Frady Montero and the Seattle Sounders celebrate another victory for the men in Rave Green.
The 2011 Major League Soccer regular season is officially done and dusted. We now know who are the contenders for the postseason, and who is ready to make plans for next year after their campaigns went kaput.
The Seattle Sounders take the top spot this week, while Sporting Kansas City emerges as the biggest threat in the East. Let's take a look at the penultimate MLS Power Rankings for this season.
The end of the season could not come any sooner for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Tom Soehn's Vancouver Whitecaps will be in the hunt for a new manager, as they closed a disappointing 2011 season with a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Alain Rochat scored the only goal for the Whitecaps in the 49th minute of play. With the result, the Whitecaps finish the year 6-18-10 (28 points) and earn the wooden spoon.
Benny Feilhaber assisted on both of New England's two goals on Saturday against Toronto.
Steve Nicol's New England Revolution went down fighting after a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC at BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario.
Monsef Zerka scored his second goal of the season in the 41st minute while Milton Caraglio recorded his third of the year in the 46th minute of play.
"We need to improve our team, we need to make changes that are going to help us compete at a higher level next year," said midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who assisted on both of the goals. "It can’t be as poor a season as this one was, it’s going to take work and effort by the players, the coaches, the management, everybody.
"The organization is really going to have to work hard to improve the team to be competitive next season."
New England ends the season 5-16-13 (28 points), good for last place in the MLS Eastern Conference.
Toronto FC players salute their fans for what has been another difficult season in MLS, but they do have the CONCACAF Champions League to look forward to.
Aron Winter's Toronto FC had a decent week, highlighted by success in the CONCACAF Champions League and a draw to close the MLS season.
Toronto eliminated FC Dallas from the CONCACAF Champions League with a 3-0 shellacking at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Tex. Danny Koevermans opened the scoring in the 29th minute of play while Joao Plata scored braces in the 69th and 81st minutes.
TFC then concluded league play with a 2-2 draw against the New England Revolution at BMO Field. Nick Soolsma scored his third goal of the season in the 20th minute, while Danny Koevermans equalized in the 83rd minute of play for his eighth goal of the season.
"We didn’t play a good game, we were a little bit flat," Winter told torontofc.ca's Asif Hossain. "I think that the last game against Dallas, we had given a lot...I think those things together are why the team was a little bit flat. It was not a good game.
"It's not just the set pieces, if you watch this past season we have a lot of goals against us that were unnecessary, and that needs to get better for sure, next season."
Toronto ends their season with a 6-13-15 record (33 points), good enough for eighth place in the MLS Eastern Conference. However, TFC will be playing more football when they resume CONCACAF Champions League play in March against an opponent to be named.
22,137 came out to see Chivas USA close their season out with a 3-1 defeat to the Seattle Sounders.
Robin Fraser's Chivas USA ended their season on a losing note, falling to the Seattle Sounders 3-1.
Chivas's Andrew Boyens scored an own goal in the 53rd minute and that opened the floodgates for Seattle. Victor Estupinan opened his scoring account in the 83rd minute of play.
Chivas USA finish their season with a record of 8-14-12 (36 points), good enough for eighth place in the MLS Western Conference.
D.C.'s Brandon McDonald signs autographs for fans following the match.
Ben Olsen's D.C. United saw their playoff dreams go down in smoke after drawing 1-1 with the Portland Timbers on Wednesday at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Dwayne De Rosario scored his 16th goal of the season in the 73rd minute of play, but it would not be enough.
Combined with New York's victory over the Philadelphia Union, United's season finale with Sporting Kansas City was meaningless, and it showed in their 1-0 defeat at RFK Stadium.
De Rosario did give D.C. one prize, the MLS Golden Boot. Technically he was tied with Chris Wondolowski for the most goals at 16, but he won it based on the assists tiebreaker.
"I’m disappointed because this latter part of the season, this last stretch has not been good," Olsen told reporters. "We have some excuses, some injuries, and in a lot of ways they are real. But I still think that with a break or two we were a playoff team. That’s what’s disappointing to me; that I couldn’t squeeze enough out of every guy to get into the playoffs.
"Again, I know what we need for next year. I know it’s not easy to find what you need in this soccer world, but we will get that and make this team better."
D.C. finish the season with a record of 9-13-12 (39 points), good for seventh place in the MLS Eastern Conference.
Chris Wondolowski scored his 16th goal of the season against FC Dallas but was unable to defend his Golden Boot.
Frank Yallop's San Jose Earthquakes ended their season on a winning note, crushing FC Dallas 4-2 at Buck Shaw Stadium on the campus of Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, Calif.
Simon Dawkins opened the scoring in the 26th minute, Rafael Baca opened his scoring account in the 27th minute, Chris Wondolowski scored his 16th goal of the season on a penalty kick in the 34th minute and Dawkins made it a brace in the 38th minute of play.
Wondolowski had no regrets after falling short of defending his Budweiser Golden Boot.
“I’m glad I can show myself and others—the league, my teammates—that I can do it,” Wondolowski told MLSSoccer.com's Geoff Lepper. “I’m so fortunate to have the teammates I do. They were feeding me non-stop...I really appreciate and love them.”
San Jose ends the season with a record of 8-12-14 (38 points), good enough for seventh in the MLS Western Conference.
An argument ensues between Real Salt Lake and Portland Timbers players in Portland's 1-1 with RSL.
It was a tough way for John Spencer's Portland Timbers to end their season. On Wednesday, they were only able to draw 1-1 with D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Kenny Cooper scored his eighth goal of the season in the 24th minute of play.
The Timbers then ended their season against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The match also ended 1-1, with Mamadou "Futty" Danso scoring an equalizer in the first minute of stoppage time in the second half.
“The reality of it is that you are an expansion team and, for pretty much every guy in this locker room, it’s their first year to play together," said midfielder/team captain Jack Jewsbury. "Getting quality games, getting games where there’s a lot of pressure on you, I think is key in terms of building to the future."
"That’s hard to say because this year we had the goal of making the playoffs and we fell just a bit short, but I think that we’re proud of where we’ve come."
With the results, Portland finishes a respectable 2011 MLS campaign with a record of 11-14-9 (42 points), good for sixth place in the MLS Western Conference.
Jalil Anibaba scored a brace for the Chicago Fire in their 3-2 victory over the Columbus Crew.
Frank Klopas's Chicago Fire lost their fiery touch before they could qualify for the playoffs, but they did score a consolation result at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., defeating the Columbus Crew 3-2.
Jalil Anibaba scored in the 11th and 30th minutes of play, but it was Diego Chaves who delivered the game-winner in the 80th minute to give Chicago fans something to smile about heading into next year.
The Fire finish their season with a record of 9-9-16 (43 points), good for sixth place in the MLS Eastern Conference.
One of the Columbus Crew players exchanges high fives with the Nordecke, who traveled to Toyota Park on Saturday. The Crew lost to the Chicago Fire, 3-2.
In spite of the Columbus Crew returning to the MLS Cup Playoffs, their return is sure to be a shaky one after a 3-2 defeat to the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.
Emilio Renteria scored his eighth goal of the season in the 73rd minute while Dilly Duka notched home an equalizer in the 79th minute of play.
Columbus end the season 12-9-13 (47 points), good for fourth place in the MLS Eastern Conference, and will be taking on the Colorado Rapids in the wild card round of the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Kickoff between the Rapids and Crew at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 27 at 10 p.m. ET and will be televised by ONN-TV.
George John scored for FC Dallas, but the Hoops fell 4-2 to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
Schellas Hyndman's FC Dallas are in a sort of free fall heading into the MLS Cup Playoffs. Already they are out of the CONCACAF Champions League after faltering to Toronto FC 3-0 at Pizza Hut Park.
And to add insult to defeat, the Hoops were ambushed by Chris Wondolowski and the San Jose Earthquakes 4-2. George John scored in the first minute of first-half stoppage time and Ruben Luna opened his scoring account in the 90th minute of play.
John was optimistic of Dallas's chances to get right against the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at the Oven.
“We just need to regroup as a team and follow the leadership of our captain Daniel Hernandez and coach Schellas. I have the utmost faith in our coach and the leadership of our team that they will lead us in the right direction,” John told FCDallas.com's Adam Crouch. “We’ll be more than prepared for Wednesday.”
Kickoff between FC Dallas and New York is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. ET.
Dallas finishes the regular season with a record of 15-12-7 (52 points), good for fourth place in the MLS Western Conference.
Jun Gunna Solli was instrumental in helping the New York Red Bulls punch their ticket to the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Hans Backe's New York Red Bulls shut out the Philadelphia Union 1-0 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. to punch their ticket to the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Dane Richards was the hero, scoring his seventh goal of the season in the eighth minute of play.
“Overall, it’s mostly the team performance tonight that I think is really good,” New York's Jan Gunnar Solli told Nate Sulat of MLSSoccer.com. “If we can work with the defensive part, get a hold of the ball, show the good passing game as we sometimes are showing tonight, I think we have a really good shot to get a good result [in the playoffs].”
With the victory, New York improve to 10-8-16 on the season (46 points) and will face FC Dallas in the wild card round. Kickoff at Pizza Hut Park is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
In spite of being eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League, the Colorado Rapids bounced back with a 2-1 win over Vancouver.
A hit-and-miss week closed Gary Smith's Colorado Rapids' regular season. First, there was the miss. Colorado fell 2-0 to Santos Laguna and were passed over by Isidro Metapan in Group Stage play in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Now for the hit. The Rapids rebounded from a sorry effort at Estadio Corona in Torreon, Mexico with a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, B.C. Jeff Larentowicz scored an equalizer in the 59th minute of play before Wells Thompson delivered the game-winner in the 84th minute.
“It was a bloody hard fought game, and, once again, the lads have shown what resolve they have got,” Smith told MLSSoccer.com's Nick Thomas. “I thought the back four did an excellent job today, especially the two full backs who played a full 90 midweek.”
With the result, Colorado finishes the season with a record of 12-9-13 (49 points), good enough for fifth place in the MLS Western Conference.
Up next for the Rapids is the MLS Cup Playoffs, and the wild card match with the Columbus Crew at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Kickoff is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. MT/10 p.m. ET and will be televised by Altitude.
Faryd Mondragon was back in action between the pipes for the Philadelphia Union in a losing battle.
Peter Nowak's Philadelphia Union were given a taste of their own medicine yet again when they fell to the New York Red Bulls 1-0 on Thursday.
“In the playoffs, everything is magnified and we have to be ready for the intensity of it all, and I know we will,” midfielder Freddy Adu told philadelphiaunion.com's Andy Jasner. “We have to be ready for the next step because if you’re not, it can end quickly."
"We want to keep this thing going.”
And they will do so when they take on the Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The first leg of the series will take place at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 30 at 4 p.m. ET.
The second leg will take place at Robertson Stadium in Houston, Tex. Kickoff is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. ET.
Philadelphia finishes the regular season with an 11-8-15 record (48 points), good for third place in the East.
A distraught Real Salt Lake fan wonders if the season is falling apart before his very eyes.
Jason Kreis's Real Salt Lake were left to wonder what went wrong after surrendering a one-goal lead en route to a 1-1 draw at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Alvaro Saborio scored in the first minute of first-half stoppage time for his 11th goal of the season.
“We’ve had a lot of stretches where we’ve had some positive things happen and we’ve had a lot of stretches where it seems we couldn’t buy a result," Kreis told reporters. "We’ve been more consistent for longer periods of time—it hasn’t been one week to the next—but there is just a ton of difficulties we’ve faced this year."
"I’m hoping all of this means something come playoff time.”
RSL come into the playoffs facing a daunting opponent in the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference Semifinals. The first leg will take place at Rio Tinto Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. MT/10 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel
The second leg will take place at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Wash. Kickoff is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 2.
RSL end the regular season with a 15-11-8 record (53 points), good enough for third place in the MLS Western Conference.
Carlo Costly slammed the door shut on the Los Angeles Galaxy in the Houston Dynamo's 3-1 victory on Sunday.
Taking advantage of an intentionally-weakened Los Angeles Galaxy side, the Houston Dynamo powered their way to a complete 3-1 victory at Robertson Stadium on Sunday.
Adam Moffat scored a blazing 38-yarder in the 27th minute to open the proceedings. Bobby Boswell scored his fifth goal of the season in the 48th minute of play before Carlo Costly opened his scoring account in the 74th minute to put the game out of reach.
Brad Davis assisted on the Boswell and Costly goals to give him a league-leading 17 assists on the trot.
Houston finishes the season with a record of 12-9-13 (49 points), good enough for second place in the MLS Eastern Conference. They will take on the Philadelphia Union in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The first leg of the series will take place at PPL Park. Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 30 at 3 p.m. ET/4 p.m. ET.
The second leg will take place at Robertson Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. ET.
The Galaxy forward of the future?: Jack McBean became the youngest Galaxy player ever to score in an MLS contest on Sunday against Houston.
Bruce Arena's Los Angeles Galaxy weren't aiming for scoring records or history-making performances, but rather players who could deliver in the clutch during the playoffs in their 3-1 defeat to the Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium.
Two months short of his 17th birthday, Jack McBean became the youngest Galaxy player ever to score in a Major League Soccer match in the 90th minute of play.
As the Offspring like to say, "Nice work you did. You're gonna go far, kid."
"We still want to go out there and compete and win, but unfortunately we could not do that," McBean said to reporters after the game. "I think it was a good experience for myself, and some of the other rookies and guys who have not played as much."
"You never want to go into games and come out on the short end, but it is what it is and I think we earned the opportunity through our previous 33 games to give our first team guys a rest," Arena added. "As much as I’m disappointed with the final result, I’m pleased we got something out of it and hopefully it helps us down the road."
Before that, the Galaxy defeated C.D. Motagua 1-0 off a 29th minute goal from Juninho, who was on the bench for the Houston match. The victory puts the Galaxy at the top of Group A in the CONCACAF Champions League.
LA's next matches will be the Western Conference Semifinals.
The Galaxy end the regular season with a not-too-shabby 19-5-10 record (67 points), good enough for the best record in Major League Soccer.
Mat Besler, center, delivered the game-winner for Sporting Kansas City against D.C. United.
Peter Vermes's Sporting Kansas City wrapped up the MLS Eastern Conference regular season crown with a 1-0 victory over D.C. United at RFK Stadium.
Matt Besler recorded his second goal of the season in the 54th minute of play. With the result, Sporting improved to 13-9-12 (51 points).
“Whether it’s champions or just number-one seed, it doesn’t really matter to us,” Besler told MLSSoccer.com's Andrew Wiebe. “We have home field advantage. That’s all we care about.”
Sporting's next matches will be in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Alvaro Fernandez, who scored the second goal of the night for Seattle against Chivas USA, knows the job is far from done.
Sigi Schmid's Seattle Sounders hold the top spot in this week's MLS Power Rankings with their 3-1 victory over Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center.
A 53rd minute own goal opened the floodgates for the Sounders. Alvaro Fernandez scored in the 68th minute of play for his ninth goal of the season and Sammy Ochoa slammed the door shut in the 73rd minute of play.
With the victory, the Sounders finish the regular season with a record of 18-7-9 (63 points), good enough for second-place in the overall league table and the MLS Western Conference.
“The guys in the locker room know that they’re not done,” Schmid told SoundersFC.com's Matt Gaschk. “They want to make more noise than they have in years past and we want to come back here (Carson, Calif.) on November 20. The only way we can come back here November 20 is basically to win three games.”
The road for Seattle begins with the MLS Western Conference semifinals against Real Salt Lake. Kickoff for the first leg at Rio Tinto Stadium is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.
The second leg will take place at CenturyLink Field. Kickoff is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 2.