[MLS REWIND: Week 34] While one Western Conference playoff spot is officially still up for grabs, only by a mathematical miracle can the Quakes get in. A 0-0
tie Sunday night at StubHub Center clinched a playoff spot for the Los Angeles Galaxy (15-11-7, 52 points) as well as the Seattle Sounders (15-12-6, 51 pts.), leaving fifth place Colorado (14-10-9, 51
pts.) three points ahead of the Quakes (13-11-9, 48 pts.) and virtually uncatchable because of the second tiebreaker, goals scored. ... Tim Cahill scored the
fastest goal in MLS history -- seven seconds -- and the New York Red Bulls went on to win, 3-0, at Houston and retake the lead for the Supporters' Shield. The Red Bulls can win their first trophy in
18 years in MLS with a win Sunday against Chicago at home in their regular-season finale.
By beating FC Dallas at home next weekend, the Quakes could tie Colorado in points and wins, the first tiebreaker, if the Rapids lose at Vancouver. But since the Rapids hold a 12-goal edge in the second tiebreaker, having scored 45 goals to San Jose’s 33, the Quakes remarkable surge (10-5-3) under interim Coach Mark Watson is destined to fall just short.
Despite the Quakes’ much more desperate mindset, the teams tied in shots, 13-13, and the Galaxy won the possession battle, 56-44 percent. Yet the Quakes generated more corner kicks, 7-4, and got some good looks at goal.
Galaxy keeper Jose Penedo denied Steven Lenhart and Chris Wondolowski flying deflections of their headers, Wondolowski’s sliding effort to touch home a ball lofted into the six-yard box just missed, and referee Baldomero Toledo ruled a hard shoulder challenge by Sean Franklin that knocked down Shea Salinas in the penalty area to be legal.
The Galaxy closes out the regular season at Seattle next Sunday. A tie would leave Seattle with a fourth-place finish and a wild-card slot. The Quakes will finish with a winning record no matter what, a commendable accomplishment given their 3-6-6 record after 15 games, but a playoff miss would be their fourth in the last six seasons.
DYNAMO IN DIRE STRAITS. Since it left San Jose for Houston after the 2005 season, the Houston Dynamo has won two MLS Cups and reached the playoffs each year. But that streak is in jeopardy following a stunning 3-0 triumph by the Red Bulls at BBVA Compass Stadium. Tim Cahill, Ibrahim Sekagya and Bradley Wright-Phillips scored as New York (16-9-8, 56 pts.) took over the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race and kept Houston (13-11-9, 48 pts.) in sixth place with one game to play.
A crowd of 22,345 gathered to honor veteran forward Brian Ching, who has announced his retirement at the end of the season and received a huge ovation when he came through the tunnel into view in the 22nd minute. (Ching wears No. 22 for the Dynamo.)
Yet by then the home team was down, 1-0, victimized by Cahill’s goal seven seconds after the opening kickoff, the fastest goal in MLS history. Dax McCarty received the ball in his own half and lofted a long ball Cahill headed into space, then lashed into the top corner with the outside of his right foot.
Houston dominated the stats, outshooting the Red Bulls, 20-5, but never got on the board. More than an hour after scoring, Cahill came off and his replacement, Wright-Phillips, tacked on a third goal 10 minutes after Sekagya had punished the Dynamo defense for not clearing a corner and heading home in the 65th minute.
The result kept five teams in the hunt for three Eastern Conference playoff spots behind New York and Sporting Kansas City: Montreal (49 points), Chicago (49), New England (48), Houston (48), and Philadelphia (46).
Since none of the five contenders play each other on the final weekend, the race is still wide-open. Only Montreal and Philly play on Saturday, thus the five slots won’t be decided until the regular season concludes Sunday, though an Impact win at Montreal does clinch a spot and Philly must win its home finale against SKC to have any chance.
On another night of dramatic swings, only two teams, Portland and Real Salt Lake, who played to a 0-0 tie, clinched playoff berths, leaving nine teams in contention for the six remaining spots.
The Timbers and Real Salt Lake ended up playing to a 0-0 tie thanks in large part to the work of Nick Rimando in the RSL goal. The result sent Portland to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons in MLS, while RSL will return to the postseason for the sixth year in a row under Coach Jason Kreis.
New England and Colorado bolstered their playoff hopes with dramatic 3-2 wins over Columbus and Vancouver, respectively, that eliminated both losers, while Mike Magee's cheeky Panenka was the difference as Chicago stayed in the playoff zone with a 1-0 win over Toronto FC.
The Revs twice blew leads before prevailing over the Crew on Diego Fagundez's team-high 13th goal of the season.
In Colorado, the Rapids came back from 1-0 but then blew a 2-1 lead before Panamanian Gabriel Torres scored his second goal of the game for a 3-2 win over the 'Caps that moved them into a three-way tie for third place in the Western Conference, just two points out of first place.
SOUNDERS SLIP UP AGAIN. In recent months, Seattle had a slew of games in hand that made it the favorite for the Supporters' Shield, but FC Dallas' 2-0 win over the Sounders Saturday extended their losing streak to four games and extinguished their regular-season title hopes. Montreal, on the other hand, ended its slide with a 2-1 comeback win over Philadelphia.
Brazilian set up Matt Hedges for the first goal and scored the second in Schellas Hyndman’s final home game as Dallas head coach.
Montreal, on the other hand, ended its slide with a 2-1 comeback win over Philadelphia Saturday afternoon. Goals from Marco Di Vaio and homegrown player Karl Ouimette gave the Impact its first win in seven games.
Di Vaio, who announced earlier in the week he'd return in 2014, took over the scoring lead with his 20th goal of the season until Mike Magee matched him with a Panenka from the penalty spot in Chicago's game against Toronto FC still in progress.
Dom Dwyer, who helped Orlando City win the USL PRO title earlier in the year, scored in the seventh minute and the goal held up for a 1-0 win over D.C. United that moved Sporting Kansas City temporarily back into the lead for the Supporters' Shield.
Perry Kitchen coughed up the ball outside the D.C. area, allowing Dwyer to score the easiest of goals. D.C. United finished its road campaign without a win.
MLS WEEK 34, Results:
Sunday, October 20
Los Angeles 0, San Jose 0.
Referee: Baldomero Toledo.