Football Americana Week 27: Nip and tuck at the top



The playoffs are approaching fast and five teams are already in, with three more on the brink. Here's all the action from Week 27 of the regular season.

It was a disastrous start to the week for the Philadelphia Union, who visited Dick's Sporting Goods Park and took a 4-1 thumping from the Colorado Rapids, who were 2-0 up by the 15th minute. Omar Cummings scored both, poking home after Mac Kandji's pull back after eight minutes and heading in from a corner less than ten minutes later. Wells Thompson added a third mid-way through the second half with a tap-in after Brad Knighton fumbled Pablo Mastroeni's free kick. Quincy Amarikwa notched the fourth before Jack McInerney's impressive 90th minute consolation.

With one team in form and the other sliding out of playoff contention, you'd be forgiven for thinking San Jose Earthquakes would beat Chicago Fire at home without breaking sweat. No such luck for the Quakes; Chicago came to town and dismantled them, winning 3-0 at Buck Shaw Stadium. Steven Kinney gave the Fire a 1-0 half time lead despite a more promising start by the home team, who should have had a penalty at 0-0. Freddie Ljungberg chipped in the second and Patrick Nyarko finally opened his 2010 account to make it 3-0.

Seattle Sounders gave themselves a nine-point cushion in the playoff spots with a 3-2 win over Toronto FC. TFC took the lead at Qwest Field thanks to Dwayne De Rosario's delicious finish against the run of play. The Sounders came roaring back into a 3-1 lead with Steve Zakuani (pictured) getting things rolling in the 21st minute with his ninth of the season. Blaise N'Kufo's fifth in three matches turned the game on its head in the 26th minute, and Sanna Nyassi looked to have wrapped up the points on the hour mark. But there was still time for a late scare, Chad Barrett making it 3-2 with a header from close range.

Philly's faint hopes died at PPL Park with a draw against Houston Dynamo. Andrew Hainault pounced on some questionable goalkeeping to give the Dynamo an early advantage, but the superb Union forward Sebastien Le Toux equalised before half time. The Frenchman controlled beautifully before sliding in his 13th MLS goal of the season.

The Earthquakes were back in action on Saturday and had to settle for a respectable goalless draw with Columbus Crew in amongst the vuvuzelas of Crew Stadium. The Crew had the best chances and Steven Lenhart should have scored with a free header in acres of space during the first half. William Hesmer had to get up into the corner to turn Chris Wondolowski's effort over the bar in the second.

After keeping Real Salt Lake's unbeaten home streak alive last weekend, Nat Borchers scored again to give his side the lead at New England Revolution. Salt Lake took 68 minutes to break the deadlock at Gillette Stadium, Borchers heading in once more. The Revs equalised through Kenny Mansally with eight minutes left but RSL left it late again, winning it with a header by Alvario Saborio. The win put Salt Lake on top of the combined table and praying for favourable results elsewhere later in the weekend.

New York Red Bulls kept up the pressure at the top with a 1-0 win over Kansas City Wizards at Red Bull Arena. Dane Richards won it early, breaking into the area in the sixth minute and bending a lovely finish past Jimmy Nielsen. Kei Kamara's second half free kick beat Bouna Coundoul in the Red Bull goal but hit the angle of the goal. Richards also hit the woodwork for the home team.

FC Dallas have had a remarkable season, losing only twice, and it came to a head this weekend when they booked their place in the playoffs with a 3-0 win against Chicago Fire. Striker Milton Rodriguez put Schellas Hyndman's side in front inside 20 minutes, bursting past the back-marker and driving in from just inside the area. Marvin Chavez's deflected goal made it 2-0 and Jeff Cunningham got the third with a penalty after he'd been brought down when through on goal. Dallas are now unbeaten in 18 MLS games, and Cunningham's goal brings him level with Jaime Moreno as the league's all-time leading goalscorer.

Moreno's DC United picked up a surprise win against Colorado Rapids. There was only one goal in it as DC won for the sixth time this year, Danny Allsopp firing in from his second chance in a minute during first half stoppage time. Andy Najar was instrumental yet again.

And in the final game of the weekend, the Superclasico in Carson saw LA Galaxy pick up a routine win over Chivas USA. The Galaxy raced into a 2-0 first half lead but not before David Beckham (pictured) and Edson Buddle linked up to create a chance that Buddle chipped against the crossbar. Buddle made amends by crashing in a lovely opening goal in the 24th minute and Beckham also got himself on the scoresheet in the first half. Buddle was fouled 20 yards from goal and the former England captain did what he does best, finding the top corner with an unstoppable free kick to make it 2-0.

Former Galaxy player Alan Gordon's scored the Chivas goal but Donovan Ricketts in the LA goal gaving him a real helping hand with a comedic fumble. Gordon was offside. For LA, Eddie Lewis, on for Beckham, was sent off with 15 minutes left for a nasty stamp on Rodolfo Espinoza, who was lucky to avoid censure himself.

So, table time. LA are back on top after their derby win, with Real Salt Lake two points behind them in the West. In the East, New York and Columbus have confirmed their playoff places but it is the West's third-placed side, Dallas, who are breathing down the necks of the top two. FCD have also secured their post-season entry. Seattle, Colorado and San Jose are in the three remaining wildcard spots with a seven-point gap back to Kansas City. Toronto and Chicago are hanging by a thread, while Chivas and Philly will have to wait another year for playoff action.

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