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September 7, 2010 at 2:20 PM

Major League Soccer releases preview and team notes

Supporters’ Shield race tightens again; West holds all wildcards

With seven weeks remaining in the MLS season, four teams are within four points at the top of the overall standings, including a tie between the Galaxy and the Columbus Crew, who meet Saturday night at The Home Depot Center (10:30 p.m. ET; MLS Direct Kick package):

The Western Conference continues to hold six of the eight playoff spots, with a five-point gap separating the Kansas City Wizards and Toronto FC from the final two wildcard spots. 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.

Follow the playoff race by clicking on MLSsoccer.com’s Playoff Standings page.

Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas stay red hot as unbeaten streaks continue

With a victory or a draw against the Chicago Fire on Sept. 18 at Rio Tinto Stadium, Real Salt Lake will set the MLS record for the longest unbeaten streak at home in MLS history. RSL equaled the mark set by the Columbus Crew of 22 games with their 1-0 win against New York last weekend:

FC Dallas extended their unbeaten streak to 13 games with the 1-0 win against Toronto FC last weekend. Just five teams have recorded longer unbeaten streaks (including the LA Galaxy earlier this year):

With his goal in the 47th minute Saturday, FC Dallas striker Jeff Cunningham scored the 129th goal of his MLS career, moving him to within three of all-time leader Jaime Moreno of D.C. United:

MLS Week 23 rewind

The Columbus Crew pulled into a tie in the chase for the Supporters’ Shield with a 1-0 win at D.C. United, level with the LA Galaxy, whose stoppage-time goal earned a 1-1 draw in Chicago. Real Salt Lake tied a League record home unbeaten streak with a 1-0 win against the New York Red Bulls. FC Dallas continued their torrid run, extending their unbeatens treak to 13 with a 1-0 win against Toronto FC. After changing his boots at halftime, MLS Player of the Week Omar Cummings scored two goals to lead the Colorado Rapids to victory by a 3-0 scoreline for a second consecutive week, defeating Chivas USA. For all the highlights of Week 23, click here.

MLS quotables

“We need to liven things up a little bit. When David gets back – I think David will help a lot. We need some fresh energy.”

— LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan, on the return of David Beckham from injury. Beckham’s first game of 2010 could occur as early as this Saturday against Columbus.

“Hopefully against Columbus I’ll play 15-20 minutes if everything goes according to plan … I’m looking forward to that.”

— LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham.

“It is important to us. We take a lot of pride in this building, as I’ve said before. It’s more than a building for us because a lot of us have been here since the place opened up. So it feels a little bit more like a home, if you will.”

— Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis, on the club’s 22-game unbeaten streak at Rio Tinto Stadium

“It’s a bit of a broken record at this point. We’re not making plays. This is who we are right now. There is part of us that is growing and there is part of us that is staying the same. And the part that is staying the same is costing us games.”

— D.C. United coach Ben Olsen, after the team was shut out for the 15th time this season, tying a League record.

Previewing Week 24: September 8-11, 2010 (all times PT)

Wednesday, September 8

Toronto FC at Chicago Fire, 5:30 p.m.

  • Toronto FC are now winless in their last four league games, their longest winless run of the season.
  • The Fire have allowed late goals in each of their last three games that have cost them points. They allowed the winning goals in the 85th minute in Houston and in stoppage time in Seattle, then Omar Gonzalez netted the equalizer for LA on Saturday.
  • Toronto FC received some good news when Canadian national team boss released Dwayne De Rosario, Julian de Guzman and Nana Attakora to play against Chicago.
  • On Friday, Brian McBride – who was the first No. 1 draft pick in Major League Soccer history – announced his retirement following the season.

Thursday, September 9

Real Salt Lake at Seattle Sounders FC, 8 p.m. (ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes / ESPN360.com)

  • Sounders FC saw their seven-game league unbeaten streak come to an end in the 12-minute burst by New England, which turned a one-goal deficit into a 3-1 victory.
  • For the sixth time this season, and second time in as many victories, Real Salt Lake opened the scoring with a goal inside the first 15 minutes. RSL’s six goals in the opening quarter-hour is one behind the LA Galaxy for the most in MLS this season.
  • Nick Rimando and RSL extended their current shutout streak to 352 minutes with the blanking of New York. It’s the sixth-longest streak in MLS this season – but second-longest for Real: they had the league’s best this season, spanning 567 minutes from May 29 to July 17.
  • Real Salt Lake are making their first appearance at Qwest Field since the biggest victory in the club’s history, the win in MLS Cup 2009 vs. the LA Galaxy.

Friday, September 10

New England Revolution at Chivas USA, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)

  • Despite playing in the SuperLiga final in midweek, the Revolution put an end to a three-game losing slide with a 12-minute, three-goal burst against Seattle. New England scored multiple goals in a league game for the first time since July 10, a 2-0 win against the LA Galaxy.
  • The visit by New England kicks off a stretch of four games out of the next five for Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center. Chivas also has scheduled a friendly for Sept. 14 at Petco Park in San Diego against sister club Chivas de Guadalajara.
  • With Sainey Nyassi away on international duty, Kheli Dube moved to a new role on the right side of midfield for the Revolution – and scored his first goal since last Oct. 3. He had 10 goals in all competitions in 2009.
  • Chris Tierney scored the first goal of his professional career.

Saturday, September 11

Colorado Rapids at New York Red Bulls, 1 p.m. (TeleFutura)

  • Conor Casey’s return to the lineup on Aug. 21 after missing three starts to injury brought with it a change to a twin-striker setup by Rapids coach Gary Smith. In the last two games, Casey and strike partner Omar Cummings have combined for five goals and played a part in all six of Colorado’s tallies in that time.
  • The Rapids have won back-to-back games by a 3-0 scoreline for the first time since 2007, when they defeated New England and Los Angeles, Aug. 16-26.
  • Again missing four players to international duty, the Red Bulls weren’t able this time to overcome their absences. They also were without the host of national teamers on Aug. 11, but still defeated Toronto FC 1-0.

D.C. United at Toronto FC, 1 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)

  • D.C. United can be eliminated from playoff contention this weekend if they lose at Toronto FC and by both Seattle (vs. Real Salt Lake) and San Jose (vs. FC Dallas) win.
  • D.C. United have not scored a goal in 352 minutes, the second-longest drought in MLS this season. The Kansas City Wizards went 402 minutes without scoring, April 10-May 5.
  • The teams are meeting for the first time this season, the next-to-last teams to open their season series. Real Salt Lake and Colorado will meet for the first time Sept. 25; like TFC and United, they will conclude their set in the final weekend of the season.
  • After winning each of their first four home games of the season, Toronto FC have won just two of eight league games since.

Chicago Fire at Philadelphia Union, 3 p.m. (FSC / FSE)

  • Union conclude a two-game homestand with the game against Chicago having not won at PPL Park since July 17, a 2-1 win against Toronto. They’ve drawn four of the five games since.
  • Sebastien Le Toux became the first player in MLS this season to reach 10 goals and 10 assists, recording his 10th marker of the year against Kansas City.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season, the Fire having claimed a 2-1 win June 5 at Toyota Park behind goals from Baggio Husidic and Marco Pappa.

FC Dallas at San Jose Earthquakes, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)

  • FC Dallas extended their unbeaten streak to 13 games with the 1-0 win against Toronto FC despite missing five starters to injury and suspension.
  • FC Dallas also extended their winning streak at Pizza Hut Park to six games, longest in MLS this season.
  • Ruben Luna made his MLS debut, coming on in the 82nd minute, and nearly added his first professional goal to his big night, only to see it ruled out for offside.
  • In his first start for the Earthquakes, Geovanni showed why the club made him its first Designated Player, scoring a goal and adding an assist in the 2-1 win at Houston.

Columbus Crew at LA Galaxy, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)

  • David Beckham says he is targeting this week to be ready for his return to the Galaxy lineup. Watch his interview with FS West on LAGalaxy.com. Beckham has not played a minute after suffering an Achilles tendon injury last March while playing for AC Milan.
  • Omar Gonzalez’s goal put an end to a 350-minute goalless drought for the Galaxy – the third-longest in MLS this season. Coincidentally, the Galaxy also have the second-longest shutout streak this season.
  • The game at D.C. United started a string of five league games out of the next seven on the road for Columbus. During that stretch, which concludes Oct. 16 in Toronto, the Crew must also make a trip to Seattle for the U.S. Open Cup final (Oct. 5) and travel to Guatemala for a CONCACAF Champions League game against Municipal (Sept. 29).
  • Peruvian forward Andres Mendoza made his Columbus debut after a protracted signing effort, coming on late in the win against D.C. United.

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