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Bombers and bashers
by Paul Kennedy, August 26th, 2013 1:14AM
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[MLS: Starting XI] Week 26 saw the best and worst of MLS with some great goals from distance -- including Landon Donovan's 131st career goal and two from New England's Kelyn Rowe -- but some ugly incidents as the playoff races heated up. Here's who we'll be talking about and hope to hear from on Monday ...

11. ERICK TORRES. The 20-year-old forward, whose two goals powered Chivas USA to a 3-2 win over the New York Red Bulls, was once considered the heir apparent to Javier Hernandez at Chivas de Guadalajara, debuting at the age of 17 and scoring in the SuperClasico against Club America at the age of 18. Now, he's the centerpiece of the Chivas USA rebranding, a young Mexican player looking to prove himself.

10. MIKE MATKOVICH. With head coach Frank Klopas and Leo Percovich both suspended and watching the game from the stands, Matkovich, the former U.S. U-18 coach, was in charge of the Chicago Fire, which earned a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City that tightened the Eastern Conference race, leaving just five points behind Sporting KC in second place and the Fire in seventh.

9. KELLYN ACOSTA. The FC Dallas academy has been one of the most progressive U.S. program promoting players to its first team, but none has until now stuck. Highly rated Ruben Luna and Bryan Leyva were both cut before graduating to senior contracts. On the other hand, Acosta, who just graduated from high school in June, has quickly established himself at the age of 18 as another U.S. prospect at right back. He earned Man-of-the-Match honors in the 2-2 tie San Jose.

8. KYLE BECKERMAN. In a dominating team performance -- 65 percent of possession and 556 total passes -- Beckerman stood out with two goals that helped Real Salt Lake to a 4-0 win over Columbus and a new club record with 48 goals (already) this season.

7. KENNY COOPER. Just two minutes after entering the game, the FD Dallas forward exploded and earned the first red card of his career when he retaliated after being fouled by Quakes defender Victor Bernardez. Cooper and Muma tangled earlier in the season, resulting in a Cooper concussion and two-game suspension imposed by the MLS Disciplinary Committee on the Honduran international.

6. PA MODOU KAH. The well-traveled Kah, who was born in Gambia, grew up in Norway and played most of his career in the Netherlands and Middle East, has quickly made his presence felt in MLS with his smile, but most of all his overly physical play. He was lucky not to escape with a red card twice -- once for taking out Eddie Johnson and later kneeing him in the back of the head -- in Sunday's heated Seattle-Portland match. On the first incident, all he got was a yellow card. But Seattle got the win when it buried Johnson buried the resulting free kick from Mauro Rosales.

5. MARCO DI VAIO. As the Italian goes, so goes the Montreal Impact. He moved back into the lead in the race for the  MLS scoring title and propelled the Impact back to the top in the Eastern Conference with two goals in the 5-0 win over Houston.

4. KELYN ROWE. Goals from distance were the order of the week, and Rowe matched Saturday golazos from Landon Donovan and Dwayne De Rosario with two of his own in the Revs' 5-1 demolition of Philadelphia.

3. LANDON DONOVAN. The first time the LA Galaxy traveled to Vancouver, Donovan had one of the worst games of the year, justifying his exclusion from the U.S. national team for the June qualifiers, but he won the game against the Whitecaps Saturday with an early bomb, his 131st career goal, leaving him just three shy of Jeff Cunningham's MLS record.

2. JAIME PENEDO. After saving Saturday's victory at Vancouver with a sprawling save late in the game, the Panamanian said he was just one of four Galaxy goalkeepers working hard and he was there to work hard and learn. But he's clearly won the No. 1 job and put Bruce Arena at ease after a nerve-wracking first five months of the season.

1. EDDIE JOHNSON. Many of the 67,385 fans came to see Clint Dempsey, but the Seattle hero in the 1-0 win over Portland was Johnson with his fourth goal in five games against the Timbers.


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