MLS Cup Playoffs: Final eight set … but nothing else
While the eight teams that will take part in the 2010 MLS Cup Playoffs were decided last weekend, all four conference semifinal matchups will come down to the season’s final weekend.
The LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew will all finish first or second in their respective conferences, and host the second leg of their conference semifinal series.
FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders FC, Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes have all secured postseason berths and will play host to first-leg matches the week of Oct. 28.
In the Western Conference, the LA Galaxy can win the Supporters’ Shield and clinch home-field advantage with a win, or with a Real Salt Lake loss, or with a tie and an RSL tie or loss.
The New York Red Bulls can finish first in the Eastern Conference and clinch home-field advantage with a win or a Columbus Crew loss, or with a tie and a Columbus tie or loss.
The remainder of the ranking will be determined by this week’s games:
* FC Dallas can finish West 3 or West 4
* Seattle Sounders FC can finish West 3 or West 4 or West 5
* Colorado Rapids can finish West 4 or West 5 or West 6
* San Jose Earthquakes can finish West 4 or West 5 or West 6
Follow the playoff race on MLSsoccer.com’s Playoff Standings page.
CONCACAF Champions League: Last matchday of group stage
The group stage in the CONCACAF Champions League comes to an end this week with one MLS team already through to the quarterfinals, and a second on the verge of having qualified:
Columbus Crew (at Joe Public FC, Thursday, Oct. 21, 5 p.m. PT)
* The Crew travel to Trinidad & Tobago knowing a victory will book their ticket into the final eight. If the Crew ties or loses, they will need Santos Laguna to defeat Municipal Tuesday night to advance.
Real Salt Lake (vs. Cruz Azul, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m. PT)
* Real Salt Lake have already clinched their spot in the quarterfinals, but could win Group A with a victory against the Mexican side.
Seattle Sounders FC (vs. Saprissa, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m. PT)
* Seattle Sounders FC have already been eliminated from advancement, sitting in fourth place in Group C with 3 points from 5 games.
Toronto FC (vs. Arabe Unido, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 5 p.m. PT)
* Toronto FC have already been eliminated from advancement, sitting in third place in Group A with 5 points from 5 games.
MLS Week 29 rewind
The Colorado Rapids became the final team to book their place in the MLS Cup Playoffs, defeating the LA Galaxy 3-1 (and keeping that club from clinching the Supporters’ Shield). The Rapids had already secured their place before kickoff, after the New England Revolution defeated the Kansas City Wizards 1-0. The Columbus Crew needed a goal from goalkeeper William Hesmer for a 2-2 draw at Toronto FC, but the New York Red Bulls couldn’t secure the Eastern Conference regular season crown, falling 2-1 at Philadelphia Union. FC Dallas saw its unbeaten streak ended at 19 games while Real Salt Lake extended their record home unbeaten streak to 25 games in a 2-0 victory at Rio Tinto Stadium. For all the highlights of Week 29, click here.
“What did we have to lose? I really didn’t know what I was doing. Luckily, it went in.”
— Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer to The Columbus Dispatch after scoring vs. Toronto FC
“I thought the fans and the way the Fire saw Brian out was very good – very respectful and well deserved. You’re going to miss a player like that in this locker room, in this club, in soccer in general. I’m glad that we at least got a result out of his day. He’s going to be very missed.”
— Chicago Fire defender C.J. Brown to ESPNChicago.com, after Brian McBride’s final home game
“We are bummed out, but we still control our own destiny and next week means everything.”
— LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan after a 3-1 loss to Colorado means the team does not clinch the Supporters’ Shield
Previewing Week 30: October 20-24, 2010 (all times PT)
Wednesday, October 20
Chivas USA at San Jose Earthquakes, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* In order to win the Budweiser Golden Boot, Chris Wondolowski will need to score three goals and add two assists in the Quakes’ last two games – and hope that LA Galaxy forward Edson Buddle does not register on the scoresheet against FC Dallas on Sunday.
* After the 1-0 loss to Houston over the weekend, the Earthquakes have lost back-to-back home games for the first time this season. They will open the MLS Cup Playoffs at Buck Shaw Stadium.
* Rodolfo Espinoza has a goal and two assists the last two games, after assisting on Jesus Padilla’s late consolation strike for Chivas in the 2-1 loss at Seattle.
* With a loss or a tie, San Jose will face either Columbus or New York in an Eastern Conference Semifinal Series.
* Chivas USA have not lost to the Earthquakes since San Jose’s return to the league in 2008. The Red-and-White have won four of the six meetings, including a 3-2 win in Carson on April 24.
Thursday, October 21
New England Revolution at New York Red Bulls, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes / ESPN360.com)
* The New York Red Bulls are aiming to finish atop the Eastern Conference regular season standings for the first time since 2000.
* Shalrie Joseph scored for the second consecutive week for the Revolution in the win against Kansas City. All four of his goals on the season have come in the last five games.
* A week after getting his first MLS victory as a starter, goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth recorded his first league shutout. He had first recorded a 1-0 shutout vs. Mexico’s Pumas in SuperLiga play.
* New York has not defeated New England in their last 14 league meetings, since a 5-4 MetroStars victory at the Meadowlands in 2005. The Revolution won the first meeting this year, 3-2 at Gillette Stadium on May 29.
Saturday, October 23
Seattle Sounders FC at Houston Dynamo, 1 p.m. (TeleFutura)
* Sounders FC have won five games in a row, matching Real Salt Lake’s run from May 1-29 for the longest winning streak in MLS play this season. The MLS record is 15 games including shootout victories, set by the Los Angeles Galaxy in 1997-98; not including shootout wins, the record is eight consecutive wins, set by the Galaxy in 1996 (the first eight games in club history).
* Steve Zakuani scored his 10th goal of the season and assisted on another in the 2-1 win against Chivas USA, to be named MLS Player of the Week. Zakuani joined Sounders FC teammate Fredy Montero among the 12 players now to have reached double-digits in goals this season.
* Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric had a dream professional debut, recording a shutout in the 1-0 win against San Jose. It was the Dynamo’s first shutout since July 10; Deric was the first Dynamo academy product to start a league game.
* Houston has never defeated Seattle in MLS regular season, after Sounders FC took a 2-0 win on Aug. 8. But the Dynamo did defeat Seattle 1-0 to advance in last year’s Western Conference Semifinals.
Toronto FC at D.C. United, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* D.C. United were shut out for the 17th time this season in the scoreless draw at Chicago, adding to their all-time league record.
* United are all but assured of breaking the MLS record for fewest goals scored in a season. D.C. has 19 goals in 29 games this season; the record is held by Toronto FC, with 25 goals scored in 2007.
* Toronto FC have scored two goals in four of the last five games, but have won just once in that time, after the Columbus Crew’s last-gasp equalizer for a 2-2 draw Saturday.
* Toronto FC homegrown player Nicholas Lindsay made his first MLS start vs. Columbus and received his first assist, on Jacob Peterson’s 38th-minute goal.
San Jose Earthquakes at Kansas City Wizards, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* The Kansas City Wizards were the last team eliminated in the chase for the MLS Cup Playoffs after seeing their slim hopes dashed in a 1-0 loss Saturday at the New England Revolution.
* Just a couple of weeks after firing a season-high 26 shots in a 1-0 loss at New York, the Wizards let fly with 22 shots against New England yet were blanked again.
* The Quakes are one of two teams (along with the LA Galaxy) with a better record on the road than at home; they entered the week 6-4-4 on the road (22 points) and 6-5-3 (21 points) at home.
Real Salt Lake at Colorado Rapids, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* Before Colorado had even defeated LA on Saturday, the Kansas City loss in New England assured the club’s first postseason berth since 2006.
* The result also means the Rapids will not go into the season finale against RSL needing a result to reach the postseason for the first time in three seasons. Each of the last two years, Real has eliminated the Rapids.
* Real Salt Lake became just the second team in MLS history to finish a single-season home campaign undefeated. RSL went 11-0-4 at Rio Tinto Stadium, joining the 2005 San Jose Earthquakes, who went 9-0-7 at Spartan Stadium.
* The 2-0 win against FC Dallas was Real Salt Lake’s 15th shutout of the season. The all-time MLS record is 17 shutouts (in 32 games), posted by the 2000 Kansas City Wizards.
* Conor Casey and Omar Cummings each scored for the Rapids against LA, bettering their tandem total from a year ago. In 2009, the pair combined for 24 goals (Casey 16, Cummings 8); this year, they have now teamed for 25 goals (Cummings 13, Casey 12).
Chicago Fire at Chivas USA, 8 p.m. (FSC / Fox Deportes)
* Brian McBride brought down the curtain on his home MLS career in Saturday’s scoreless draw at Toyota Park. He nearly made it a day to remember, but had two goals called back for offside.
* Andrew Dykstra recorded his second shutout in three starts since returning to the Fire lineup in place of Sean Johnson. Dykstra had three shutouts in starting the first 14 games of the MLS season.
* Chivas USA is looking to end a four-game league winless streak against Chicago. The Fire had won three in a row in MLS regular season play before a 1-1 draw May 1 at Toyota Park.
Sunday, October 24
Philadelphia Union at Columbus Crew, 1 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* Philadelphia Union concluded the home portion of their inaugural campaign with a 6-3-6 mark at home, including a 5-3-5 record at PPL Park.
* Sebastien Le Toux registered his 11th assist for the season, becoming the only player in MLS in double figures in both goals and assists this season.
* The Crew’s William Hesmer became the second goalkeeper in MLS history to score a goal. Coincidentally, both came on the next-to-last week of the season and both involved the Crew; New York’s Danny Cepero scored on a long, bouncing free kick on Oct. 18, 2008.
* Despite the late comeback in Toronto, the Crew are winless (0-3-3) in their last six league games.
FC Dallas at LA Galaxy, 5 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick package)
* FC Dallas saw their 19-game unbeaten streak, matching the all-time MLS record (and longest contained within a single season) come to an end in the 2-0 loss at Real Salt Lake.
* After going nearly five months not allowing more than one goal in any MLS game, FC Dallas has allowed two goals in back-to-back games and in four of their last six.
* Center back Ugo Ihemelu and captain Daniel Hernandez both made welcome returns to the FCD lineup. Ihemelu started for the first time since Aug. 8; Hernandez the first since Sept. 16.
* The three goals allowed by the Galaxy in the loss to Colorado matched an MLS-season high for the club, previously set in a 3-2 loss to Chicago on Aug. 1.
* Before the Rapids game, the Galaxy were 16-0-0 when scoring first, and on only occasion (June 5 vs. Houston), had their opponents even come back to tie the score after the Galaxy scored first.