After last week's goal-fest, Week 26 returned to Major League Soccer's version of normalcy. The fun started on Friday night, when Portland beat Colorado 1-0 on a 45th minute Bright Dike goal. On Saturday, Columbus continued their streak with a 2-1 win over Montreal at Crew Stadium. As expected, it was Federico Higuain making the difference by assisting on both goals. Montreal's Marco Di Vaio opened the scoring in the 73rd with Columbus equalizing through Chad Marshall in the 80th and getting a stoppage time winner from Emilio Renteria. New England - Philadelphia ended scoreless at Gillette Stadium.
Sporting Kansas City increased their lead in the Eastern Conference to four points, beating Toronto 2-1. Toronto was up on the road when Ryan Johnson scored in the 44th, but KC answered back with goals from Paulo Nagamura (60th) and Oriol Rosell (87th).
"Again, it’s the same old story," Toronto coach Paul Mariner said. "I'm just heartbroken for the players because they put a great effort. You can only dig so deep in your roster. A lot of guys haven't played together and are new to the team. But they worked extremely hard and it’s unfortunate."
Real Salt Lake got a 1-0 shutout over DC courtesy of a 49th minute Will Johnson goal. For fans of the Weather Channel, a storm caused an 84 minute gap between the 4th minute of play and the 5th. DC coach Ben Olsen called the delay "more of a pain than anything, it’s just more sitting around."
The Galaxy shutout Vancouver 2-0 at the Home Depot Center with goals from Juninho (41st) and David Beckham (79th). “I knew if I put it in the corner, the kid wasn’t getting there simple as that," Beckham said. "And I hit it well. One of their players kept on going back and forth, back and forth, but I knew once I hit it and I knew I’d caught it well, it was going in.”
Chicago took less than a minute to score in their 3-1 win over Houston. Patrick Nyarko had the honors on the opening goal, with Dan Paladini making it 2-0 Fire in the 19th. Brian Ching pulled a goal back for Houston in stoppage time, but it was Alex putting the final goal of the night on Chicago's side of the scoreboard. Dallas and Seattle ended 1-1 at FC Dallas Stadium. Seattle's Mauro Rosales opened the scoring in the 20th minute with Jackson equalizing for Dallas 12 minutes later. In Sunday's nightcap, San Jose shutout Chivas USA 4-0. Victor Bernardez (11th), Simon Dawkins (30th), and Ramiro Corrales (71st) got the goals for the Quakes.
What Did We Learn?
1. We were right along. Remember at the start of the season where only the truly contrarians were picking any team but the Galaxy? Hopefully, they enjoyed week after week of reminding the rest of us that the Galaxy were at best paper contenders. Now? The Galaxy win the games that count and look like the most dangerous team in Major League Soccer. Wouldn't you rather face anybody else in the playoffs?
2. It's just not happening for Colorado in 2012. Though every MLS team throws away points away (and usually home for that matter) the Rapids can't seem to catch a break. Instead of 29 points from 27 games played, they've got 26. The difference is simple. They're bottom of the Western Conference instead of 7th with the teams in front of them already a game or two ahead.
3. Columbus may be winning, but that doesn't mean people are coming to see them play. A whopping 12,522 chose to spend part of their Labor Day weekend with the Crew. At this point, the line in the sand MLS style is Portland drawing over 14k for a reserve game. A reserve game.... If you can't beat that with a winning team, you've got problems even a streaking team might not be able to solve.
1. San Jose: No complaints when a team is on a tear.
2. Kansas City: First place in the East in a season where that doesn't mean out of contention in the Supporters' Shield race.
3. Columbus: Six points from two games.
4. New York: Dropping from a Wednesday draw with DC.
5. Seattle: Do the Sounders belong here, or is this Real Salt Lake's slot?