While most of the attention for the week revolved around the men’s game as CONCACAF Champions League action and the playoff races for Major League Soccer and USSF Division-2 continued, the ladies squared off for the Women’s Professional Soccer Championship Sunday. The WPS Final was a one-sided affair, but comebacks were a major theme on the men's side.
Two weeks after closing out the regular season as the league’s best team with a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Independence, FC Gold Pride perfected the result with a 4-0 victory over the same club for the league’s title, extending its unbeaten run to 14 games (10-4-0).
While Marta was named MVP of the championship match, it was Canadian star Christine Sinclair with two goals in the match, tallying the opener 17 minutes in and later adding the team’s third eight minutes into the second half to spoil any of the visitor’s hopes of making a comeback. Marta would close the scoring in the 90th minute, her third consecutive match with a goal, giving the league’s leading scorer seven goals in the last six matches.
Major League Soccer
It was a busy week for MLS with a pair of midweek matches accompanying the four CCL contests featuring MLS clubs. The Kansas City Wizards rallied from a two-goal deficit in the final half hour Wednesday to register a 4-3 victory over Houston to stay in the thick of the playoff chase. Meanwhile FC Dallas also came back from two down at home to earn a 2-2 draw against New England and keep its unbeaten streak intact at 16 games.
The weekend’s action kicked off with the marquee match of the week Friday with two contenders for regular season conference titles squaring off. The visiting New York Red Bulls posted a 2-0 victory in Los Angeles against the Galaxy to temporarily pull level with the Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference.
The other 14 clubs were all in action Saturday. Columbus, fresh off a stunning upset win over Mexico’s Santos Laguna in the CCL, continued the comeback theme of the week with a two-goal rally in the final 28 minutes on the road to tie New England, 2-2. Real Salt Lake returned to the country after a win in Panama and picked up a stoppage time equalizer for a 1-1 draw against visiting Colorado, extending the club’s home unbeaten run to 24 matches. Colorado’s draw allowed the Seattle Sounders to jump a spot in the playoff chase inside the qualifying zone as they were 1-0 winners in Chicago after seeing a two-goal lead vanish in a CCL loss in Mexico Wednesday.
Toronto FC’s return from Mexico, where they earned a surprising scoreless draw, was not as successful, falling at home, 3-2, to playoff contender San Jose, allowing the gap between the playoff contenders and TFC. Kansas City was unable to add onto the midweek win to climb closer to the playoff zone, falling in Dallas, 3-1, Saturday.
In other contests, the Houston Dynamo came back from a goal down on the road to defeat DC United, 3-1, and the Philadephia Union blanked visiting Chivas USA, 3-0.
One game Wednesday evening settle a lot as AC St Louis fell out of playoff contention with a 4-2 loss in Miami, finalizing the playoff field for the league with two weekends of play remaining. The visitors fell behind courtesy of an Abe Thompson hat-trick, but fought back with two Brad Stisser goals in the second half only to come up short in their bid to keep playoff hopes alive.
Action continued Friday evening with the NSC Minnesota Stars posting a fourth straight victory, winning in Tampa, 3-1, while the Vancouver Whitecaps fell, 1-0, at home to Canadian rival Montreal.
Vancouver’s loss opened the door for the Carolina RailHawks Saturday to move into a tie for first in the NASL Conference by posting a 2-1 win over the Puerto Rico Islanders, who were coming off a scoreless draw in El Salvador against FAS in the CCL.
In the USL Conference Saturday, the Rochester Rhinos fell, 1-0, in Miami, allowing the Austin Aztex to reclaim the top spot with a 4-2 victory over St Louis. Meanwhile, the Portland Timbers won in Baltimore, 3-1, on a pair of goals from Bright Dike.
Mexican Primera Division
Friday, September 24
Necaxa 2-1 Cruz Azul
Looking for its second win despite having played well against some of the top clubs, Necaxa finally registered an upset victory over one of the league’s best, topping CCL side Cruz Azul on a pair of first half strikes. Scoring – NEC: Dario Gandin pen 13, Nicolas Pavlovich 26… CA: Christian Gimenez pen 67
Saturday, September 25
Queretaro 0-0 Monterrey
Fresh off their stunning comeback midweek against Seattle in CCL play, Monterrey avoided their first loss of the campaign in either competition with the stalemate on the road.
Jaguares 2-1 San Luis
A poor clearance by a San Luis defender fell directly to Jorge Rodriguez at the top of the box for the opening score 12 minutes in, but the visitors answered right back less than a minute later when a ball was dropped off for Tressor Moreno, who scored from similar range. A second yellow to Michael Arroyo in the 64th proved critical as Jaguares struck for the winner four minutes later when Carlos Ochoa got the ball in the box and slipped it between the defender and goalkeeper inside the far post from nine yards. Scoring – JAG: Jorge Rodriguez 12, Carlos Ochoa 68… SL: Tressor Moreno 13
Pachuca 3-1 Estudiantes Tecos
A well taken penalty gave Pachuca the lead just before the break. They doubled the advantage when Dario Cvitanich headed a perfect ball centered into the area just inside the far post. They put the match out of reach seven minutes from time when a poor goal kick was mishandled by the defender, leaving Herculez Gomez all alone for a run at goal. Mauro Cejas made a great play on a corner, putting away his own blocked shot to spoil the shutout. Scoring – PAC: Edgar Benitez pen 44, Dario Cvitanich 60, Herculez Gomez 83… EST: Mauro Cejas 85
Atlas 1-0 Puebla
A corner to the near-side corner of the six was headed inside the near post from seven yards by Alfredo Moreno, giving Atlas its first victory of the year as Puebla went from being tied for second in the group to fourth with its fourth loss in five matches. Scoring – ATL: Alfredo Moreno 12
Sunday, September 26
Tigres UANL 1-1 Chivas Guadalajara
The home club took the lead a minute into the second when Francisco Acuna brought the ball down with his chest and put it away. An own goal from Juninho put the visitors level. Scoring – TIG: Francisco Acuna 46… GUA: Own goal 71
Morelia 1-2 Toluca
Coming off a road loss to Olimpia in the CCL, Toluca reversed the result in their home nation, winning on the road. Hector Mancilla opened the scoring six minutes into the second frame. Two minutes later, though, the hosts leveled terms when Hugo Droguett scored on a rebound with a blast inside the near post from the left side. The scoring finished just 10 minutes after it began with Nestor Calderon hitting the winner for Toluca. Scoring – MOR: Hugo Droguett 53… TOL: Hector Mancilla 51, Nestor Calderon 61
Pumas UNAM 2-2 Atlante
Just as was the case in three MLS matches and the Seattle-Monterrey CCL match, a two-goal lead was not enough for Pumas. Martin Bravo’s header was the lone score int he first half and his finish of a rebound in the 53rd gave the hosts what looked like a solid position. Three minutes, however, changed that status as Johan Fano scored off the rebound of a corner kick chance and then converted a penalty just two minutes later. Scoring – PUM: Martin Bravo 23, 53… ATL: Johan Fano 72, pen 74
America 3-2 Santos Laguna
Cristian Benitez gave the CCL club the lead on the road after just four minutes with a header, but America answered with three consecutive strikes. A ball behind the mark of Vicente Sanchez allowed him to tie the match up with Vicente Vuoso scored back-to-back goals seven minutes apart with the first coming on a fantastic switch of the ball that got behind the defense in the 30th and the second in which Aquivaldo Mosquera headed the ball to him for a two-goal lead. Santos Laguna’s Fernando Arce put in a rebound that came off the crossbar four minutes from the break, but a scoreless stalemate in the second half left the visitors short. Scoring – AME: Vicente Sanchez 22, Vicente Vuoso 30, 37… SL: Cristian Benitez 4, Fernando Arce 41