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The Kick Off: Oct 3, 2011

Kick Off: Whitecaps open BC Place with a bang and a loss

For a full rundown of Week 29 action in MLS, check out the latest edition of the Monday Postgame.

What a difference a new home makes. At least in some ways.

Newly renovated BC Place has hosted exactly one MLS game, but the Vancouver Whitecaps' new home is already on the shortlist to host an MLS Cup final or All-Star Game, according to MLS Commissioner Don Garber. 

A sellout crowd of 21,000 greeted the Caps' Cascadia rivals from Portland for the match Sunday night. The intensity between the two expansion sides has added enough to MLS that one of the reasons Garber is weighing up shifting to an unbalanced schedule is to capitalize on local rivalries. 

However, for all the good feelings of the BC Place inauguration, Vancouver lost again, a result that had the home boys seething. "I'm not going to point any fingers but we just need more heart and that's the bottom line," veteran goalkeeper Joe Cannon said. “Define heart,” captain Jay DeMerit asked. “When you put that in for 90 minutes, a lot of times results go your way. A lot of times results haven’t gone our way, so that says it all.” 

Kenny Cooper lashed home the game's only goal to help the Timbers to their second away win of the year after Diego Chara found him with a raking long ball. “I'm not sure how he saw me," Cooper said.

Emotions were also heightened in Houston, where discarded striker Dominic Oduro returned to face the Dynamo. The Chicago Fire striker scored his 12th of the season in the 1-1 draw before limping off with an ankle injury. "He probably was a little bit more motivated. You saw him show his displeasure with the crowd. Karma got him," Dynamo captain Brian Ching said.

Oduro is expected to shake off the injury before Tuesday's Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final. Frank Klopas fielded a weakened lineup against Houston with one eye on the final, as did the Seattle Sounders, the Fire's opponents. Sigi Schmid still opted to give Fredy Montero the nod from the start against the New England Revolution, however. "When a goal scorer's hot, you continue to bet on him and ride him,” Schmid said about Montero, who has five goals and three assists in his last six MLS games after his brace helped Seattle to a 2-1 win. 

New England took the lead in that match through 16-year-old Diego Fagundez. The Home Grown player, sporting an enhanced version of his flashy hairdo, scored a header off a Benny Feilhaber corner. “That little red Mohawk, nobody sees it, so good for him finding that spot,” teammate Benny Feilhaber said. However, the loss eliminated the Revs from postseason contention. “What do you say? It was a travesty,” New England coach Steve Nicol said. 

Toronto FC was the other side ruled out of the playoffs, when an 88th minute Thierry Henry equalizer stole a point for the New York Red Bulls. The Frenchman was in no mood to talk up his sublime touch or finish after the match. “I controlled it and I put it in the back of the net. That’s it,” Henry said.

The goal came from a corner with the Reds trying desperately to hold onto the lead. Set pieces continue to plague the Toronto backline. “I don’t know what it is, (but it’s) way too many times,” defender Ty Harden said of goals his team has conceded from corners. 

Toronto will likely move some personnel around in the offseason and aim for a first-ever playoff berth in 2012. Fellow Canadian club the Montreal Impact have the same goal, except that the expansion side has to draw up a roster from scratch. According to reports, former Internazionale defender Nelson Rivas will sign as the team's first-ever MLS player later today. The Colombian is 28 years old and could fill a Designated Player slot. According to this report, Rivas earned one million euros a year while with Inter, though he's been without a club since August.

Last year both FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids made it to MLS Cup final without the help of a DP. Those two teams met for a repeat tussle Saturday, with Colorado again coming up on top. Drew Moor's strike was the only goal in the 1-0 win. Dallas has now failed to score in five of their past six MLS matches

Colorado now gets a bit of a break before the Rocky Mountain Cup against Real Salt Lake on Oct. 14. RSL have a match in between, but can't bank on positive form of late, having lost three matches in a row following a five-game win streak. The latest defeat came at the hands of the LA Galaxy. The 2-1 win leaves LA needing just two more points to clinch the Supporters' Shield.

The Galaxy also can finish the season unbeaten at home if they avoid defeat to Chivas USA in their last home match of the regular season. In that SuperClasico, on Oct. 16, the Goats will once again rely on the scoring prowess of Juan Pablo Angel. The Galaxy still pay a portion of the Colombian's wages, and could rue next month's check if Angel adds to his seven goals in seven games for Chivas USA, the latest of which preserved a draw at the death against the Philadelphia Union.

Elsewhere in California, the San Jose Earthquakes also coughed up points in a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City. San Jose have dropped 19 points from winning positions this season, though the draw did prevent Sporting KC from clinching a playoff spot.

The Columbus Crew moved within a point of Sporting KC with a 2-1 win over D.C. United. Coincidentally or not, the end of a six-game winless streak came on the return from injury of Eddie Gaven.

“We’re probably going to sulk a little bit after this one,” D.C.'s Charlie Davies admitted. Davies didn't add to his goal tally, but leads the league with 0.67 goals per 90 minutes for players who have featured in at least 1000 minutes.

Speaking of goals, check out the stunner Iñigo Martínez scored from his own half for Real Sociedad against Athletic Bilbao. (VIDEO)

Less pretty were events in the London derby. Arsenal fans sang offensive chants aimed at former Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor and then Tottenham Hotspur coach Clive Allen called Arsene Wenger “two-bob” for refusing to shake his hand after the match, which Tottenham won 2-1.

With the international break coming up, England boss Fabio Capello left Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard out of the England squad to face Montenegro in Euro 2012 qualifying. But Sergio Aguero should be fit to represent Argentina against Chile and Venezuela.

Lastly, Valencia attacker Sergio Canales is used to avoiding tackles, but he certainly wasn't expecting a sliding effort from the referee to dispossess him. (VIDEO)

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