MLS Week 20 rewind
In MLS Week 20, the LA Galaxy returned to their winning ways, coming away from Red Bull Arena with a 1-0 victory against New York. Real Salt Lake kept pace in the Western Conference, defeating the Columbus Crew 2-0 behind a pair of goals from MLS Player of the Week Javier Morales in a matchup of the last two MLS Cup champions. FC Dallas extended its road undefeated streak to nine games in a 3-1 win against D.C. United. The New England Revolution extended their unbeaten streak to eight games in all competitions in a 1-0 win against Houston, the Dynamo now on a 10-game winless run. And the San Jose Earthquakes continued their 10-year unbeaten streak against Kansas City, defeating the Wizards 1-0. For all the highlights of Week 20, click here.
LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake locked in tight Western race
Thanks to their victory against Eastern Conference leaders Columbus Crew, Real Salt Lake kept pace with the LA Galaxy in both the Western Conference race and the chase for the Supporters’ Shield after Week 20 of the Major League Soccer season.
The top two teams in each conference will qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs and gain the top two seeds in each. The next four teams in the overall standings, regardless of conference, will receive wildcard berths.
CONCACAF Champions League group stage opens
Four teams will carry the banner of Major League Soccer as the CONCACAF Champions League group stage kicks off this week. Defending MLS Cup champions Real Salt Lake and defending U.S. Open Cup winners Seattle Sounders FC make their bow in the competition, while the Columbus Crew and Toronto FC will also compete.
Real Salt Lake and Toronto FC have each been drawn into Group A, along with Arabe Unido (Panama) and Cruz Azul (Mexico). Columbus is in Group B with Santos Laguna (Mexico), Municipal (Guatemala) and Joe Public (Trinidad & Tobago), while Seattle is in Group C with Marathon (Honduras), Monterrey (Mexico) and Saprissa (Costa Rica) in the competition’s so-called “Group of Death.”
CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – MATCHDAY 1
Tues, Aug. 17: Toronto FC vs. Cruz Azul (MEX)
Wed., Aug. 18: Columbus Crew vs. Municipal (GUA)
Wed., Aug. 18: Real Salt Lake vs. Arabe Unido (PAN)
Thurs., Aug. 19: Seattle Sounders FC at Marathon (HON)
“There’s been a lot of talk about New York in the last few weeks. And we wanted to let people know who the best team in the league is.”
— Landon Donovan, after the LA Galaxy’s 1-0 win vs. New York
“I don’t know why you guys have such a complex about your football. You guys have new stadiums. You have good players here. You have big crowds at games. Obviously, we want it to grow — that’s why we’re all here. But you should be happy about it.”
— New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry
“Those quotes were from April. They were meant as no disrespect to Salt Lake. The disrespect was meant toward the media because they came in saying, ‘Well, you guys have to beat the defending champions’ and this and that. … And I was saying ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s take a step back.’ ”
— Columbus Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer, after comments following the first meeting with Real Salt Lake were shown on the Rio Tinto Stadium video board before RSL’s 2-0 win Saturday
Previewing Week 21: August 18-22, 2010 (all times PT)
Wednesday, August 18
New England Revolution at Chicago Fire, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* The Revolution extended their league undefeated streak to four games – and their overall streak to eight games in all competitions – with the win against Houston. The Revs have allowed just two goals over those eight games, with three shutouts in their last four MLS contests.
* Ilija Stolica made his first MLS start, starting up top in place of rookie Zack Schilawski, and contributed his first MLS goal.
* The Fire had last weekend off playing to a scoreless draw with the New York Red Bulls on Aug. 8.
* Gonzalo Segares, who rejoined the Fire last week, hopes to be ready for the New England game. Segares moved to Apollon Limassol of Cyprus after playing 108 league games with Chicago from 2005-09.
* Marco Pappa’s goal in the 30th minute gave the Fire a 1-0 victory in the first meeting this season between the teams, extending their unbeaten streak to seven games against New England in league play.
* The teams also met this year in SuperLiga, with the Revolution claiming a 1-0 victory on July 17 at Toyota Park, thanks to a goal from Marko Perovic. It was the first victory in Chicago for the Revolution since July 8, 2006, a span of eight games in all competitions.
Saturday, August 21
New York Red Bulls at Toronto FC, 10 a.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* The teams are meeting for the second time in 10 days, after Joel Lindpere’s first-half goal gave the Red Bulls a 1-0 victory at Red Bull Arena. That was the last league game for TFC; New York lost 1-0 to the LA Galaxy at home over the weekend.
* For the first time since the arrival of Designated Players Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez, the Red Bulls went down to defeat in the reversal by the Galaxy.
* A rare giveaway from Marquez led to the LA Galaxy’s lone goal in the win against New York. “I’m not happy at all. I need more time to perform, to be at my best level,” Marquez said.
* While Real Salt Lake moved to within one game of the Columbus Crew’s all-time league record home unbeaten streak over the weekend, Toronto FC has very quietly extended their BMO Field league undefeated run to 17 games, matching the fourth-longest in MLS history.
LA Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes, 1 p.m. (TeleFutura)
* The Galaxy’s shutout of New York was the club’s first since a scoreless draw June 26 at Toronto FC. After allowing just four goals in their first 14 games, the Galaxy had allowed nine in their previous five.
* Edson Buddle scored his fourth goal since returning from the World Cup. Buddle and Landon Donovan have combined for eight of the Galaxy’s 10 goals since South Africa, and have scored each of the club’s last seven in league play.
* In his first game after being signed, Khari Stephenson moved into an attacking midfield role for the Quakes and contributed his first MLS assist, setting up Chris Wondolowski’s winner vs. Kansas City. Stephenson was without a goal or an assist while playing nine games with K.C. in 2004-05.
* The teams are meeting for the second time in less than a month, after Landon Donovan’s last-gasp goal left them in a 2-2 draw July 22 at The Home Depot Center.
Colorado Rapids at Columbus Crew, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* The Crew concluded their three-game road trip with a pair of losses wrapped around a win in Philadelphia. They now return home for back-to-back home games against Colorado and FC Dallas.
* Already without a pair of starting defenders in Gino Padula and Andy Iro, and a pair of midfielders in Eddie Gaven and Robbie Rogers, the Crew did not have Brian Carroll for the RSL game after he suffered a stomach virus.
* Pablo Mastroeni became Colorado’s all-time leader in minutes played in the draw in Philadelphia, passing the total of current Seattle Sounders FC technical director Chris Henderson.
* It was a nice homecoming for Jeff Larentowicz, scoring his second goal of the season against Philadelphia Union. “All week I was thinking I would love to score here and love to give my family members who came out to support me something to see, but it’s also bittersweet because it is difficult to score against a team that has Philadelphia on its shirt,” said Larentowicz, who grew up in West Chester and played in the area with Chestnut Hill Academy and club side FC Delco.
* Rapids striker Conor Casey was able to come on as a second-half substitute, after missing the previous two games with a concussion suffered against Seattle.
Chivas USA at FC Dallas, 5:30 p.m. (FSC / FSE)
* FC Dallas extended its league road unbeaten streak to nine games, tying the MLS record set by the Columbus Crew July 10-Oct. 16, 2004. FCD has now gone 10 league games overall without a loss.
* With all-time leader Jaime Moreno on the opposing bench, Jeff Cunningham sealed the FCD win against D.C. United with a stoppage-time goal, the 128th of his MLS career – now just four behind Moreno.
* Rookie Eric Alexander, making his second start in three games, scored his first professional goal against D.C. United. Another rookie, Zach Loyd, the fifth overall pick this year, made his first start at center back, in place of Ugo Ihemelu (out with a concussion).
* Zach Thornton had not played since suffering an ankle injury July 10. But with Dan Kennedy out for the season after a bicep injury, Thornton returned between the posts for Chivas and recorded his third shutout.
New England Revolution at Kansas City Wizards, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* The Wizards saw their four-game unbeaten run come to an end in the 1-0 loss at San Jose, the first time they had been shut out since three successive clean sheets June 26-July 10.
* The Wizards have a five-game league unbeaten streak against the Revolution. New England’s last win in the series came April 9, 2008; the Wizards have won four of the five meetings since with one draw.
* Coming into the week, five of the Revolution’s last six wins overall had come by 1-0 scorelines – including the victory against Houston last weekend. Four different goalscorers – Marko Perovic, Zack Schilawski, Pat Phelan and Ilija Stolica – have contributed the game-winning goals, with Perovic scoring twice.
Chicago Fire at Houston Dynamo, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* The Dynamo were shut out for the third time in four league games in the loss to New England, which extended their club-record winless streak to 10 games.
* With a backline hit by injury and suspension, Richard Mulrooney once again reprised his role at a makeshift right back for the Dynamo, while Geoff Cameron made his first league start since suffering a knee injury April 24, playing in central defense.
* The Fire won 2-0 in the first meeting between the clubs, April 24 at Toyota Park. It snapped a five-game Houston winning streak vs. Chicago and was the Fire’s first home win against the Dynamo.
Sunday, August 22
Philadelphia Union at D.C. United, 11 a.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* United saw their losing streak reach five games, matching their streak to open the season and one game shy of the club record, set Sept. 30, 2006-April 28, 2007.
* In the days leading up to the FC Dallas game, Jaime Moreno – the final MLS Original – announced his retirement from the club following the season.
* Union played to a second home draw in the week, a 1-1 result with Colorado on Saturday following a 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake on Wednesday. Union now hit the road for back-to-back conference games against D.C. United and New England.
* Rookie Danny Mwanga, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 SuperDraft, scored his seventh goal of the season (and his second in as many games). The MLS rookie goalscoring record is 11, set by Chicago’s Damani Ralph in 2003.