Richards, Coundoul lead Red Bulls into playoffs

The New York Red Bulls, led by a Dane Richards goal in the sixth minute and goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul’s 12-saves performance, defeated Kansas City Wizards 1-0 on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena in Harrison (NJ).

The win pushed New York (14-8-5, 47 pts.) to the top of the Eastern Conference standings and secured a playoff spot for the home side.

Richards, the Jamaican international, scored his fourth goal in his last five games when he mugged Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad of the ball inside the visitors’ penalty area and shot past Kansas City goalkeeper Jim Nielsen for the score. Richards was coming off another productive week for the Red Bulls; he scored and created a penalty kick to help the Red Bulls beat the Los Angeles Galaxy, 2-0, at the Home Depot Center in Carson (CA) on Saturday night, Sept. 27.

Trailing 1-0 early in the contest, Kansas City didn’t let up. The Wizards searched all night for the equalizer and more mainly through forwards Teal Bunbury and Kai Kamara, but the Red Bulls had Coundoul, whose 12 saves is a game career high and led to a Red Bulls record of 10 shutouts in a season.

Coundoul highlighted his evening with a save from point blank range off Bunbury in the 56th minute and another off a blast from Jack Jewsbury, considered his best save of the night. The Wizards are third in the East and still have a chance of a wild card playoff spot.

More than 24,000 fans witnessed the match on Saturday night. New York hosts defending champion Real Salt Lake on Saturday afternoon, 4:00 PM in what is a battle of conference leaders; Real Salt Lake took over the top spot in the Western Conference after rallying to beat hosts New England Revolution, 2-1, last Saturday. Nat Borchers (68th) and Alvaro Saborio (84th) scored for Real Salt Lake. Sainey Nyassi scored for the hosts.

In other MLS games last Saturday, the Columbus Crew also clinched a playoff spot despite a goalless draw with the San Jose Earthquakes. The Seattle Sounders rallied for a Dwayne DeRosario goal for Toronto in the 16th minute to defeat the Canadians, 3-2. Goals by Steve Zakuani and Blaise Nkufo, who got his fifth goal in his last three games, and Sanna Nyassi gave the sellout Seattle crowd of 36,079 a treat. Chad Barrett scored from a header for Toronto.

D.C. United got a rare win when it set back hosts Colorado Rapids, 1-0. Danny Allsopp scored the lone goal in the first half for the visitors. Host Philadelphia and Houston played to a 1-1 tie; Sebastien Le Toux scored his 13th goal of the season to help the hosts tie, while Andrew Hainault tallied for Houston.

Cunningham

Equals Record

Jamaican born Jeff Cunningham equaled the MLS goal-scoring record on Saturday when he scored his 132nd as Dallas defeated Chicago, 3-0, and clinched a playoff berth. Cunningham scored his historic goal from the penalty spot to put Dallas ahead, 3-0, in the 67th minute; it was his 11th goal of the season and tied Jaime Moreno for the record. The U.S. national player won the 2009 MLS Golden Boot Award with 17 goals.

Dallas also equaled the longest single-season unbeaten streak in MLS history at 18 games, tying the Columbus Crew team of 2004. Milton Rodriguez (7th) and Marvin Chavez (50th) also scored for Dallas.

Digicel Cup Kicks Off

Hosts Puerto Rico beat Anguilla, 3-1, and the Cayman Islands and St Martin played to 1-1 draw in Group A of the first round of the 2010 Digicel Caribbean Cup qualifying in Puerto Rico on Saturday. Reportedly, Puerto Rico dominated possession throughout most of the match. St. Martin came from behind to draw. Group F in St. Vincent and the Grenadines kicks off Wednesday, Oct. 6, with Barbados taking on St. Kitts and Nevis and the host playing against Montserrat.

More from Around NYC