[MLS]Based solely on their form during the weekend, U.S. coach Bob Bradley would have trouble keeping most of the MLS players he picked for the Estadio Azteca qualifier against Mexico Wednesday off the field. All but one came out on the winning end of vital contests.
LANDON DONOVAN (Los Angeles). The striker struck a sensational left-footed volley that set the Galaxy en route to winning their fifth game in the last six, a 2-1 victory at New England. When a headed clearance drifted to him just outside the penalty area, he lashed a shot that just cleared defender Emmanuel Osei and soared into the top corner for his ninth goal of the season. The victory lifted the Galaxy into second place in the Western Conference.
CONOR CASEY (Colorado). The big forward has yet to score for the USA in 14 appearances and Coach Bob Bradley's inclusion of Casey alarmed fans who frequent certain Web sites. All Casey did in the aftermath was fire three goals, his third career MLS hat trick, into the Chivas USA net in a 4-0 rout that edged the Rapids into third place. The triplet increased his season total to 11 and shunted aside Guillermo Barros Schelotto as the league's top goalscorer. Casey was replaced for the final 19 minutes by Pat Noonan and being based in Denver, will at least be acclimated to the altitude of Azteca. Casey scored with a lobbed volley from 18 yards, a tap-in from 6 yards, and from the penalty spot. [VIDEO]
RICARDO CLARK, STUART HOLDEN & BRIAN CHING (Houston). The Dynamo squandered a 2-0 lead by conceding two goals in three minutes Sunday to the Fire, but pulled out a 3-2 victory when Holden converted a penalty kick in the 83rd minute. The other two callups, forward Ching and midfielder Clark, teamed up for a spectacular goal in the 38th minute when Ching dropped into midfield and chipped a ball that Clark raced through the middle to lob over keeper Jon Busch.
Only Ching received a bit of rest, coming off in the 89 th minute, so the question will be how much he and Holden and Clark can contribute in heat, altitude and smog on just two days' rest. Yet Holden, who celebrated a birthday last weekend that followed appearances in the Gold Cup final and MLS All-Star Game said, "It's going to be fun. I'm 24 years old, so if anyone can do it, I can do it."
CHAD MARSHALL (Columbus). The central defender, who has yet to see action in World Cup qualifying, helped Columbus blank San Jose, 3-0. The Quakes managed only three shots on goal. The Crew scored three second-half goals at Candlestick Park in San Francisco prior to the Barcelona-Guadalajara friendly.
JONATHAN BORNSTEIN (Chivas USA). Not so good. The defender and his mates suffered a 4-0 rout at the hands of Colorado as Chivas extended its losing streak to five games.