Surprise package of the season so far... Can the saints keep marching in?

Southampton 2-0 Crystal Palace: Saints get the job done (video)

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The first half was a rather dull affair. Morgan Schneiderlin had a chance in the eighth minute, sending his header over Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni, but a defender was there to clear the ball off the line. Other than that close chance for Southampton, the most interesting thing to happen was when Marouane Chamakh got himself behind the Saints’ defense and found himself one on one with Artur Boruc. Rather than make the most of a good opportunity, the Palace defender flopped over, hoping for the call, and instead found himself booked for diving.

The hosts put themselves in charge early in the second half, and had the result sorted out by the time the 50th minute rolled around. First Pablo Osvaldo put himself on the scoresheet, with the record signing getting his first goal for Southampton. Adam Lallana took advantage of some poor Palace defending to slot the ball over to Osvaldo, whose low shot fired past Speroni’s outstretched palm.

Rickie Lambert was not about to let himself be outdone by Southampton’s shiny new toy. The England international scored his own just two minutes after Osvaldo scored the first, his free kick from 25 yards flying into the back of the Palace goal.

From then on, Southampton were in the driver’s seat, and Mauricio Pochettino had every intention of keeping them there. The tactician made his subs with defense in mind, and after the 60th minute, the Saints found very little need to take a chance on a shot.

Southampton: Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw; Wanyama, Steven Davis (Ward-Prowse 67), Schneiderlin, Lallana (Ramirez 86); Osvaldo, Lambert (Rodriguez 77)

Subs not used: K. Davis, Cork, Chambers, Hooiveld

Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Mariappa, Gabbidon, Moxey; Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Bannan (Jerome 57), Kebe (Phillips 73); Gayle (Thomas 58), Chamakh.

Subs not used: Price, Parr, Campana, O’Keefe

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)