The New York Red Bulls (16-9-9, 57 points) avoided the one-off play-off match against Houston in the upcoming MLS playoffs when it blanked host Philadelphia Union, 3-0, in its last regular season game last Saturday. New York moved from fourth place in the Eastern Conference to third with the win and a Chicago Fire 1-1 draw versus second-place DC United.
Led by Kenny Cooper’s double strike and one from Thierry Henry, New York stormed into PPL Park Saturday like men on a mission and by the end of the next 90 minutes, it was mission accomplished. Cooper had strikes at the 13th and 66th minutes and won the MLS Player-of-the-Week honor, while Henry struck his 15th goal of the season in the 35th. New York will host DC United (17-10-7, 58 pts.) on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 8:00 p.m. (NBCSN) at Red Bull Arena in the first of a home-and-away semi-final series, with the second game scheduled for Wednesday night, Nov. 7, at 8:00 p.m. (NBCSN) in RFK Stadium in Washington DC.
Eastern Conference winner Sporting Kansas City (18-7-9, 63 pts.) will play the winner of the Chicago Fire-Houston Dynamo one-off game, which was scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 31, 9:00 p.m. (ESPN2) in the other semi-final series starting on Saturday. New York tied with Chicago (17-11-6, 57 pts.) on points, but won the first MLS tie-breaker by having scored more goals than Chicago, 57 to 46, on the season.
In the Western Conference on Sunday, a Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders (15-8-12, 57 pts.) at the Galaxy home in the Home Depot Center in Carson (CA) in the last game of the regular season, dropped the Sounders out of second place and into third. Real Salt Lake (17-11-7, 58 pts.), which played to a goalless draw with fifth-place finisher Vancouver Whitecaps (11-13-11, 44 pts.), moved into second place but the two will still play each other in the home-and-away, semi-final series. Seattle will host the first game this weekend. Meanwhile, the Galaxy (16-12-7, 55 pts.) will entertain the Whitecaps in the one-off game at Home Depot Center on Thursday night, 10:30 p.m., Nov. 1 (NBCSN) to determine the opponent for Western Conference winner San Jose Earthquakes (19-6-9, 66 pts.).
The Conference semifinals and final series winners are determined by the most goals scored; in the event of a tie, 30 minutes of overtime, then penalty kicks will determine the winners. The MLS Cup final is a one-game affair at the higher seeded team.
Wondolowski ties Lassiter
Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes scored his 27th goal on Saturday night to tie the all-time MLS single-season scoring record set by African American forward Roy Lassiter 16 years ago. Lassiter played for the Tampa Bay Rowdies and scored his 27 goals in the MLS inaugural season, 1966; he went onto play for the Rowdies until 2002 and finished his career with 88 goals.
Said Wondolowski about is achievement, “It is just an honor for me to be mentioned with a legend like Roy Lassiter. He was a great player and I feel very fortunate to have tied him.” Wondolowski’s record goal was scored from the penalty spot in the 24th minute of play in a 1-1 tie against the Portland Timbers in the season finale. The forward won his second Golden Boot scoring title in the last three years.
“It was one of those you don’t want to regret,” Wondolowski said Sunday. “I’ve done it hundreds of times in practice. Just rely on muscle memory.”
Guyana and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have advanced to the last round of group play to qualify for the 2012 Digicel Caribbean Cup Championship in Antigua and Barbuda in mid-December. Guyana, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and host St. Lucia were all tied on six points as all won two games and lost one, but goal difference between the tied teams made the difference.
Guyana won Group Two because of it had the best goal difference. The Guyanese finished with a plus-two (+2) goal difference and St. Vincent and the Grenadines finished second with a zero (0) difference, scoring the same number of goal that it allowed. Third-place St. Lucia finished with a negative two (-2) difference while winless Curacao was without a point.
Guyana will now play in Group Six with host Grenada, Haiti and French Guiana, while St. Vincent and the Grenadines will travel to play host Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba and Surinam in Group Eight. The top two teams in each of these two groups will advance to the eighth-team finals, which will determine the 21012 Digicel Caribbean Cup Championship to determine the Caribbean champion and the four teams that will play in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Dominican Republic and Martinique have qualified from the only other group, Group Seven, as Guadeloupe, which was a finalist in the last Caribbean Championship, has been eliminated from the competition. Also qualified for the finals are host Antigua/Barbuda and defending champion Jamaica.