GOALAPALOOZA. Three decades ago, the Meadowlands played host to thrilling soccer and brilliant stars not once in a lifetime, but week after week. Yet on Saturday night the stadium staged a spectacle that ranks with the best of the best, from any competition, any era.
For the first visit of David Beckham, the crowd, the mood, and the match smashed through the ceiling of wildest expectations. Beckham set up three goals, Juan Pablo Angel and Carlos Pavon each scored two, Joe Cannon stopped 10 shots only to bobble in the winning goal, and Red Bull New York nosed past the Galaxy, 5-4.
Los Angeles led, 2-1, after eight minutes, Beckham having set up Pavon twice for headers after a low Angel free kick slipped under a jumping defensive wall and into the net off Cannon's hand. Red Bull keeper Ronald Wattereus denied Alan Gordon for his only save of the game, Pavon cleared a shot out of the six-yard box, Cannon saved from Angel and Jozy Altidore.
And still time remained for New York to equalize before halftime. Dane Richards zipped between Chris Klein and Beckham, and when his first cross bounced off Beckham's face, he clipped a ball that Clint Mathis, stationed outside the penalty area, rocketed into the net two minutes into stoppage time.
Altidore scored early in the second half and again in the 70th minute -- that's four goals in the past two games, if you're scoring at home -- but the two-goal lead lasted only long enough for Landon Donovan to skip clear from the kickoff to shoot home the seventh goal.
A Beckham corner produced the eighth: Kyle Veris headed against the crossbar and Edson Buddle banged home the rebound.
Mathis and Angel supplied the riveting climax.
Cannon parried a long left-footed shot, Angel chased down the rebound and shot from a nearly impossible angle, Cannon got both hands on it momentarily but as he sprawled across the goal line the ball squirted free into the net.
As a former MetroStars coach of Eastern European descent and many languages might have said, "Phee-nom-ee-nal!"
CHING CHESTS IN. Three times the Texas rivals have met this season and FC Dallas has yet to win. Houston forward Brian Ching redirected a driven Brian Mullan cross to beat DC Dallas, 1-0, at Robertson Stadium.
The Dynamo (11-7-4) regained first place with the victory. Ching's goal, his seventh of the season, came late in the first half and just a minute or so after an offside call nullified teammate Nate Jaqua's shot into the net. DeRosario released Mullan down the right wing and hit his cross so hard Ching merely had to let the ball carom off his body into the net.
He left the field immediately after being substituted in the 71st minute to join the U.S. team for its match against Sweden in Gothenberg Wednesday.
FC Dallas (11-7-3) lacked its usual cohesion in midfield but did breach the Houston back line with through balls, one of which sent Dominic Oduro into the clear. Eddie Robinson appeared to clip his foot just inside the box and down went Oduro, but referee Tim Weyland cautioned Oduro for diving.
K.C. CONUNDRUM.Seventeen days after beating the Wizards, 2-0, at Gillette Stadium, the Revs did it again at Arrowhead, 1-0, with a Taylor Twellman goal.
Twellman notched his 10th of the season from a superb feed by Khano Smith, who'd been released down the left wing by a sharp Shalrie Joseph pass.
Seldom did Kansas City (8-7-5) stitch together such effective passes; Revs keeper Matt Reis needed to make just one save, and despite the insertion of Scott Sealy, Sasha Victorine, and recently acquired Argentine Eloy Colombano, Kansas City managed just six shots as the Revs all but obliterated Eddie Johnson.
The Revs (11-5-6) upped their league-best road mark to 6-3-2 and nearly eradicated the stain of Thursday's sickly 3-0 loss in Colorado. Kansas City dropped to 5-4-2 at home (attendance: 9,035; coincidence?) and faces back-to-back games with Chicago, which ignited its playoff hopes with a vital away win fueled by Cuauhtemoc Blanco.
FIRESTARTER. He hammered home a spectacular goal two minutes before halftime and in the second half swerved over the corner kick that Paulo Wanchope headed into the net for the clinching goal of a 2-0 win at Real Salt Lake.
Yes, Blanco is making a difference. Chicago (6-8-5) is just three points out of a playoff berth and has two games in hand over Columbus, which occupies the eighth spot. The return of forward Chris Rolfe also livened up the Fire attack and the staunch defending of rookie Bakary Soumare, who blocked a pair of bang-bang goalmouth attempts with the, denied Real Salt Lake.
Another rookie, Robbie Findley, hit a shot that pinged between both posts for RSL before Blanco collected a pass from Ivan Guerrero and blazed an amazing shot from 20 yards into the top corner. Andy Williams tested Fire keeper Matt Pickens, whose sloppy handling and quirky decisions triggered a few alarm bells in his penalty area, with a 30-yarder Pickens tipped to safety.
Pickens recklessly raced along the goal line to challenge Jean-Martial Kipre, who pulled the ball back for recently signed Argentine Fabian Espindola to shoot not once, but twice. Soumare blocking both.
Wanchope escaped Eddie Pope and Ritchie Kotschau to head in the clincher from well inside the six-yard box and nail RSL (2-10-6) deeper into the cellar.
CREW CONCERNS. Opportunistic goals by Fred and Luciano Emilio demonstrated why D.C. United has not just the skills, but the ruthless instincts, to win tight games. This one, a 2-0 away win in Columbus, raised its record to 10-6-3.
Fred connected seven minutes into the second half after Christian Gomez had headed a corner kick off the crossbar and Stefan Miglioranzi blocked Gomez's follow-up shot.
Fred latched onto the rebound and sent a right-footed screamer into the top near corner.
For the second goal, Fred sombreroed an opponent near the sideline and pushed a diagonal ball Ezra Hendrickson seemed to be escorting back to keeper Will Hesmer. But when an unsuspecting Hendrickson touched it, Emilio plucked it off his foot and drilled it through Hesmer's wickets for his league-high 14th goal.
D.C. keeper Troy Perkins punched away a Guillermo Barros Schelotto free kick and thwarted Duncan Oughton in a frenzied scramble to push Columbus (6-7-8) below .500 for the first time in two months.
COLD CASE. Toronto FC is within five minutes of the league's scoreless streak after being beaten, 2-0, by Chivas USA at BMO Field. Maykel Galindo and Sacha Kljestan scored to tighten its grip on third place in the Western Conference and move four points clear of No. 8 seed Columbus.
TFC (5-11-5) is winless in seven games and hasn't scored in 552 minutes of play. The record, set by RSL in its 2005 expansion season, is 557, and the return of Danny Dichio, bothered for the last three games by back spasms, only marginally spiced up the Toronto attack.
Collin Samuel and Andrea Lombardo narrowly missed on headers for the home team before Jesse Marsch sliced a ball up the left channel that Galindo ran onto and fired low for his eighth goal, which prompted Toronto coach Mo Johnston to bring on two more of the walking wounded: Marvell Wynne, out since July 22 with a hamstring strain; and forward Jeff Cunningham, who'd played seven minutes the past six weeks because of a sports hernia.
Cunningham forced his way into the Chivas USA goalmouth to force a chance that Wynne drilled point-blank into keeper Brad Guzan. Chivas USA broke away again in the 88th minute when former FCD midfielder Ramon Nunez charged up the left side to roll a ball Kljestan buried.
The win sets up Chivas (9-6-3) nicely for a meeting with Mr. Beckham Thursday at HDC.
Aug. 18 in Toronto
Toronto FC 0 Chivas USA 2. Goals: Galindo (Marsch) 57, Kljestan (Nagamura, Nunez) 89.
Toronto FC - Stamatopoulos, Brennan, Marshall, Boyens, Braz, Dunivant (Cunningham, 70), Edu, Robinson, Welsh (Wynne, 63), Samuel, Lombardo (Dichio, 46).
Chivas USA - Guzan, Zotinca, Hernandez, Thomas, Perez (Mendoza, 46), Kljestan, Marsch, Vaughn, Bornstein, Galindo (Nagamura, 81), Razov (Nunez, 86).
Yellow Cards: Chivas USA - Hernandez 81, Guzan 92+.
Referee: Brian Hall.
Aug. 18 in Columbus
Columbus 0 D.C. United 2. Goals: Fred 52, Emilio 63.
Columbus - Hesmer, Hejduk, Miglioranzi (Garey, 76), Hendrickson, Pierce, Grabavoy, O'Rourke, Szetela (Oughton, 62), Schelotto, Virtuoso (Gaven, 60), Moreno.
D.C. United - Perkins, Namoff, McTavish, Vanney, Burch, Fred, Gomez (Carroll, 76), Simms, Gros (Mediate, 9), Moreno (Dyachenko, 86), Emilio.
Yellow Cards: Columbus - Miglioranzi 31, Hejduk 42; D.C. United - Carroll 81.
Referee: Richard Heron.
Aug. 18 in East Rutherford, N.J.
New York 5 Los Angeles 4.Goals: Angel 4, Mathis 47+, Altidore (Mathis) 49, Altidore (van den Bergh) 70, Angel 88; Pavon (Beckham) 6, Pavon (Beckham) 8, Donovan 71, Buddle 82.
New York - Waterreus, Freeman, Parke, Stammler, Leitch, Richards, Mathis (Mendes, 90), Vide, van den Bergh (Wolyniec, 84), Altidore (Magee, 92+), Angel.
Los Angeles - Cannon, Klein, Harden, Jazic (Glinton, 17; Buddle, 76), Randolph, Donovan, Beckham, Harmse, Martino, Pavon, Gordon (Veris, 60).
Yellow Cards: New York - Mathis 68, Vide 74; Los Angeles - Harden 4.
Referee: Kevin Stott.
Aug. 18 in Salt Lake City
Real Salt Lake 0 Chicago 2. Goals: Blanco (Guerrero) 43, Wanchope (Blanco) 78.
Real Salt Lake - Rimando, Kipre (Brown, 78), Kotschau, Pope, Wingert, Beckerman, Sturgis (Harris, 33), Talley, Williams, Findley, Eskandarian (Espindola, 58).
Chicago - Pickens, Robinson, Brown, Segares, Pause, Armas, Soumare, Guerrero, Rolfe (Mapp, 68), Blanco (Carr, 81), Wanchope (Barrett, 84).
Yellow Cards: Real Salt Lake - Sturgis 15, Beckerman 30, Talley 46, Alecko Eskandarian 55; Chicago - Soumare 45, Armas 59.
Referee: Andrew Chapin.
Aug. 19 in Houston
Houston 1 FC Dallas 0.Goal: Ching (Mullan, De Rosario) 42.
Houston - Onstad, Mulrooney, Ianni, Robinson, Barrett, Mullan, Clark, De Rosario, Jaqua, Ching (Ashe, 71), Ngwenya (Wondolowski, 56).
FC Dallas - Burse, Moor (Thompson, 74), Goodson, Rhine, Gbandi, McCarty, Pitchkolan, Ricchetti, Alvarez, Ricardinho (Oduro, 65), Ruiz.
Yellow Cards: Houston - Robinson 34, Jaqua 84; FC Dallas - Rhine 31, Oduro 77.
Referee: Tim Weyland.
Aug. 19 in Kansas City
Kansas City 0 New England 1. Goal: Twellman (Smith, Joseph) 72.
Kansas City - Hartman, Jewsbury (Sealy, 75), Conrad, Burciaga Jr. (Victorine, 60), Garcia, Harrington, Marinelli, Zavagnin, Arnaud, Johnson, Movsisyan (Colombano, 46).
New England - Reis, Heaps (Riley, 46), Parkhurst, John, Thompson, Dorman, Joseph, Larentowicz, Smith, Twellman, Cristman.
Yellow Cards: Kansas City - Conrad 78, Marinelli 90; New England - Smith 90.
Referee: Jair Marrufo.