Portland win West, Sporting lead East, Montreal have to wait and Philly are out, as MLS season goes down to the wire
Philadelphia Union 1 Sporting Kansas City 2 26 October
A stoppage time winner extended the visitors unbeaten streak to four games, including back-to-back wins to finish out the season and avenge the 1-0 loss to the Union when the two sides last met in Kansas last month. The success takes them to the top of the Eastern Conference by two points over New York, who have still to play this weekend and it also means that the battle for the Supporters Shield title is now only down to these two sides. After a scoreless first-half Sporting took the lead 2 minutes after the restart. Lawrence Olum flicked on a long throw from Matt Besler and as the ball made it’s way to the back post Graham Zusi was on hand to head it home passed Zac MacMath in the home sides goal. Just when it looked like that was to be the game winner Philly equalised with 2 minutes of the 90 left. Jeff Parke put the ball into the mixer and Jack McInerney, who had replaced Antoine Hoppenot just after the hour mark, found the target passed Jimmy Nielsen in the visitors net. With a point not really any good to either side it was KC who responded more positively. As the game entered stoppage time MacMath then made a huge save to deny Jacob Peterson who was wide open. The hosts resistance crumpled though shortly after as the away side ended the Union’s hopes of post-season play. Olum turned from provider to goal scorer as he took a square pass from Teal Burnbury, who had only being on the field 10 minutes after he had replaced Dominic Dwyer and buried into the net to send his team-mates into hysteria. The Union, who coincidently started their season here with a 3-1 defeat to sporting were on the wrong end of the scoreline for the second game running as they finished the season in seventh spot in the East, which meant they missed the playoffs for second consecutive year and for the third time in their four year existence.
Toronto FC 1 Montreal Impact 0
A defeat for the visitors means a nervous wait to see if they make the playoffs in the East. If Chicago, New England and Houston are all winners then the four defeats in their last five outings would prove disastrous. The two previous encounters this season between the Canadian rivals have being full of goals with the Impact winning 2-1 when the teams met in Montreal in March and a 3-3 tie when they last met here in July, but with what was at stake for the away team this was an altogether different type of game. Against a desperate Impact side Toronto got what turned out to be the game winner after 16 minutes. After a lucky bounce the ball fell to midfielder Jonathan Osorio and he unleashed a shot in the Impact penalty box that Robert Earnshaw manage to get a touch to and redirect it past the away teams goalkeeper Troy Perkins. That gave the hosts confidence and on a couple of occasions the only thing that stopped then increasing their advantage was the crossbar, with midfielder Kyle Bekker with a shot 7 minutes before the break and captain Steven Caldwell with a header a minutes into the second stanza the unlucky players. The visitors first chance came after 53 minutes when a nice flick-on by Marco Di Vaio sent midfielder Davy Arnaud in alone on goal but keeper Joe Bendik won the battle of wits to deny Impact captain. The visitors thought they had finally got the equaliser they craved just after the hour mark, but referee David Gantar saw a handball by Di Vaio and the league’s co-leading scorer was denied his twenty-first goal of the season. The Impact produced two more efforts after 72 minutes when Andrew Wenger somehow missed the target from just outside the six-yard box and late on when Bendik stopped a effort form substitute Andres Romero who had replaced defender Karl Ouimette shortly before. This however was Toronto’s day as they ended their campaign snapping the their two game losing skid to finish ninth in the East and causing fingers to be bitten for a little longer down the road.
San Jose Earthquakes 2 FC Dallas 1
Despite know realistically that the miracle that they needed was never going to happen the hosts put in a professional performance that stretched their unbeaten streak to seven games as they cemented sixth place in the standings and avenged the loss to Dallas by a single goal when the sides met in Texas back in May, to let the last player still participating in the MLS who played in the first season in 1996 Ramiro Corrales to end his career on a winning note. San Jose took the lead after 27 minutes. Justin Morrow sent a pass along the left wing to Walter Martinez and he played in a cross towards Steven Lenhart who was breaking for goal, Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz had one eye on his run and was caught in two minds as what to do and allowed the ball to go straight into the net. The hosts increased their advantage 12 minutes into the second-half. Lenhart was again instrumental as having received a ball from Shea Salinas he sent it on to Chris Wondolowski who added to his midweek CCL strike with a finish here into the top right-hand corner of the net giving keeper Seitz no chance. The biggest round of applause came with 19 minutes remaining as Corrales said goodbye to fans one last time after playing 250 matches for the Earthquakes, nearly 80 more than the next person, he was replaced by Rafael Baca. Dallas got a consolation tally in stoppage time when Stephen Keel found the target for the visitors who were also saying goodbye to a club regular in head coach Schellas Hyndman, who had announced earlier this month that he will steeping down at the end of the season after six years in the job. The loss for Dallas summed up their season after starting with six wins in their first eight games they ended their campaign with five losses in their last seven encounters to finish eighth out West.
Chivas USA 0 Portland Timbers 5
The Timbers sent out a clear message to their rivals as they extended their unbeaten run to eight games and claimed their second success of the season over Chivas after a 3-0 win when the sides met in Oregon back in May to be crowned the Western Conference Champions for the first time in their history by a point over Real Salt Lake. The away team took the lead after 16 minutes when Diego Valeri netted the first of his brace. He was also included in the build-up, after he collected a long clearance he passed the ball to Will Johnson who sent it to Jose Valencia, defender Mario de Luna slid in to knock the ball away and it fell nicely to Valeri near the top of the area for a simple finish. 13 minutes later and the visitors were two up thanks again to Valeri. Capitalising on a misplaced pass from left back Jaime Frias, he moved forward sidestepping the onrushing Frias who was desperate to atone for his error before sublimely chipping keeper Tim Melia in the home sides goal. 5 minutes later the Timbers were cruising as they added a third with Valeri this time providing the assist. Mamadou Danso played a long ball up the left wing for Valeri who out-muscled Josue Soto, who had replaced the hooked Frias only 3 minutes earlier, to get free on the right side of the box before he nutmegged Carlos Bocanegra with a pass into the middle to Rodney Wallace who finished with an angled touch that sent the ball just inside the left post, the assist for Valeri was his thirteenth of the season. Portland continued their dominance into the second-half and two goals in four minutes put the icing on the cake as they tied the record for the fewest losses in a thirty-four game season, 5, with the 2011 LA Galaxy side. The first came after 72 minutes when Ryan Johnson, who had come on just 10 minutes before as a substitute for Valencia, knocked home a rebound from a Wallace shot that Melia had parried out and 14 minutes from time the rout was completed as Will Johnson struck a fabulous free-kick from just outside the penalty area. The defeat for Chivas was their fifth on the spin and leaves them trailing eighth place Dallas by eighteen points at seasons end.
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