5 Things We Learned from MLS Week of August 15

John D. Halloran@JohnDHalloranContributor IIAugust 18, 2014

5 Things We Learned from MLS Week of August 15

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    It was another exciting weekend in Major League Soccer with a full schedule of games, highlighted by solid wins from four of the league's Supporters' Shield contenders.

    With a third of the season remaining, the playoff races in both conferences are as tight as ever, and parity remains alive and well.

    Here are five things we learned from this weekend's MLS action.

The Houston Dynamo Are Still Fighting

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    Things haven't been easy for the Houston Dynamo in 2014. After playing for the MLS Cup in 2011 and 2012, they went to the conference finals in 2013 before losing to Sporting Kansas City.

    This year, they've been near the bottom of the Eastern Conference all season.

    But on Friday night, the Dynamo picked up a big 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union to remain within touching distance of a playoff spot. Although they're still in eighth place in the East, they are only three points off the pace with 11 games to go.

    Led by Dominic Kinnear and a host of veterans, any team that counts the Dynamo out does so at its own peril.

Real Salt Lake Picked Up a Big Win

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    Hosting the Seattle Sounders in a big Western Conference matchup Saturday afternoon, Real Salt Lake picked up an important 2-1 win. RSL opened up a 2-0 lead and held off a late charge by the Sounders for all three points.

    With the victory, RSL leapfrogged Seattle at the top of the standings in the West and is now tied on points with Sporting KC in the Supporters' Shield race.

The Chicago Fire Need Jermaine Jones...Now

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    M. Spencer Green/Associated Press

    The Chicago Fire have been tough to beat in 2014, only losing six times in 25 games. Unfortunately for the Fire, they've also found wins hard to come by and lead the league with 13 ties.

    But on Saturday, the Fire couldn't even manage a draw as they lost to Eastern Conference bottom-dwellers the Montreal Impact.

    After the match, Fire coach Frank Yallop said the team was "pretty close" to signing United States men's national team midfielder Jermaine Jones. But with only 11 games left in the season, the Fire need Jones sooner rather than later if they're hoping to make a late push for a playoff spot in the East.

Columbus Is Inching Its Way Toward the Playoffs

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    In the Eastern Conference, where fourth through ninth place are only separated by five points with a third of the season to go, the Columbus Crew have hit a good vein of form, only losing once in their last five games.

    On Saturday, the Crew beat the LA Galaxy 4-1 in Columbus, a particularly impressive result considering the Galaxy had only lost once in their previous 12 games.

    For the Galaxy, the loss will put a dent in their hopes for a late run at the Supporters' Shield trophy, but they also have three games in hand over Western Conference leaders RSL.

    The lone goal for the Galaxy Saturday was scored by Gyasi Zardes, who picked up his ninth goal in 10 games.

Is San Jose Finally Cooked?

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    The San Jose Earthquakes, affectionately called The Goonies by their supporters for their "never say die" attitude, may finally be done.

    For the past few seasons, the Earthquakes have been one of the better teams in MLS, but in 2014, things haven't gone according to plan.

    On Saturday night, San Jose lost 5-0 at home to FC Dallas and remain stuck on 24 points from 21 games. Although they have three games in hand over several of the teams ahead of them, the Earthquakes are still nine points out of a playoff spot and would have to overcome the Portland Timbers, the Colorado Rapids and likely the Vancouver Whitecaps in the final third of the season to move into a playoff position.

    For their part, Dallas continues to be in impressive form and have become a late, and surprising, contender for the Supporters' Shield, only three points behind leaders Sporting KC and RSL.

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