The New York Red Bulls are barely holding onto the fifth and last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after a devastating 4-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy at StubHub Center in Carson (CA) last Sunday night. The Red Bulls (10-9-11, 41 pts.) are in a very tight playoff race with five games to play and three teams just behind New York and still in the hunt for a playoff berth. New York is only a point ahead of Toronto F C (40 pts.), three points past the Philadelphia Union (38) and five points above the Houston Dynamo (36), and all three still in the playoff race.
The good thing about those five upcoming games is that four are played at home in the friendly confines of Red Bull Arena, where the home team is unbeaten in its last eight games. However, among the five opponents, two are ahead of the Red Bulls in the standings but have not officially clinched a playoff berth: Sporting Kansas City (45 pt., 3rd place) is the only road game left for New York, on Sunday, Oct. 26, and the Columbus Crew (43 pts, 4th place), which comes to Red Bull Arena on Sunday, Oct. 19. Both of these teams are desperate to make their playoff appearances official and will very difficult opponents.
The others – Houston Dynamo (Sat., Oct. 4), which has a history of knocking the Red Bulls out of the playoffs, and Toronto FC (Sat., Oct. 11) – are pushing hard for playoff berths. The Red Bulls is in a fight for its playoff life. The last game of the season, against Montreal Impact (Oct. 22), may be the easier in the home stand as the Impact are out of the playoffs. DC United leads the Conference (51 pts.) and the rejuvenated New England Revolution (45 pts.) is in a second-place tie with Sporting KC.
In last Sunday’s contest, The Red Bulls never got going. The Galaxy, in a first-place tie in the Western Conference with the Seattle Sounders, scored early and kept on scoring throughout the contest. Irish international Robbie Keane (8th and 82nd minutes) scored twice as the Galaxy dominated from start to finish; and Landon Donovan (50th) and Gyasi Zardes (69th) completed the scoring for the winners. Red Bulls’ leading scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips went scoreless and is still three goals shy of the regular-season goal-scoring record of 27 tallies.
In other MLS games last weekend, in the Eastern Conference, host Houston Dynamo topped the Chicago Fire, 2-0, on goals for Jamaican international Omar Cummings (30th min.) and Honduran international Boniek Garcia. Toronto F C surprised the Portland Timbers as it rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win, 3-2. Portland took a 2-0 half time lead by goals from Fanendo Adi and a Steven Caldwell own goal, but two headers from Nick Hagglund evened the score for Toronto, which got the winner from midfielder Michael Bradley with a minute to play. The game wasn’t the only loss for Portland, which also lost Captain Will Johnson with a broken leg. Conference leader DC United knocked off Philadelphia Union, 1-0, on a Luis Silva goal; the win extended United’s first-place lead on second place New England.
In the Western Conference host Vancouver Whitecaps rallied from a one-goal deficit to beat Real Salt Lake, 2-1; RSL led just after half time when Nat Borchers tallied, but Morales answered with a pair to secure the win and keep RSL in the playoff hunt. Conference leader and host Seattle Sounders defeated Chivas USA, 4-2, to maintain its leading position, a first-place tie with the surging Los Angeles Galaxy. The game was a seesaw battle as Chivas forged ahead through a goal from Erick Torres (12th min.), then Obafemi Martins equalized for the Sounders; a Seattle own goal by Jalil Anibaba gave Chivas its second lead, 2-1, but midfielder Lamar Neagle and U. S. international Clint Dempsey gave the Sounders a 3-2 lead before half time. Martins secured the win in the second half.
Columbus Crew, looking to officially wrap up a playoff berth, beat Montreal Impact, 2-0; Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuain scored goals in the first and second half, respectively. Winning Goalkeeper Steve Clark saved a Marco Di Vaio penalty to secure the shutout. The Colorado Rapids and the San Jose Earthquakes played to a 1-1 draw; Panamanian international Gabriel Torres scored late in the contest for the Rapids, but St. Kitts and Nevis international Atiba Harris got the equalizer just before expired time. Defending MLS champion and host Sporting KC lost to the New England Revs, 3-2. U. S. international Jermaine Jones’ first MLS goal was the winner for the Revs, which also got goals from Kelyn Rowe and José Gonçalves. The Revs hold a firm grip on second place in the Eastern Conference. Paulo Nagamura and Dom Dwyer tallied for Sporting.