MLS Snapshot

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MLS Snapshot: Wasteful again, SKC drop more points at home

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The game in 100 words (or less): It’s been a rough few weeks for Sporting Kansas City since lifting the U.S. Open Cup here at Children’s Mercy Park on Sept. 20. Peter Vermes’ side has won just one of five league games following Sunday’s scoreless draw against their old late-season foes, the Houston Dynamo. In frustratingly familiar fashion, Sunday’s stalemate saw Sporting KC enjoy 69 percent of the game’s possession, attempt 24 shots on the night, put just six on target, and fail to find the back of the net. Graham Zusi (twice) and Diego Rubio went closest for the two sides, but came up with nothing more than woodwork. With the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders each winning big on Sunday, Sporting slip to fourth in the Western Conference. The point does, however, clinch a seventh straight playoff appearance for Sporting, and signal a return to the postseason for Houston.

[ MORE: MLS at Week 33 — all about playoff places, positioning ]

Three moments that mattered

11′ — Zusi blasts off from distance, and goes just wide — Having made the full-time switch to right back this season, Zusi is in danger of his first goal-less season since 2009, his rookie year. He nearly get off the mark early in the first half.

34′ — Zusi smashes the crossbar with a free kick — The weight of goal-lessness upon him, Zusi goes even closer.

76′ — Rubio hits the crossbar from distance — Rubio went closest in the second half, as his shot caromed off the crossbar and should have resulted in a corner kick for Sporting.

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

Man of the match: Tyler Deric

Goalscorers: None

MLS Snapshot: Sounders get much-needed win over reeling FCD

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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The game in 100 words (or less): FC Dallas’ epic collapse is so nearly complete, if only Real Salt Lake or the San Jose Earthquakes could capitalize and boot Oscar Pareja’s side from the playoff places. Fortunately for the Hoops, while they were busy taking a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of the defending champion Seattle Sounders, RSL and San Jose each dropped points (all three for RSL; two for the Quakes). Heading into the final week of the regular season, FCD’s fate is no longer in their own hands, as they currently sit seventh in the Western Conference, behind San Jose on wins. Seattle, meanwhile, have moved into third, a point ahead of Sporting Kansas City and behind the Portland Timbers on wins. Victor Rodriguez, Will Bruin (twice) and Lamar Neagle did the damage on Sunday, helping Seattle end a poor run of results (just one win in seven games) as their 13-game unbeaten run (from June to September) became a distant memory.

[ MORE: MLS at Week 33 — all about playoff places, positioning ]

Three moments that mattered

31′ — Rodriguez slots past Gonzalez to make it 1-0 — Assist by Clint Dempsey, textbook finish by Rodriguez.

64′ — Bruin pokes home a rebound for 2-0 — Dempsey’s shot was saved by Gonzalez, but he couldn’t hold onto it and Bruin pounced quickly.

67′ — Bruin slots home after a terrible giveaway — Matt Hedges needs it to be the offseason… like, three months ago.

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

Man of the match: Will Bruin

Goalscorers: Rodriguez (31′), Bruin (64′, 67′), Neagle (90+2′)

MLS Snapshot: 3 goals, 3 points for Nikolic, rebounding Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less): Nemanja Nikolic is back, and his revival couldn’t have come at a better time for the Chicago Fire, who reclaimed third place in the Eastern Conference on the back of Sunday’s 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Union, which came courtesy of a Nikolic hat trick. After the Hungarian put Chicago up three minutes into the game, Johan Kappelhof (own goal) and Alejandro Bedoya put Philadelphia into the lead almost as quickly. Nikolic got one back from the penalty spot in the 64th minute before completing the comeback with a perfectly placed finish from outside the box 12 minutes from full-time. Having been in the Supporters’ Shield race three months into the season, the summer saw Chicago fall out of the top-four before their recent rebound (four wins from their last seven games).

[ MORE: MLS at Week 33 — all about playoff places, positioning ]

Three Four moments that mattered

3′ — Nikolic gets in behind, pokes it past Blake for 1-0 — Here’s something we’ve not seen nearly enough from Chicago of late: Nikolic getting on the end of a long ball into the channel. He finishes this in his sleep every night.

13′ — Bedoya lifts it over Lampson to put Philly 2-1 up — Haris Medunjanin floats the ball back post for Bedoya, who arrives just before Matt Lampson can get there.

64′ — Nikolic converts from the spot, pulls Chicago level — Now three goals ahead of Diego Valeri and David Villa, Nikolic had probably already locked up the 2017 Golden Boot. To be absolutely certain, though…

78′ — Nikolic completes his hat trick, seals all three points — Insurance on the Boot.

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

Man of the match: Nemanja Nikolic

Goalscorers: Nikolic (3′, 64′ – PK, 78′), Kappelhof (9′ – OG), Bedoya (13′)

MLS Snapshot: Altidore leads TFC past Impact, to brink of history

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): Having clinch the Supporters’ Shield two weeks ago, Toronto FC have but one point of pride for which to play the rest of the way: the league-record points total (currently 68 during the shootout era; 67 post-shootout). After knocking off the Montreal Impact, 1-0 on Sunday, Greg Vanney’s side is now level with the 1998 LA Galaxy on 68 points. Jozy Altidore, fresh off the heartbreak of Tuesday’s defeat to Trinidad and Tobago, scored the game’s only goal in the 16th minute to give the Reds an eighth win from their last 10 games as the regular season quickly comes to a close. Sebastian Giovinco had a slightly rougher afternoon, missing a pair of penalties just before halftime.

[ MORE: MLS at Week 33 — all about playoff places, positioning ]

Three moments that mattered

16′ — Altidore gets a lucky deflection, slots past Crepeau for 1-0 — No assist for Marky Delgado, as the ball came off a defender and fell into the path of Altidore, but it’s the thought that counts. As for Altidore, he needed one like this, and early.

45+1′ — Giovinco misses from the spot… twice — Giovinco banged his first penalty attempt off the inside of Crepeau’s right-hand post, only to be gifted a retry after the 23-year-old came off his line early. Giovinco hit the outside of the same post this time.

51′ — Cabrera hits both posts, Mancosu can’t finish the rebound — The odds of the ball somehow not crossing the goal line on this sequence are… well, quite low.

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

Man of the match: Marky Delgado

Goalscorers: Altidore (16′)

MLS Snapshot: SKC wasteful in front of goal, draw MNUFC

Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): Saturday signaled little more than a series of missed chances for the Western Conference’s top teams, as Sporting Kansas City followed up the Vancouver Whitecaps’ 3-0 hammering at the hands of the New York Red Bulls with a disappointing road result of their own: a 1-1 draw with 10-man Minnesota United, a game which the visitors were far and away the better side over the first 60 minutes, and comfortable equals over the following 25 minutes, before creating a flurry of clear-cut chances over the final 10 minutes. Diego Rubio scored his sixth goal of the season to put Sporting KC ahead just before halftime, only to see Brent Kallman equalize six minutes from the end. A late red card resulted in chance after chance after chance for Sporting, all of which went oh so close to snatching three points and moving them to within a single point of Vancouver with a game in hand. Alas, they’ll chase a win in Houston on Wednesday in an attempt to pull even atop the West.

[ MORE: USMNT routs Panama to boost WC dreams in a big way ]

Three Four moments that mattered

45+2′ — Rubio finishes a ball from Blessing or 1-0 — The deft touch from Latif Blessing sets up Rubio, who endured a torrid night last Saturday. Nothing restarts the memory like scoring a goal.

59′ — Melia leaves the game with an injury — There’s no two ways about it: Tim Melia has been the best goalkeeper in MLS this season. No one else is worthy of consideration for such a title. If he’s to miss more than a week or two with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, that’s bad for Sporting.

84′ — Kallman heads home a late equalizer — Abu Danladi floated the ball over every blue shirt but one, Ike Opara, who was expected to mark three Loons on the play. He’s good, but that’s a big ask when the service is this good.

93′ — Shuttleworth denies Espinoza from point-blank range — Now with a man advantage, the final eight minutes of this game were nothing but chance after chance for Sporting. This was the pick of the litter, a header from three yards out that Bobby Shuttleworth somehow managed to save.

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

Man of the match: Bobby Shuttleworth

Goalscorers: Rubio (45+2′), Kallman (84′)