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October 6, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Major League Soccer releases weekly preview and notes

Cunningham on verge of history

On Saturday night, FC Dallas striker Jeff Cunningham scored his 132nd career MLS goal, tying D.C. United’s Jaime Moreno for the all-time MLS goal scoring record.

Cunningham has a chance to set a new record as he and FC Dallas take on the Colorado Rapids this Saturday (3 p.m. PT, MLS Direct Kick Package) while Moreno will look to regain his status as the all-time leader later that evening when he and D.C. United face the San Jose Earthquakes at RFK Stadium (4:30 p.m. PT, MLS Direct Kick Package).

Five teams have qualified for MLS Cup Playoffs

Columbus, New York, and Dallas became the latest teams to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs, joining the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake. Meanwhile, Chivas USA and Philadelphia Union were eliminated from playoff contention after their respective tie and loss last week, joining D.C., Houston and New England as teams who will see their season come to an end at the close of the regular season schedule.

Six clubs are still in the hunt for the remaining three postseason berths. Teams from the Western Conference -Seattle (42 pts.), Colorado (41 pts.) and San Jose (40 pts.) – currently hold the most points of those six, while the three Eastern Conference teams – Kansas City (33 pts.), Toronto FC (31 pts.) and Chicago Fire (29 pts.) – trail behind and will look to gain much needed points this week.

The Supporters’ Shield – for best regular season record – is still up for grabs, as just seven points separate the top five teams, led by the LA Galaxy.

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

MLS Week 27 rewind

The New York Red Bulls booked their place in the MLS Cup Playoffs, defeating the Kansas City Wizards 1-0 behind a goal from Dane Richards and 12 saves from MLS Player of the Week Bouna Coundoul. FC Dallas clinched their first postseason berth since 2007, defeating the Chicago Fire 3-0. Seattle Sounders FC edged closer to securing a spot with a 3-2 win against Toronto FC, as did the San Jose Earthquakes with a valuable scoreless draw at Columbus. For all the highlights of Week 27, click here.

MLS quotables

“I would say we’re a better team than last year just because we’re more mature, and we’ve thrown that sophomore jinx off for sure.”

— Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Steve Zakuani to the Tacoma News-Tribune

“For this group, we still believe we deserve better, but when you look around at what we have and how we built this team and this franchise, we’re still No. 3 behind Seattle last year and Chicago Fire in ’98 for expansion teams.”

— Philadelphia Union team manager Peter Nowak

“We’ve worked so hard in the last two years to be in this position. I’ve lost a lot of sleep. It’s been very stressful.”

— FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman after the team qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs

“It’s great and all. And Chivas will win their share of games in this rivalry. Hopefully I’m in a nursing home at that point. I might be this week at some point.”

— LA Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena after his team’s 2-1 win against Chivas USA

Previewing Week 28: October 7-10, 2010 (all times PT)

Thursday, October 7

LA Galaxy at Philadelphia Union, 5 p.m. (ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes / ESPN360.com)

* The game features a matchup of MLS Golden Boot candidates. Edson Buddle’s scored his 15th goal in the 2-1 win against Chivas USA. He leads the race by two goals ahead of three players, including Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux, who scored his 13th over the weekend. The two clubs also have four nominees for the AT&T Goal of the Week.

* Philadelphia Union were officially eliminated from playoff contention with their 1-1 home draw against Houston on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park.

* After the midweek game in San Jose, Union manager Peter Nowak gave starts to a group of youngsters in Kyle Nakazawa, Roger Torres, Nick Zimmerman and Sheanon Williams.

* After seeing Real Salt Lake move ahead in the Supporters’ Shield race for about 24 hours, the Galaxy moved back in front with their win against Chivas, the second consecutive season LA has eliminated its Home Depot Center neighbor.

Friday, October 8

Columbus Crew at Chicago Fire, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)

* The Chicago Fire return home where they’ve been shut out in their last two games – and have been blanked in five of their last six games overall.

* The Fire can be officially eliminated from the playoff race if they fail to defeat Columbus, or if Colorado takes at least a point from their trip to FC Dallas and San Jose defeats D.C. United.

* The Crew were shut out for a third consecutive match at home in the goalless draw against San Jose. They last scored at home in an MLS game on Aug. 21, a 3-1 win against Colorado, a span now at 280 minutes.

* William Hesmer set the Crew club record with his 11th shutout of the season, breaking the mark he equaled in 2008 that was first set in 2004 by Jon Busch – coincidentally in goal for San Jose when Hesmer broke the record.

Saturday, October 9

Real Salt Lake at New York Red Bulls, 1 p.m. (TeleFutura)

* Dane Richards scored his fourth goal of the season, securing the Red Bulls’ place in the MLS Cup Playoffs with the 1-0 win against Kansas City.

* All of Richards’ goals have come since Aug. 28; he has four goals and two assists in the seven games since joining Jamaica for a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago which he says boosted his confidence.

* Both of Real Salt Lake’s goals against New England came from deadball situations – one on a free kick and one on a corner kick. RSL leads the League in goals (41) and goals from set pieces (11), not including penalty kicks.

Colorado Rapids at FC Dallas, 3 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)

* FC Dallas clinched their first berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs since 2007. Just two players are still with the club since that appearance – midfielder Dax McCarty and goalkeeper Dario Sala.

* FC Dallas also extended their unbeaten streak to 18 games, matching the single-season record set by the Columbus Crew and putting them a game away from the Crew’s all-time MLS mark set in 2004-05.

* The Rapids saw their 10-game home unbeaten streak put to an end in the 1-0 loss to D.C. United, losing for the first time in Commerce City since a 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy on May 5.

* The Rapids now hit the road for back-to-back games; they conclude their 2010 regular season with games against the top three teams in the Western Conference (at FC Dallas, at LA Galaxy, home vs. Real Salt Lake).

* The Rapids can clinch their first berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs since 2006 with a win at FC Dallas and if Seattle defeats or ties Kansas City.

San Jose Earthquakes at D.C. United, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)

* The Earthquakes extended their road unbeaten streak to three games with the scoreless draw in Columbus. After winning just three road games total over the last two seasons, since their return to the league, the Quakes are 5-4-4 on the road this year – the third-best away mark in MLS.

* Danny Allsopp scored his fifth goal of the season against Colorado – but it was the first time he’s scored one goal in a game. His previous four tallies came in two-goal games – May 5 vs. Kansas City and Aug. 22 vs. Philadelphia.

* The Earthquakes can clinch a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs – the first for the club since 2005 – with a victory against D.C. United and a Seattle victory at Kansas City.

Seattle Sounders FC at Kansas City Wizards, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)

* The Wizards uncorked an MLS-season high 26 attempts at goal, putting 12 on target (tied for second-most in a game) in the 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls.

* The Wizards are now seven points out of the final playoff spot and could see their bid to return to the postseason ended with a loss to Seattle and victories by both San Jose and Colorado.

* Sounders FC will qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs for a second consecutive year with a victory or a draw against the Wizards.

* Sanna Nyassi scored his first MLS goal for Sounders FC, making his eighth start in the last 10. Nyassi did score for Seattle last year in the U.S. Open Cup.

* After a 3-1 loss to the LA Galaxy on July 4, Sounders FC sat in seventh place in the Western Conference with 15 points. Since then, they’ve gone 8-1-3 in league play.

Toronto FC at Chivas USA, 7:30 p.m. (FSC / Fox Deportes)

* Toronto FC are on the verge of playoff elimination after the 3-2 loss to Seattle – their second in a row and eighth in the last 13 games.

* Toronto FC will be eliminated if they fail to take at least a point from the Chivas USA game, or if San Jose takes at least a point from their trip to D.C. United.

* For the second consecutive season, Chivas USA saw their season come to an end at the hands of their fellow Home Depot Center denizens, ruled out of playoff consideration after the 2-1 loss to the LA Galaxy. A year ago, the Galaxy won the Western Conference Semifinal Series between the clubs.

* With first-choice starters Michael UmaƱa (suspension) and Dario Delgado (injury) ruled out of the game against the Galaxy, the Chivas central defense featured Ante Jazic and Carlos Borja.

Sunday, October 10

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

* The Dynamo once again weren’t able to string together back-to-back victories this season, tying Philadelphia Union 1-1. Houston had followed its first six league wins this year with losses before the draw at PPL Park.

* The Revolution saw their winless run reach three games with a sixth loss in their last nine in their 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake. That stretch follows the high point of the New England campaign – an eight-game unbeaten run where they allowed just two goals in four MLS games and four SuperLiga contests.

* There should be an intriguing vibe between these two recent powerhouses who met in two MLS Cup finals and a SuperLiga final, but cannot reach the 2010 MLS Cup Playoffs and are looking to build toward next season.

* Sainey and Sanna Nyassi became the first brothers to score on the same day in MLS history. On Saturday, Sainey scored his third this season for New England against RSL, and Sanna scored his first MLS goal for Seattle. The two brothers have been called in by The Gambia for their weekend African Nations Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso.

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