield, pressure the wings and make Dallas chase the game. It was that simple, and oddly enough, that easy for them on Saturday as the hosts failed to show up. Keane and Magee tore through a Dallas defense that had been strong over the last month.
With the loss Dallas now goes back to the drawing board on their season. Four of their next five matches are on the road -- something that doesn't bode well for a club that only has one road win on the season.
San Jose Does It Late
The San Jose Earthquakes love to leave it late, huh? Saturday night against the Chicago Fire was yet another perfect reminder that they are always in each game until the very end. On Stephen Lenhart wig night, the blonde fro returned from injury to do what he and his team do so well -- score a late goal.
San Jose was probably lucky to get the 1-1 draw on the night. Chicago keeper Sean Johnson played one of his best games of his young career and kept the 1-0 lead going until the very end. There was little he could do about the laser that Lenhart scored on, though.
Chicago will tell you the goal was lucky and you could make a case that they are right. It came eight minutes into stoppage time -- yes, eight! Thanks to a red card and Frank Yallop throwing Gatorade on the field, the Quakes had enough time to find that equalizer.
The result for San Jose meant their lead in the Western Conference over Real Salt Lake (who won on Friday night over the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1), in now a mere two points. The Earthquakes have an advantage over RSL going into the home stretch of the season with the amount of games at home (six to RSL's four) and the lack of CONCACAF Champions League games.
Eddie Johnson Adds To Colorado's Misery
It has gone from bad to worse in Denver. The Colorado Rapids have now lost six games in a row and seven out of their last eight. The 2-1 heart breaker against the Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday night was another example of the misery that is going on in the Mile High City.
Seattle got a game winner from All Star Osvaldo Alonso but the real story was the continued form of Eddie Johnson. The striker netted his ninth goal of the year but he also contributed on the Alonso game-winner.
Johnson resurgence in MLS should be noted. It isn't just the goals or the speed he is using to get around defenders but it is the fact that he is finally turning into an overall good forward. His runs are getting smarter and he is possibly playing some of the best soccer of his career.
Houston continues impressive form
Don't look now folks but the Houston Dynamo are getting closer to the top. After the 2-0 win in Toronto on Saturday afternoon against the Reds, the Dynamo found themselves with 37 points, good enough for a tie with Sporting KC for second place - and just one point back of New York for the Eastern lead.
You have to give credit to Dominic Kinnear and what he has been able to get out of his club lately. The addition of Oscar Boniek Garcia has done wonders for their offense as he allows Brad Davis to do what he does best - set up the attack from the wings.
Davis had two assists on the afternoon against Toronto FC and is now tied for the league lead in that category with Dwayne De Rosario at 10. The Dynamo are finally getting more out of role players as well, Macomuba Kandji and Calen Carr are scoring, Brian Ching looks like he's turned back the clock a bit on his goal scoring as well.
Houston has sneaked up the standings over the last month - going from a team that looked like the playoffs were going to be a struggle to get to - to a club that may very well push the top sides out West for the Supporters' Shield.