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The Quakes clinch; only one playoff spot up for grabs
by Ridge Mahoney, October 11th, 2010 7AM

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[MLS] Only one more playoff spot is yet to be claimed after Seattle and San Jose clinched by winning on the road. Los Angeles beat Philadelphia to widen its lead atop the overall standings, and the Crew lost in Chicago to fall further behind New York in the Eastern Conference race.

NEARLY DONE. Only by winning its last three matches can Kansas City (33 points) catch Colorado (42 points), which occupies the eighth and final playoff spot. The Rapids need only a point to reach the postseason thanks to a 2-2 tie in Dallas in which Jeff Larentowicz tallied both goals.

The Wizards stumbled at home, again, in losing to the Sounders, 2-1, to drop their home record to 6-5-3. They tied and beat the Rapids during the regular season, and thus would win the first tiebreaker (head-to-head results) if a nearly impossible tie in the standings was to occur.

The signing of attacker Omar Bravo as a Designated Player for 2011 will bolster Kansas City’s attack, yet Coach Peter Vermes can’t explain away his team’s home defensive record on the quirky confines of CommunityAmerica Ballpark. The Wizards have conceded 18 goals at home, tied for second-worst in MLS, and after a draining 4-3 victory against Houston Sept. 22 have lost their three games, including a 3-1 decision to Dallas and last weekend’s loss to Seattle, both at home.

OUT OF SIGHT. In two games matching eliminated teams, New England added to Houston’s misery by beating the Dynamo, 2-1, at Robertson Stadium, and the Teams That Jettisoned Preki Cup went to Chivas USA, 3-0, over Toronto FC.

The Revs hadn’t won this season in 11 road games (0-9-2) since April 3, yet maintained their excellent record in Houston, where they are unbeaten (4-0-1) in the last five games.

Jorge Flores scored his first goal of the season six minutes into the second half and late goals by Jesus Padilla and Rodolfo Espinoza ensured that Chivas USA would remain perfect (4-0) all-time against TFC at Home Depot Center.

WONDO FACTOR. By scoring both goals in San Jose’s 2-0 defeat of D.C. United, Chris Wondolowski upped his season’s take to 14, one more than Red Bull forward Juan Pablo Angel. The juxtaposition is appropriate, since this season Wondolowski has displayed a finishing stroke equal to that of the Colombian, who is one of MLS’s best at hitting the frame with either foot and his head.

Both goals against United were hit first-time and while both also resulted from some typically inept D.C. defending, capitalizing on chances regardless of their origin is something Wondolowski and the Quakes have done all season. They could also be dangerous in the playoffs, for which they qualified by posting their sixth road win of the season at RFK.

THANKS FOR NOT LEAVING. He was supposed to join the Gambian national team for international duty last week, but when he couldn’t obtain the proper documentation for travel to Belgium, Sounders midfielder Sanna Nyassi delivered for his club team.

After netting both of Seattle’s goals in the Open Cup triumph, Nyassi scored the first goal of Seattle’s 2-1 victory at Kansas City that clinched a spot for the Sounders and edged Kansas City to the brink of elimination. He’d scored his first league goal Oct. 2 in a 3-2 defeat of Seattle at BMO Field.

“I think Sanna’s just on fire now,” said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid to the team’s Web site of four goals in the last three games. “It took him forever to score one and now he can’t stop scoring.”

CREW NEEDS A REST.
A punishing stretch of games – 11 games in 38 days stretching back to Sept. 1 – ended Friday with a 2-0 loss in Chicago. During that stretch the Crew lost the Eastern Conference lead to New York and also the Open Cup final to Seattle, 2-1.

It took some bad losses while compiling a 4-5-2 record in all competitions, including a 4-0 home thumping at the hands of Seattle and a 3-1 defeat by the Galaxy at Home Depot Center. Two of the victories came against D.C. United (one was the Open Cup semifinal). It played four games, in four different cities, in 10 days. For one game it dressed just 14 players.

It has two more regular-season games to right the ship – at Toronto next weekend and at home against Philadelphia Oct. 23 – as well as a road game at Joe Public of Trinidad & Tobago in the Concacaf Champions’ League.

Midfielder Robbie Rogers returned to action Oct. 2 in a 0-0 tie with San Jose. He needed surgery to remove a cyst in his left knee and hadn’t played since July 31. With rest and a refreshed Rogers, the Crew may be able to hit the playoffs stronger than it did last year, when eventual champion RSL stunned the 2008 champ in the conference semifinals, 4-2, on aggregate.



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