Kick Off: Seattle's Zakuani shows world he "can still do it"

Kick Off - Steve Zakuani, Seattle Sounders

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Someone did the math: 500 days had transpired since Steve Zakuani last started an MLS match.

After seeing just 10 minutes of action this year in cameo appearances off the bench, Zakuani was back in the Seattle Sounders starting XI against FC Dallas on Sunday night, doing what he does best: beating defenders with his speed and creating chances. His was the assist on the Sounders’ goal in a 1-1 draw (watch the highlights here).

“Steve shows that he still has that explosion, the ability to beat people,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “As he gains confidence, hopefully those kind of opportunities will occur more often in the game. He’s shown that he can still do it.”

Watch Zakuani’s reaction in this postgame interview, where he describes when he found out he was starting and he reveals his fitness levels. “That was the final check,” he says. (VIDEO)

The result has massive playoff implications for FC Dallas, who are still on the outside looking in, four points away from Vancouver with just five matches remaining. But it’s not like they didn’t have chances: “I had two opportunities that I’m usually able to capitalize on,” forward Blas Pérez said. “I know that if I was 100 percent physically, those would be goals that I score.”

The good news for Dallas is that Vancouver didn’t pick up any points on the weekend. They lost 2-0 to the LA Galaxy on two sensational strikes from midfielders Juninho and David Beckham (watch the highlights here).

The Whitecaps, who play at FC Dallas in their next league match, admit that changes may be in order after a sputtering attacking display at the Home Depot Center: “We maybe need to look at a couple of things with our system," Vancouver manager Martin Rennie said.

Can anyone catch the San Jose Earthquakes? The league leaders continued their impressive march to the Supporters’ Shield with a 4-0 trouncing of Chivas USA on Sunday night. And the scoring stars weren’t even named Wondolowski, Lenhart or Gordon in this latest victory (watch the highlights here).

The four goals set a new club record for goals in a season with 56, which even surprises Quakes manager Frank Yallop: "If you asked me before the start of the season, I'm not sure we could do that.”

Although they still have three games in hand which could vault them into the playoff race, there was no consoling Danny Califf and Chivas USA after the lopsided loss: “I’m running out of ways to explain how we’re giving up four [expletive] goals on a regular basis.”

The Chicago Fire showed they’re for real with a 3-1 defeat of the Houston Dynamo to move up to third place in the East (watch the highlights here).

But the match wasn’t without controversy: Houston’s Mac Kandji had an equalizer called back because of an alleged hand ball (watch the play here).

Another team making a move in the East is the Columbus Crew, who have moved into the playoff zone after a 2-1 come-from-behind win against an astute Montreal Impact side (watch the highlights here).

The star of the match? You guessed it: Crew DP Federico Higuaín. “He’s capable of changing the game at any moment,” said Columbus captain Chad Marshall, who benefited from Higuaín’s service to score the equalizer.

The Crew were able to knock D.C. out of the top 5 in the East after United lost 1-0 on the road to Real Salt Lake (watch the highlights here). “I’m not sure how we didn’t walk out of here with a win,” D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid said after the match, echoing the sentiments of his manager.

Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes was busy singing the praises of midfielder Oriol Rosell, who can finish like a forward. The Spaniard scored the game-winner in a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Toronto FC (watch the highlights here) that allows Sporting to keep dreaming of a Supporters’ Shield.

“He has great qualities as a player,” SKC manager Peter Vermes said about Rosell, who wore “Uri” on the back of his jersey. “I told him jokingly that I thought we brought him in here to be a midfielder and not a center forward who scores goals.”

Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi will be spending his Labor Day in Miami as the US national team starts training ahead of two important World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica. Clint Dempsey will also be there, called up by USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann as part of his 24-man squad despite training with youth teams for most of the summer before his move to Tottenham Hotspur on Friday.

“We’ll test his fitness level right away when he comes in,” Klinsmann said about Dempsey. “Based on all that information ... we can see how we play him in those two very, very important World Cup qualifiers.”

The more promising US forward of the lot is Terrence Boyd, who scored another two goals for Rapid Vienna. Watch them here.

Good move by goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who featured for Aston Villa in an away draw at Newcastle. You get some PT for the first time in a while and then you shower the coach in praise. Read what Guzan said here. But is he really using the word “lads” these days?

From American goalscorers to American owners. After getting called out by his Liverpool FC manager Brendan Rodgers for the club’s transfer moves, he felt compelled to pen this open letter. Try not to cough on your coffee as you read the second paragraph.

Paolo Di Canio apologizes to no one. We leave you with the latest gem from the Swindon Town manager, who yanked his starting goalkeeper after 21 minutes for playing poorly. The player was fuming, but Di Canio put him in his place in this priceless post-game interview. (VIDEO)

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