As we mentioned last week, the Portland Timbers needed draws from the rest of the MLS. Well, they got 'em. There were four draws in nine weekend matches, and two of them were of the utmost importance to the Timbers. And of course the Timbers did their part with a 1-0 away victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps. After San Jose and New York, this feels pretty good.
We're also thankful that the referees around the league were not so much the story this weekend. The lack of ridiculous red cards, for example, allowed us to focus on the quality of the play for a change.
There were a couple of own goals and some bush league play from some of MLS' lesser sides, but most of the weekend's games were evenly matched affairs, making for some exciting back and forth. And, of course, draws.
Reds 1:1 Bulls
Toronto FC did Timbers fans a huge favor, holding New York Red Bulls to a point and pulling them back even with Portland. I'm sure they were thinking of us the whole time.
The Red Bulls kept Frank Rost busy in the first half but came up empty every time, and halftime came without a score for either side. Toronto was ready to go starting the second half, though, as Danny Koevermans barely beat the offside trap on a clever ball from Ryan Johnson. But Thierry Henry put in the equalizer on a corner in the 88th minute and the score would stand.
Thanks, Toronto. We owe you one. The NYRBs are now even with Portland on points but claim the 10th spot on the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Dynamo 1:1 Chicago
The Houston Dynamo and Chicago Fire settled for a 1-1 draw, but it had to feel like a loss for both sides. The Dynamo need all the points they can get at home and the Fire need all the points they can get, period.
Houston's Colin Clark opened the scoring in the 33rd minute, kicking home the dregs of a corner kick. Chicago quickly asserted themselves and Dominic Oduro got the equalizer ten minutes later, beating the Houston defense to a brilliant through ball from Baggio Husidic. The second half saw Houston drawing fouls in dangerous areas but failing to execute the set pieces, while Chicago looked content to secure the one point.
Chicago had a good run for the previous three matches, but their luck is running out. Houston, meanwhile, are precariously positioned in the 9th playoff spot, vulnerable as ever.
Canaries 2:1 DC
Columbus Crew won their first match since August 20, and it couldn't have come at a better time for the Portland Timbers, keeping DC below the playoff cut for another week and a half.
The first half was all Columbus, with shot after shot worrying Bill Hamid and the DC back line. Yet it was DC's Daniel Woolard who scored the first goal, volleying in a long free kick from Dwayne De Rosario. Woolard scored again two minutes into the second half, but this one went into his own goal. In the 60th minute Eddie Gaven scored the winning goal, magnificently heading in a cross from Sebastian Miranda.
Now at 44 points, the Crew still need at least a couple more points from their last two games to secure their spot in the postseason. DC are on the outside looking in, but with four matches left they still have control of their destiny.
Rapids 1:0 Dallas
The Colorado Rapids needed a win after taking only two points from their previous five matches. They succeeded, handing FC Dallas their fourth consecutive loss.
The lone goal came from a Drew Moor header off a corner kick taken by Sanna Nyassi in the 26th minute. Colorado dominated much of the rest of the first half, but Nyassi missed several opportunities to break the game open. Dallas failed to make anything happen in the second half, as the play devolved into a sloppy, chippy game. The Rapids held on in the end with the one goal.
The Rapids stopped their free fall for the time being, climbing back to just a point behind Dallas for the second wild card spot.
Goats 1:1 Union
Another draw that benefits the Timbers, as Chivas USA managed a point at home against Philadelphia Union.
An uneventful first half produced few chances for either team, but the second half brought some more excitement. Justin Mapp scored first for Philadelphia in the 59th minute, and Chivas spent much of the next half hour pounding the Union defense into submission. Juan Pablo Angel finally headed in the equalizer in the 90th minute.
Philadelphia claim second place in the Eastern Conference with one more game left to play than first place Kansas City. Meanwhile, Chivas can now only collect a maximum of 42 points and should thus be considered out of the playoff picture.
SJ 1:1 KC
Sporting Kansas City maintained their first position in the Eastern Conference, managing a 1-1 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes in California.
A back and forth first half that produced few shots on target preceded a second half that produced few more, though Teal Bunbury and Omar Bravo looked increasingly dangerous for KC as the match progressed. Chris Wondolowski scored a late goal in the 85th minute but San Jose gave up the equalizer seconds later, youth soccer style, on a quick restart by Sporting.
Kansas City is only five points ahead of Portland and New York and could still miss the playoffs without at least a point from their last two matches. San Jose will have to wait until next year.
Revs 1:2 Flounders
16-year-old Uruguayan Diego Fagundez made his first start and scored his first goal for the New England Revolution, but the excitement was apparently too much. Fredy Montero scored the equalizer seconds later and again at the start of the second half, keeping the Supporters' Shield a mathematical possibility for the Seattle Sounders. The Wooden Spoon is now the only hardware obtainable for New England.
LAG 2:1 Real Salt Lake
Favian Espindola scored first, but Chad Barrett and a Nat Borchers own goal put the Los Angeles Galaxy three points closer to a 70-point season.
Onward, Rose City!