[MLS WEEKEND WRAPUP]
Only one of the teams fighting for the eighth and final playoff slot was able to win, and the Galaxy's 2-1 defeat of Columbus seriously mars the Crew's chances. D.C.
United and New England both won to clinch the top two spots, in either order, atop the Eastern Conference, and Houston's 3-0 pasting of Dallas at Pizza Hut Park lifted it into a tie with Chivas
USA atop the West. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney provides his take on the weekend's MLS action ... COLLAPSE IN COLUMBUS. David Beckham
may be at the center of the MLS
universe in many ways, but his Galaxy teammates are filling the black hole of his absence by glowing brighter every week.
Los Angeles (7-13-6) joined the pack of teams chasing the eighth
and final playoff spot by winning in Columbus Crew Stadium for the first time, 2-1. Troy Roberts
and Kyle Martino
scored to wipe out a 1-0 deficit inflicted by ex-Galaxy forward
and is the only one of those teams with four games left to play.
All the others have three, including Columbus (7-10-10), which hasn't beaten anybody except
cellar-dweller Toronto since early July. The Galaxy trails eighth-place Chicago by six points, and the teams play at Toyota Park on the last day of the season.
Crew management told
fans to wear black to "Black Out the Galaxy" and the many of them had yet to take their seats when their team scored in the second minute. Duncan Oughton
played the ball wide to Andy
, whose cross Moreno headed powerfully into the net.
But the Crew couldn't hold the ball, much less the lead, and less than 15 minutes later was behind. A bizarre scramble
triggered by a Landon Donovan
free kick concluded with Roberts jabbing the ball just over the goal line, and three minutes later one of the worst passes of Frankie Hejduk
went to Martino, who teed up a low shot that skimmed past keeper Will Hesmer
. Ned Grabavoy
nearly equalized before halftime with a free kick he snuck under the defensive
wall, but it slid just wide of the near post. The Crew took a lot of shots in the second half but came no closer than a Cobi Jones
clearance out of the goal area and a pulverizing Kei
header that shook the crossbar. The mood at the final whistle matched the color of clothing chosen by management. PHP POWDERKEG.
A fierce, volatile match between
state rivals Houston and FC Dallas ended with both teams down to 10 men but the Dynamo in control on the scoreboard, 3-0. Dwayne DeRosario
glided onto a loose ball to score in
first-half stoppage time and Eddie Robinson
and Stuart Holden
connected in the second half to extend FCD's winless streak to four games. Dallas (12-11-4) has won only two of its
last eight league matches. Houston (14-7-6) won its third straight and maintained a strike rate of at least three goals per game during that streak. Ryan Cochrane
headed a free kick over the crossbar in a first half that Houston controlled but needed a few extra seconds of which to score. DeRosario's dribble had been briefly halted by a Pablo Richetti
tackle, but DeRo followed up as the ball bounced past two defenders and drilled a low shot that beat keeper Dario Sala
to the near post.
Robinson headed the second goal from
a Richard Mulrooney
corner kick that Nate Jaqua
appeared to flick on, and Holden ran onto a Brian Ching
through ball to salt away the win. Ricardo Clark
, who both had been cautioned earlier in the match, were sent off in the 89th minute in the aftermath of a goalmouth collision. Clark viciously kicked Ruiz in the shoulder as he
lay on the ground and Ruiz kneed Clark in the ensuing melee.
Irate FC Dallas fans, already incensed by a pair of Robinson shoulder challenges that knocked Ruiz to the ground in the
penalty area, pelted the field with objects as Clark left the field. D.C. DEMOLITION.
One week after baseball officially left RFK Stadium forever, United drilled Toronto FC,
4-1, after falling behind early.
The league's leading goalscorers for the season and all eternity tallied, left back Marc Burch
netted his first professional goal, and midfielder
scored for United (16-6-5). TFC (5-15-6) midfielder Carl Robinson
bagged the game's first goal in the 14th minute, giving his formerly impotent team a two-game scoring streak,
before United stampeded the visitor with a second-half outburst.
Burch ran onto a feed from Fred to hit a searing 20-yarder in the 52nd minute. Five minutes later Fred showed the
youngster the value of finesse with curling right-footer from 25 yards that just cleared the dive of keeper Kenny Stamatopoulos
. Then Jaime Moreno
ran onto a ball from Clyde
to nutmeg the Canadian keeper and up his all-time mark to 112 goals, and four minutes later Luciano Emilio
scored his league-best 20th of the season with a classy, mid-air
volley of a Christian Gomez
free kick that rebounded off the crossbar. Spectacular!
The baseball Nationals, who will move into their new stadium next spring, filled their last
home date Sept. 23, and United's win gives it a 2-0 record (counting Wednesday's SuperLiga win) as primary tenant. RFK is also the venue for MLS Cup 2007. ALIAS SMITH AND
The Rapids, needing a win but desperate for at least a point, suffered another body blow to their playoff hopes when New England's Khano Smith
scored a late goal to beat them,
1-0 at Gillette Stadium.
Smith latched onto a killer pass from Shalrie Joseph
to score in the 88th minute for a victory that keeps New England (14-6-7) four points back of
conference leader D.C. United and clinches home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Colorado (7-12-8) has lost three and tied two in its last five games. It trails
eighth-place Chicago by four points and also trails ninth-place Columbus. It's in big trouble.
The Rapids attack was deprived of Herculez Gomez
Wednesday when he suffered a
serious right-knee injury in a training session. Mehdi Ballouchy
started the game on the bench yet came on when Tony Sanneh
limped off injured in the 13th minute. Jacob
squandered a good chance in the 28th minute when he let the ball get tangled up in his legs and eventually laid a ball back that Jovan Kirovski
shot wide. Colin Clark
tested the Revs' defense several times by racing up the left wing but his only shot on goal went right to Reis, and Omar Cummings
directed a header on frame that Andy Dorman
Joseph nearly scored himself with a pair of headers: one went straight to keeper Bouna Coundoul
and five minutes later another forced a goal-line clearance by defender
. But no one could stop his lofted ball from midfield that cleared Ugo Ihemelu
for Smith to control and poke under Coundoul. STILL WAITING.
deuces may win on the crap tables in Atlantic City but it's not paying off at The Meadowlands.
Red Bull New York is still waiting to clinch a playoff berth after its third straight 2-2 tie.
It had to rally twice at home against Real Salt Lake to garner that result with a goal by Francis Doe
four minutes into the second half and a late penalty kick from Juan Pablo Angel
his team-record 17th of the season. RBNY outshot RSL, 20-8, and keeper Ronald Wattereus made but one save, but it didn't win and has lost all chance of gaining second place and home-field
advantage in the playoffs.
The tie officially snuffed out the faint playoff hopes of RSL (5-13-9), which scored with a Chris Brown
header and a first-time Kyle Beckerman
shot. Brown was so unmarked at the edge of the goal area he didn't jump to head in Chris Wingert
's cross, and Beckerman snuck forward from midfield to put away a pass from Fabian
after Alecko Eskandarian
's dribble had carved open the right side of New York's defense.
Keeper Nick Rimando
rescued his team several times; he robbed Angel
by bravely blocking a fiercely hit point-blank blast and also thwarted Dave van den Bergh
from close range. REVERSE RALLY.
The team so many teams are chasing, Chicago,
blew a lead for the third straight game.
Mexican rivals Cuauhtemoc Blanco
and Claudio Suarez
scored from dead balls in a 1-1 tie at Home Depot Center. Blanco nailed a
free kick from 30 yards out for a 1-0 Fire lead but Suarez put away a penalty with eight minutes left to preserve Chivas USA's home unbeaten mark (10-0-3).
Blanco scored a minute or so
after an offside call, probably incorrectly, annulled a Galindo breakthrough. Jesse Marsch
fiercely protested the ruling on his tackle that gave Chicago (10-8-9) a free kick. Blanco drilled
it into the net and the match boiled over into melees and scuffles that produced four cautions in 12 minutes, including one for Marsch.
Galindo earned the penalty kick when he dribbled
inside C.J. Brown
, whose arm-over-the-shoulder takedown left no margin for debate. Fire keeper Matt Pickens
guessed correctly but couldn't reach the ball Suarez boomed high into
Chivas USA (14-6-6) keeper Brad Guzan
turned a Diego Gutierrez
shot over the crossbar during a final Fire siege. In stoppage time Blanco buzzed into the penalty
area past Alex Zotinca
, who lunged into a tackle and got enough player and ball to send Blanco to the turf and the ball out for a corner.
So heatedly did Fire coach Juan
protest that referee Tim Weyland
gave him the rest of the night off, and next week's home game against the Revs as well. After rallying to tie New York, Chicago has
squandered leads to FC Dallas, D.C. United, and Chivas USA to finish up 1-1.
The league's best team at home plays at Real Salt Lake next week and then has a date in Dallas before
finishing the season at HDC. MLS STANDINGS EASTERN CONFERENCE:
1. D.C. United* 53 points; 2. New England* 49; 3. New York* 39; 4. Kansas City* 36; 5. Chicago* 33; 6.
Columbus 31; Toronto FC 21. WESTERN CONFERENCE:
1. Houston* 48 points; 2. Chivas USA* 48; 3. FC Dallas* 40; 4. Colorado 29; 5. Los Angeles 27; 6. Real Salt Lake 24.
teams, based on total points, make the playoffs. RSL and Toronto are eliminated.
Houston holds the tiebreaker edge over Chivas USA, head-to-head results (2-0-0).
Sept. 29 in Washington D.C.
D.C. United 4 Toronto FC 1. Goals: Burch (Fred) 52, Fred (Gomez) 57, Moreno (Simms, Olsen) 66, Emilio 70; Robinson 14.
United - Perkins, McTavish, Boswell, Vanney, Burch, Fred, Gomez (Carroll, 71), Simms, Gros (Olsen, 46), Emilio, Kpene (Moreno, 46).
Toronto FC - Stamatopoulos, Boyens, Brennan,
Marshall, Braz (Cunningham. 62), Dunivant, Edu, Wynne, Pozniak (Canizalez, 81), Robinson, Samuel (Lombardo, 75).
Yellow Cards: D.C. United - Boswell 25, McTavish 40, Olsen 84; Toronto FC -
Marshall 11, Braz 45.
Referee: Ramon Hernandez.
Sept. 29 in Foxboro, Mass.
New England 1 Colorado 0. Goal: Smith (Joseph) 88.
New England -
Reis, Heaps, Parkhurst, Riley, Ralston, Dorman (Thompson, 75), Joseph, Larentowicz, Smith, Cristman, Noonan.
Colorado - Coundoul, Ihemelu, Erpen, Petke, Prideaux, Cooke, Mastroeni,
Sanneh (Ballouchy, 13), Clark (Cummings, 62), Kirovski, Peterson (Hernandez, 90).
Yellow Cards: New England - Heaps 10, Dorman 69; Colorado - Kirovski 58, Ballouchy 67.
Sept. 29 in East Rutherford, N.J.
New York 2 Real Salt Lake 2. Goals: Doe 49, Angel pen. 80; Brown (Wingert, Williams) 22, Beckerman
(Espindola, Eskandarian) 75.
New York - Waterreus, Leitch, Parke, Stammler, van den Bergh, Richards, Reyna (Mendes, 58), Vide (Mathis, 46), Kovalenko, Doe (Altidore, 64), Angel.
Real Salt Lake - Rimando, Pope, Forko, Mantilla, Wingert, Talley, Williams (Harris, 74), Beckerman, Movsisyan (Findley, 81), Brown (Espindola, 61), Eskandarian.
Yellow Cards: New York
- Stammler 70, Angel 84; Real Salt Lake - Talley 54, Espindola 94+.
Referee: Alex Prus.
Sept. 29 in Carson, Calif.
Chivas USA 1 Chicago 1. Goals:
Suarez pen. 82; Blanco 24.
Chivas USA - Guzan, Vaughn (Zotinca, 78), Suarez, Thomas, Bornstein, Kljestan, Marsch, Nagamura (Merlin, 68), Mendoza, Galindo, Razov.
Pickens, Pause, Brown, Conde, Segares, Rolfe, Armas, Blanco, Gutierrez, Wanchope (Robinson, 79), Barrett (Franks, 63).
Yellow Cards: Chivas USA - Marsch 24, Nagamura 32, Galindo 54;
Chicago - Armas 28, Conde 36, Blanco 85.
Referee: Tim Weyland.
Sept. 30 in Frisco, Texas
FC Dallas 0 Houston 3. Goals: De Rosario 46+, Robinson
(Mulrooney) 62, Holden (Ching) 84.
FC Dallas - Sala, Moor, Goodson, Serioux, Wagner, McCarty, Alvarez (Thompson, 85), Ricchetti (Oduro, 64), Toja, Denilson (Ricardinho, 64), Ruiz.
Houston - Onstad, Cochrane, Robinson, Barrett, Mulrooney, Ashe (Holden, 68), Clark, De Rosario, Jaqua, Ngwenya (Waibel, 85), Ching (Wondolowski, 87).
Yellow Cards: FC Dallas -
Ruiz 17; Houston - Ashe 5, Clark 81, Robinson 87.
Red Cards: FC Dallas - Ruiz 89; Houston - Clark 89.
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez.
Sept. 30 in Columbus
Columbus 1 Los Angeles 2. Goals: Moreno (Herron, Oughton) 2; Roberts 13, Martino 16.
Columbus - Hesmer, Hejduk, Gonzalez, Hendrickson, Grabavoy (Miglioranzi, 64), O'Rourke,
Oughton, Gaven, Herron (Thomas, 55), Garey (Kamara, 78), Moreno.
Los Angeles - Cannon, Klein, Harden, Roberts, Randolph, Jones (Jazic, 88), Tudela, Vagenas, Martino (Harmse, 71),
Donovan, Gordon (Glinton, 19).
Yellow Cards: Los Angeles - Tudela 14, Martino 67.
Referee: Kevin Stott.