MLS Week 21 rewind
Long streaks continuing – and ending – highlighted a weekend that saw 25 goals scored in seven games. FC Dallas stretched their league unbeaten streak to 11 games with a 1-0 win against Chivas USA. The Houston Dynamo snapped their 10-game winless run with a 4-3 win against Chicago behind a hat trick from MLS Player of the Week Brian Ching. The New York Red Bulls put an end to Toronto FC’s 17-game BMO Field unbeaten streak in a 4-1 win with massive playoff implications. D.C. United put an end to a five-game losing streak and gave Ben Olsen his first coaching victory in a 2-0 win against Philadelphia. For all the highlights of Week 21, click here.
Portland and Vancouver select priority rankings in Expansion Priority Draft
The Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps selected priority ranking among eight player-acquisition mechanisms as the two clubs prepare for their inaugural MLS season in 2011. Technical Director Gavin Wilkinson represented the Timbers and Director of Soccer Operations Tommy Soehn represented the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the selection process. The Whitecaps won a coin toss held on July 28 prior to the 2010 AT&T MLS All-Star Game and with their first pick, chose to select first in each round of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft; Portland will select second. Portland chose to select first in the MLS Expansion Draft of existing players left unprotected by other clubs. To view more information about which club has priority in the remaining six player acquisition mechanisms, CLICK HERE.
One race tightens, one race widens
With Real Salt Lake off, FC Dallas took advantage of one game-in-hand to pull within three points of the second automatic playoff spot in the Western Conference. But in the East, the New York Red Bulls widened their hold on second to eight points after Week 21 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 update
Three MLS teams were victorious as the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League kicked off last week, with all four of the league’s clubs again facing midweek tests this week.
Toronto FC started the week with a 2-1 win against Mexico’s Cruz Azul at BMO Field, then the Columbus Crew knocked off Guatemala’s Municipal 1-0 while Real Salt Lake got a late penalty kick for a 2-1 win against Arabe Unido of Panama. Seattle Sounders FC took an early lead before falling 2-1 at Marathon in Honduras.
Columbus and Real Salt Lake face difficult trips to Mexico this week while Toronto FC will be in Panama. Seattle Sounders FC will take on Mexico’s Monterrey in the first Champions League match at Qwest Field.
CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – MATCHDAY 2
Tues., Aug. 24: Toronto FC at Arabe Unido (PAN)
Tues., Aug. 24: Columbus Crew at Santos Laguna (MEX)
Wed., Aug. 25: Real Salt Lake at Cruz Azul (MEX)
Wed., Aug. 25: Seattle Sounders FC vs. Monterrey (MEX)
“Rafa today was outstanding. The goal was one of his trademarks.”
— New York Red Bulls striker Juan Pablo Angel, on teammate Rafael Marquez’s first MLS goal
“I think that was the worst performance I’ve seen in the eight months with this team. We have to be real about the situation that this stuff is not going to fly with me.”
— Philadelphia Union team manager Peter Nowak, after his team’s 2-0 loss at D.C. United
“I don’t want to say ‘statement game,’ but it says something about our team to come in here and win 4-1. And we feel we should have had a clean sheet.”
— New York Red Bulls defender Chris Albright, after the 4-1 win at Toronto FC
Previewing Week 22: August 28-29, 2010 (all times PT)
Saturday, August 28
FC Dallas at Columbus Crew, 1 p.m. (TeleFutura)
* In strange twist of fate, FC Dallas can set the MLS record for longest road unbeaten streak this weekend in Columbus. The Crew hold the record along with FCD, going nine road games without a loss July 10-Oct. 16, 2004.
* Brek Shea has scored all five of his goals since May 15. He has broken second-half scoreless ties with the game-winning goal in each of his last three games with a goal (June 5 vs. San Jose; July 17 vs. Real Salt Lake; Aug. 21 vs. Chivas USA).
* Since taking over as FCD’s starting keeper on May 5, Kevin Hartman has not conceded more than one goal in any league game. The shutout vs. Chivas USA was his sixth in the 15 games since becoming the full-time starter.
* The Crew’s Steven Lenhart has scored four goals in the last four games – all in a substitute role. The only game in which he did not score in that stretch – Aug. 14 at Real Salt Lake – the Crew lost 2-0.
Real Salt Lake at Toronto FC, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* The game is the first of three meetings in a month’s time between the clubs. They will face each other twice in three weeks – in Group A of the CONCACAF Champions League, Sept. 15 at Rio Tinto Stadium and in MLS play Sept. 28 at BMO Field.
* Saturday’s loss to New York snapped a 17-game home league unbeaten streak for Toronto FC, the fourth-longest in MLS history. TFC had not lost in 14 games in all competitions at BMO Field this year.
* Real Salt Lake had last weekend off from MLS competition, but will have played two games in the CONCACAF Champions League since their last league game, a 2-0 home win against Columbus.
* Javier Morales is coming off his second two-goal game of the season in league play. He scored twice in the season opener, a 3-0 victory at San Jose.
Philadelphia Union at New England Revolution, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* At Kansas City, the Revolution changed to a 3-5-2 formation, due in part to the narrow confines of CommunityAmerica Ballpark. The result? A 4-1 loss, the most goals New England had allowed since a 5-0 loss at Real Salt Lake on July 2. In between, the Revs had allowed four goals in nine games overall.
* In seeing their winless streak extended to six games, Union were shut out for the first time since June 10.
* The teams are meeting for the second time inside a month. A Marko Perovic late in the second half left the teams in a 1-1 tie, July 28 at PPL Park.
San Jose Earthquakes at New York Red Bulls, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* A week after admittedly giving the ball away for the lone goal in a loss to LA, Rafael Marquez scored his first MLS goal – a wickedly swerving blast from all of 30 yards.
* After Joe Cannon suffered a broken ankle in training during the week, Jon Busch took a freshly shaven head between the posts and recorded a 1-0 shutout vs. Los Angeles. It was Busch’s first shutout since his Earthquakes debut, a scoreless draw June 25 vs. Real Salt Lake.
* The Earthquakes have been involved in four consecutive 1-0 games. After losing back-to-back 1-0 games, they’ve won each of the last two games by the lone goal – each time coming from Chris Wondolowski. Earlier this year, the Colorado Rapids became the first team in MLS history to play in five consecutive 1-0 games (May 1-June 5).
* The Quakes’ first Designated Player, Geovanni, made his MLS debut, coming on as a 72nd-minute substitute. He was able to play after walking across the San Ysidro border crossing in southern California from Tijuana back to the United States, after getting his P-1 visa approved.
Houston Dynamo at Colorado Rapids, 6:30 p.m. (FSC / FSE)
* Houston’s Brian Ching scored his first hat trick since April 2, 2006 – the Dynamo’s first game in club history, when he had four goals in a 5-2 win against Colorado.
* Ching has scored all six of his goals since returning to the Dynamo from the U.S. national team’s pre-World Cup camp.
* Every season since coming into the league, the Dynamo have had a 4-3 victory at Robertson Stadium. They defeated FC Dallas in 2006, Real Salt Lake in back-to-back seasons (2007, ’08) and D.C. United a year ago before the win against Chicago.
* The Rapids have won just once in 10 games, since a 1-0 victory against Columbus on June 5. The three goals conceded in the return match against the Crew last weekend were their season-high.
Chicago Fire at Seattle Sounders FC, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* After missing the first 16 games of the season with a quadriceps injury suffered in preseason, Calen Carr has returned to action and scored goals in each of the last two games.
* The Fire matched their season-high with four goals allowed to Houston over the weekend. All four goals came from set pieces.
* Sounders FC had their nine-game unbeaten streak in all competitions come to an end in their CONCACAF Champions League opener last week. They have not lost in their last six MLS games, though they had a four-game winning streak come to an end in the 0-0 draw with Chivas USA on Aug. 14.
* The teams are meeting for the first time this season. They played to a pair of a draws a year ago, a 1-1 tie at Toyota Park and a scoreless draw at Qwest Field.
Kansas City Wizards at LA Galaxy, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* Birahim Diop, who was last playing for a New York-based amateur team called FDR United, scored two goals in his Kansas City debut in the win against New England.
* Diop went eight years between MLS appearances; he played four games for the MetroStars in 2002. The all-time MLS leader is the LA Galaxy’s Eddie Lewis, who went nine years between MLS appearances (1999-2008); New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Greg Sutton went seven years between appearances (2000-07) for third on the all-time list.
* The teams are meeting for the second time this season. They played to a scoreless draw April 24 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, the only time LA was not victorious in its first eight games this season.
Sunday, August 29
D.C. United at Chivas USA, 7 p.m. (ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes / ESPN360.com)
* The win against Philadelphia was the first for Ben Olsen as interim head coach, after taking over three games ago following the dismissal of Curt Onalfo. The game ended a five-game losing streak for United and eight-game MLS winless streak.
* Danny Allsopp has scored four goals this season – coming in a pair of games. He also scored both goals in United’s 2-1 win vs. Kansas City on May 5.
* After putting together a four-game undefeated streak, Chivas USA haven’t won in three games, and have now been shut out in back-to-back games.