The last weekend of the regular season featured playoff-bound teams looking foolish against opponents who have only the 2012 campaign to look forward to. In some cases those losses were suffered by reserve squads, as playoff teams rested starters, but in other cases the playoff teams just looked over-matched.
The Portland Timbers, for example, certainly didn't look like the lesser side against Real Salt Lake, holding them to a single shot on target and missing a win only by Jack Jewsbury's poorly taken PK.
Bitterness aside, I am looking forward to an exciting MLS postseason, which we here in Portland hope will feature the Flounders' early exit. No cup for you, Sigi.
The weekend's action, roughly in order from most to least interesting, follows the jump.Chicago 3:2 Columbus
The playoff-bound Columbus Crew were schooled in the beautiful game by the Chicago Fire, as an Anibaba brace led the Fire to a 3-2 win in front of a full Toyota Park.
Chicago dominated the early part of the match, Jalil Anibaba scoring his two goals in the 11th and 30th minutes. The pressure from Columbus built, though, putting together some nifty passes, but they failed to give any sort of challenge to Sean Johnson for most of the match. Columbus finally broke through in the 72nd minute, when Emilio Renteria turned on an Eddie Gaven cross. Renteria's goal seemed to inject some energy into Columbus, and in the 79th Dilly Duka scored the equalizer.
The man of the match was Dominic Oduro, though, as he repeatedly broke down the right flank. The relentless attack frustrated Emmanuel Ekpo to no end, earning him a pair of yellow cards by the end of the match. Oduro's efforts were rewarded in the 81st minute when, after another breakaway down the right flank, he crossed to Diego Chaves who easily scored the go-ahead.
Chicago finished the season in 11th place overall, capping an extraordinary late surge that fell just short of playoff qualification. Columbus, after an epic collapse in the last couple months of the season, will visit the Colorado Rapids on Thursday.
DC 0:1 KC
Eastern Conference Champions Sporting Kansas City looked to be the lesser side in their regular season finale against DC United, but they still squeaked out the victory they needed to secure the top spot.
DC did everything but score, pushing Kansas City into their own end and pressuring them relentlessly. But Jimmy Nielsen and the woodwork behind him repeatedly kept Dwayne De Rosario out of his net. In the 54th minute a KC corner kick rattled around the box and fell to Matt Besler, who scored the match's loan goal, and the Sporkcs held on for the win.
DC United finished 13th overall, just behind Portland, and Kansas City ended their season 16 points behind the Supporters' Shield winning Los Angeles Galaxy, which was enough for first place in the East.
SJ 4:2 Dallas
Betting on an RSL victory against the Timbers, FC Dallas rested most of their starters and resigned themselves to a fourth place finish. The San Jose Earthquakes made them pay for their lack of faith in the Timbers.
For 12 minutes in the first half the Quakes were almost able to score at will, netting four goals bracketed by Simon Dawkins' brace. Dallas managed to pull one back just before the intermission and preserved an ounce more of their dignity in the waning minutes of the game. But the Quakes fans were all smiles as they looked forward to a better 2012.
San Jose got the three points they needed to end the season ahead of Chivas USA in 14th place. FC Dallas, at least the players that didn't show up on Saturday, will host the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday.
Houston 3:1 LA
The Los Angeles Galaxy lost for just the fifth time this season Sunday against the Houston Dynamo, in a 3-1 victory that featured another low percentage long distance strike by Adam Moffatt. Houston fans should not consider the win much of an accomplishment, considering the unrecognizable lineup the Galaxy trotted out. But who's to say the OC's own teen heartthrob Jack McBean wouldn't have scored a goal against the Timbers had he been given the start at Jeld-Wen? I kid.
The Galaxy forfeited their chance to be the first 70-point team in MLS history, considering that feat less important than giving their stars a rest. Whatever. Meanwhile Houston took the opportunity handed them to take second place in the Eastern Conference. Jerks.
Chivas 1:3 Flounders
Say what you will about the Flounders, they do like winning, even the unimportant matches. Of course, when you do that, you risk injuries to your top players. Sure enough, Mauro Rosales suffered a potentially postseason-ending knee injury in the fifth minute. The Seattle Sounders still won, though, thanks to an own goal and a brilliant finish from Alvaro Fernandez. Samuel Ochoa added one more for Seattle, and Victor Estupinan scored one for Chivas.
Chivas ended in 15th place, and the Flounders finished four points behind the Supporters' Shield winners.
Vancouver 1:2 Colorado
The Vancouver Whitecaps moved the ball around magnificently in the early going and scored first in the 49th on a set piece taken by Alain Rochat from 30 yards out. Ginger baller Jeff Larentowicz equalized ten minutes later on a set-piece perfectly placed between the wickets (and by wickets I mean Joe Cannon's knees). As the match continued Vancouver looked increasingly winded trying to absorb the Colorado Rapids' pressure, which led to a go-ahead strike from distance by Wells Thompson.
The Caps lost the season series with the Revolution, which means they are officially in sole possession of the wooden spoon. Sad. Colorado's win gives them home field advantage for the wild card round of the MLS playoffs.
Toronto 2:2 New England
Two of the worst teams in MLS battled to a draw in Toronto, with most of the chances for both sides arising from defensive blunders. The point was all New England Revolution needed to avoid the wooden spoon that they fully deserved, while the level score kept Toronto FC's goal differential at an MLS worst -23.