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by Ridge Mahoney, August 11th, 2014 9:52PM

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TAGS:  mls

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[MLS: Week 22] Several teams jumped on their opponents early to post vital wins but so crowded is the top tier victorious teams couldn't move very far if at all.

A Sporting Kansas City loss didn’t knock it out of the top spot, but a second straight defeat dropped D.C. United in a very competitive top tier. 

MLS Week 22, Results:
Aug. 10 (Report)
Vancouver 2, Sporting KC 0
Seattle 2, Houston 0
Chicago 1, New York 0
Aug. 9
(Report)
Philadelphia 2, Montreal 1
FC Dallas 3, Colorado 1
Real Salt Lake 3, D.C. United 0
Portland 2, Chivas SA 0
Columbus 2, Toronto FC 3
Aug. 8
(Report)
LA Galaxy 2, San Jose 2

1. SPORTING KC (11-6-6), 1. An eight-game unbeaten streak and five-game run of road wins ended with a lackluster 2-0 loss at Vancouver. An own goal by Igor Juliao and a sloppy back pass from Matt Besler resulted in the goals yet sloppy passing and a general malaise left head coach Peter Vermes fuming. Homegrown keeper Jon Kempin marked his debut -- as a halftime sub for an injured Andy Gruenebaum -- by repelling a penalty kick. With the start of Concacaf Champions League play next week, things will get busy: a league match against Toronto on Saturday will be the first of 10 games in 41 days.

2. SEATTLE (13-6-2),  4. The Sounders opened up CenturyLink to its full capacity, and for a Sunday night game on national TV still 50,276 fans turned out to see a 2-0 defeat of the Dynamo on a turf field scuffed up by a private party. No, really. Head coach Sigi Schmid’s 200th victory featured a penalty-kick save by Stefan Frei and goals six minutes apart by Marco Pappa and Gonzalo Pineda, who connected on a PK awarded when Obafemi Martins was dragged down in the box. No coincidence that Chad Marshall’s return to the lineup produced a solid defensive showing.

3. LA GALAXY (9-4-7), 3. The Galaxy overpowered San Jose in every sense except the scoreboard and succumbed to pair of counterattacks in a 2-2 tie that revived a few questions about the team’s ability to transition quickly from attack to defense. Omar Gonzalez was schooled on the first goal and a wide-open opponent hit a thunderous shot that Jaime Penedo got a hand to but couldn’t keep out of the net. The Galaxy rallied to equalize twice on a Gyasi Zardes’ header and a Gonzalez header from a corner kick.

4. FC DALLAS (10-7-6), 5. Michel played a role in all three goals of a 3-1 defeat of Colorado that ran FCD’s unbeaten streak to eight games. Matt Hedges opened the scoring in the ninth minute from a scramble caused by a Michel cross, and two minutes later he put away a penalty kick to double the lead. The final goal resulted from a Michel cross that reached Fabian Castillo at the back post. Hedges also rescued his team with a goal-line clearance and seems completely comfortable as the replacement for George John, who has been sidelined by knee problems all season and underwent surgery last week.

5. REAL SALT LAKE (10-4-9), 6. Three wins in the last four games has restored some stability for RSL, which flew out of the blocks to score early and often against D.C. Joao Plata found a seam in the back line to head home a cross from Luke Mulholland  -- who won’t get any votes for Newcomer of the Year but whose stock escalates every week -- and then two serves from Javier Morales were turned into goals by centerback and Player of the Week Chris Schuler. Nick Rimando inevitably took over the all-time shutout record by notching No. 113.



6. D.C. UNITED (11-7-4), 2. Blitzed by three RSL goals in the first 24 minutes, United failed to rally and lost its second straight away game, 3-0. Its road record is a very creditable 4-5-1 though it still must play SKC, New York, Vancouver and the Galaxy away. The absence of midfielder Perry Kitchen (suspended) contributed to RSL’s midfield command yet it exploited poor marking on the first and third goals. Fabian Espindola returned in the 49th minute after sitting out nearly three months with a sprained MCL. His comment? “After this game, we've got to do everything better.”

7. TORONTO FC (9-7-5), 7. Prior to the start of the season, when asked about the talented DPs now at his disposal, head coach Ryan Nelsen reiterated that depth and determination are what often separate teams in MLS. His team showed both while outlasting the Crew, 3-2, in Columbus to win its second straight game. Luke Moore, pushed into the starting lineup to replace Jermain Defoe (injured), scored the winning goal in the 84th minute after earning assists, while Gilberto and Jonathan Osorio established brief one-goal leads. Are nearly eight years of postseason denial about to end?

8. VANCOUVER (7-4-11), 8. The ‘Caps are not renowned for rising up in crucial situations, but they answered the challenge Sunday to beat the defending champion, 2-0, albeit with an own goal and an abominable giveaway that Darren Mattocks turned into the clincher. Full marks go to the defense, led by centerback Johnny Leveron and keeper David Ousted, which neutralized a potent SKC attack for much of the game. Pedro Morales set up Mattocks with his team-high ninth assist of the season. He's worth a mention in discussing Newcomer of the Year.



9. PHILADELPHIA (6-8-9), 12. 
So why was interim head coach Jim Curtin “disappointed” with a 2-1 home win over Montreal? The former defender didn’t like the fact his team conceded a goal with a 2-0 lead and didn’t manage the game well. Sebastian Le Toux scored his ninth and 10th goals of the season to provide that lead and had to hobble off after being crunched by a brutal tackle in the final minutes. The Union is unbeaten in its last five games. Defender Carlos Valdes has returned just in time to negotiate a tough schedule: Open Cup semifinal at FC Dallas Tuesday; crucial league game at struggling Houston Friday; home-and-home series with TFC early next month. Welcome to the big chair, Coach Curtin!

10. NEW YORK (6-7-10), 10. A foul called on Ambroise Oyongo for what seemed to be a fair and successful attempt to win the ball yielded the PK by which the Red Bulls fell, 1-0, at Chicago. Top gun Bradley Wright-Phillips was twice thwarted in clear-cut situations and he fired another good opportunity wide of the target. Luis Robles saved a penalty kick but was helpless to stop the follow-up. BWP has been hot but oh, Tim Cahill, where is thy sting? (Just one league goal this year, scored on May 10.)

11. COLORADO (8-9-6), 9. The Rapids are rapidly losing ground in the playoff chase. For the fourth time in the last six games they conceded an early goal and in this case, quickly gave up another one to trail FCD, 2-0, after 11 minutes. Gabriel Torres converted a consolation penalty kick in the final minutes of a 3-1 loss that was Colorado’s third straight. The goal ended a 281-minute scoreless streak but did little to inspire confidence that the necessary turnaround will occur soon. After a game at D.C. United Saturday, it will close out the season with 10 matches with conference foes, against which it is 5-7-2.

12. PORTLAND (7-7-9), 13. A weekly golazo is becoming a staple contribution for Diego Valeri, whose fourth goal in as many games set Portland on its way against Chivas USA. Rodney Wallace got the second goal after Valeri played in a ball that Fanendo Adi held and then flicked for him to volley impressively. The back line looks stouter with the addition of English defender Liam Ridgewell and it will need to be as Portland tries to climb over Vancouver and Colorado into the playoff tier.

13. COLUMBUS (6-8-9), 11.  The Crew failed again to win a vital home game against a good team; though it quickly responded twice after falling behind a goal to TFC, it couldn’t do so a third time. Kudos for coming back on goals by Federico Higuain and Justin Meram but when Moore lights you up there are serious problems. And how about these facts: every team except Chivas USA has scored more goals at home (12) than the Crew, and its only home win since May 24 came against Montreal.

14. SAN JOSE (6-8-6), 14. Sucker-punching the opposition has been a Quakes' staple since MLS revived the team in 2008, and with a pair of sharp counterattacks they got goals from Chris Wondolowski and newcomer Matias Perez Garcia to tie the Galaxy, 2-2. A long ball by Shea Salinas sent Wondo free, and Wondo’s back heel set up the debutant to smash a shot off the hand of Penedo and into the net. The trade of Alan Gordon back to the Galaxy and Steven Lenhart’s injury struggles are harbingers of a post-Bash Brothers New Age, but are there the pieces in place to win differently? Clues will be provided by the visit of FC Dallas on Saturday.

15. CHICAGO (4-5-13), 15. It’s not hard to trace the cause of that preponderance of ties; Chicago isn’t winning at home. It did so for just the second time this year last weekend to down New York, 1-0, by the narrow margin of a saved penalty kick tapped back into the net by Mike Magee after his initial attempt had been saved. Quincy Amarikwa “drew” the PK with a theatrical tumble. A return to the starting lineup prompted a strong display by Bakary Soumare, who twice defused dangerous situations with crisp slide-tackles as the Fire earned its second shutout in the last three games.

16. CHIVAS USA (6-11-5), 16. Three days after his flicked header set up Wright-Phillips' All-Star tying goal against Bayern Munich, Erick "Cubo" Torres labored on the same Providence Park field in a 2-0 loss to the Timbers. He took two of his team’s nine shots and only Leandro Barrera managed to put one on frame. Torres also suffered five of the 23 fouls committed by Portland and hasn’t scored in the last three games. Neither has his team, which has lost four straight. Selling this team at good price won’t be easy no matter how glittery the potential.

17. HOUSTON (6-12-4), 17. The last-second miracle by which the Dynamo beat D.C. United the previous weekend couldn’t be recreated Sunday in Seattle, where the Sounders inflicted a 2-0 defeat that was Houston’s seventh loss in the last 10 games. Ricardo Clark gave away a penalty kick in a wrestling match with Obafemi Martins after a Marco Pappa shot glanced off a flat-footed David Horst and into the net. All this occurred after a Brad Davis penalty kick was saved. It’s all gone very wrong in Houston, which has recently added DaMarcus Beasley and Luis Garrido but still looks inadequate.

18. NEW ENGLAND (8-12-2), 18. No game for New England last weekend; the action resumes at home Saturday against Portland. Losers of nine of their last 10, the Revs could be bolstered by the return of Shalrie Joseph, who has sat out the last three months with a calf strain and related problems. Chris Tierney and Andy Dorman are also recovering from injuries but aren’t expected to face the Timbers.

19. MONTREAL (3-14-5), 19. Seven losses in a row stands the record after a 2-1 loss at Philadelphia. Maxim Tissot’s late goal was his second of the season and just the 22nd scored by the Impact, which ties the team for last with Chivas USA, the last-place team in the respective conference. That isn’t the company one wishes to keep. Lineup changes -- Eric Miller replaced Hassoun Camara (suspended) at right back, Gorka Larrea started at center mid for the first time since June 29, and Wandrille Lefevre got the starting nod in the middle after a two-month hiatus – produced some improved periods of play but not much else.



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