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Football Americana Week 13: Eric Hassli steals the show



In a week of great goals, big results, a hat-trick and even a new stadium, one expansion club designated player tore the headlines away and kept them all for himself with a goal already seen around the world.

Columbus Crew got the week going with a 2-1 victory over 2009 champions Real Salt Lake. Jamison Olave's seventh minute prod was somehwat fortunate to bounce up and past Will Hesmer, but it was Salt Lake's last luck of the night. The Crew's goals came late, and the first followed something of a domestic. They were awarded a penalty in the 74th minute when Justin Meram was tripped by Olave, and when Andres Mendoza stepped up to take it his team-mates made it clear that Jeff Cunningham should be taking the kick, as instructed by the coach, in his quest to topple Jaime Moreno's MLS scoring record. Mendoza thumped in the penalty, and a few minutes later a deflected strike by Josh Gardner turned one point into three.

Salt Lake had to settle for a point in their second game of the week, a 1-1 draw away at Philadelphia Union. The Union dominated the first half, running rampant as a headed goal by Keon Daniel was immediately preceded by a disallowed goal and followed by two strikes against the woodwork and a full-stretch save by Nick Rimando. RSL controlled far more of the play after the break, gaining their reward early when Jean Alexandre found Fabian Espondola, who used his strength to hold off his man and fire low past Faryd Mondragon.

Sporting Kansas City finally played a home game, opening the beautiful Livestrong Sporting Park with a goalless draw against Chicago Fire. In the 15th minute Graham Zusi found the net for Sporting Club but an offside flag against Omar Bravo robbed them of their first goal at the new stadium. SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was sent off in the 67th minute for handling outside his area when Dominic Oduro knocked the ball over him to go through on goal. Five minutes from the end KC were denied as clear a penalty as you'll ever see. Bratislav Ristic ploughed right through Bravo and was lucky not to do serious damage, let alone concede a penalty.

The Fire then secured a third consecutive clean sheet but took the full 90 minutes to beat the Crew. When the goal arrived it was a simple first ever MLS goal for Christian Nazarit, who took advantage when Will Hesmer parried Orr Barrouch's last-minute shot.

Sporting Club's second game of the week was a more productive affair than the first, as Peter Vermes' side rolled into Texas and gave FC Dallas a 4-1 hiding in their own back yard. Zusi finally got his goal, but not before striking the post after 16 minutes. Quarter of an hour later he cut inside the full back and fired inside Kevin Hartman's far post to make it 1-0. Brek Shea equalised with a wonderful solo goal but it was to be FCD's last moment of joy as three second half goals earned SKC the win. Aurelien Collin found the net from CJ Sapong's cut-back just after the break, and Zusi scored his second with a free kick from fully 45 yards five minutes later. Needless to say it won't make the Hartman showreel. Milos Stojcev was sent off for Kansas City with the score at 3-1, having been given a yellow card for a rash tackle in the first half and an idiotic trip in the second. Luke Sassano rounded off the action, popping the ball over Hartman as the two met at the edge of the box.

New York Red Bulls rediscovered their ability to win against New England Revolution, picking up a 2-1 win at Red Bull Arena. The Revs had a chance to take the lead with a penalty just after the half hour but Greg Sutton palmed away a poor attempt by Shalrie Joseph, and when Ryan Cochrane calmly passed Thierry Henry's low cross into his own net you knew it wasn't New England's night. A vintage Henry goal made it 2-0 just after the break and Zak Boggs' volley was nothing more than a consolation.

The goals were flying in for fun at RFK Stadium, where San Jose Earthquakes emerged as 4-2 victors against DC United. United drew first blood, Andy Najar stealing in at the back post to score his first of the campaign. A quick double from Steven Lenhart (pictured) turned the game on its head, his first a thumping finish after rounding Bill Hamid just seconds after Najar's goal and his second a tap-in as the former Crew man reacted fastest on a rebound. Blake Brettschneider then equalised for DC with a neat turn and finish, but the Quakes would go on to punish United's defending in the second half. Lenhart turned creator in a one-two with Simon Dawkins to make it 3-2, and then completed his hat-trick with a header over the stranded DC 'keeper.

Chivas USA took an early lead at Roberton Stadium against Houston Dynamo, but the home side went on to earn their first win since April. Bobby Boswell's third-minute header was disallowed for Houston and the Goats soon opened the scoring after Marcos Mondaini latched onto a shocking backpass from Hunter Freeman and coolly made it 1-0. Set piece expert Brad Davis sent in a free kick for Geoff Cameron to glance home for the equaliser, and the winner came early in the second half thanks to a Heath Pearce own goal, yet again the result of a superb delivery by Davis.

Colorado Rapids, the league's defending champions, defeated Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field but they left it late. Both sides had and wasted some good chances but it was Drew Moor who finally broke the deadlock for the Rapids in stoppage time with a scrappy goal to finish off a desperate scramble on the goal-line.

It was Cascadia Cup action in the northwest, where Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps shared the points at Qwest Field with a dramatic late flurry. The Caps held a lead for the majority of the game after Eric Hassli (pictured) scored with a lovely chip from the penalty spot after Camilo had been felled by Osvaldo Alonso, but looked to have won it late on with two goals in the last ten minutes. Mauro Rosales poked in the equaliser with time running out and it was quickly followed up by Alonso's powerful pea-roller to make it 2-1 to the Sounders. Hassli would have the last laugh, though - his equaliser was almost immediate. The Frenchman chipped a loose ball up to himself on the edge of the box and crashed a stunning goal of the year candidate past Kasey Keller.

The same result saw LA Galaxy and Toronto FC share the points at Home Depot Center. Chris Birchall started the scoring early, firing in the opener (his first ever MLS goal) in only the second minute. Former Galaxy man Alan Gordon grabbed a headed equaliser with 13 minutes left, and there was more of that to come. Juan Pablo Angel must have thought he'd won it when his volley found the net 10 seconds into stoppage time, but Gordon had one more trick up his sleeve. In the 94th minute he smashed in a wonderful volley of his own to steal a point for the Canadian side.

Having finally ended their winless run, New York edge ahead of Philly at the top of the East, with Houston and Columbus four points behind. Kansas City are closing in on New England at the bottom. In the West, LA are six points clear of Dallas, with Seattle and Colorado three points behind them in turn. Vancouver stay bottom.

You can see those tables here, and check out all the action here. Trust me, this is a good week to do so.

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