Kick Off: Earthquakes still sprinkling magic on MLS, USMNT

There’s just something about these Cardiac Quakes and their magical 2012 season.

Just when you thought that the San Jose “Goonies” came up with every possible kind of variation on the stoppage time victory this year, there was Saturday night. Seattle’s Fredy Montero scored a stoppage-time equalizer only for Steven Lenhart to do him one better and clinch a 2-1 win (watch the highlights here).

San Jose stretched their MLS-best point total to 47, pushing Seattle 10 points adrift and treating the sell-out crowd to another thriller. "I think everybody's surprised that we keep on wearing teams down and then scoring at the end, but that's who we are,” Lenhart said after the match.

So it should also come as little surprise that there are three Earthquakes that form part of Jurgen Klinsmann’s US roster for the match against Mexico at the Estadio Azteca on Wednesday night (8 pm ET, ESPN2 and Univision). Quakes right back Steven Beitashour, who’s also been courted by Iran, is one of them: “It's a great position to be in to have two options, to say the least," he said.

No Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley or Carlos Bocanegra, who are all settling into new European clubs or looking for new ones. That makes D.C. United’s Chris Pontius the first alternate in case of an injury to a midfielder or striker, according to Klinsmann himself.

Back in MLS, Real Salt Lake lost ground in the Supporters’ Shield race after a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps, their fifth road defeat in all competitions. “If we had the answer, we’d be undefeated,” says RSL captain Kyle Beckerman. Watch the highlights here.

The Whitecaps’ win was marred by the head injury to Jay DeMerit, who was forced out of the match. But he made way for new recruit and EPL veteran Andy O’Brien, who ‘Caps manager Martin Rennie says “strolled through the game and barely gave [RSL] any chances.”

No hangover in Kansas City. After winning the US Open Cup after 120 minutes played on Wednesday, Sporting Kansas City were relentless in winning 2-1 against a decimated D.C. United team. “They were better than us in every aspect,” said D.C. manager Ben Olsen. Watch the highlights here.

The Chicago Fire took advantage of that D.C. United loss, moving into fourth place in the East with a convincing 3-1 victory in Philadelphia on Sunday night (watch the highlights here, including two goals from the Fire’s Chris Rolfe).

Like Olsen in D.C., there was a very unhappy manager in Philadelphia after the Union had gone up a goal only to concede three unanswered: “This was an extremely disappointing match by the Philadelphia Union,” manager John Hackworth said. “It’s not the kind of performance that is acceptable to us in any way, shape or form.”

But Philly goalkeeper Zac MacMath, who was partly responsible on two of Chicago’s goals on the night, is still a big believer in the postseason: “I don't think anybody thinks we are out of the playoff picture," MacMath said.

If Philly think they have a shot when they are 13 points adrift of the No. 5 spot in the East, then red-hot expansion side Montreal Impact must feel they have a fighter’s chance after their fourth win in five games, a 1-0 win in New England (watch the highlights here).

The game-winner was a unanimous Goal of the Year candidate by Sanna Nyassi. “I think we all wish we were blessed with Sanna’s speed,” said Impact veteran Davy Arnaud.

The Revolution are now winless in six and the playoffs seem like a mirage when they seemed to have done enough to get something out of this latest match: “It’s heartbreaking at this point,” says first-year manager Jay Heaps, whose club did not gain a bump from the return of DP forward Jerry Bengtson from the Olympics.

If you were Colombian, you were likely to have scored at FC Dallas Stadium during a 3-2 win for the home side on Saturday. Colombian Jaime Castrillón tallied the opener for visiting Colorado, but then FC Dallas rattled off three unanswered, including one by ex-MVP David Ferreira. “We have the lead and give it away. That's the story of the last month and a half, we just continue to beat ourselves,'' said Colorado’s Jeff Larentowicz. Watch the highlights here.

Good luck to FC Dallas if they hope to catch up with the LA Galaxy, currently occupying the fifth and final playoff spot in the West. LA bounced back from a 4-0 loss to Seattle by inflicting a 4-0 defeat on SuperClasico rivals Chivas USA on Sunday with Landon Donovan getting an MLS record-tying four assists.

“That’s embarrassing. … I’m a bit at a loss for words. … I’m kind of speechless,” were some of the phrases heard from Chivas, who did not benefit from Shalrie Joseph’s debut (watch the highlights here).

Fans of the Herbalife World Football Challenge are already looking ahead to next year. The summer’s international soccer series wrapped up with, what else, a Real Madrid victory. The Spanish champs won all four WFC matches after knocking off Celtic 2-0 in Philadelphia (watch the highlights here).

The likes of Real Madrid could be playing soccer in Flushing Meadows, Queens, before long. A report in the New York Post indicates a deal for a new soccer stadium is close and “construction of which could begin early next year.”

One deal that is done is taking the Chicago Fire’s Marco Pappa to Dutch club Heerenveen. The Guatemalan signed a three-and-a-half-year contract, according to Heerenveen's site. It starts January 1, when his time with the Chicago Fire is done. (DUTCH)

Wrapping up in the Netherlands: Jozy Altidore may not be on the current US national team squad training ahead of Wednesday’s match against Mexico, but that doesn’t mean he’s not scoring world-class goals with AZ Alkmaar. How about these two beauties against Ajax to kick off the season. (VIDEO)

MLSsoccer.com Musts

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The Sideline: Reactions to Mexico’s Olympic gold medal

Matchday 360: Behind the scenes at the US Open Cup final

 


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