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Weekend MLS Wrap-Up: Well, That Happened Edition

HARRISON, NJ - SEPTEMBER 24: Head coach John Spencer of the Portland Timbers shouts out instructions against the New York Red Bulls during the game at Red Bull Arena on September 24, 2011 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images )
HARRISON, NJ - SEPTEMBER 24: Head coach John Spencer of the Portland Timbers shouts out instructions against the New York Red Bulls during the game at Red Bull Arena on September 24, 2011 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images )
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Despite some sub-par play against the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday, there were high hopes for the Portland Timbers’ playoff chances coming into the weekend.  However, only a few days later and the Timbers have lost ground on the pack with all three of their main playoff rivals winning.

Elsewhere in the league we saw several teams with only an outside chance of making the playoffs start a push, while the Seattle Sounders continue to pace the L.A. Galaxy as the Californians march toward the Supporters Shield.

Andy Wheeler usually covers the weekend wrap-up, but while he is on vacation I will be filling in for him with perhaps a little more moaning over the quality of the referees in this country than usual.

Seriously, the referees are pretty bad.

This weekend’s action, after the jump.

Friday 9/23

Sporting Kansas City 1:1 Philadelphia Union
With six teams now within four points of first place in the east, both Kansas City and Philadelphia wanted three points from this one.  However, with two potentially explosive offenses on the field, neither team was able to manage more than a goal.

Young Union goal keeper Zach MacMath managed four saves on Kansas City’s thirteen shots taken only to be beaten by an Omar Bravo shot for his ninth goal of the season.

The Union answered back a few minutes later with former-Sounder Sebastian LeToux knocking the equalizer.

Saturday 9/24

F.C. Dallas 0:1 Houston Dynamo
Dallas, who had been flying high for much of the season, have been in a real funk lately and it showed in a game the Timbers needed them to win against the Houston Dynamo.

In what seemed to be a 0:0 draw, Geoff Cameron finally broke the deadlock for the visitors with only minutes remaining  in the game.  Since moving Cameron back into the defense, the Dynamo have looked much more sturdy and, with this three points pushing them to the top of the east, will be hard to knock out of playoff contention if they slip out of automatic qualification.

D.C. United 4:1 Real Salt Lake
The other game that the Timbers had the most at stake in saw Dwayne DeRosario take the entirety of the District of Columbia on his shoulders, demolishing Salt Lake with a hat-trick in the first half of play.

The scoring was opened by United’s teenage phenom, Andy Najar in only the 13th minute and closed by a late consolation goal for RSL, coming off the foot of Alvaro Saborio.

Columbus Crew 0:1 L.A. Galaxy
The Galaxy brought a decidedly not star studded team to Columbus on Saturday, leaving home David Beckham and Robbie Keane while Landon Donovan started the game on the bench.  

Without the contributions of several first teamers, the Galaxy looked over matched against a Crew team looking to claim the top spot in the eastern conference.  However, keeper Josh Saunders stood on his head to keep LA in the game, making eight saves while midfielder Michael Stephenson chipped in as well, clearing a header off the line late in the game.

The Galaxy are now two wins from clinching the Supporters Shield for the fourth time.

New York Red Bulls 2:0 Portland Timbers
More uninspired play from the Timbers plus a phantom handball (called by Thierry Henry more than the ref) that lead to a goal and a red card for Kalif Alhassan led to another away loss.

Colorado Rapids 1:1 San Jose Earthquakes
Since the loss of Conor Casey, the Colorado Rapids have been unable to find the winning spark, even at home.

San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski scored first for the Earthquakes but they were unable to make the goals stand up as Drew Moor scored his first goal since scoring a late winner in Portland.

Having been unable to find a win in their two game road trip, San Jose are now all but eliminated from the playoffs but are now finally showing themselves to be tough team to play against after abusing the Timbers and now looking like the more dangerous team on the road at Colorado.  These late season ties might just be what saves the job of head coach Frank Yallop.

Vancouver Whitecaps 1:3 Seattle Sounders
Although the Timbers did not have much riding on this game positionally, it meant everything to the team’s chances of retaining the Cascadia Cup.  All Vancouver had to do was not lose and the Timbers would have every chance of taking home the Cup.  Sadly, it was not to be.

The Whitecaps found possession early on in the game and looked by far the more dangerous team with Camilo finding the back of the net for the lone goal of the first half.  Kasey Keller was also forced into some fine saves as the Whitecaps continued to pour on the pressure.

However, the second half was a different matter entirely.  Thirty minutes into the first half Seattle won a penalty that was put away by Brad Evans starting to swing the momentum toward the visitors.  At the sixty minute mark Freddy Montaro fired home the winning goal for Seattle and added another for insurance only minutes later.

Chivas USA 3:0 Toronto F.C.
Chivas, now at 35 points from 31 games, has struggled mightily in recent weeks to regain a spot in the playoff discussion.  They are certainly in te midst of a late season surge, but it will likely be too little too late even with the three points taken against Toronto.

Despite their long chances at making the playoffs, the Goats are playing like they intend to be there.  The recent resurgance of Juan Pable Angel, who added two more goals against Toronto, has helped as Chivas play with a confidence that they had not displayed earlier this season.

Chivas’s third goal was added courtesy of forward Justin Braun, between Angel’s brace.

Toronto had several attempts on goal but were unable to make them count, hitting the post on several occasions.

Sunday 9/25

Chicago Fire 3:2 New England Revolution
The other outside contender for a playoff spot, Chicago continue to look dangerous up top but shaky at the back.  Sebastion Grazzini, Dominic Oduro, and Patrick Nyarko all scored for the Fire in the first thirty minutes, getting off to a flying start.

Oduro, a long time role player for a number of MLS teams has had a career year in 2011, notching eleven goals this season.

The Revolution did pull two goals back from winger Ryan Guy in second half stoppage time, but were unable to find a third, putting them at two losses in their last two games and almost certainly eliminating them from the playoffs.

About the refs in MLS

I am not going to actually moan about them here too much because they are just awful and everyone knows it.