Winners and Losers from MLS Matches from September 26-28

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2014

Winners and Losers from MLS Matches from September 26-28

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    Just like we all expected, the matches across Major League Soccer in Week 29 provided the playoff race with plenty of twists and turns. 

    A few teams in each conference put together strong wins against quality opposition to boost their respective playoff resumes, while a few clubs failed to take advantage of the opportunity presented to them. 

    In some of those crucial clashes, the stars of the league played major roles, which got us even more excited for the home stretch of the regular season. 

    Continue reading for a look at the biggest winners and losers from MLS Week 29. 

Winner: Jermaine Jones

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    The first goal of Jermaine Jones' MLS career came at a crucial juncture for the Revolution, as he netted the game-winning strike in the 85th minute of the 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City.

    Jones fired in an effort from distance that ultimately boosted the Revs over Sporting into second place in the Eastern Conference. 

    Since joining the Revolution, Jones has provided a steady hand in the defensive part of the midfield, which is exactly what Jay Heaps' side were in need of. 

Loser: Matt Besler

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    We often make cases here for players to be called up to the United States men's national team, but we're doing the opposite for Sporting KC's Matt Besler. 

    Besler's defending has been atrocious since returning from Brazil, and he showed once again how low his form has dipped on two of the three goals scored by New England. 

    On Jermaine Jones' aforementioned winning goal and Jose Goncalves' 35th-minute strike, Besler handed the scorers ample space to shoot from distance. 

    If Besler steps up to deny either player space in the lead up to those goals, Sporting may still be in second place in the East. 

Winner: Toronto FC

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    Two weeks ago, no one would have expected to mention Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference playoff race. 

    A lot has changed for the Reds over the last few weeks, and the team has a ton of life entering the final month of the regular season. 

    Greg Vanney's side produced a tremendous result Saturday, as they came back from a two-goal deficit to defeat Portland, 3-2. 

    On top of that, Toronto opened a gap on Philadelphia to become the main challenger for the fifth and final playoff position in the East. 

Loser: Philadelphia

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    While Toronto has suddenly found a ton of momentum over the last two weeks, Philadelphia has dropped off in form. 

    The Union failed to score for the second consecutive game during their 1-0 loss to D.C. United Saturday. 

    The finishing in the final third was once again lacking for Jim Curtin's side, and to make things worse, Sebastien Le Toux was taken off in the 22nd minute due to a right ankle sprain, per Opta's Ben Jata. 

    With four games left, the Union will need plenty of outside help and a few wins to qualify for the playoffs. 

Winner: Vancouver

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    While we're on the topic of the playoffs, Vancouver put itself back in the Western Conference top five with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake. 

    The Whitecaps took advantage of the loss by Portland in Toronto to jump back into the final playoff position in the West by a point. 

    In their final four games, the Whitecaps will face FC Dallas, Seattle, San Jose and Colorado, while the Timbers will face San Jose twice before ending the season against RSL and FC Dallas. 

    If Carl Robinson's side can keep pace with Portland for the next two weeks, the final two games of the season will present Vancouver with a good opportunity to make the postseason. 

Winner: The Erick Torres-Felix Borja Combination

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    There aren't many positives about Chivas USA right now, but the forward partnership of Erick Torres and Felix Borja looked bright during the first half against Seattle. 

    Torres got on the scoresheet in the 12th minute, while Borja bounced in an 18th-minute shot that was ruled to be a Jalil Anibaba own goal. 

    We all know what Torres is capable of, but he hasn't had a strong player alongside him for most of the season.

    If Borja can continue to shine next to the Mexican, we could end up seeing some impressive strikes from the duo to close out the regular season. 

Loser: Soft Penalty Calls

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    Two extremely soft penalty calls were handed out across the league this weekend. 

    The first came in Columbus, as the Crew earned a 56th-minute penalty on a call away from the ball in the box. 

    Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare was deemed the guilty party by referee Sorin Stoica after running into Justin Meram, but there was little contact between the two.

    The decision-making skills of the officials did not get better as Saturday night progressed due to the penalty given to Vancouver by referee Allen Chapman.

    Whitecaps defender Kendall Waston used a clear dive to earn a spot kick at the expense of Real Salt Lake's Alvaro Saborio, but justice was served when Jeff Attinella saved Pedro Morales' resulting effort just before the halftime whistle. 

Winner: Atiba Harris

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    In a game with little playoff implications, Colorado and San Jose drew 1-1 Saturday night.

    The reason for the deadlock was Atiba Harris, who struck for the Earthquakes in the waning moments of the second half. 

    The goal came after the Rapids struck first blood with an 84th-minute Gabriel Torres goal, which many believed would be the game-winning strike. 

    Harris' equalizer was a small consolation for a San Jose side that sits in eighth place in the Western Conference with nothing to play for but pride in the last month of the regular season. 

Loser: Chris Duvall

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    Chris Duvall had a rough outing Sunday at StubHub Center. 

    Before exiting in the 60th minute of the 4-0 loss to the Galaxy, Duvall produced some brutal defending for the Red Bulls. 

    His worst moment came in the 50th minute, when he failed to control the ball just outside of the box and let Landon Donovan sneak in behind him to score. 

    The rookie will have to put his dreadful showing behind him quickly with New York in the thick of the race for the final two playoff spots in the East. 

Winners: LA's on-Fire Forwards

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    The LA Galaxy attack put on an absolute clinic in the 4-0 rout of New York Sunday night.

    The fun started with Robbie Keane's exquisite chip over Luis Robles in the eighth minute, while Landon Donovan and Gyasi Zardes both notched a goal apiece. 

    After Donovan and Zardes got their glory in front of goal, Keane finished things off with an impressive individual effort in the 82nd minute. 

    The dynamic attacking trio combined for 11 shots, nine key passes and three assists, all of the latter coming from Donovan in the Galaxy's 16th win of the season. 

    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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