Chicago's Sebastian Grazzini scores the equalizer, stuns the DC crowd, saves the day.
The Portland Timbers just didn't do enough with their many chances on Friday in their 2-0 bruising by the thuggish Houston Dynamo. Kenny Cooper's gotta get more on that header, Jorge Perlaza's gotta take that shot, Jack Jewsbury and Lovel Palmer gotta keep their shots down, and Darlington Nagbe's gotta stop hesitating in front of goal.
If a few of those go in, the Timbers win. Alas, bad luck, terrible officiating and even worse finishing doomed the boys in green to a devastating loss at home -- a loss that should have spelled the end of the Timbers' playoff hopes.
But at some point during this last regular season pinball game at Jeld-Wen Field the Timbers must have stumbled on the extra ball bumper, as the results from the rest of MLS gave Portland one last extra life.
In a more exciting match than a scoreless draw would suggest, Colorado Rapids settled for a draw with a Real Salt Lake side on the decline.
Colorado came out strong in the first half and created most of the chances, barely missing a number of opportunities. RSL responded with increasingly chippy play, which can apparently result in yellow cards -- Ricardo Salazar doled out four of them to RSL players. The second half featured much of the same, with RSL steadily building their attack. By the end most of the chances were coming in the RSL attacking third, but Fabian Espindola was unable to put any of them away.
Colorado clinched a playoff spot but dashed their hopes for the Western Conference top 3. RSL are now teetering on the edge of the WC top 3, with a resurgent FC Dallas, level in points, knocking on the door. Salt Lake may need a win against the Timbers to avoid a play-in round.
DC 1:2 Chicago
For 88 minutes DC United and Chicago Fire looked destined for a draw, but then the most exciting five minutes of the weekend happened.
Dominic Oduro and Marco Pappa pounded the DC goal area in the first half, the Chicago attack slicing repeatedly through the United defense. None of their shots were enough to get past Bill Hamid, though, and the match stayed scoreless until the final three minutes. First, DC's Santino Quaranta went down like a spoonful of sugar (is that a thing?) inside the Chicago penalty area in the 89th minute and Dwayne De Rosario converted the ensuing PK. Then, in the second minute of stoppage time, Sebastian Grazzini equalized from the top of the box. The crowd were stunned a minute and a half later when Gonzalo Segares beat the offside trap and crossed to a wide open Diego Chaves who needed only to tap the ball into an open net.
The win pulls the miraculous Chicago Fire level on points with the 11th place Portland Timbers with one match left to play. They need everybody and their mother to lose next week in order to qualify for the playoffs, but at this point anything seems possible for the Fire faithful. DC, meanwhile, have two of their toughest matches of the season on Wednesday and Saturday.
Sporkcs 2:0 NYRBs
KC did more than any other team this weekend to keep the Timbers' playoff hopes alive, in defeating the shorthanded Red Bulls.
Thierry Henry was sent off in the 28th minute for running knee-first into the head of fallen Roger Espinoza. Playing a man short for the remainder of the match, the New York Red Bulls managed a clean sheet in the first half only because Sporting Kansas City's Teal Bunbury seemed incapable of putting a shot on the frame. The inevitable finally happened in the 57th, when a Graham Zusi corner kick bounced around the penalty area and fell to Bunbury, who volleyed in for the goal. NY failed to clear another corner in the 74th and this time it was CJ Sapong who put it home.
With the win, KC gained first place in the Eastern Conference. But with Philadelphia Union even on points, KC still have work to do if they want to keep the top spot. Pending the DC-Portland outcome on Wednesday, the NYRBs will need to beat that Philadelphia team in order to clinch their place in the playoffs.
Less important matches
LA 1:0 Goats
Los Angeles Galaxy started many of their first team despite already having secured the Supporters' Shield, and they took a step closer to a 70 point season with a 1-0 victory in the SuperClasico derby. Chivas USA keeper Dan Kennedy had his hands full and made a few save of the week candidates, and it finally took a few lucky bounces and a Chad Barrett header to get past him.
Dallas 2:0 Caps
FC Dallas are smelling blood in the Salt water, playing with urgency in their quest for a spot in the WC top three. Marvin Chavez scored on a breakaway in the 35th minute, and Brek Shea pounded in a no-doubter in the 54th. Dallas are now level on points with RSL, and the Vancouver Whitecaps remain a point ahead of the New England Revolution.
Flounders 2:1 Quakes
The San Jose Earthquakes' Chris Wondolowski struck first, putting Seattle Sounders' keeper Kasey Keller on his butt and making him look silly. But Keller's teammates picked him up late in his final regular season game at the CLink, with goals from Sammy Ochoa and Fredy Montero securing the win.
Revs 0:3 Crew
The Columbus Crew made the New England Revolution pay for their crimes against the beautiful game with a 3-0 blowout. Columbus maintains third place in the EC standings. New England should be clearing a spot in their trophy case for a wooden spoon.
Philadelphia 1:1 Toronto
Sebastien Le Toux continued his impressive late season production, and Faryd Mondragon made his return to the Philadelphia Union goal, but Toronto FC striker Ryan Johnson's 57th minute equalizer won a point for Toronto and dropped Philly to second place in the EC standings.