A day after Danny Mwanga scored two goals for Portland, the Philadelphia Union on Thursday were forced to watch another ex-teammate, Lionard Pajoy, score an important goal. This time, Pajoy notched the winner against the Union in D.C. United's 1-0 win at PPL Park (watch highlights).
Afterward, the Union couldn't hold back their frustration. “[Pajoy] didn’t do that for us, did he? No,” defender Sheanon Williams said after the match.
The Union are now winless in eight matches, while on the other side, D.C. United are right back in the thick of the playoff chase, jumping two spots up to fourth place in the East. “This is a huge, huge win," said defender Dejan Jakovic. "We kind of stole one last time we were here. We have four road wins and two are here in Philly.”
Although Pajoy got the goal, it was coach Ben Olsen's decision to bring Maicon Santos, who helped engineer the goal, that was the difference. “I’ve made a lot more substitutions that haven’t made impacts,” Olsen said. “If you add ‘em all up, I’m sure I’m in the negative.”
D.C. next host Chivas USA on Sunday (7 pm ET, Galavision), while the Union will try to get off the schneid at home to Houston that afternoon. (4 pm ET, watch on MLS LIVE)
Speaking of the Dynamo, they were in action on Thursday and recorded a huge win. Dominic Kinnear’s side smashed four past CD FAS in CONCACAF Champions League action at BBVA Compass Stadium as new boy Giles Barnes opened the scoring with a screamer. But the night belonged to Cam Weaver, who scored and assisted on two other goals (watch highlights). “His attitude’s been excellent," Kinnear said. "He was a trouble for them the first game, and he was trouble tonight.”
From CCL to Europa League: Clint Dempsey nearly got his Tottenham Hotspur career off to a wonderful start. Making his first start for the North Londoners, the US international had a perfectly good goal called off, as Spurs and Lazio ground out a lackluster 0-0 tie. The match was overshadowed by alleged racist abuse from a small section of Lazio fans toward several of Tottenham’s black players.
Elsewhere across Europe, Steve Cherundolo’s Hannover 96 squad fought back admirably from 2-0 down to salvage a tie against FC Twente, while Mikkel Diskerud and Rosenborg topped fellow American Terrence Boyd and Rapid Vienna, 2-1.
After a busy slate of midweek action across Europe and North America, a huge weekend is coming up in MLS as playoff berths lay on the line.
First up Sporting KC travel to Montreal on Saturday (1 pm ET, watch on MLS LIVE, TSN/RDS in Canada), looking to pile the pressure on Supporters Shield-leaders San Jose. SKC are now just three points behind the Quakes in the race for the Supporters’ Shield. But head coach Peter Vermes doesn't seem to worried about what happens this year. "I consider myself more of a builder," he said.
One thing that could happen this year is the loss of midfielder Roger Espinoza, who is out of contract at the end of the year. According to (scant) reports in England, Espinoza is being lined up by EPL side Wigan.
Another SKC star, C.J. Sapong, was named #2 on MLSsoccer.com's 2012 "24 Under 24" list. He told the ExtraTime Radio podcast how he slipped into a “zombie-like state” earlier this season.
As for San Jose, they face a tricky trip to Seattle on Saturday night. (10:30 pm ET, watch on MLS LIVE). Frank Yallop’s men had a scare in a midweek draw with Portland that the Quakes -- whose playoff tickets will go on sale on Sept. 26 -- are calling a "wake-up call."
One team hoping they’ll have some playoff tickets to sell to their fans is the Columbus Crew. They travel to Chicago on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, watch on MLS LIVE) looking to get back into the East’s top five. Chicago, winners of six out of their last seven, are actually aiming to keep in the Supporters' Shield race. One important part of their quest is Alvaro Fernandez, who is finally settled into life in the Windy City after his “surprise trade” midseason from Seattle.
From surprise to major disappointment. That’s how you could sum up New York’s reaction to their 2-0 midweek defeat to SKC at RBA. But they’ve got a chance to rectify that on Saturday with the games coming thick and fast. This time the Red Bulls travel up to Gillette Stadium and take on New England (7:30 pm ET, watch on MLS LIVE). If you can’t make the trip to New England, you can take the game in with the Red Bulls faithful at their official viewing party in NYC.
Outside of NYC, the nation will be taking in Real Salt Lake vs. the Portland Timbers on Saturday (8 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), where RSL hope to leapfrog LA and Seattle into second place in the West.
The Galaxy, meanwhile, host Toronto FC (Saturday, 10:30 pm ET, watch on MLS LIVE, TSN/RDS2 in Canada) with an aim at recording their fourth straight league win. While TFC threw away a 1-0 lead against the Union midweek, as LA native Luis Silva took the blame for his slack finishing: “I had my chances and I could’ve put them away.”
And a team that has been waiting a while for its homecoming, 38 days to be exact, will finally get it on Sunday as Vancouver return to BC Place for the first time since August 15. They’ll face the struggling Colorado Rapids (7:30 pm ET, watch on MLS LIVE) with their playoff hopes still hanging in the balance.
The match against the Rapids kicks off a stretch of four consecutive home games for Vancouver, as they seek to become the first-ever Canadian side to make the MLS playoffs. Goalkeeper Brad Knighton is set to keep his place in the lineup, to make his third straight start for the ‘Caps.
Soccer is on the rise in the US, according to ESPN’s Roger Bennett. He breaks down the stats from a new study that states soccer is the second-most popular sport in the USA among people 12-24 years old. Three world soccer stars also make it onto a list of the top 25 sports stars in US society. With a certain Barcelona star overtaking Dwyane Wade in terms of sporting popularity in the US.
The world’s most popular league, the EPL, is also in full-flow this weekend, and one newcomer to the league is already lost in the beauty of Arsenal Football Club. Which recently acquired Gunner is already planning to get a tattoo in support of the club, after he’s made just five appearances, I hear you cry? Find out here.
Let’s hope his doesn’t turn out like any of these disastrous attempts of soccer-fuelled inks.
And finally, check out this incredible goal from a one-legged high-school player in Massachusetts.
Get the Kick-Off delivered to you!
Enter your email address and favorite team below to sign up for The Kick-Off mailing list and get it delivered to your inbox every morning.