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Football Americana Week 29: Eastern Conference wide open



It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Major League Soccer, and here's what went down with the pink-trimmed ball over the last week.

Sporting Kansas City got going early, taking the lead against Columbus Crew through Kei Kamara's penalty after CJ Sapong had been unceremoniously dumped to the ground by Chad Marshall. Emilio Renteria thumped the Crew level but his side would leave Livestrong Sporting Park with nothing thanks to Julius James' own goal, a looping backwards header from Matt Besler's long throw into the box.

Sporting's second game of the week was a 1-1 draw with San Jose Earthquakes, with the teams exchanging quickfire goals in the final ten minutes. Chris Wondolowski drew first blood for the Quakes in the 85th minute, but Teal Bunbury saved a point for Kansas City just 30 seconds or so later.

The early sending off of Kyle Beckerman set the scene for Real Salt Lake's 3-0 defeat by Chicago Fire. The dreadlocked midfield maestro saw red for butting Daniel Paladini, by which time Marco Pappa had already bent in the first goal of a brilliant hat-trick. Pappa's second arrived in the 36th minute, this time a delicious finish with his left foot. His third was another curling shot after cutting in unchallenged from the right wing. But the biggest cheer of the game was reserved for the home fans, who finally welcomed back their talismanic playmaker Javier Morales, whose season has been decimated by injury.

The Fire were back in action as early as Saturday, but this time had to settle for a point from a 1-1 draw with Houston Dynamo. Colin Clark poached Houston's goal from close range, with former Dynamo striker Dom Oduro showing his strength to hold off Bobby Boswell and then poking the ball past Tally Hall.

Salt Lake also played on Saturday and lost again, this time to LA Galaxy. Fabian Espindola gave RSL the lead with a clever header on the stroke of half time, but LA turned it around on home soil in the second half. Chad Barrett equalised by dinking it over Nick Rimando from David Beckham's deep pass, and it was Beckham's free kick that caused enough chaos for Nat Borchers to have to watch the ball bounce off him and into his own net. After the game, Beckham and RSL coach Jason Kreis (pictured) indulged in an unedifying set-to.

Philadelphia Union kept pace with SKC by defeating DC United, but they made hard work of it despite a blistering start. Sebastien Le Toux beat Bill Hamid on a one-on-one after less than four minutes and scored again just over ten minutes later from a similar position. United quickly drew level, Dwayne De Rosario bagging their first with a near post header from Austin Da Luz's corner, and Andy Najar racing from deep into his own half into the box and crashing in a low finish for 2-2. But it was Philly who nicked it with a goal just before the hour. Michael Farfan scored it, firing from 25 yards into the top corner to top off a lovely little run.

Philly then dropped points of their own after failing to bury Chivas USA. The Union took until the 59th minute to break the deadlock, Justin Mapp scoring with a low left-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area. But the Goats have an in-form striker in Juan Pablo Angel and he ruined Philadelphia's evening with a goal in the 90th minute. Michael Lahoud's cross seemed to hang in the air for an age before the Colombian rose to head in his sixth goal in four games and save a point.

It was the Daniel Woolard show as Columbus defeated DC. The United defender put his side into the lead before the break, sending a glancing touch past Will Hesmer from a free kick. But he soon came back to earth with an own goal two minutes into the second half to equalise. Eddie Gaven won it for Columbus on the hour with a brilliant diving header. Najar hit the crossbar for United deep into stoppage time.

The exciting Diego Fagundez gave New England Revolution a surprise lead against Seattle Sounders, and by the time he thumped his header in off the bar the Revs had already had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside. But the Sounders replied almost instantly, Fredy Montero firing across Matt Reis to equalise. The Colombian got the winner for Seattle in the second half, squeezing the ball home just after the break.

New York Red Bulls failed to capitalise on DC's defeat against Philly and they required a late goal to take anything from their visit to Toronto FC. In-form Danny Koevermans put TFC ahead with a controversial goal that ultimately stemmed back to an appalling waste of possession by the returning one-man team Rafael Marquez. New York's equaliser was late but worth waiting for. Thierry Henry controlled a loose corner as if time had stopped round him and then caressed it low into the net.

In the West, Colorado Rapids beat FC Dallas 1-0 with a single goal from former Dallas defender Drew Moor. He headed in powerfully from a first half corner to bank the three points for Colorado. Miguel Comminges made life more difficult for the leading side by getting himself sent off for two bookable offences, the second for a late tackle on Zak Loyd.

Portland Timbers spoiled the party at the opening of the refurbed Vancouver Whitecaps stadium, and it only took one goal to do it. Kenny Cooper smashed it in right in the middle of the first half, finding the top corner from the edge of the box for his seventh goal of the season.

LA, Seattle and Salt Lake are confirmed playoff entrants from the West, while Kansas City, Philadelphia and Columbus remain under threat in the East. The four wildcards at present are Dallas, Colorado, Houston and New York, with Portland catching up to the Red Bulls on points.

Toronto, New England and Vancouver cannot qualify. You can see those tables here.

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