Desperation drives teams to critical victories

[MLS REWIND: Week 30] News flash: The Whitecaps, Crew and Quakes aren’t dead just yet.

Those teams needed wins Saturday to strengthen their faint playoff hopes, and win they did, resulting in tighter playoff races in both conferences. While the Galaxy and Sounders served up a barnburner at StubHub Center in the glamour game of the weekend that ended 1-1, teams on the bubble rose to the occasion.

Goals: 24/8 GP (3.00 avg.)
Video: Weekend Timeline

STAYING ALIVE. Vancouver and San Jose, which began the day tied for seventh place, stayed tied and moved up a place by knocking off two of the top teams.

Vancouver dented the Supporters’ Shield hopes of Canadian rival Montreal by thumping the Impact, 3-0, at BMO Field, and the Quakes did the same to Real Salt Lake in a 2-1 decision at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Kenny Miller’s penalty kick staked Vancouver to a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute and two late goals by his replacement, Camilo, sealed the victory. Defender Jay DeMerit, who came on as a sub in last week’s 0-0 tie with San Jose to end a six-month injury layoff, got his first start since the season opener and helped the ‘Caps post a second straight shutout.

Matt Watson’s shot came off the arm of Impact defender Hassoun Camara and Miller converted the spot kick for his eighth goal of the season. More than 80 minutes of scoreless play ensued but the game didn’t lack for action; each team hit the woodwork twice and referee Jorge Gonzalez reversed a decision that would have given Montreal a penalty kick for handling the ball.

Camilo replaced Miller in the 60th minute and took his goal tally for the season to 16, third-best in the league, by firing just inside the far post and then curling a spectacular goal into the top corner. The ‘Caps defensive effort blanked Marco Di Vaio, the league’s top goalscorer with 18, for the third time this season.

The road has been a horror show for last year’s Supporters Shield winners, but a pair of goals by Steven Lenhart earned the Quakes just their second away win of the season at a most inopportune time for RSL. All the goals were scored in a short spell midway through the first half, with Lenhart’s pair in the 18th and 21st minutes bracketing a strike by Javier Morales.

RSL controlled most of the play, finishing with a 17-8 edge in shots, a 13-7 superiority in corner kicks, and an astonishing 69.5 percent to 30.5 percent possession advantage. The loss denied RSL the chance to take over first place in the Western Conference, pending the Los Angeles-Seattle result.

The Sounders survived a furious late assault that went seven minutes into stoppage time to gain the point and retain top spot in the Western Conference. A Juninho free kick matched a sharp header by Eddie Johnson, but the Galaxy couldn’t manage a winning goal despite overrunning the Sounders before and after Zach Scott received a second caution in the 90th minute.

EASTERN PERSPECTIVE. By drilling the Fire, 3-0, Columbus kept pace just two points behind fifth-place New England, which downed D.C. United, 2-1, to retain its hold on fifth place and the bottom playoff spot. Columbus took a 1-0 lead with a Dominic Oduro goal in the 15th minute and struck twice within six minutes to exploit a red card shown to Bakary Soumare, who took down Jairo Arrieta just outside the box. In the 70th minute, Arrieta drew another foul, this one in the penalty area, and Federico Higuain put away the spot kick. Bernardo Anor rounded off the scoring six minutes later.

C.J. Sapong scored both goals for Sporting Kansas City in a 2-1 win at Toronto as SKC moved into a first-place tie with the Red Bulls, who play FC Dallas Sunday. SKC’s cause was aided by some lenient refereeing by Allen Chapman regarding defender Aurelien Collin; he escaped a second caution despite elbowing TFC winger Alvaro Rey and being called for a foul on the play, and wasn’t punished for knocking over striker Justin Braun in the final minutes with a clumsy challenge that completely missed the ball.

Houston unleashed its attack against Chivas USA, and Giles Barnes and Oscar Boniek Garcia each scored twice in a 5-1 rout. After twice being stoned by Chivas USA keeper Dan Kennedy, Barnes beat him with a header from a Brad Davis corner kick to opening the scoring.

After Chivas USA equalized five minutes into the second half with a goal by Eric Avila, who nodded in the rebound of a Carlos Alvarez shot off the post, the Dynamo broke open the game with a pair of killer through balls. Ricardo Clark sent Barnes clear to score, and Warren Creavalle did the same to set up Will Bruin.

Boniek Garcia made it 4-1 with his first goal of the year and tacked on a penalty kick in the final minute.

New England scored for United with an own goal in the 11th minute, then rallied with goals by Diego Fagundez and Lee Nguyen to win, 2-1, at Gillette Stadium. Nguyen notched the winner with a penalty kick, six minutes after D.C. keeper Bill Hamid had stopped him from the spot.

Steve Caldwell poked a Luis Silva cross into his own net to give D.C. a lead that Hamid briefly preserved by diving to his right to repel Nguyen’s first PK, which resulted from what appeared to be a clean Dejan Jakovic tackle on Nguyen. Yet the Revs struck a minute later when Saer Sene’s through ball released Fagundez, who appeared to be barely offside, to score his 11th goal of the season.

Fouled by Lewis Neal late in the match, Nguyen stepped up to the penalty spot again, and this time chipped down the middle to leave Hamid and United frustrated at a team record-tying 20th defeat of the season.

TIMBERS JUMP PAST RAPIDS. The tightly bunched teams in the Western Conference moved around again Friday night and now it’s Colorado that is trapped in a wild-card spot.

Diego Valeri’s early goal held up the rest of the way as Portland (11-5-13, 46 pts.) replaced Colorado (12-9-9, 45 pts.) in third place by beating the Rapids, 1-0, at Jeld-Wen Field. The vast majority of the 20,674 fans in attendance roared mightily as Valeri’s clever chip, set up by Rodney Wallace’s headed interception of a poor clearance, floated over Rapids keeper Clint Irwin and into the net.

Colorado forced its way back into the match and finished with a 13-9 edge in shots and 9-3 advantage in corner kicks but could only put one shot on goal, an Atiba Harris effort that was saved by Donovan Ricketts. Edson Buddle smashed a shot off the base of the post as a debated offside flag went up, and in the final minutes Dillon Powers fired a shot that was deflected narrowly wide.

Recently acquired midfielder Vicente Sanchez was a late scratch because of injury and in a rejiggered Rapids lineup Martin Rivero and Nick LaBrocca were deployed. LaBrocca brought some energy but Rivero wasn’t effective, and both were eventually substituted.

Colorado takes a bye from league play next week and by the time it hosts Seattle Oct. 5, it could be out of the playoff tier entirely. Portland hosts the Galaxy a week from Sunday in yet another episode of the wild, wild West.

Saturday, September 21
Montreal 0 Vancouver 3.
VAN: Kenny Miller (pen.) 7.
VAN: Camilo Sanvezzo (Young-Pyo Lee) 89.
VAN: Camilo Sanvezzo (Carlyle Mitchell) 91+.
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez.
Att.: 20,006.

Camilo Goal #2:

Saturday, September 21
Toronto FC 1 Sporting KC 2.
SKC: C.J. Sapong (Dominic Driver, Graham Zusi) 18.
TFC: Darel Russell (Alvaro Rey) 38.
SKC: C.J. Sapong (Chance Myers) 53.
Referee: Allen Chapman.
Att.: 12,627.
Saturday, September 21
Columbus 3 Chicago 0.
CLB: Dominic Oduro (Jairo Arrieta) 15.
CLB: Federico Higuain 70.
CLB: Bernardo Anor (Tony Tchani) 76.
Red Card: Chicago -- Bakary Soumare 28.
Referee: Juan Guzman.
Att.: 19,010.

Saturday, September 21
New England 2 D.C. United 1.
DCU: Own goal (Scott Caldwell) 11.
NE: Diego Fagundez (Saer Sene) 58.
NE: Lee Nguyen 83.
Referee: Carlos Rivera.
Att.: 19,187.

Saturday, September 21
Houston 5 Chivas USA 1.
HOU: Giles Barnes (Brad Davis) 39.
CHV: Eric Avila 50.
HOU: Giles Barnes (Ricardo Clark) 54.
HOU: Will Bruin 63.
HOU: Oscar Boniek Garcia (Will Bruin) 79.
HOU: Oscar Boniek Garcia 91+.
Referee: Elias Bazakos.
Att.: 20,157.

Saturday, September 21
Salt Lake 1 San Jose 2.
SJ: Steven Lenhart (Cordell Cato) 18.
RSL: Javier Morales (Kyle Beckerman) 19.
SJ: Steven Lenhart (Shea Salinas) 22.
Referee: Chris Penso.
Att.: 20,504.

Saturday, September 21
LA Galaxy 1 Seattle 1.
SEA: Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales) 25.
LA: Juninho 47+.
Red Card: Seattle -- Zach Scott 90.
Referee: Silviu Petrescu.
Att.: 27,000.


Friday, September 20
Portland 1 Colorado 0.
POR: Diego Valeri (Rodney Wallace) 13.
Referee: Hilario Grajeda.
Att.: 20,674.

Sunday, September 22
5 p.m ET
New York vs. FC Dallas, UniMas
Eastern Conference:

48 (29) New York 14-9-6 46/36
48 (29) Sporting KC 14-9-6 43/28
45 (28) Montreal 13-9-6 46/42
43 (29) Houston 12-10-7 37/36
40 (29) New England 11-11-7 41/33
39 (29) Chicago 11-12-6 36/43
39 (29) Philadelphia 10-10-9 37/39
38 (30) Columbus 11-14-5 36/39
23 (30) Toronto FC 4-15-11 25/44
15 (29) D.C. United 3-20-6 19/48

Western Conference:
50 (28) Seattle 15-8-5 38/28
48 (30) Real Salt Lake 14-10-6 53/39
46 (29) Portland 11-5-13 45/31
45 (29) LA Galaxy 13-10-6 46/36
45 (30) Colorado 12-9-9 37/31
41 (29) Vancouver 11-10-8 42/38
41 (30) San Jose 11-11-8 31/41
40 (28) FC Dallas 10-8-10 40/41
26 (30) Chivas USA 6-16-8 29/45
17 Marco Di Vaio (Montreal)
16+2 Camilo (Vancouver)
16 Mike Magee (Los Angeles/Chicago)
12 Robbie Keane (Los Angeles)
11+1 Diego Fagundez (New England)
11+1 Dominic Oduro (Columbus)
10+1 Federico Higuain (Columbus)
10 Claudio Bieler (Sporting KC)
10 Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake)
10 Blas Perez (FC Dallas)
10 Jack McInerney (Philadelphia)

Friday, September 27
8 p.m ET
Sporting KC vs. Philadelphia, NBCSN
Saturday, September 28
1 p.m ET
Toronto FC vs. D.C. United
7 p.m ET
Vancouver vs. Real Salt Lake
7:30 p.m. ET
New England vs. Houston
8:30 p.m. ET
Chicago vs. Montreal
 Sunday, September 29
3:30 p.m. ET
Portland vs. LA Galaxy, NBC
8:30 p.m. ET
FC Dallas vs. Columbus
9 p.m ET
Seattle vs. New York ESPN
11 p.m ET
Chivas USA vs. San Jose UniMa



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