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September 21, 2010 at 6:01 PM

Major League Soccer releases weekly preview and notes

MLS Cup Playoffs race update: Galaxy first in

By virtue of rallying to a 2-1 victory against D.C. United on Saturday night, the LA Galaxy became the first team to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs. With 50 points from 25 matches, the Galaxy are assured of having more points than at least eight other teams this season.

With five weeks left in the regular season, 14 teams are vying for seven remaining playoff spots. Two more teams can clinch berths this week:

Columbus Crew will clinch a playoff spot IF:

— Columbus defeats New England on Saturday AND

— Kansas City loses to either Houston (Wednesday) or FC Dallas (Saturday) AND

Seattle loses to Chicago (Saturday)

Real Salt Lake will clinch a playoff spot IF:

— Real Salt Lake defeat Colorado on Saturday

Real Salt Lake will clinch a playoff spot IF:

— Real Salt Lake tie Colorado AND

— Kansas City loses to either Houston (Wednesday) OR FC Dallas (Saturday) AND

Seattle loses to Chicago (Saturday)

With the loss in LA, D.C. United was the first team eliminated from postseason contention. One other team can be eliminated this week:

Houston Dynamo will be eliminated IF:

— Houston loses to Kansas City (Wednesday) OR D.C. United (Saturday) AND

— Colorado defeats Real Salt Lake (Saturday) AND

— San Jose defeats Toronto (Saturday) AND

— Seattle defeats Chicago (Saturday)

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

Champions League update

The four MLS entrants in the CONCACAF Champions League face crucial tests this week in their bid to advance to next year’s knockout phase:

Group A: Real Salt Lake have a good chance to secure one of the top two spots for advancement, but face a difficult trip to Panama to face Arabe Unido on Wednesday. RSL is tied atop the group with 6 points along with Mexico’s Cruz Azul, who entertain Toronto FC on Tuesday. TFC has three points, along with Arabe Unido.

Group B: In second place in the group, the Columbus Crew play host to Mexico’s Santos Laguna on Tuesday knowing a draw could be enough to secure passage. Santos lead the group with 7 points, one ahead of Columbus, with Municipal (2) and Joe Public (1) trailing.

Group C: Seattle Sounders FC face an uphill climb if they are to qualify, beginning with their match Wednesday at Monterrey (Mexico). Sounders FC have lost their first three matches; Monterrey lead the group with 9 points from 3 games, three ahead of Costa Rica’s Saprissa.

MLS Week 25 rewind

The LA Galaxy became the first team to book their spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs, eliminated D.C. United from playoff contention with a 2-1 comeback win thanks to two goals from Landon Donovan. MLS Player of the Week Blaise Nkufo scored the first hat trick in Seattle Sounders FC history in a 4-0 demolition of the Columbus Crew. Real Salt Lake set an MLS record with 23 consecutive games unbeaten at home in a 1-0 win against the Chicago Fire. Dwayne De Rosario hauled Toronto FC back into the playoff reckoning with two free kick goals in a 2-1 win against Houston. The Colorado Rapids once again won 3-0 at home, defeating the New England Revolution. For all the highlights of Week 25, click here.

MLS quotables

“Before the game this week I was thinking a lot about I want to make sure we finish on top of the league, and I want to be MVP again. And I wanted to make a statement tonight.”

— LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan, after two late goals in a 2-1 win against D.C. United

“We didn’t see him in the first half. Didn’t see him in the second half, except for his goals. OK? But he has a killer instinct. Some of these guys in here? I’m not going to say it.”

— Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear to the Houston Chronicle, after two free kicks by Dwayne De Rosario gave Toronto FC a late 2-1 win.

“During the week I was watching videos of Roger Milla. I don’t know if you guys remember, he came into the World Cup at 38 and he scored a goal almost exactly the same. He tried to flick the ball to someone, they missed it and he went in and finished it and then ran to the corner flag and did the dance. So I just decided that if I’m going to score a goal like that, I’ve got to do the dance.”

— Kansas City’s Kei Kamara to the Los Angeles Times, after scoring the first goal in the 2-0 win Sunday at Chivas USA

Previewing Week 26: September 22-25, 2010 (all times PT)

Wednesday, September 22

New England Revolution at FC Dallas, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)

  • FC Dallas extended their club-record unbeaten streak to 15 games with their 2-2 draw against New York last weekend, now tied for the second-longest undefeated streak in MLS history. The Columbus Crew hold the record with a 19-game streak; earlier this year, the LA Galaxy went unbeaten in 15 games for the second time in club history.
  • FCD could be without three key starters for the New England. Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman – the league’s leading goalkeeper with an 0.62 goals-against-average – and midfielder Daniel Hernandez both suffered injuries during the New York game, and midfielder Brek Shea will be suspended.
  • New England concludes a three-game Western road swing with the trip to FC Dallas, having lost the first two games, outscored 5-0. The Revs have lost all six of their road games against Western Conference opposition.

Houston Dynamo at Kansas City Wizards, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)

  • The Wizards kicked off a crucial three games in a seven-day span with the win at Chivas USA. After returning home for the rescheduled game against Houston, they host FC Dallas on Saturday.
  • After losing three consecutive games, all by shutout, coming out of the World Cup recess, the Wizards have lost just once in the last nine games.
  • While not yet mathematically eliminated, Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said his team’s season is essentially over with the loss to Toronto FC.
  • In the past three years, the Dynamo have recorded two of the top seven defensive seasons in MLS history, but this year they have allowed 40 goals – just one fewer than the New England Revolution, who have conceded a league-high 41.

Friday, September 24

New York Red Bulls at LA Galaxy, 8 p.m. (ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes /

  • Acquired just a couple of days earlier, Mehdi Ballouchy scored in his Red Bulls debut as a starter against FC Dallas, playing as an attacking midfielder in a 4-4-1-1 system behind Thierry Henry with Juan Pablo Angel moved to the substitutes’ bench.
  • Since back-to-back losses Aug. 21 and 28, Landon Donovan has two goals and three assists in the Galaxy’s three games since, playing a part in five of LA’s six goals.
  • Donovan scored two goals in a game for the second time this season (also Aug. 1 vs. Chicago)
  • After playing 20 minutes in a substitute role against Columbus, David Beckham had a longer shift against D.C. United, coming on for 37 minutes.
  • The Galaxy conclude a three-game homestand with the game against New York, though they will play at The Home Depot Center next week as well – as the “visitors” in the SuperClasíco against Chivas USA.

Saturday, September 25

Chivas USA at Philadelphia Union, 1 p.m. (TeleFutura)

  • Needing every point they could get, Chivas USA recorded just one shot on goal in the 2-0 home loss to Kansas City on Sunday night.
  • Union are unbeaten in their last four home games, a 1-0 win against Chicago on Sept. 11 following three consecutive draws.
  • Brad Knighton has conceded just one goal in his two league starts in goal for Philadelphia after the 1-0 loss to San Jose last week. Chris Seitz had started each of the first 22 MLS games for Union before being supplanted by Knighton in the club’s first-ever shutout, against Chicago.

San Jose Earthquakes at Toronto FC, 1 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)

  • In his first game in charge, interim coach Nick Dasovic saw Toronto FC win for the first time since Aug. 7, putting an end to a six-game league winless streak.
  • Dwayne De Rosario scored two goals in a game for the third time this season in the 2-1 win at Houston. Three of his goals have come since June 5; he had eight goals in TFC’s first 10 league games.
  • One of De Rosario’s other two-goal games came in the first meeting between the teams, a 3-1 TFC win May 29 at Buck Shaw Stadium.
  • The teams have played to draws in both meetings at BMO Field.

Houston Dynamo at D.C. United, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)

  • United academy product Andy Najar scored his fourth goal in the 2-1 loss at the LA Galaxy. He’s third among rookies this season (Danny Mwanga, PHI, 7; Zack Schilawski, NE, 5) and has the most of any MLS homegrown player.
  • A week after recording a victory with an 81st-minute goal, United loss to LA came with two goals scored in the final 10 minutes. United have allowed 16 goals in the final quarter-hour this season, by far the most among MLS teams (four teams with 9 tied for second).
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season, after the Dynamo took a 2-0 win May 22 at Robertson Stadium, keeping United winless all-time in Houston.

Columbus Crew at New England Revolution, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)

  • The Crew’s 4-0 loss to Seattle matched the heaviest defeat in club history and was the second 4-0 loss at Crew Stadium, after a 4-0 defeat by Kansas City on May 14,2005.
  • The Crew have been outscored 7-1 in their last two games. In their last four losses – all to Western Conference clubs (Chivas USA, Real Salt Lake, LA Galaxy and Seattle), Columbus has been outscored 12-2.
  • The Crew have won on their last three trips to Foxborough. The Revolution’s last home win came June 16, 2007.
  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. The Crew took a 3-2 win at Crew Stadium on May 8 despite a pair of goals from New England rookie Zak Boggs in his first MLS start. Robbie Rogers scored the winner in second-half stoppage time.

FC Dallas at Kansas City Wizards, 5 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)

  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. David Ferreira’s penalty kick gave FC Dallas a 1-0 win on July 3 at Pizza Hut Park.
  • This is the second time this season Kansas City will face a three-game stretch in a week’s time, going 1-1-1 from July 10-17, losing to Chivas USA, defeating Columbus and tying Colorado.

Seattle Sounders FC at Chicago Fire, 5 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)

  • In a night of firsts, Sounders FC won by the biggest margin in club history in the 4-0 win in Columbus, the first time they had scored four goals in a game.
  • Blaise Nkufo – who had missed the last four games in all competitions for Seattle – returned to the lineup and scored the first hat trick in club history. Nathan Sturgis also converted the first penalty kick in an MLS game, after Sounders FC had missed their first three.
  • The Fire have not scored a goal in 272 minutes as their winless streak reached six games in the loss to Real Salt Lake. They did not force RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando to make a single save in Saturday’s 1-0 loss.

Colorado Rapids at Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m. (FSC / FSE)

  • Real Salt Lake set the MLS record with a 23rd consecutive game at home without a loss in the 1-0 win against Chicago, surpassing the mark set by the Columbus Crew.
  • The Rapids became the third team in MLS history to win three consecutive home games by a margin of three or more goals in each, along with Dallas (July 18-Aug. 25, 2001) and D.C. United (July 15-Aug. 13, 2005).
  • Real Salt Lake haven’t allowed a goal since Aug. 11, extending their shutout streak to 532 minutes, second-longest this season in MLS, behind their 567-minute stretch. It was the 13th shutout of the season for RSL, equaling the third-most in a single season. The MLS record is 17, set in 2000 by Kansas City.
  • Colorado hasn’t seen a visitor score at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park since July 31; the only goal they’ve conceded at home since came through an own goal.
  • Omar Cummings and Conor Casey have combined for eight of Colorado’s 10 goals over the past four games, Cummings with five and Casey with three.
  • Casey’s goal against New England was his 39th league goal with the Rapids, equaling the club record set by current club technical director Paul Bravo.


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