Suddenly, a playoff race worth watching in the West

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It took 95 minutes and 40 seconds, but the Western Conference playoff race did, indeed, tighten up on Saturday.

Sixth-place FC Dallas desperately needed three points in a home match against Vancouver, the only team the Texans could still realistically still reel in and unseat for a playoff spot.

Dallas had more of the ball and far more chances against the visitors from Canada, who always seemed OK with a draw.

But when possession after possession went by, and as a few late chances were squandered through poor work inside the penalty area, it looked like Vancouver would get out of Texas with its playoff chances undented.

And then Julian de Guzman happened.

The complaint about de Guzman previously at Toronto was this: for all of his obvious technical ability, he simply could not manufacture an impact commensurate with his Designated Player salary.

Well, “impact” was all over his 96th minute volley that spelled the difference. Dallas’ holding midfielder collected a cleared corner kick and, with the seconds just about done in six minutes of added time, scored spectacularly through heavy traffic from about 24 yards.

FCD still has lots of work to do; the Whitecaps remain a point ahead and own a game in hand. Still  … this makes things way more exciting.

Here’s what the MLS standings now look like in the Western Conference (prior to the late San Jose-Chivas USA match):

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