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Football Americana Week 23: That guy scores on his debut for the LA wotsits



Perhaps not a vintage MLS weekend, but an exciting and engaging one nonetheless. Here's what went down in Week 23.

We start at Gillette Stadium, where New England Revolution and Houston Dynamo shared the points after a 1-1 draw. Ryan Cochrane's tap-in at the end of a scramble put the Revs ahead in only the fifth minute and they very nearly held on for the win, thanks in large part to the goalkeeping of Matt Reis. Houston finally equalised in the last minute when Bobby Boswell forced the ball over the lane after the Revolution failed to clear a corner.

On Saturday, it was two goals and one red card apiece as the Revs drew with New York Red Bulls. Hans Backe's side had to come back from 2-0 down after new DP Milton Caraglio (pictured during an abortive trial in England) had scored twice for New England. His first MLS goal was finally finished after a huge amount of good fortune in the build up but his second was more a reflection of New York's total inability to defend set pieces. Just before half time, Dax McCarty looked to have been fouled by the Revs goalkeeper but instead of a penalty and a dismissal, the signing from DC was booked after the referee consulted his assistant.

It all went wrong for the Revolution in the ten minutes after the break - Dane Richards pulled a goal back from a one-on-one after a ball over the top, and then Kenny Mansally got a second yellow card for leading with the arm in an aerial challenge. The Red Bulls lost a man too, Teemu Tainio earning his second yellow for a petulant hack on Shalrie Joseph. It was Richards who finally equalised for New York, turning in from close range in the 87th minute after the referee had turned down decent penalty shouts at both ends.

Houston's second game of the week saw them defeat Real Salt Lake 3-2. Salt Lake took the lead just seconds after Carlo Costly's goal for the Dynamo had been disallowed for offside. Fabian Espindola's finish was as neat as ever, and took RSL into half time in front. Brad Davis' work to set up Brian Ching's equaliser in the 47th minute was nicely executed but the lead didn't last long, Luis Gil restoring Salt Lake's lead with a lovely header from Espindola's pinpoint cross. Bobby Boswell's brilliantly glanced equaliser (again assisted by Davis) came less than ten minutes after Gil's goal, and Alex Dixon won it for the men in orange with a superb curling effort with the last kick of the match.

Portland Timbers headed for Sporting Kansas City, who handed out a 3-1 beating to John Spencer's expansion side. Two goals from Graham Zusi took Sporting in at the break with a 2-0 lead, his first a stupendous strike from 35 yards across the goalkeeper Troy Perkins and into the far corner, and the second altogether scruffier. Soony Saad made it three on his MLS debut with the most fortuitous goal he'll ever score. As he chased down a through ball, the Timbers defence could only clear it against him and the ricochet lobbed a stranded Perkins. Bright Dike's first MLS goal was scant consolation.

Portland did get a win when Vancouver Whitecaps came to town for a Cascadia derby. Diego Chara drilled Portland into the lead in the second minute, and half an hour later Jorge Perlaza doubled their advantage with a poacher's goal. The Caps did get on the scoresheet in the dying minutes, Camilo curling the consolation past Perkins.

Masters of the draw Chicago Fire were at it again on Thursday, tying their game with DC United with a goal apiece. DC goalkeeper Bill Hamid injured himself taking a free kick in first half stoppage time with the score at 0-0, and it was Sebastian Grazzini who broke the deadlock against his replacement, Steve Cronin. Josh Wolff equalised with just under 20 minutes to go, thrashing the ball in off the crossbar after exchanging passes with Santino Quaranta. That's a record-breaking 15 draws in a season for the Fire.

DC's second game of the week ended in defeat away at Kansas City. One goal did it for KC, Kei Kamara grabbing it in the 19th minute. Having hit the crossbar with a header just minutes earlier, Kamara composed himself well on the edge of the box to drill home his seventh of the season.

On Sunday night Chicago did finally get a win, defeating Toronto FC 2-0 at Toyota Park. Dom Oduro scored the first after quarter of an hour, cleverly flicking the ball past Milos Kocic - boom goes the Dominic, apparently. Dan Gargan sealed it 20 minutes from time with a poorly defended but well taken header against his old side.

At the top of the East, Columbus Crew stretched their lead by beating Philadelphia Union 2-1. The teams exchanged goals at the end of the first half, Emilio Renteria guiding Robbie Rogers' cross into the net for the Crew, and Veljko Paunovic's header punishing a flapping Will Hesmer for Philly. The winner came just five minutes after the break and came from the spot after Sheanon Williams blocked another Rogers cross with his hand. Andres Mendoza's penalty somehow crossed the line after Faryd Mondragon had gone the right way but failed to grasp the ball strongly enough.

Juan Pablo Angel's debut for Chivas USA was a visit to the defending champions, Colorado Rapids and the Colombian scored in a 2-2 draw. Caleb Folan put the Rapids ahead early, towering high to head home after an impressive passage of possession play from the home side. Angel broke free in the 36th minute and looked just like his old self as he raced clear and powered his shot low into the bottom corner. Jeff Larentowicz scored with his head to make it 2-1 to Colorado in the 69th minute but they couldn't see out the game. Laurent Courtois equalised late for the Goats, poking Michael Lahoud's pass beyond Matt Pickens and into the net.

One early goal was enough for Seattle Sounders, who beat FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park. Fredy Montero's clever pass found Mauro Rosales on the edge of the box, and he smashed a low shot past Kevin Hartman. Dallas lost a man early in the second half. Daniel Cruz had scythed down Ossie Alonso in the first half, and in the second he was punished for a dive.

Angel's replacement at LA Galaxy also scored this weekend; Robbie Keane opened his account on his debut against San Jose Earthquakes with a composed finish after making Jon Busch look silly in the Quakes goal. Steven Beitashour was sent off in the last ten minutes for an ugly stamp on former Earthquake Landon Donovan, and Mike Magee's tap-in put the cherry on the icing.

With that, LA maintain their lead at the top of the West and are now followed by Seattle in second thanks to their win over third-placed Dallas. In the East, Columbus and Sporting continue to go stride for stride, with four points between them at the top. Houston move into third.

You can see those tables here and all of the action here.

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