NEW YORK — Big things came in twos this week as the MLS stretch run kicked into overdrive.
Two American players produced two-goal games, two more teams clinched playoff berths, two more were eliminated, and two are battling for the eighth and final spot—with two weeks remaining.
Let’s double down for a closer look.
Playoff Picture: Sun Setting In the East
Both Seattle and San Jose punched postseason tickets with impressive wins on the road, results that also eliminated Eastern Conference hopefuls Chicago and Toronto from playoff contention.
WASHINGTON - Chris Wondolowski has done it all for the San Jose Earthquakes this season, and on Saturday night — thanks to a victory on the road against D.C. United and the Sounders' defeat of the Kansas City Wizards — he led the Earthquakes into the playoffs for the first time since the franchise restarted in 2008.
Wondolowski scored both goals for the Earthquakes in their 2-0 playoff-clinching victory over the United. Although not a constant threat throughout the match, Wondolowski scored in trademarks style.
WASHINGTON — Saturday’s 2-0 home loss to San Jose marked the 19th setback of the 2010 season for D.C. United, and while many of those defeats bear the same hallmarks, there also seem to be no end to the strange circumstances that arise to trip up the Black-and-Red.
MLS 2010 QUOTESHEET
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2010 – D.C. UNITED 0, SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES 2
D.C. UNITED INTERIM HEAD COACH BEN OLSEN
On Jaime Moreno’s red card:
It’s disappointing. Very disappointing I’m disappointed for him. I’ve heard of what happened, I’ve heard it wasn’t much. And it changed the course of the game. And at that point, you know, it becomes kind of a different type of game. You know, it’s not really fun from that point on. You know, the first half was good, the second half wasn’t.
AMSTERDAM – Friday brought a healthy helping of 2012 European Championship qualification in Europe, with former Real Salt Lake ace Yura Movsisyan scoring in Armenia's 3-1 win over visiting Group B leaders Slovakia.
The Randers FC forward beat the offside trap to nutmeg the keeper 23 minutes in, breaking the ice with his second goal in four international matches. The result allowed Russia to climb joint top with a 3-2 win at Ireland.
Hard to imagine, in this day and age, an athlete on the verge of a landmark achievement not beating his chest and gobbling up the spotlight with the same verve as Kobayashi scarfing down hot dogs.
Where’s the drama? Where’s the media-driven duel in which the protagonist and antagonist trade barbs?
It’s not there. None of it.
WASHINGTON – He stands only 5-foot-7 and weighs 150 lbs. – and those official numbers might even be a tad bit generous – but the suspended Andy Najar leaves massive shoes to fill along D.C. United’s right flank this weekend.
The Honduran-born rookie has gone from unheralded academy signing to primary creative weapon in the space of six months, to the extent that his absence through yellow-card accumulation represents a major challenge for United’s attack against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night.
AMSTERDAM — Being the boss comes with responsibilities, as U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley can confirm.
So while he is in Chicago preparing for friendlies with Poland and Colombia, I am here to make several unsolicited and faux-modest selection requests.
Let's walk through my polite demands, player by player:
CHICAGO – Chicago's Soldier Field has been good to U.S. national team forward Clint Dempsey over the years.
There’s the goal against England on May 28, 2005, and another against Brazil on Sept. 9, 2007. He also started the triumphant CONCACAF Gold Cup final in 2007 against Mexico.
His success there is not only limited to international duty. Dempsey scored in the venue as a member of the New England Revolution back on April 27, 2005, in a 3-0 win over the Chicago Fire. It’s been over five years, but he still remembers the celebration.