Dane Richards, the Jamaican international forward, and the hard-working Estonian midfielder Joel Lindpere scored to lead hosts New York Red Bulls to a 2-0 win over the New England Revolution Thursday night and a first place finish in the MLS Eastern Conference.
The win marked a remarkable turnaround for the play-off bound Red Bulls (15-9-6), which won 10 more games than last season. The Red Bulls took the lead when Richards took a pass from Juan Pablo Angel and sped down the right wing to score his fifth goal of the season in the 17th minute. Linpere scored off an assist from Tony Tchani in the 92nd minute to secure the victory.
The New York Red Bulls will play the San Jose Earthquakes in a home and away series starting in San Jose on Saturday, with the second leg on Thursday, Nov. 4, 8:00 p.m. at Red Bull Arena. The winner of this series will play the victors of the other Eastern Conference match-up between the Colorado Rapids and the Columbus Crew, which finished in the Eastern Conference. Columbus beat Philadelphia, 3-1, in the teams’ regular season finale on Sunday.
The Red Bulls split two games against San Jose this season, with Richards scoring one of the Red Bulls’ goals in a 2-0 win at Red Bull Arena; the New Yorkers were defeated 4-0 in San Jose back in May. San Jose is led by MLS leading scorer Chris Wondolowski (18 goals).
Only two Eastern Conference teams made the play-offs; the other six play-off contenders are the Western Conference winner Los Angeles Galaxy, which will play Seattle Sounders; second-place finisher Real Salt Lake takes on Dallas and Colorado plays Columbus.
In other MLS games on the final weekend of regular season play, Real Salt Lake extended its MLS record unbeaten streak to 14 games when Alvaro Saborio scored in the 90th minute to give the defending champion a 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids. Omar Cummings and Conor Casey scored for Colorado. Birahim Diop scored a hat trick to lead Kansas City Wizards to a 4-1 win over the Earthquakes. Diop scored in the 36th, 60th and 76th minutes; Wondolowski scored for San Jose in the 70th.
Dwayne De Rosario scored twice to give Toronto F.C. a 3-2 win over D. C. United as both team bowed out of the season. Santino Quaranta scored in the second minute for United, before Maicon Santos equalized. Jaime Moreno scored one of D. C.’s goals in the 39th minute; the game was the last for Moreno, who has retired from professional soccer as the MLS all-time leading goal scorer with 133 goals.
Also scoring in his final professional game was former U. S. international Brian Mc Bride, who tallied to help the Chicago Fire defeat Chivas USA, 4-1. Freddie Ljungberg, Calen Carr and Baggio Husidic also scored for the Fire. Giancarlo Maldonado scored for Chivas USA. McBride is a former Fulham FC (English Premiership) who played in three World Cups for the U. S. McBride scored 80 goals in MLS. Houston Dynamo missed the play-offs for the first time in its five-year history despite a 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders.