Skip to content

Major League Soccer Week in review: Round 31

Sep 30, 2013, 6:00 AM EST

MLS logo

Less than a month remains in the regular season, and the playoff races remain tight as rush hour traffic on the 405. Here’s what you need to know about Round 31, which finished with an usually busy Sunday foursome of matches.

The big results

So many, really, considering playoff races in each conference that simply refuse to yield all that fascinating congestion.

But the big-big result was surely Portland’s 1-0 win over the two-time defending champion LA Galaxy helps establish Caleb Porter’s team as a real contender. The Timbers are learning now to grind out results, with two 1-0 wins at home over Western foes lately.

Tim Cahill’s second half equalizer gave the Red Bulls a useful 1-1 draw in Seattle, where the Sounders fumbled away numerous chances to put away a side missing its its top attacker (Thierry Henry) and top defender (Jamison Olave). Seattle retains the inside track on Supporters Shield (based on the number of games remaining), but it was a result the Red Bulls can take pride in.

Columbus’ surprising 4-2 win in Dallas, the Crew’s second consecutive road win, was massive in the playoff jostle. The Crew looked so close to dead a few weeks ago, but a string of impressive results has kept interim coach Brian Bliss and his troops among the post-season hopefuls. Oh, and it was also was probably a knockout punch for FC Dallas, now five points out of the race.

The “controversial” decision – that wasn’t a bit controversial

LA Galaxy players and coaches, reinforcing that sense of entitlement that has become so familiar through the Bruce Arena years in Southern California, were absolutely apoplectic about a late Robbie Keane goal that was waved off, judged offside, in Portland. And it was a swell strike, a crisp near-post header off Landon Donovan’s precision free kick service.

But replays demonstrated that Keane was offside, just as the referee’s assistant correctly ruled.

We get on the men in the middle a lot on this site, so it’s only fair to point out when they get a very close, and quite important decision absolutely correct. Job well done, guys. Here’s that one:

.

The most surprising result

Philadelphia was perhaps one more big punch from being knocked plum out of this fight, having fallen from second all the way to seventh. So going into Sporting Kansas City and coming away with a 1-0 win (over a team still thinking “Supporters Shield”) was easily the big upset of Round 31.

The most impressive result

It’s not like Real Salt Lake had much of a choice, surely needing to trust the reserves Saturday night in Vancouver. With the U.S. Open Cup final coming up Tuesday at Rio Tinto Stadium, RSL manager Jason Kreis filled his lineup at BC Place with young talent and backups – and what a night it was for his club when the reserves came through with a 1-0 win.

So the starters are rested for Tuesday’s huge match, the team remained up near the top of the West and Vancouver … well, Martin Rennie’s team is left to rue the squandered opportunity.

The top tactical change

A goal down, Houston got aggressive on the road, subtracting a defender in favor of an extra attacker in a 3-5-2 look. It paid off quickly as Will Bruin found goal for the equalizer in a 1-1 draw at New England. By splitting the points, not only did Houston keep the inside track on a playoff spot (the Dynamo schedule ahead is favorable compared to other Eastern Conference playoff chasers), but Dominic Kinnear’s team simultaneously prevented one of its pursuers from picking up two additional points.

Oh, the Dynamo has done something quite similar before, and somewhat famously so.

The Golden Boot chase

source:  Saturday’s match at Toyota Park outside Chicago didn’t just have playoff implications (like so many of Week 31 contests did), it also featured the league’s top two scorers. Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio scored once, but top pursuer Mike Magee from Chicago slotted home a pair. So Magee cut the gap to one. The update list of MLS top scorers is on the right.

Caleb Porters great choice

Ryan Johnson has been the Portland Timbers first-choice striker for most of the season. So the decision by manager Caleb Porter to give young Argentine Maximiliano Urruti the start in such a meaningful match Sunday afternoon at rainy, wind-swept Jeld-Wen Field was a bit of a gamble. Urruti, 22, made his manager look good, scoring the game’s only goal in the 1-0 result mentioned above.

The weekend’s huge boo-boo

Montreal’s attackers eventually bailed out their goalkeeper, but it looked for a while like Troy Perkins embarrassing mistake in the back was going to be the difference in an important Eastern Conference clash.

Perkins, Montreal’s veteran goalkeeper, tried to get a little cute and evade Magee inside his own penalty area. Big. Mistake.

Yes, Magee fouled the Impact goalkeeper, but that hardly excuses such a blunder, a “howler” in the vernacular. Montreal’s subsequent equalizer made the final 2-2 at Toyota Park. Here’s the play:

.

Latest Posts
  1. 2015 MLS Season Preview: Top 10 Newcomers

    Mar 3, 2015, 11:36 AM EST

    Villa AP

    Which one of Major League Soccer’s new start will make the biggest impact? There are plenty of familiar faces, but also a few new ones looking to make a name for themselves.

  2. Dave Whelan steps down as Wigan chair, “no plans” to sell club

    Mar 3, 2015, 10:19 AM EST

    Whelan Getty Images

    He will stay as owner and has appointed his 23-year-old grandson as his successor.

  3. 2015 MLS Season Preview: Philadelphia Union

    Mar 3, 2015, 9:16 AM EST

    Union

    It’s going to be a grind, but can the Union make the playoffs? They have the talent.

  4. Tuesday Premier League Preview: New managers square off in Midlands derby

    Mar 3, 2015, 8:09 AM EST

    Sherwood Getty Images

    Can Tim Sherwood pick up his first points with Aston Villa on the third try? Midweek Premier League action!

  5. Ronald Koeman expects Southampton to bounce back from another “difficult period”

    Mar 2, 2015, 11:16 PM EST

    Ronaldo Koeman, Southampton FC Getty Images

    It’s been a tough run for Southampton, but it’s not the first bump in the road this season.

  6. English FA, Kick It Out report 70% increase in reports of racist abuse

    Mar 2, 2015, 8:30 PM EST

    Reports of racist abuse are up 70 percent, which is actually a good thing, because it’s being reported more than ever before.

  7. John Terry says fighting for his Chelsea future has inspired career-best form

    Mar 2, 2015, 7:15 PM EST

    Jose Mourinho & John Terry, Chelsea FC Jose Mourinho & John Terry, Chelsea FC

    John Terry knows he’s fighting every year for a new contract at Chelsea, and it’s inspired the best form of his career.

  8. 2015 MLS season preview: Chicago Fire

    Mar 2, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    1024px-Chicago_Fire_Soccer_Club.svg

    Chicago has only made the playoffs once in the past five seasons, but with some big offseason signings, the Fire could cause problems in the East.

  9. Tim Sherwood says if Aston Villa beat West Brom, “we’ll never look back”

    Mar 2, 2015, 6:41 PM EST

    Tim Sherwood, Aston Villa FC Tim Sherwood, Aston Villa FC

    Sherwood’s putting all his eggs into Tuesday night’s derby basket, for better or for worse.

  10. WATCH: Carlos Tevez’s stunning free kick as Juventus, Roma draw 1-1 in Serie A showdown

    Mar 2, 2015, 5:17 PM EST

    Carlos Tevez, Juventus FC Carlos Tevez, Juventus FC

    The title race was minutes from being OVER; it’s still probably over. Tevez’s goal was an absolute beauty.

  11. 2015 MLS season preview: San Jose Earthquakes

    Mar 2, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    http://www.sjearthquakes.com/ http://www.sjearthquakes.com/

    Last season’s worst team in the West has a new stadium and high hopes for 2015.

  12. WATCH: Midweek Premier League TV schedule – Week 28

    Mar 2, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game on Tuesday and Wednesday.

  13. WATCH: Bungled tackle in Bundesliga.2 turns into well-hit own goal

    Mar 2, 2015, 3:15 PM EST

    VfL Bochum v VfR Aalen - 2. Bundesliga Getty Images

    The 23-year-old German defender was attempting to win a loose ball, and instead struck a strong ball past his keeper.

  14. 2015 MLS season preview: Montreal Impact

    Mar 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    www.impactmontreal.com/ www.impactmontreal.com/

    After finishing with the fewest points in MLS last season, the only way to go is up for Montreal.

  15. 2015 MLS predictions: Cup winners? MVP? Lampard or Gerrard? Kaka or Giovinco?

    Mar 2, 2015, 2:20 PM EST

    2014 MLS Cup 2014 MLS Cup

    Why wait for the season that might not happen, when we’ve got all the answers for you right now?

  16. Liverpool’s Rodgers: Gerrard back “in very near future”, Ibe out for a while

    Mar 2, 2015, 2:14 PM EST

    Liverpool v Leicester City - Premier League Getty Images

    The captain has been out since Feb. 10, while Ibe was hurt in last week’s Europa League dismissal by Besiktas.

  17. MLS Atlanta makes shrewd hire, bringing in Carlos Bocanegra as technical director

    Mar 2, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    bocanegra Getty Images

    Bocanegra will work with MLS Atlanta president Darren Eales, who has worked with Premier League clubs West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur.

  18. BBC report: Sunderland’s Adam Johnson arrested on suspicion of sex with a 15-year-old girl

    Mar 2, 2015, 12:36 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    The Daily Mail had reported that three cops cars stormed a Premier Leaguer’s apartment earlier Monday to make the arrest.