MLS Cup Playoff race: Seven teams in; Wizards chase Rapids
The eighth and final playoff spot is down to a two-team race after the San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders FC secured their places last weekend.
If the Colorado Rapids take one point from either of their final two games (at LA Galaxy, home vs. Real Salt Lake), or the Kansas City Wizards fail to win any of their three remaining games (at Chicago Fire tonight, at New England Revolution, home vs. San Jose Earthquakes), the Rapids will clinch the final spot.
Follow the playoff race by clicking on MLSsoccer.com’s Playoff Standings page.
Supporters’ Shield: Galaxy closing in
The LA Galaxy are on the cusp of winning the Supporters’ Shield for the third time in club history. With a victory Saturday against Colorado, the Galaxy will join the 1998 and 2002 editions as having recorded the best regular season record in MLS.
Just three teams still have a chance to win the Supporters’ Shield – all from the Western Conference:
LA: 56 points (games remaining: 10/16 vs. COL; 10/24 vs. DAL)
RSL: 52 points (games remaining: 10/16 vs. DAL; 10/23 at COL)
DAL: 50 points (games remaining: 10/16 at RSL; 10/24 vs. LA)
MLS Week 28 rewind
The San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders FC became the latest teams to book their postseason tickets. The Quakes got two goals from MLS Player of the Week Chris Wondolowski in a 2-0 win at D.C. United, while Sounders FC left the Kansas City Wizards on the edge of elimination with a 2-1 triumph. The LA Galaxy inched closer to the Supporters’ Shield with a 1-0 win at Philadelphia Union, while the New York Red Bulls put the Eastern Conference regular season title in their sights with a scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake after the Chicago Fire knocked off the Columbus Crew, 2-0. For all the highlights of Week 28, click here.
“Just two teams going at it and not much separating them. Both teams were out for it, as far as it being like a playoff game. It’s kind of like the playoffs have already started.”
— Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman, after the scoreless draw vs. New York
“The amazing thing is that mathematically, we’re still in it. Incredible.”
— Kansas City Wizards head coach Peter Vermes, after the 2-1 home loss to Seattle
“I’m honored to be in that list, and I’m hoping to maybe break it because I’ve been a San Jose fan my whole life growing up in the Bay Area. It would mean a lot to me, and I’m hoping to finish the job.”
— San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski after his 14th goal, one away from the club’s single-season record
“We want to do more things in the playoffs than just qualify for them. … We are not afraid of who we’re going to play. Whoever comes our way, we will prepare for them.”
— Seattle Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid, after the club qualified for the playoffs for a second year
Previewing Week 29: October 12-16, 2010 (all times PT)
Tuesday, October 12
Kansas City Wizards at Chicago Fire, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick Package)
* The Wizards must win out – while hoping Colorado loses its final two games – to secure the final playoff spot. But they must start in a place where they have historically had little success – Kansas City has won just twice all-time at the Fire.
* Since going on a 10-game run over two months (July 14-Sept. 22) where they took 21 of a possible 30 points, winning six games and drawing three, the Wizards have now lost three in a row. The losing streak matches a season-long.
* Despite almost being held out of the game with bone spurs – then needing an injection at halftime to keep playing – Patrick Nyarko assisted on both Chicago goals in the 2-0 win against Columbus. “He stuck it out and dug in deep. We need more guys like that,” said assistant coach John Matkovich.
Friday, October 15
Chivas USA at Seattle Sounders FC, 8 p.m. (ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes / ESPN360.com)
* Seattle secured a postseason spot for the second consecutive season with its 2-1 win against Kansas City.
* Sanna Nyassi did not join the Gambian national team for its African Cup of Nations qualifier – then scored in a second consecutive MLS game, and the third time in as many games in all competitions. “I think Sanna’s just on fire now. It took him forever to score one and now he can’t stop scoring,” Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said.
* Known as “Sueno” to his teammates, Jorge Flores, the winner of the first Sueno MLS competition, scored his first goal of the season in the 3-0 win against Toronto FC. It was his first since May 2008.
* Sounders FC have never scored a goal against Chivas USA in three all-time meetings. The teams played to a scoreless draw Aug. 14 at The Home Depot Center; it was the second consecutive goalless draw between the teams.
Saturday, October 16
D.C. United at Chicago Fire, 1 p.m. (TeleFutura)
* D.C. United were shut out for the 16th time in the 2-0 loss Saturday to San Jose, setting an MLS record for attacking shutouts in a season. Toronto FC, in 2007, and the New York Red Bulls last year, were blanked 15 times over the course of the season.
* Making his first start since Aug. 29, Jaime Moreno was sent off along with San Jose’s Brandon McDonald after just eight minutes in the 2-0 loss to San Jose. Moreno is still tied with FC Dallas’ Jeff Cunningham for the MLS all-time goal scoring lead, and will leave MLS after this season.
* The Fire conclude their Toyota Park campaign with the visit by D.C. United. They started the week with just four home wins in 13 games – the fewest in MLS this season. A year ago, they won just five times in Bridgeview in league play, tied with New York for fewest home victories.
Columbus Crew at Toronto FC, 1 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick Package)
* The Crew were shut out for a second consecutive game in Chicago, capping a stretch of four games in 10 days where three were played in Guatemala, Seattle and Chicago. The Crew are winless in their last five league games (0-3-2).
* Toronto FC were officially eliminated from playoff consideration for a fourth consecutive year, conceding three goals for a third game in a row in the loss at Chivas USA.
* Robbie Rogers made his first start since July 24 in the weekend loss at Chicago, after coming off the bench in the Crew’s two previous games (against San Jose and the Open Cup final vs. Seattle).
* The Crew had some other weapons come in against Chicago: striker Andres Mendoza made his first MLS start (after starting in CONCACAF Champions League games), and Gino Padula made his first appearance in more than a month.
* The Crew are unbeaten all-time against Toronto FC. Columbus won 2-0 on March 27 at Crew Stadium in the first meeting between the teams this year, improving its all-time record to 5-0-5 vs. TFC.
New York Red Bulls at Philadelphia Union, 3 p.m. (FSC / FSE)
* The Red Bulls can clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a win against Philadelphia and a loss or a draw by Columbus in Toronto.
* While the Red Bulls were held without a goal by Real Salt Lake, Dane Richards continued his rich vein of form while on international duty, scoring the only goal in Jamaica’s friendly win against Trinidad & Tobago. Richards had four goals in the previous six games for New York.
* With Richards away, the Red Bulls started Mehdi Ballouchy in a central midfield role behind Juan Pablo Angel and moved Thierry Henry to a wide left position, with Joel Lindpere on the opposite flank.
* Despite going down to a 1-0 defeat and losing for just the third time at PPL Park, Union felt pleased with their effort against the LA Galaxy when they allowed just three shots on goal (from six total attempts).
* Since taking over the right back spot Sept. 11, Sheanon Williams, a transplant from the USL-2 Harrisburg City Islanders, has helped Union record two shutouts and allow just one goal in three other games.
Kansas City Wizards at New England Revolution, 5 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick Package)
* The Revolution maintained their all-time unbeaten record at Houston’s Robertson Stadium with a 2-1 win Sunday, their first victory since Sept. 4.
* Bobby Shuttleworth started in goal for New England and was credited with his first MLS victory as a starter. He had made two previous league starts: a 3-0 loss to Seattle on June 5, and a 2-1 loss to Philadelphia on Aug. 21.
* If the Wizards come away with victories in Chicago and New England on their two-game road trip, they could reach the final home game of the season against San Jose with a postseason spot in play.
FC Dallas at Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick Package)
* Two teams riding the longest unbeaten streaks in MLS this season meet at Rio Tinto Stadium. FC Dallas has a chance to make history; they extended their undefeated streak to 19 games in the 2-2 draw with Colorado, matching the Columbus Crew’s all-time record (set over the end of the 2004 season and the start of 2005).
* Real Salt Lake are riding a 12-game unbeaten streak, matching the LA Galaxy’s run to open the 2010 season as second-longest in MLS this season. Real are also riding an MLS-record 24-game undefeated streak at home.
* With a victory, Real Salt Lake will clinch one of the top two spots in the Western Conference and will have home-field advantage in the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinal Series.
Houston Dynamo at San Jose Earthquakes, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick Package)
* Chris Wondolowski is just one goal away from the San Jose club record, set by Ronald Cerritos back in 1999 when he scored 15 goals.
* Wondolowski, whose career-high was four goals entering the season, has scored the Earthquakes’ last six goals. The last Quakes other than Wondolowski to score were Khari Stephenson and Geovanni, in a 2-1 win at Houston on Sept. 5.
* After conceding the two goals to New England, the Houston Dynamo are now level with the Revolution for the most goals allowed this season (48). The Dynamo allowed less than a goal per game in two of the last three seasons (2007 and 2009).
Colorado Rapids at LA Galaxy, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick Package)
* The Galaxy have secured one of the top two spots in the Western Conference, and with a victory against Colorado, can win the Supporters’ Shield for the third time (also 1998 and 2002).
* The Galaxy posted their 12th shutout of the season – but their first in nearly two months – in the 1-0 win at Philadelphia. Nine of their 12 shutouts have come on the road.
* Jeff Larentowicz scored two goals in a game for the first time in his MLS career in the Rapids’ draw at FC Dallas. His four goals this season match his career-high, set in 2008 with New England.
* With one point from either of their final two games – or the failure by Kansas City to win all three of their remaining games -the Rapids will secure their first postseason berth since 2006.