Dallas

Seattle Sounders will close the season with another huge crowd

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We’re still 10 days out from their season finale, and Seattle’s sold more than 64,000 tickets to their Oct. 27 match with the LA Galaxy. Not only is there a chance the game will break the Sounders’ attendance record, but they may not need Portland’s fans to do it.

That last bit’s important because the two largest crowds in Seattle’s history have been for Timbers games, the extra fans Portland brings north giving CenturyLink’s attendance a significant boost. The largest crowd for a non-Timbers home game was 64,140 against San Jose in 2011. For a Timbers game? Seattle drew 67,385 last August. With 10 days to get the word out, perhaps next week’s crowd can overtake that Portland number.

Seattle and Los Angeles have developed a minor rivalry, but next Sunday’s battle will be about the playoff implications. After last night’s win over Montréal, Los Angeles sits third in the West, with the Sounders’ three-game losing streak seeing the former Supporters’ Shield contenders slide to fourth.1 If the standings stay the same, next week’s match will decide which teamgoes into the four-five playoff, though both sides have a game to manage in the interim (Seattle visits Dallas this weekend; LA hosts San Jose).

Regardless, if you look at the numbers in Joshua Mayers’ post at The Seattle Times, you see that 64,000 appears to be a type of threshold. All the non-Timbers highs end up around that mark, while the current tickets sold number for the LA game is hovering at around the same level. Between the casual fans drawn to the rivalry and the army that drives north for the match, maybe there are 3,000 people who’ll go to a Seattle-Portland match who wouldn’t otherwise show up.

With so many tickets already sold for LA, Seattle has a chance to raise that bar, if not toss it aside entirely.

1 – Seattle can still win the Shield, but they’ll have to out-perform five teams to do so. The odds have suddenly become very long.

Chicago hangs on to beat Dallas, go fifth in the Eastern Conference (video)

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x87nf7jKQXs]

Dallas needed a win to keep their postseason hopes alive, but seven minutes after halftime, Schellas Hyndman’s team was down three to the visiting Fire, who looked set to go fifth in the East with a win in Frisco.  The result would leave them on 46 points, even with fourth place Montréal and sixth place Philadelphia, who would slip by virtue of having one fewer win than Chicago.

Kenny Cooper, however, had other ideas. After holding off Gonzalo Segares to score Dallas’s 63rd minute opener, Cooper pulled his team within one with 15 minutes left, converting a controversially-awarded (and from Ramon Nunez’s perspective, selfishly-taken) penalty kick. Down 3-2, FCD had a little more than a quarter-hour to salvage their season.

But after a couple of close calls, Chicago finally settled down, and over the last minutes of this match, Dallas’s will drained. They needed two goals and a win to stay mathematically alive, so when their momentum didn’t quickly yield a third, the odds become very long, very quick. Juan Luis Anangonó’s opener, Mike Magee’s 19th of the year, and Jalil Anibaba’s game-winner would hold up, giving Chicago a 3-2 win.

The loss leaves Dallas seven back of Colorado (and Los Angeles) with two games to go, but although that makes Saturday the night the end point to their playoff dream, the team’s hopes had been running on fumes all fall. Leaders in the West going into the summer, Dallas seemed to regress to their mean as their year went on, finishing the season at the level many picked in February. While eighth place may have been slightly lower than most predicted, their 10-11-11 record describes a team many foresaw this winter.

For Chicago, their playoff destiny’s back in their own hands, though their final two games match them with opponents from opposite ends of the spectrum. That doesn’t mean they should sleep on Toronto, who visit Toyota Park on Saturday. Though TFC is struggling, they’ve still taken points in as many games (16) as they’ve lost. With Chicago drawing in Toronto last month, the Reds present a real danger to Frank Klopas’s side.

But if all goes as planned, Chicago’s big obstacle should be their finale at Red Bull Arena, where their playoff hopes may hinge on taking points from a team striving for the Supporters’ Shield.

Playoff push: Columbus puts four up on Dallas, takes win out of Frisco (Video)

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If you can deal with speed, you’re going to have a lot of success defending Columbus’s Dominic Oduro. Unfortunately for Dallas, the Crew attacker burned them badly on two Sunday goals, the result seeing FCD’s playoff hopes a debilitating blow.

Columbus, on the other hand, are the hottest team in the East. Winners of four of their last five, the Crew find themselves one point out of a playoff spot after Sunday’s 4-2 win in Frisco, one which saw goals from Federico Higuaín, Jairo Arrieta, Oduro and Bernardo Anor push them into a tie for sixth in their conference.

But although the goals were spread out, it was Oduro, in combination with poor defending by Dallas, that decided this one. On the second goal, the Crew’s leading scorer pulled away from Dallas midfielder Erick before setting up Arrieta. And on Columbus’s third goal, after Dallas had closed to within one, Oduro beats Matt Hedges to a bouncing ball in midfield, eventually putting himself in alone on Raul Fernandez.

Columbus wasn’t immune to their own terrible defending, as Dallas’s second goal shows, but once Anor’s insurance tally went in, Brian Bliss had yet another win, one that pushes his team to 41 points on the year. Though they’ve played one more game than their Eastern Conference competition, the Crew sit one point back of fifth place Philadelphia (and even with sixth place New England).

Dallas, on the other hand, are left five points back of idle Colorado with four games left. Arguably more important: They’ll have to beat out three teams to claim that final postseason spot.

Given the performance we saw tonight, that’s unlikely to happen. If one of these teams is going to be playing soccer in November, it’s going to be Columbus.

Highlights and context: Landon Donovan posts fourth career hat trick, but Galaxy can’t hold on

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxH3mNpRQe4]

Six goals. Five after the 45th minute. Three equalizers. A legend’s explosion, an assistant referee’s horrible night, and the continuing frailty of the two-time defending champions. This match had a little of everything, and as it concerns Landon Donovan goals and blown offside calls, it had a lot.

FC Dallas and LA Galaxy played to a 3-3 draw Sunday night, a result that leaves each team outside the Western Conference’s playoff spot. But in a game that saw both teams trail and each side have to fight back, the point could be see as a good thing for both. Los Angeles made a mid-summer trip to Dallas and came away with a result – an objectively decent result. FCD was able to counter a Landon Donovan hat trick, something that would normally put Bruce Arena’s team in the win column.

And this wasn’t one of those hat tricks players sometimes stumble onto. A defense-splitting run in first half stoppage time allowed Donovan to convert a Robbie Keane ball behind Dallas’s high line. His first time blast from inside the arc doubled his haul in the 73rd minute, while a marksman’s finish into the bottom right-hand corner completed his hat trick nine minutes later. If this were radio, the morning drive producer would have used the NBA Jam “He’s on fire” drop.

Ultimately, a couple of terrible calls and LA’s season-long foibles cancelled out Donovan’s hat trick. Matt Hedges opened the scoring from some pretty basic corner kick execution. In the second half, a restart saw LA’s defense exploited again, though the assistant referee’s flag should have end up for offside. And four minutes after Donovan’s third goal, more poor defending and assistant referee mistakes helped Dallas pull even.

The linesman has to be better with the calls on Dallas’s last two goals (below). There’s just no excuse for missing calls off a restart. At the same time, LA has to be better at defending these situations, from the goalkeeper forward.

Once that problem gets solved, you’d think LA’s tendency to give away late goals also disappears. They’ve got to solve this anti-Goonies thing at some point.

Landon’s goals are up top. Dallas’s goals? Right here:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zohg_b-YnBA] [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgex_levwuc] [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ve5C0XFY0TY]

 

Montréal switches back to their spring set-up, stops the flood of goals

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With Marco Di Vaio back in Italy, something was bound to change for the Impact, but even if the Montréal’s leading goal scorer wasn’t back home dealing with a family issue, Marco Schällibaum’s team needed to be tweaked. They’d allowed 12 goals in their last four games, dropped points to the likes of Toronto FC and Chivas USA, and lost their hold on first in the East. Montréal had let the pack come back to them. For Saturday’s visit from FC Dallas, the Impact needed to try something different.

That something different was the re-introduction of the one-front. For most of their swoon, Montréal’s played a 4-4-2 – Schällibaum’s attempt to get Bologna loanee Daniel Paponi into the team, changing their set-up from the 4-5-1 (4-1-4-1) formation the Impact rode to the top of the conference. Davy Arnaud’s fitness was also a factor in the switch, but even after the captain’s return, Montréal has persisted with two up top, leaving them one lighter in the middle. On Saturday, however, Montréal was back to their five-midfield ways.

The result, as you’d expect from only 90 minutes of play, was somewhat inconclusive. The Impact kept a rare clean sheet in their 0-0 draw. On the balance of play, Montréal were probably the better side, though not so much better that Dallas deserved to go home empty handed. Ultimately, without Di Vaio in the team, the hosts were unable to produce a goal, dropping points at home.

There were reasons to think things could be better going forward. The increased influence Montréal had on the match was obvious, though that may have been a function of Dallas’s style, as well. The game’s slow tempo in tandem with the 4-1-4-1 versus 4-2-3-1 matchup meant the game would likely stay low scoring. But if Di Vaio was in the team and crafting the type of isolated openings he did during Montréal’s hot start, Saturday’s game could have looked a lot like those the Impact rode to the top of the Eastern Conference.

For a team with a particular need to protect a solid but slow central defense, dropping a man in the middle was always worth watching, but curbing a run that saw them leaking goals, a five-midfielder Montréal provided a little more evidence to suggest they need to revert to their spring formula. Perhaps Schällibaum sees a need to get an extra forward into the XI, but right now, he’s shunning something that works.