PLAY-OFF BERTH

The New York Red Bulls (10-7-16, 46 pts.) played one of its best games of the season to defeat the Philadelphia Union, 1-0, Thursday night at Red Bull Arena and clinch the final MLS play-off berth. The performance came in front of a full house of 25,044 and indicated rare positive play going into the play-offs.

The home team dominated from the outset and in the eighth minute, right back Jan Gunnar Solli crossed the ball to Jamaican international Dane Richards, who headed it towards the net; the ball bounced off the back of Union goalkeeper Mondragon and settled in the back of the net. Philadelphia, which was a disorganized unit for most of the game, made use of its best chance in the 67th minute when a Carlos Valdes header off a free kick landed at the back of the net, only to be called back because of a questionable offside call.

In other MLS results in the East in the last weekend of the regular season on Saturday night, Sporting Kansas City (51 pts.) defeated DC United, 1-0, on Saturday night to finish first in the Eastern Conference. The Houston Dynamo (49 pts.) beat the Los Angeles Galaxy, 3-2, to finish second; Philadelphia (48 pts.) was third.

The Columbus Crew (47 pts.), despite a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Fire in its finale, finished fourth and New York (46 pts.) fifth to round out the five Eastern Conference teams in the playoffs. New York will travel to FC Dallas as the play-offs get underway today, Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 8:00 p.m.

In the West, Los Angeles (67 pts.), despite the loss to Houston on Sunday night, finished atop the Western Conference. Seattle Sounders (63 pts.) defeated Chivas USA, 3-2, and finished second. Host Real Salt Lake (53 pts.), despite a 1-1 tie with the Portland Timbers was third; FC Dallas (52 pts.), despite a lost to San Jose, finished fourth and defending champion Colorado Rapids (49 pts.) beat the Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-1, and finished fifth.

Toronto FC tied the New England Revolution, 2-2, in the final MLS game of the season for both teams. Nick Soolsma and Danny Koevermans scored for Toronto (6-13-15); New England (5-16-13), which had not won an MLS game since Sept. 10, got goals from Monsef Zerka and Milton Caraglio.

FIFA Decisions

FIFA, soccer’s governing body, handed down penalties for Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials, who were accused taking bribes for votes offered by former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner in a meeting in Trinidad and Tobago in May, 2011. Warner was attempting to promote Mohnammed bin Hammam, who was contesting the FIFA presidency last summer. Sadly, the FIFA verdicts amount to no more than a slap on the wrists for those accused of taking the bribes and this sends the wrong message to soccer administrators.

Captain Horace Burrell of Jamaica was handed a six-month ban and is prohibited from any football-related activity; three months of the ban is suspended for a two-year probationary period. Burrell must also withdraw his bid for higher office in CFU and CONCACAF. Franka Pickering of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) (18-month ban and US$560); Ian Hypolite of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Dominican Republic’s Osiris Guzman (30-day bans and US$360 fines).

The BVI’s Aubrey Liburd and the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Hillaren Frederick (warning and US$360); Anthony Johnson of St. Kitts and Nevis (reprimand); David Hinds and Mark Forde of Barbados, Richard Groden, secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation, Haiti’s Yves Jean-Bart and Jamaican Horace Reid all were warned about their wrong doings, not for taking monies.

Guyana’s Noel Adonis’ hearing was postponed, while FIFA seeks more information before they could make a decision on St. Lucia’s Patrick Mathurin. Cases against Cayman Islands’ David Frederick and Joseph Delves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines were closed because they were no longer soccer administrators, but that their cases would be re-opened if they attempted a return to soccer.

In the summer, Warner was forced to resign from FIFA, CONCACAF and CFU; Barbadian Lisle Austin, a senior CONCACAF vice-president who acted as president following Warner’s resignation, received a year-long ban from FIFA in August. Colin Klass, a senior CFU executive member and head of the Guyana Football Federation, was banned for 26 months and fined.

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