Roundup for MLS action in Week 20
The Eastern Conference all kept pace with each other on a weekend that saw Jason Kreis hit for a landmark goal, as Major League Soccer hit the stretch drive as Week 20 wrapped up. If there was a team that found itself in a hole after the weekend in the East, it's the Columbus Crew, who are now 17 points out of the final playoff spot with just nine matches to play.
The New England Revolution, Chicago Fire, D.C. United and Kansas City Wizards all held their positions with victories on Saturday night, while the MetroStars came back to claim a victory against the Crew in the desperate grab for points at the foot of the table to maintain contact with the front four.
But the weekend was also highlighted by the first player in MLS history to hit for 100 goals, as Real Salt Lake striker Jason Kreis hit for the century mark though his team's comeback fell just short.
At Rice-Eccles Stadium, the Wizards completed a sweep of their three-game road trip in style, hitting for four goals as they scored nine on the road swing, holding off a late Real comeback in a 4-2 victory.
Once again Real was hit early, as Josh Wolff found an unmarked Sasha Victorine in the heart of the penalty area to give the visitors an eighth-minute lead.
But the Wizards didn't score again until after the break, when they broke the game open with two goals in five minutes. Scott Sealy snuck in behind the RSL defense and slotted home a Davy Arnaud pass (52), then in the 56th minute Wolff caught the Real defense napping and slid a pass to Chris Klein, who poked home Kansas City's third of the night.
Real pulled a goal back seven minutes later as Jordan Cila let fly with a powerful blast that beat Wizards 'keeper Bo Oshoniyi, then nine minutes after that RSL got within one on the landmark goal from Kreis. Dante Washington sent a looping pass to the top of the penalty arc that Kreis hit with a wicked left-footed full volley on the turn, the ball dipping under the crossbar to set off a wild celebration in the Rice-Eccles stands.
But the Wizards restored their two-goal margin four minutes from time as Victorine hit for his second on the night, skipping through the Real defense before hammering a low drive under 'keeper D.J. Countess.
At Pizza Hut Park, the Revolution again claimed victory in a matchup of the league's elite as FC Dallas continued their recent slide.
Clint Dempsey punctuated a happy homecoming to his native state in the 33rd minute when he turned home a rolling cross pulled back from the byeline from Joe Franchino, sidefooting home in between a couple of FC Dallas defenders then racing to the stands to give his mom a quick kiss.
Carlos Ruiz scored his third goal in two games at the new stadium, heading home a Chris Gbandi cross from the left flank to pull the Hoops level in the 58th minute, but a low, skimming piledriver from outside the area from Shalrie Joseph after FCD failed to clear the danger gave the Revolution an 80th-minute match-winner.
At Soldier Field, the Fire won their final home game for nearly two months while once again keeping the Galaxy unsuccessful when they ventured forth from Southern California.
The Fire took a two-goal lead into the interval thanks to the influence of Justin Mapp. In the 20th minute, he set off on a juking run into the Galaxy penalty area before he was sent flying to the turf by L.A. center back Michael Umana, and Jesse Marsch coolly converted from the spot.
Then in the 38th minute, Mapp dribbled the left flank and whipped in a cross to the back post that found John Thorrington completely unmarked, and he powerfully headed home for his first MLS goal.
The Galaxy pulled a goal back in the 53rd minute when Peter Vagenas headed home a Landon Donovan corner kick at the top of the six, then they saw an apparent equalizer ruled out for a foul just four minutes. But the Fire claimed the win before heading on a five-game road swing that will last until the first weekend in October, while the Galaxy still haven't won outside of Los Angeles since last June.
At RFK Stadium, D.C. United carved open the Chivas USA defense for a comprehensive 3-0 victory, the fourth consecutive league victory for the defending MLS Cup champion.
United struck for two goals in a three-minute span just before the halftime break to take command of the match. In the 41st minute, central defender Bobby Boswell came racing forward out of the back, played a nifty one-two with Christian Gomez before sliding the ball into the goalmouth where Santino Quaranta raced in to tap home.
Then Jamil Walker continued his run of form, racing in behind the Chivas defense to latch onto a Dema Kovalenko pass from the left flank, clinically finishing past Chivas 'keeper Brad Guzan.
Kovalenko made it 3-0 in the 64th minute, latching onto a long ball played from deep in the United end that was flicked on over the static Chivas defense by Walker, the combative D.C. midfielder racing into the penalty area before slotting a low angled shot off the inside of Guzan's right-hand post.
At Giants Stadium, the MetroStars were able to keep pace with the rest of the East in a massive six-point match that also saw them extend their home unbeaten run in a game delayed by thunderstorms.
John Wolyniec came back to haunt his former club with a 33rd-minute goal that gave the Crew the lead. A corner was cleared back to the flank, but only as far as Simon Elliott, and he pumped a cross back into the mixer that Wolyniec powered in to head home.
But after the break the home side took control of the contest. Sergio Galvan Rey leveled matters two minutes after the restart, a Mike Magee chip finding the Colombian striker in front of goal and he made no mistake pounding home his finish.
Then Youri Djorkaeff nosed the Metros in front midway through the second half, a Galvan Rey shot initially blocked and the former French international corralling the rebound before sending a shot goalward that Crew defender Chris Wingert just couldn't clear off the line (64).
At Spartan Stadium, the San Jose Earthquakes and Colorado Rapids shared the points in the only all-Western Conference matchup of the weekend, as the Rapids took their first points in the series in the fourth and final league game between the two clubs.
Ricardo Clark gave the Quakes the lead three minutes into the second half, racing onto a pass from Dwayne De Rosario that split the Rapids defense and ripping a low drive inside the far post from the right side of the area.
But the Rapids responded just nine minutes later through Jean Philippe Peguero. Kyle Beckerman played a ball over the San Jose defense and though there was a hint of offside, the flag stayed down and the Haitian international held off a challenge before firing a shot over a diving Pat Onstad for the equalizer.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.