First-Time encounters in MLS Cup Playoffs
The road to MLS Cup 2010 kicks off this week with the first legs of the four conference semifinal series. All four matchups – the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC, Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas, the New York Red Bulls and San Jose Earthquakes, and the Columbus Crew and Colorado Rapids – feature teams that have never faced each other in the postseason.
How Wondo won the Golden Boot
Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes won the Budweiser MLS Golden Boot, scoring 18 goals to finish one ahead of the LA Galaxy’s Edson Buddle.
* Wondolowski has scored the last 10 goals for the Earthquakes, setting an MLS record for goals scored consecutively by one player for his team.
* With six weeks to play in the regular season, Wondolowski trailed Edson Buddle by six goals in the Golden Boot race. While Buddle scored three goals in the Galaxy’s final seven games (after Sept. 11), Wondolowski scored 10 in the Earthquakes’ final eight – the biggest deficit overcome late in the season to win the Golden Boot in MLS history.
Defense wins championships?
Real Salt Lake concluded the 2010 season with just 20 goals allowed in 30 games – smashing the record of 23 goals allowed in 30 games set by the Houston Dynamo.
Four teams – RSL (0.67 goals per game), LA Galaxy (0.87), FC Dallas (0.93) and the New York Red Bulls (0.97) all allowed less than a goal per game. Coming into the 2010 season, just seven teams total in league history had allowed less than a goal per game, two of which won it all:
1999 / Los Angeles Galaxy / 0.91 / L in MLS Cup
2000 / Kansas City Wizards / 0.91 / MLS Cup Champions
2005 / San Jose Earthquakes / 0.97 / L in Conference Semifinal
2007 / Houston Dynamo / 0.77 / MLS Cup Champions
2007 / Chivas USA / 0.93 / L in Conference Semifinal
2009 / Houston Dynamo / 0.97 / L in Conference Final
2009 / Seattle Sounders FC / 0.97 / L in Conference Semifinal
MLS Week 30 rewind
A wild final weekend filled with goals put a cap on the 2010 regular season. The LA Galaxy secured their third Supporters’ Shield with a 2-1 win against FC Dallas in the season finale. Real Salt Lake made it interesting, coming back for a dramatic 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids. After the New York Red Bulls opened the weekend with a 2-0 win against New England to secure the Eastern Conference top seed, the Columbus Crew defeated Philadelphia Union 3-1 – but suffered a big loss when goalkeeper William Hesmer was injured. While the San Jose Earthquakes were thumped 4-1 by the Kansas City Wizards, Chris Wondolowski clinched the MLS Golden Boot with his 18th goal. For all the highlights of Week 30, click here.
“For 90 minutes, we were not only the better team, but I thought by a country mile. I thought we showed passion and determination and creativeness. But these games are now 90 minutes plus, they’re not 90 minutes anymore. You’ve got to be on your guard for however long they last.”
— Colorado Rapids head coach Gary Smith to the Denver Post, after Real Salt Lake scored twice in stoppage time for a 2-2 draw in Saturday’s season finale
“We needed this game. We haven’t been in a game where we’ve been forced to win, forced to show up and play hard and fight and scrap for everything we can get. That’s the kind of game that should give our team and players a lot of confidence.”
— LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena after his club won the Supporters’ Shield with a 2-1 win Sunday against FC Dallas
“Maybe we needed this, to lose a game and remember that feeling. It doesn’t feel good. There’s a lot of pride in this locker room and a lot of winners. Nobody wants to be in this position again.”
— Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Steve Zakuani to the Seattle Times, after the club’s five-game winning streak came to an end in the season finale 2-1 loss to Houston
“When I left the field and I saw my kids crying, that’s when it hit me. I realized it’s now over and I realize how much they care and suffer in every game. I broke down when I saw that.”
— The final MLS Original, Jaime Moreno, following his final game with D.C. United
Previewing the Conference Semifinal Series: October 28-31, 2010 (all times PT)
Thursday, Oct. 28
Columbus Crew at Colorado Rapids, 6 p.m. PT (ESPN2/ ESPN Deportes/ESPN3.com)
* The teams split their season series. A late Drew Moor goal gave Colorado a 1-0 win on June 5 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, after the Rapids went a man down.
* The Crew won 3-1 on Aug. 21 at Crew Stadium behind goals from Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Jason Garey and Steven Lenhart – the heaviest defeat suffered by Colorado this season.
* The Rapids lead the all-time series 15-10-8. They have an all-time lead of 9-3-4 in games in Colorado.
* The Crew suffered a stunning blow in their season-ending win against Philadelphia when goalkeeper William Hesmer was injured, suffering a shoulder fracture that will put him out of the postseason. Andy Gruenebaum – who started all six of the Crew’s games in the CONCACAF Champions League but did not play a minute in league games – will take the starting role.
* Although the result did not end their season as it has the last two seasons, the Rapids were stoppage time away from defeating Real Salt Lake. Instead, their Rocky Mountain rivals scored two stunning goals to forge a 2-2 draw.
Saturday, Oct. 30
Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas, 2 or 2:30pm PT (FSC/ Fox Deportes)
* The teams split their season series. Goals from Brek Shea and Atiba Harris in the second half gave FC Dallas a 2-0 win July 17 at Pizza Hut Park – Real’s only loss in league play since the start of May.
* Real Salt Lake put an end to FCD’s MLS-record 19-game unbeaten run in a 2-0 win Oct. 16 at Rio Tinto Stadium, with second-half goals from Ned Grabavoy and Javier Morales.
* Real Salt Lake has lost all eight matches they have played at FC Dallas, outscored 18-5. FC Dallas leads the all-time series 11-6-1.
* FC Dallas heads into the MLS Cup Playoffs having lost back-to-back games for the first time since July, 2009. The two losses – to Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy – put an end to the record undefeated run.
* While FC Dallas set headlines with their long unbeaten run, Real Salt Lake have an impressive one of their own – now at 14 games after the wild 2-2 draw at Colorado. It’s tied for the fifth-longest in MLS history.
New York Red Bulls at San Jose Earthquakes (7 p.m. PT, TeleFutura)
* The teams split their season series. The Earthquakes rolled to a 4-0 victory May 8 at Buck Shaw Stadium, the biggest of the season for San Jose and the heaviest defeat suffered by New York.
* The Red Bulls took a 2-0 win Aug. 28 at Red Bull Arena, behind goals from Thierry Henry and Dane Richards.
* The Earthquakes lead the all-time series 15-9-6. New York last won in San Jose in league play in 2003, a 2-0 win by the then-MetroStars. The Quakes have won five of the six meetings since, with one draw.
* The Red Bulls completed a 30-point turnaround from 2009 to win the Eastern Conference top seed, the third-largest turnaround for a team going from the bottom of a conference to the top in MLS history. The biggest? The last time New York won the East regular season title, going from 15 points in 1999 to 54 points in 2000.
Sunday, Oct. 31
LA Galaxy at Seattle Sounders FC (5 p.m. PT, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/ESPN3.com)
* The Galaxy swept the season series. LA won 4-0 at Qwest Field on May 8 at Landon Donovan set up the first three goals and scored the fourth. It was the biggest defeat in Sounders FC history and prompted the club to give a refund in the form of a free game in the 2011 season ticket package.
* The Galaxy won 3-1 at The Home Depot Center on July 4, as Edson Buddle, Juninho and an own goal contributed to a third consecutive Seattle loss.
* The two losses this year were Seattle’s first against the Galaxy. In the Sounders FC inaugural season, they won in Carson and tied in Seattle.
* The Galaxy won the third Supporters’ Shield in club history with their 2-1 win against FC Dallas on Sunday, the club’s first since 2002.
* Sounders FC saw their five-game winning streak come to an end in their regular season finale in Houston. The five-game streak set a Seattle club record and matched the longest in MLS this season (along with Real Salt Lake).