Kick Off: Goal-scoring king fights off surgery for record

Kick Off - Jeff Cunningham

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They say timing is everything, especially for forwards.

It’s definitely the case of Columbus Crew forward Jeff Cunningham, who became the new scoring king in MLS history on Saturday. But did you realize it was a real possibility he could have fallen short of goal No. 134 that he scored in Seattle?

“There was a good chance I was going to have surgery this week with the problems with my knee," said Cunningham. "It was a question at one point if I could continue with my season.”

Manager Robert Warzycha says he made the call for Cunningham to take the PK after the designated taker, Andrés Mendoza, had come out of the match: “Mendoza wasn’t on field so it was my choice. I felt that Jeff should take it.”

The injury issue should answer the question as to why Cunningham took the penalty kick to break the record in a lopsided loss that will be remembered for the six-spot scored by the Seattle Sounders.

Lamar Neagle, a surefire bet for Player of the Week to be voted by the media later today, was responsible for half of Seattle’s goal-scoring output but you couldn’t tell from his postgame comments: "It wasn't a question of, 'How many goals can I get today?' It was a question of winning the game."

If Seattle vs. Columbus was the most lopsided match of the weekend, Sporting KC vs. FC Dallas was the most dramatic as rookie Bobby Warshaw headed home the 3-2 winner for the visitors in stoppage time.

KC’s Jimmy Nielsen sensed a collapse was coming when Dallas halved the deficit to 2-1: “There was a very bad reaction from our sideline when they scored the first goal. Not nerves, but shakiness.”

After downing the Houston Dynamo at home to ensure they won’t match any all-time futility records, the Vancouver Whitecaps are now targeting the New York Red Bulls on Sept. 10 for their next conquest: “They're a great team and it will be a great challenge, but it's by no means not doable.”

One person who believes in his club is Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis. After RSL held on to a 1-0 win at Chivas USA despite having Nat Borchers sent off, Kreis said: “To be through the stretch we've just been through, I think 80, 90 percent of the teams in our league couldn't have been as mentally strong as our group was tonight.”

You want instant news these days? You go to Twitter. Borchers tweeted the following apology during the match: “No one to blame but myself on that one,” Borchers said. “I’m sorry to my teammates and the fans. If any team can pull this one out, it’s us.” He was right.

Players around the league are already scoreboard watching and tracking the playoff standings. Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy believes the Goats can make the playoffs: “I think we need to find a way to get four wins. Very doable.”

The Chicago Fire must feel that making the playoffs is now doable after a convincing 2-0 blanking of the defending champion Colorado Rapids. “It’s one game,” said manager Frank Klopas. “The guys are not satisfied. We’re not satisfied.” The Fire are just five points behind RBNY for the final wildcard spot and also play in the US Open Cup on Tuesday.

The San Jose Earthquakes are going to need more attacking help to make the playoffs after a 1-1 tie on Saturday night in Toronto during which they could not capitalize on their possession. That help may come in the reported signing of midfielder Andrea Pisano, according to Italian media reports. (ITALIAN)

The final result in Toronto, which saw Chris Wondolowski score with three minutes remaining, had TFC’s coach and players irate. While Aron Winter was upset with more defensive mistakes, goalkeeper Milos Kocic was upset that his team played defensive: “We had a lead, we were playing in front of 20,000 fans at home. Just keep attacking. I didn’t see a reason for us to sit back.”

It’s been a few weeks since the close of the MLS transfer window, but FC Dallas sure must feel like they made a major acquisition when they announced that George John’s deal to join Blackburn Rovers fell through and he would be returning to MLS. Schellas Hyndman speaks about it for the first time in this article.

In international soccer news, the two Manchester clubs are dominating the EPL including Manchester United’s 8-2 humbling of Arsenal, Cristiano Ronaldo registered a hat trick in Real Madrid’s 6-0 league-opening victory, Samuel Eto’o scored in his Anzhi debut, Cruz Azul are tops in Mexico and modest Atlético Rafaela lead the table in Argentina.

Today’s TV highlight of the day features defending La Liga champions Barcelona taking on Villarreal and Giuseppe Rossi in Spain (3 p.m. ET, ESPN Deportes).

Speaking of highlights, here’s video of the squirrel which disrupted the WPS championship game, won by the Western New York Flash on Saturday afternoon. See if you don’t feel sorry for the animal by the time the clip is through. (VIDEO)

Lastly, what has Seattle’s Steve Zakuani been up to with his down time after the leg break he suffered earlier this season? Freestyle rap by none other than “Steve Z” himself.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

MLS Review Show: All the highlights and stories from every MLS match this weekend

Up-to-the-minute MLS postseason standings

Goals keep coming for American Exports Robbie Findley and Clint Dempsey


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