Here are the top 15 soccer stories we’re following today. Be sure to check out the latest MLS standings to see each teams playoff chances heading into the final week of the regular season.
1. NEW YORK TAKE CONTROL
The New York Red Bulls dominated the Houston Dynamo in a 3-0 win (watch highlights here) at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday, which also included the fastest goal in MLS history. The result gives Tim Cahill and New York the lead in the Supporters' Shield (and the inside track on the top spot in the East) with their destiny in their own hands heading into the final game. It’s a different story for the Dynamo, who could be in danger of missing the playoffs if results go against them next weekend.
2. GALAXY SECURE THEIR PLACE
The LA Galaxy secured their place in the MLS Cup Playoffs on Sunday while simultaneously all but ending the San Jose Earthquakes' chances following a 0-0 draw at the StubHub Center (watch highlights here). Despite the lack of goals, it was an eventful game with LA goalkeeper Jaime Penedo responsible for shutting out the Quakes and preventing them from closing the gap. While a point was all they needed, Landon Donovan and the Galaxy still view the draw as a missed opportunity.
3. SEATTLE FALL TO DALLAS
The result in LA on Sunday night meant that the Seattle Sounders have also secured their playoff spot, despite another defeat on Saturday, falling 2-0 to FC Dallas (watch highlights here). It’s now six straight games without a win for the Sounders and head coach Sigi Schmid accepts that “it rests on my shoulders.” For Dallas, the result was all outgoing coach Schellas Hyndman could have asked for, although he did have to deal with a halftime bust up between Jackson and David Ferreira.
4. HYNDMAN RESIGNS
The news that Hyndman was stepping down as FC Dallas’ head coach broke on Friday with the most successful manager in FC Dallas history opting to stand down following a season that started brightly but faded to nothing. However, this is not the end of the road for the 61-year-old, who said interestingly, “I don’t know if ‘retirement’ is a word that I’m ready to use today.” Dallas now begin the search for a new coach, with Hunt Sports Group chairman Clark Hunt hoping to have a new boss in place within five or six weeks.
5. NEW ENGLAND BEAT CREW
In what turned out to be a fierce shootout, the New England Revolution came away with three vital points Saturday following a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Crew (watch highlights here). The win places the Revolution in the East’s fifth and final playoff spot with just one week to go, and the team knows how important Diego Fagundez’s winner might prove to be. For the Crew, manager Brian Bliss described the match as a “heart attack a second,” and the bad news for Bliss is he’ll have to live it all over again next weekend as Columbus get one last chance to play spoiler to the Revolution's playoff ambitions.
6. HAS BARROS SCHELOTTO INTERVIEWED FOR CREW JOB?
Guillermo Barros Schelotto has been linked with the Columbus Crew head coach job for some time now but, if a report from The Columbus Dispatch is true, then GBS has offiicially interviewed for the Crew role and the same job at New York City FC. The Dispatch also spoke to Crew president Mark McCullers to learn how the search is progressing.
7. CHICAGO EDGE TORONTO
A Mike Magee penalty kick meant the Chicago Fire came away with a vital 1-0 win (watch highlights here) over Toronto FC on Saturday in their final home game of the regular season, watched by 19,889 fans. For the Fire, it’s now about securing that playoff space, no easy task heading to league-leading New York, while Toronto coach Ryan Nelsen felt his side put in a good away performance, hampered by the penalty decision: “It was a decision that didn’t need to be made.”
8. TIMBERS HELD BY RIMANDO
The Portland Timbers were already celebrating heading into the game against Real Salt Lake, as Seattle’s loss earlier in the day meant that the Timbers had secured their first-ever appearance in the MLS playoffs. Their hotly anticipated matchup against visiting Real Salt Lake on Saturday night finished 0-0 (watch highlights here). Real Salt Lake, who also secured their playoff spot with the point, saw the result as a promising road performance heading into the post season while Timbers coach Caleb Porter feels there is still plenty of work to do: “We want to be a club that’s not just in the playoffs, but making a run to win it.”
9. MONTREAL END SLIDE
Montreal ended their worrying slide at just the right time Saturday with a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union (watch highlights here). Philadelphia let both an early lead and their playoff chances slip away, conceding two second-half goals, with coach John Hackworth acknowledging that “tonight…was our opportunity. And we let ourselves down.” Montreal, on the other hand, move back up to third in the Eastern Conference and, according to head coach Marco Schällibaum the result “sets us free.”
10. NESTA CALLS TIME
While Montreal Impact fans may still be celebrating the news that joint-Golden Boot leader Marco Di Vaio will be staying with the team for another season, Alessandro Nesta, has announced he plans to retire following the end of the current MLS season. We might not have seen the end of the 37-year-old though, as the former World Cup winner revealed, “I plan to get into coaching.”
11. RAPIDS ALMOST IN AS WHITECAPS BOW OUT
It was a tense affair which, for a while, could have gone either way. In the end though, the Colorado Rapids took a huge step to the playoffs Saturday with a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps (watch highlights here). Gabriel Torres overcame his mid-week World Cup heartbreak to deliver a stunning game-winning goal which extinguished the Whitecaps' playoff hopes, Something their manager Martin Rennie puts down to poor defending and bad officiating. For Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin, the MLS playoffs would be the ultimate success for a ‘keeper who nearly didn’t make it.
12. KANSAS CITY IN THE HUNT
In Friday night’s action, Sporting Kansas City scored an early goal then shut out D.C. United to secure a 1-0 win (watch highlights here). The win keeps Sporting KC in the mix for the Supporters' Shield but, following New York’s victory over Houston, it's out of their hands. For D.C. United, they’re now facing the very realistic chance they’ll be setting the wrong kind of history.
13. USA-MEXICO SUPPORTERS IN LEGAL TUSSLE
With 100 Chapters, the American Outlaws supporters group is gaining more and more media attention. However, now they might be in the news for all the wrong reasons as a clash with a Mexican supporter group over World Cup travel plans could end up in court. Meanwhile, in CONCACAF news, the governing body has appointed a director of sports integrity. Dr. Laila Mintas will be tasked with preventing, detecting and investigating match fixing issues in the region.
14. MLS PRESIDENT IN ORLANDO AHEAD OF CRUCIAL VOTE
Whether Orlando City can pursue their dream of becoming an MLS franchise relies upon Tuesday’s crucial vote in front of the Orange County Commissioners. It’s a vote that will be a lot closer than the previous one and, with that in mind, MLS president Mark Abbott will be visiting the commissioners on Monday. Meanwhile, up in Detroit, the Apostolopoulos family will find out this week if they have won the rights to turn an unfinished jail into a soccer stadium with a view to one day being home to an MLS side.
15. THE PHANTOM MENACE
Next time you want to moan about the referee In an MLS match, just remember, things could be a lot worse, as this video from a Bundesliga clash between Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen proves.