Winners and Losers from MLS Matches from September 5-7

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2014

Winners and Losers from MLS Matches from September 5-7

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    There was no shortage of excitement in Major League Soccer this weekend, as plenty of the league's attacking stars thrust themselves into the spotlight. 

    With the strong attacking showings came some questionable play from a few sides, including a record-setting moment at StubHub Center Friday night.

    Also included in Week 26 were a strong return from a star forward, and continued struggles for the Canadian sides, which made choosing the biggest winners and losers from the weekend a simple task.

    Continue reading for the complete list of winners and losers from this weekend's play in MLS. 

Loser: Joe Nasco

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    It took less than a minute for the MLS weekend to have its first big story develop.

    Colorado keeper Joe Nasco was sent off in the first minute of Friday's clash with the LA Galaxy after he tackled Alan Gordon by the ankles in the box. 

    Nasco's ejection was the first-ever sending off in the first minute in league history, per ESPN's Paul Carr, which means he is going to be in the record book for the foreseeable future. 

Winner: LA Galaxy

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    Playing against the LA Galaxy at full strength is a difficult task right now, which is why Colorado struggled a ton down a man for 89 minutes at StubHub Center. 

    The Galaxy put up six goals on the tanking Rapids to continue their rapid ascension up the standings. 

    Baggio Husidic, Gyasi Zardes and Landon Donovan all bagged braces for Bruce Arena's side, who moved up to 49 points for the 2014 campaign, which keeps them two behind Seattle in the Supporters' Shield and Western Conference races. 

Winner: Alvaro Saborio

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    After being on the sidelines because of an injury since May 11, Alvaro Saborio returned to the pitch for Real Salt Lake Saturday. 

    Within seconds of Saborio entering the match against FC Dallas, he rose above Tesho Akindele to put home a game-winning header. 

    The 77th-minute strike from the Costa Rican was his seventh goal of the season, and it gave the Claret and Cobalt a nice four-point cushion over FC Dallas in the race for third in the West. 

Loser: Matt Besler

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    After a strong run at the World Cup, Matt Besler was poised to return to Sporting Kansas City and lead them on a deep run into the playoffs. 

    While a playoff appearance is still not in doubt, Besler's form is, as he was exposed on a few occasions against the Red Bulls. 

    His first blunder came in the ninth minute, when he made contact with Bradley Wright-Phillips to concede a penalty.

    Besler was under the microscope again in the 31st minute, as he went in hard on Roy Miller with a sliding challenge that did not draw any punishment from referee Hilario Grajeda. 

    The two mistakes were both bookable offenses, but Besler got away with both tackles. On another day in this league, he could've been sent off and cost his team more. 

Winner/Loser: Jon Busch

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    We could go on for days about the biggest winners and losers from Sunday's thriller at Providence Park, but we decided to highlight the play of Jon Busch. 

    Busch, who is the best player in a San Jose shirt not named Chris Wondolowski, made 10 saves against a Portland attack that took 32 shots, which was third-most ever in a league match, per Peter Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau. 

    The 38-year-old Busch put in a heroic effort in goal, but he also conceded three goals, and let in a late equalizer seconds after Wondolowski put the Quakes ahead. 

Winner: Chris Wondolowski's MVP Hopes

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    It's time to make a big deal about Wondolowski's Most Valuable Player credentials, whether you think this is a crazy statement or not, after his brace against Portland. 

    Wondolowski has single-handedly kept San Jose relevant since his return from Brazil, and without him the Earthquakes would be challenging Montreal and Chivas USA for the honor of worst team in the league.

    Somehow the Earthquakes are eight points out of the final playoff spot in the West, and it is not far-fetched to think they have a chance of finishing in the top five if they string a few wins together given the form of Portland, Vancouver and Colorado. 

    If San Jose comes anywhere close to fifth place in the next two months, a serious discussion must be had about whether Wondolowski can actually win the award going up against the likes of Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Thierry Henry and a few others. 

Loser: Vancouver

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    Remember when Vancouver had one of the most exciting attacks in the league?

    If you can, good for you because that seems like that was the case in another lifetime before a 411-minute scoreless streak reared its ugly head on Carl Robinson's side.

    The good news for the Whitecaps, if there is any at the moment, is that they earned a point in a 0-0 draw with D.C. United to keep pace with Portland for the final playoff spot in the West. 

Winner: Justin Meram

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    No one knew who would take the reigns in the scoring department for the Crew a month ago, but now that seems to be settled thanks to Justin Meram. 

    The 25-year-old scored his first brace of the season against a weak Chivas USA defense in Sunday's clash at Crew Stadium. 

    Meram, who has scored in four of his last five games, has provided Columbus with a spark at the perfect time as the playoff race in the East heats up.

Loser: Toronto

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    It's hard to find something positive to say about the state of Toronto FC. 

    After firing manager Ryan Nelsen following the defeat to New England last week, the Reds were shutout in two losses to Philadelphia over a four-day span. 

    With a terrible defense, and some lackluster finishing, Toronto resembles nothing close to a playoff side at the moment. 

    If there is one positive about Greg Vanney's side at the moment, it is that Michael Bradley is working his tail off despite winning two games since July 16. 

Winners: Everyone Not Named Toronto in East Playoff Race

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    While the Western Conference may have the better teams, the Eastern Conference is guaranteed to have the better playoff race, as four in-form teams are fighting for three spots. 

    Sporting Kansas City, despite their recent struggles, should join D.C. United as the top-two seeds in the East, but after that, no one really knows who will place where. 

    New England, Columbus, Philadelphia and New York are all playing well at the moment with the Revolution holding the edge over the Union and Crew by three points for third.

    The Red Bulls are on the outside looking in right now, and Saturday's trip down to PPL Park to face Philadelphia will go a long way in determining their playoff credentials. 

    And just because the East isn't crowded enough, there is always Dominic Kinnear's Dynamo to look out for. Houston sits five points behind the fifth-place Union at the moment.

    As for seventh-place Toronto, it would be a small miracle if it was able to find a way into the playoffs given its recent form. 

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