Since Major League Soccer decided to award a Player of the Week for the abbreviated Week 27, we'll count it and move onto the full schedule for Week 28. We're starting to see teams getting knocked out of the playoffs, with Toronto making the earliest exit after losing on Wednesday and New England following on Saturday night.
New England's demise came courtesy of DC United, beating them 2-1 at RFK Stadium. Kelyn Rowe had the Revs in the lead in the 29th minute, but Chris Pontius had DC level three minutes later. Pontius would setup Lewis Neal's winner in the 63rd minute.
“We came out with the right energy," New England coach Jay Heaps said. "We were positive and played well. Unfortunately, in United’s first goal we had a man down; one of our guys was stomped and D.C. continued playing. It’s unfortunate that the game can be taken from us like that, as I feel that up to that point we had a good control of the game. To DC’s credit, they played well.”
Earlier in the day, Toronto celebrated their playoff exit by drawing with Philadelphia 1-1. Eric Hassli put Toronto up in the 58th minute with Sheanon Williams equalizing for the Union in the 85th. Portland and Seattle's big showdown on NBC ended 1-1. Fredy Montero put the Sounders up in the 57th minute, with Rodney Wallace equalizing in the 78th.
It was a big night for Thierry henry in New York's 3-1 win over Columbus. Milovan Mirosevic had Columbus in the lead within three minutes, but Henry evened the score in the 9th. Sax McCarty scored off an Henry assist in the 79th and Henry made his case for goal of the year three minutes into stoppage time. "New York has a special player in Thierry Henry," Columbus coach Robert Warzycha said. "He had two goals and an assist. Obviously that third goal was something that he saw and tried to do."
Chicago once again reminded the rest of the League that they might not be the same team that coughed up points on a tired midweek visit to DC a few weeks ago. 3-1 over Montreal in a comeback win. The Impact were up in the 20th minute through Marco Di Vaio, but the Fire's Sherjill MacDonald leveled the score in the 34th minute. Alex put Chicago up for good in the 61st with Alvaro Fernandez scoring his club's third goal in the 80th minute. Dallas beat Vancouver 1-0 with a 96th minute goal from Julian de Guzman. San Jose picked up a 2-0 shutout over Chivas USA with Chris Wondolowski scoring in the 40th minute and setting up Alan Gordon's goal in the 49th.
The day before, Sporting KC and Houston drew 1-1. Brad Davis put the Dynamo ahead on the road in the 58th with Sporting's CJ Sapong equalizing three minutes into stoppage time. Later that night, LA shutout Colorado 2-0 at home. Robbie Keane opened the scoring in the 15th minute off a Landon Donovan assist with new signing Christian Wilhelmsson doubling the lead in the 58th.
What Did We Learn?
1. Flexible scheduling is an excellent idea for any professional sports league. That might have saved anyone outside of the Rose City from feigning excitement that an out of contention Portland hosted a game on national television in the middle of September.
2. DC United coach Ben Olsen didn't necessarily agree with his opposite number's complimentary assessment of his squad. “We were rusty," Olsen said. "It was not a great game and we were probably a little lucky. It could have gone either way. They had plenty of chances and we had some good looks. We are going to have to do much better than that going forward if we’re going to reach our goal."
3. With all due respect to the pundits, Thierry Henry explained once and for all why Rafa Marquez is so important for any team he plays on. "When Rafa plays, I have another option. I can move behind the defense, and you saw it tonight. How many times you saw me dropping tonight? None. How many times you saw me going behind the defense? Every single time. It’s another dimension for me when Rafa plays. He has that game."
1. San Jose: Still winning, still top of our table.
2. Kansas City: Sporting hold their spot as the team with the most points in the East.
3. New York: They beat the team ahead of them in our last ranking, though Columbus has been dropping points lately.
4. Chicago: We're crediting them with wins, though the style points might not be there game in and game out.
5. LA: Why the Galaxy over the Sounders? Style points, plain and simple.