After having everything last weekend go the Chicago Fire's way playoff wise, it'd be pretty unlikely for the same thing to happen twice in a row. Indeed, not everything went the Fire's way, but it wasn't necessary. The Fire got the job done this weekend and are totally in control of their own destiny.
This is the second week of having this column back after a hiatus. Since bringing it back, I intend to make these shorter by only including important or interesting games and then making a brief footnote of everything else. Well, almost everything interesting and important this week happened in the Eastern Conference (except the Philadelphia-New England match, which I'm not even going to watch the highlights for). It's very likely that every one of these posts from here on out will be heavy on the Eastern Conference.
With that said, let's get on to the action!
The result here was pretty much expected, but the late game dramatics was not expected. When Montreal scored first in the 72nd minute, I felt relieved because there was no way this one was ending without Columbus putting one in. A draw seemed eminent. I'll let Aaron Katzeman from Massive Report describe what happened next:
The game seemed destined to end deadlocked, but (like I mentioned before) Columbus has Federico Higuain. Vukovic played a long ball to the Argentine, whose first touch was sublime and took him past Impact defender and former World Cup winner Alessandro Nesta. Higuain dribbled down the left flank, cut the ball back to his right, and sent in a cross. Renteria met the cross with his head, skimming the ball off his bald head and looping it up and over Perkins' hands. The 93rd minute goal was the deciding factor, moving the Crew into playoff position with a 2-1 victory.
Emiliio Renteria gets the game winner off of his "slippery, greasy dome". Columbus has officially moved into a playoff spot and have at least a game on everyone except the Fire.
This match felt reminiscent of the last time Chicago and SKC faced off. Toronto took advantage of an opportunity while Sporting struggled to find the back of the net. Eventually, the goals came for SKC to the disappointment of TFC fans. John Lueng at Waking the Red:
What seemed like a steady performance against the Eastern Conference leaders was garnished by a less-than-stellar performance from Kei Kamara, who couldn't hit the side of a barn. It was then left to unlikely hero (and former Red) Paulo Nagamura and former Barcelona B-man Oriol Rosell to overcome Ryan Johnson's near-halftime opener. The stats do flatter Sporting, and doesn't really show the whole picture.
That picture, was of stout work for about 85 minutes. On the few chances they had, they made it count -- but it still wasn't enough. It's a sad time to be watching, but few tears need to be shed, especially from us as supporters.
The more I watch Kansas City, the more I realize that this team is the manifestation of how I would play soccer on Nintendo when I was a kid. I would sit for hours outwitting the primitive AI of the computer team and keeping the ball out their grasp until I got anywhere close to the net. Then I would mash the A button and hope for something to go in. Seriously, Sporting had 71% of the possession and recorded 24 shots. Only 6 of those shots were worth a damn and 2 were goals. That's circa 1990 Nintendo style soccer right there.
DC United 0 @ Real Salt Lake 1
The worst of DC's schedule is now behind them. Playing game 5 in 15 days (or something ridiculous like that), one would figure that the team might be a little too gassed to accomplish much at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday, but D.C. performed strong. From Martin over at Black and Red United:
The chances were plentify for D.C. last night, and that was a bit of a surprise while playing with tired legs against a good RSL defense. Chris Pontius actually had three Pontius Special opportunities, but put one wide of the goal, had another deflected, and took the final one with his left foot instead. Opponents have obviously done some film study on Pontius by now. It seems to have helped.
While Will Johnson's goal got him the official man of the match honors, I think my vote might have had to go to Nick Rimando who was simply spectacular again tonight as RSL picked up another clean sheet, his 97th in his MLS career.
Luckily for DC, they have to face New England next week.
Just before Juninho struck a goal from distance, one of the commentators mentioned that LA and Vancouver could be meeting each other in the post-season in the one game play-in match between the 4th and 5th seeds. If that did happen, it would be bad news for Vancouver. The Galalxy have owned the Whitecaps this year. Vancouver lost 3-0 at the Home Depot Center in June, then gave away a two goal lead to LA at BC Place in July, and now this. LA just seems to have Vancouver's number.