Catch up with everything that happened in MLS in Week 24.
THE TOP STORY
Forget about the game of the week. We may have witnessed the game of the year on Saturday night from Sporting Park.
The Vancouver Whitecaps, who entered the match at the top of the West, went into Sporting Park and took two-goal leads twice only for Sporting to storm back in the final 10 minutes and win it with a stoppage-time goal from Paulo Nagamura (WATCH highlights).
Just how rare was it? It was only the second time in the league's 20-year history that a team that trailed by two goals in the 80th minute came back to win in regulation.
The result knocked the Whitecaps down to second place in the West, and kept Sporting KC -- who are averarging the most points per game in MLS -- undefeated at home.
Sporting KC's secret? How about "Sporting Fit?" Apparently, it's a thing: "Sporting fit took over at the end," said manager Peter Vermes, who now holds the mark for most regular season wins as a head coach in SKC history.
MORE ENTERTAINMENT IN PHILLY, BUT...
As if the late drama in Kansas City on Saturday wasn't enough, the Philadelphia Union and Chicago Fire got into the act on Sunday night at PPL Park. First the Fire took the lead. Then the Union equalized and took the lead themselves. Then the Fire equalized. Then Sebastien Le Toux came on for the Union and did was Sebastien Le Toux always does: scored in the 90th minute.
Truth is, neither side should be happy with the points. Le Toux lamented his team's "lack of maturity" when speaking with FOX Sports reporter Katie Witham after the game. The Fire's Sean Johnson, who had eight saves on the night -- five of them of the jaw-dropping variety -- tried really hard to see the positives of a point on the road, but it was a struggle. These two teams sit in 9th and 10th place in the East, and at this point in the season, any result that isn't three points must be seen as points lost.
THE BIG DEBATE: TO POKU OR NOT TO POKU?
Let's be honest: It's not really a debate anymore whether or not NYCFC 23-year-old attacker Kwadwo Poku should start. Clearly, he should.
He was the Man of the Match in a 3-1 win vs. D.C. United on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium., and in his four starts, NYCFC are 4-0-0 with 12 goals scored.
So the debate really is: Who sits to make room for Poku?
"RED LINE" UPDATE
The teams above the red line in each conference remain unchanged (full standings), though there was some shuffling as far as positioning goes. The LA Galaxy have assumed the top spot in the West and the New York Red Bulls, who have the longest active unbeaten run in MLS (5-0-1), have cemented themselves in that 2nd spot in the East.
Further down the ladder, Toronto FC dropped to 5th in the East, and FC Dallas to 5th in the West.
The most interesting race at the moment is in the East, where NYCFC's win has them breathing down the neck of 6th-place Montreal and 7th-place Orlando City. The Lions recent slide has put their postseason hopes in jeopardy, largely because they can't seem to score anymore: only one goal in their last three games (0-1-2).
With all due respect to Sean Johnson's performance and Obafemi Martins' first goal for Seattle, the highlight of the week goes to Portland netminder Adam Kwarasey (WATCH). The Timbers, who are known for their commitment to attack, have the most shutouts in MLS (11) and have not conceded a goal in 273 consecutive minutes.
While Toronto's big three were shut down by the Red Bulls, LA's big three helped overturn a deficit with Giovani Dos Santos serving up Robbie Keane's second goal of the match, which proved the winner in a 2-1 victory. The titillating trio at NYCFC was down to a dynamic duo with Frank Lampard out due to injury. But Andrea Pirlo provided the pass for David Villa's goal -- the match winner.
Among the South American stars, RBNY star Gonzalo Veron got his first goal in an MLS uniform, as did the Sounders' Nelson Valdez on a second half header goal. Chilean star Pedro Morales outdid both of them with a brilliant free-kick goal for Vancouver.
Jermaine Jones returned to New England's starting lineup for a weather-shortened stint of 45 minutes (more below). And although his USMNT teammate Clint Dempsey is still out, Seattle were happy to see Obafemi Martins make a grand return with two highlight-reel goals vs. an Orlando City side which received a quiet performance from Kaká, who had a frustrating afternoon.
THE "GIO" EFFECT?
First road match for Giovani Dos Santos with the LA Galaxy? A sellout at FC Dallas's Toyota Stadium. The 21,907 who showed up represented the fourth largest crowd in FCD history.
ASSIST OF THE WEEK
Although Pirlo's pass to Villa for the game-winner vs. D.C. United was nice, this pass by Red Bulls winger Mike Grella to teammate Bradley Wright-Phillips furthered the legend of "Grelladinho." Did you see what Grella did to Lampard last week?
THE MVP RACE
Many will feel that LA's Keane has officially entered this race to defend his MVP title (13G, 5A with eight matches remaining). But if that's the case, then NYCFC's David Villa (14G, 6A with 10 matches left) deserves to be in the mix. As does Obafemi Martins (9G, 4A in just 12 games; Sounders have 9 games left).
As for the three most popular contenders, Columbus Crew SC's Kei Kamara was idle, Sebastian Giovinco was a non-factor at Red Bull Arena, and Sporting KC's Benny Feilhaber was largely quieted by the Whitecaps' defensive plans. Regardless, Benny still came away with an assist and now trails league leader Cristian Maidana (Philadelphia) by one helper.
Real Salt Lake, now six points out of a playoff spot, were desperate for three points at home against the Portland Timbers on Saturday. But RSL's bubble was burst by a player who was a stalwart for them over seven seasons and 200-plus matches.
Nat Borchers headed home a stoppage-time winner for Portland and couldn't bring himself to celebrate, collapsing to the ground and holding his face instead. In the postgame Borchers was choked up when he talked about the moment:
"I got a little emotional. I didn't really want to score on my former team and take points from them, but happy for us," he told Root Sports. "I didn’t want to celebrate against my former club."
"There's too many emotions and they had been too good to me for me to do that to them, so it was an emotional goal," he said. "One of the most emotional I've ever scored."
THE QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Borchers' former RSL teammate, Luke Mulholland, didn't mince words after the 1-0 loss.
"It stings a lot," he said. "It's just sickening to concede at the end like that. Also, we have [Nat] Borchers scoring against us to add insult to injury. We're really, really disappointed in ourselves. It's just tough at this point in the season. We're down in the dumps."
MLS Week 24 wrapped up with two of the most colorful supporters groups in the league.
First, the crowd came out in full force in Seattle, as well, with 40,453 watching the 4-0 plastering of Orlando City. And the supporters at CenturyLink foretold the result against the Lions with their "Down Kitty" tifo.
And props to the creativity from the Sons of Ben in Philadelphia and their Mega Man display.
WELCOME BACK, HERC
If Toronto FC fans were looking for any consolation after the 3-0 blanking at the hands of the Red Bulls, they can find it in the 19 minutes of action by Herculez Gomez in his club debut and his first MLS action since 2009 following six years in the Mexican league.
His entry in the 71st minute on the right wing brought life and width to what was a predictable Toronto attack. Now how does manager Greg Vanney fit him into the squad in the long-term?
LIGHTING IT UP
The New England vs. Houston match took over five hours to complete on Saturday night. No joke. Two weather delays lasted nearly three hours in total.
The stoppages may have ruined the flow of the Dynamo, but the Revolution stayed focused on the prize. It was the least they could do for their manager on Jay Heaps Bobblehead Doll Day at Gillette Stadium.