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Decision Day Recap: Vela breaks record; Dallas, Timbers clinch playoffs; Howard, Beasley play final game

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MLS Decision Day is behind us, and the league has a new single season goalscoring king and a complete lineup for the MLS Cup playoffs.

One goal short of breaking Josef Martinez’s record set last season, Carlos Vela erupted for a hat trick in LAFC’s 3-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Decision Day, lifting the single season goalscoring record to 34 goals.

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In 31 games, LAFC’s captain recorded a total of 34 goals and 15 assists, an average of 1.62 goals plus assists per game.The Mexican finished four goals above LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic (30) and seven above former record holder Martinez (27). In other words, the 30-year-old placed his foot firmly on the pedal and never let go.

Following the game, Bob Bradley, as expected, was full of praise for the Mexican, who more than doubled his goal count of 14 last season and was crucial in the team’s historic season, which saw them lift the Supporter’s Shield and set the most points in a single season.

Some may say it’s up for debate (it’s really not), but Vela’s season should be considered as the league’s best ever.

FC Dallas, Portland Timbers clinch spot in MLS Cup playoff field

In convincing fashion, FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers punched their tickets into the the MLS Cup playoffs.

In Frisco, specifically, first-year coach Luchi Gonzalez and company took the “win and your in” motto to heart, drilling a helpless Sporting Kansas City 6-0. Every player in Dallas’ front four bagged goals, with defender Matt Hedges contributing one of his own in the 12th minute.

Over in Portland, the Timbers sent Matias Almeyda and the San Jose Earthquakes packing, edging past them 3-1 with to second-half goals from Dairon Asprilla and Sebastian Blanco.

After conceding a goal in the 29th minute, the Quakes responded within 10 minutes when Chris Wondolowski header home his 15th goal of the season. It wasn’t enough for the Black-and-Blue, however, as a ghost of the past hunted them once again: second-half meltdowns.

After placing as high as second in the Western Conference over the summer, the Quakes ended their season on a six-game losing streak and four points short of the cut.

Tim Howard, DaMarcus Beasley say goodbye to the beautiful game

Decision Day also saw the illustrious careers of Tim Howard and DaMarcus Beasley come to a close – two U.S. soccer legends and trailblazers.

Howard hangs up the boots after a 22-year journey that saw him play in the United States and England, where he featured for Manchester United and Everton. At Everton, the New Jersey native recorded 414 appearances in a decade-long career. The 40-year-old also recorded 121 caps with the U.S. men’s national team, eighth in the all-time list.

At 37 years of age, Beasley, too, is riding off into the sunset.

The longtime fullback completes a career that started 20 years ago, and saw him play in Holland, England, Scotland, Germany, Mexico and the United States. Throughout that stretch, Beasley won multiple titles with Rangers, two Eredivisie’s with PSV and three U.S. Open Cups with the Chicago Fire and, most recently, with the Houston Dynamo.

On an international level, the Indiana native featured 126 times for the USMNT, scoring on 17 occasions. Like Howard, Beasley hoisted multiple Gold Cup’s with the Stars and Stripes.

Howard retiring after 2019 MLS season

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One of the greatest American players in history is hanging up his gloves after the season.

Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard will call it a career after two decades in professional soccer that stretched from Major League Soccer to the Premier League and back to MLS.

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Howard, 39, won the FA Cup and League Cup with Manchester United, made the Premier League Team of the Year, and has been thrice named CONCACAF Goalkeeper of the Year while winning two Gold Cups with the USMNT.

He may be best-remembered for his otherworldly performance in a 2014 World Cup extra time loss to Belgium. Howard is the eighth-most capped players in USMNT history, with 121.

Howard is a part-owner of English side Dagenham and Redbridge, and has been active in support of those like him diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Tim Howard part of group that now owns 5th-tier English club

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Tim Howard has been revealed as one member of a group of investors which now owns London-based Dagenham & Redbridge.

[ MORE: Premier League preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool ]

The longtime Everton and U.S. men’s national team goalkeeper, along with the rest of his Victoria Road Football LLC partners — Peter B. Freund and Craig Unger — recently purchased the majority of shares in the fifth-division English club.

The group announced this summer that Memphis 901 FC — where Howard now lives during the offseason — will debut in USL in 2019. Freund also own the Memphis Redbirds, the AAA (baseball) affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Quotes from Sky Sports:

“When I first visited Victoria Road this summer for a friendly against Cambridge, and having come back for the match against Hartlepool, I was captivated by the incredible passion shown by the Daggers supporters.

“I consider my ability to come in and help this club, which has roots dating back to the 1880’s, as a privilege and will do everything I can to solidify it this season and give us a chance to return to the Football League in the future.”

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines for Week 5 ]

Freund was reportedly interested in purchasing a stake in Championship side Aston Villa in the summer, before an Egyptian company owned by the Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris swooped in ahead of Freund.

VIDEO: Wayne Rooney grabs first MLS goal

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His teammates may have done much of the heavy lifting, but Wayne Rooney was on hand to grab the finish and pick up the first goal of his Major League Soccer career to put D.C. United up 1-0 on the Colorado Rapids.

With the game just past the half-hour mark, Junior Moreno began things with a pinpoint tackle in midfield to snatch a wayward pass, and 24-year-old Luciano Acosta delivered a fabulously weighted ball that slipped Rooney in past a pair of defenders whom he had split. The former Manchester United veteran then capped it off by sending the ball through the legs of Colorado goalkeeper Tim Howard.

Of course, he celebrated with his trademark jumping fist pump.

Of course, the goal fittingly came against his former Manchester United teammate Tim Howard. The two were at Old Trafford together from 2004-2006, although they never crossed paths at Everton.

D.C. United is still sitting in a distant last place in the Eastern Conference, with Toronto F.C. still eight points ahead coming into the match, but Rooney performing well gives the fans something to enjoy for the rest of the season, plus promising potential for next year as well.

Not only did Rooney grab his first goal, but he did so while wearing the captain’s armband, high praise for a player who just arrived at a club not even a month prior. D.C. United did not have a captain named for the season until this match, with Steve Birnbaum listed as captain on teamsheets but nobody wearing the armband.

Tim Howard earns 10-save clean sheet as Colorado tops Vancouver

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On the four-year anniversary of Tim Howard‘s masterclass against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup, the USMNT veteran once again stood on his head, but this time around he got the win as well.

Howard made 10 saves as the Colorado Rapids profited from a Marcel de Jong own-goal just before halftime to pick up a 1-0 win. The United States international was fantastic as he baffled the Whitecaps attackers in front of net. He no doubt benefitted from poor finishing as numerous point-blank chances were ripped directly at the netminder, but Howard also produced a few acrobatic efforts as well, including one that kept out a fabulous long-range effort by Jordan Mutch in the 83rd minute.

Altogether, Vancouver put 25 shots on net, but struggled to put them in dangerous positions. Kei Kamara had an especially dismal day in front of net, putting eight shots on goal but saw four of those saved and another off the crossbar.

Four years ago today, Howard produced 15 saves against Belgium, the most in a World Cup match in history since saves became an official stat in 1966. He faced 39 shots on that day and kept all but two of them out as the United States lost a heartbreaker in extra-time on goals by Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne.l

The victory this evening pushed Colorado up to 15 points on the season out of 16 matches, still eight points off the 23 points to grab a current playoff spot where Vancouver hangs on in 6th.