2013 MLS Cup-Real Salt Lake v Sporting Kansas City

Robbie Findley’s return could put RSL over the top; How close is he?

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Real Salt Lake’s 13 goals through eight games provides the third-best total in Major League Soccer, and the club has been doing it without World Cup veteran forward Robbie Findley.

The 28-year-old scored six goals last season after returning from Nottingham Forest, but was hurt in the 112th minute of the MLS Cup final against Sporting KC. What followed the injury hurt in the short- and long-term: RSL lost the championship in penalty kicks and Findley needed surgery to repair a torn patella tendon.

He has been “on the shelf” since December and still isn’t quite ready for a return.

From MLSSoccer.com:

At one point, the speedy forward – who had two goals and an assist in the 2013 playoffs – was projected to return in April. But he started training with the team last week, which is great news for RSL coach Jeff Cassar, the longtime assistant who hasn’t been able to put Findley in the starting lineup – or even in the 18 – since he became the head coach this season.

“He’s not quite up to getting banged on yet and getting that contact,” Cassar told reporters. “That was a pretty severe injury. Part of it is building that confidence back as much as it is the muscles. You’ve got to work with him physically, mentally and bring it all together.”

Findley is playing only offense during training. He said there’s no more pain in his knee, but “deceleration, changing direction and all that stuff is where I need to get used to doing it again,” he said. “And that’s what I’m doing. It’s getting better each week. I’m headed in the right direction.”

There’s no timetable for his return. Findley’s in his second stint with RSL, after his World Cup participation earned him increased attention from European clubs. The 33 goals in 107 appearances for RSL in stint No. 1 didn’t hurt, either.

His return to join Alvaro Saborio (4 goals, 22 shots) and Joao Plata (3 goals, 2 assists) would certainly boost the third-place Western Conference side in search of a return to the MLS Cup final.

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′)