Monday, October 17, 2011

MLS Recap Week 31

Week 31 of MLS action was one to remember. Playoff positions were decided, old coaching friends squared off and Seattle set a record in attendance that likely wont be broken for years to come. Pedro Gomes has your recaps. Follow him on twitter @MLSSuperSub

Portland Timbers 0, Houston Dynamo 2

Portland hosted the Houston Dynamo in front of 20,323 fans at JELD-WEN Field in a crucial battle for post season life. Both teams played with a high level of energy and there were plenty of physical challenges flying all around the pitch. The Houston Dynamo were the first to jump on the scoreboard from yet another set-piece beauty delivered from the left foot of Brad Davis to the head of Andre Hainault in the 36'.
Portland continued to battle and play continued to be physical with a quintessential example in the 48' when Houston's Danny Cruz gave Portland's Mike Chabala a very tough challenge to the head that left Chabala motionless on the floor for a minute or two. Chabala was alright and play resumed. Danny Cruz gave another tough blow to Portland in the 59', but this time it was from his left foot. Cruz sent an absolute screamer into the far post upper 90 from nearly 30 yards out that gave Troy Perkins no chance to stop putting Houston ahead 2-0. Portland had a couple of decent chances to pull some back to include a David Horst header that hit the right post. But in the end Houston came away with the 3 points and put themselves in a good place to make the post-season while Portland's chances did not look quite as good.

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Colorado Rapids 0, Real Salt Lake 0

RSL traveled to Dicks Sporting Goods Park to square off against the Colorado Rapids with the fiercely contested Rocky Mountain Cup on the line. The match did not produce much in the way of offense and the first decent chance of the night came in 28' when Sanna Nyassi almost slipped in behind the RSL defense but Nick Rimando was quick off his line to put enough pressure on the ball to send Nyassi diving over him. Calls for a Penalty came from Nyassi and Colorado but no call was given and play resumed. Colorado kept applying pressure on the RSL defense but they could not manage to put any chance away on the night. The match ended in a 0-0 draw and with that result RSL went home with the Cup from an earlier 1-0 win this season.

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Philadelphia Union 1, Toronto FC 1

Philadelphia hosted Toronto FC in their final regular season home match of the season. Philadelphia nearly got on the board first when Justin Mapp sprung Freddy Adu with a nice long through ball. Freddy gave it to an on-rushing Sheanon Williams who forced two quick reflexive saves from Toronto keeper, Milos Kocic. Philadelphia continued pushing forward and in the 10' nearly got the first goal of the match but Michael Farfan could redirect Justin Mapp's centering pass into the net. In the 43' Sebastian LeToux curled a nice right footed shot into the top right corner of the net from just outside the top of the box to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead. Toronto answered in the 57' when Ryan Johnson flicked a Nick Soolsma low front-post cross past Faryd Mondragon to level the score at 1. Philadelphia made a push for the lead but could not get another past Milos Kocic so the match ended in a 1-1 draw. But with the result the 19,178 fans at PPL Park celebrated their team's spot in the post-season in only their second year of existence.

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Sporting KC 2, New York Red Bulls 0

New York traveled to the “Blue Hell” of LiveStrong Sporting Park to face Sporting KC in front of 19,921 fans. New York faced yet another must win game to make it into the play-offs and they come out slow. KS had two very good looks at goal early in the match but couldn't put them away. Besides a small flurry of attack in the 11', New York had few scoring chances on the day. That is because in the 28' MVP candidate, Thierry Henry, was shown Red for a collision with KC's Roger Espinoza for what the Referee thought was intentional on Henry's part. KC turned the head up on NY from there and found themselves in numerous goal-scoring chances. They finally put one away in the 57' following a corner kick that took a few deflections and eventually bounced in front of Teal Bunburry who volleyed it into the net. Rookie of the Year candidate CJ Sapong came in for Omar Bravo in the 73' and got on the board just a minute later. Sapong side volleyed the ball past Frank Rost following another corner kick that was headed toward the goal by Matt Besler. KC held on to the victory and solidified a spot in the past-season and NY now has to win at home against the Philadelphia Union next weekend to get in.

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New England Revolution 0, Columbus Crew 3

New England hosted the Columbus Crew at Gillette Stadium with 16,285 on hand to watch the action. Unfortunately for them, it was the Columbus Crew who had most of the action on the night. Carlos Mendoza opened the scoring on the night in the 31' after Emilio Renteria flicked-on a ball towards net that took a tough bounce but Mendoza was still able to side-volley into the back of the net. Dilly Duka made it 2-0 Columbus with a nice low shot to the far post following a poor clearance by the Revolution defense. Mendoza completed his brace with a fantastic one-time volley from a Renteria cross that sealed the night for Columbus.

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DC United 1, Chicago Fire 2

The Chicago Fire and DC United clashed on Saturday night at RFK in front of 16,548 fans. Both teams were still mathematically eligible for the post-season but DC had a greater chance to clinch a spot if they could earn 3 points at home. Chicago had the better of chances on the night and but significant pressure on Bill Hamid, but the US international was up to the challenge. Although the match went scoreless for 90 minutes, it saw a flurry of goals right at the end. The first of the three goal until the 90' when Santino Quaranta drew a penalty in the box and Dwayne DeRosario converted the ensuing penalty kick. The Fire knotted it up just 2 minutes later when Sebastian Grazzini curled a shot to the top left corner that caught Bill Hamid flat-footed. The Fire completed their miraculous come from behind victory in the 94' when Diego Chavez put away a Gonzalo Segares pass that he was able to save just inches from the end-line. With the victory the Fire kept play-off hopes alive and DC road to the play-offs got a little more difficult.

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FC Dallas 2, Vancouver 0

FC Dallas were looking to continue their recent resurgence in form with the final regular season home match at Pizza Hut Park. Dallas jumped ahead in the 35' when Brek Shea flicked a header to Marvin Chavez behind the Vancouver defense. Chavez charged into the box and deftly missed a sliding challenge by Jay DeMerit and curled a shot into the upper right corner of the net for the 1-0 lead. Seah and Chavez nearly connected again in the 47' but Chavez was whistled offside and the goal was disallowed. FC Dallas did get their second on the night in the 54' following a set piece that took a couple of deflections before it bounced at the feet of Brek Shea who calmly blasted the volley high into the net for the 2-0 lead. Dallas held on for the victory and they seem to be gaining momentum heading into the post-season.

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Seattle Sounders 2, San Jose Earthquakes 1

Kasey Keller played his final regular season match at home in front of a record breaking 64,140 fans at  CenturyLink that actually finished in the Top 5 attendances in the World by the end of the weekend. It was a great turn-out by Seattle to honor a local and national Soccer legend. Unfortunately, it looked as though SJ would play spoiler for Kasey when Golden Boot candidate, Chris Wondolowski, slotted home goal on Keller in the 24'. Wondolowski was played in behind the Seattle defense by a wonderful ball from Rafael Baca and the Striker kept his poise and slid the shot past Keller to the far post for the 1-0 lead. Keller got revenge in the 43' when he kept out a well placed Wondolowski header. Keller showed his skill again in the 65' when he made a flurry of top notch saves to keep the Sounders in the match. Seattle started their typical late game comeback in the 82' when second half sub, Sammy Ochoa got played in behind the SJ defense by Mauro Rosales and put a shot off the inside of the near post and in to make it 1-1. Seattle completed the comeback in the 87' when Freddy Montero poked a goal into the net from a nice feed by Lamar Neagle. This completed the fairy-tale night for Kasey and the Sounders and sent the faithful home ecstatic.

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Los Angeles Galaxy 1, Chivas USA 0

Sunday night saw the Super Classico between the Galaxy and Chivas USA go down at the Home Depot Center with 27,000 in attendance. LA got off to a hot start and poured tons of pressure on the Chivas defense. Chad Barrett and Adam Christman had a number of opportunities to put the Galaxy ahead in the first half but they were unable to put their team ahead. However, the two finally broke through in the 53' when Barrett made a far post run and Christman was able to find him with a quality cross into the 6 yard box. LA's defense held strong for the remainder of the night and the Galaxy took the “Super Classico” again.

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