Five out of ten teams reach the MLS play offsFive of ten teams have already qualified for the play offs in the Major League Soccer (MLS), with the beginning of the decisive phase starting on the last weekend in September. Sporting Kansas City lead in style in the Eastern Conference and have made certain their participation in the decisive matches for the North American championship.
On Friday (September 28) Kansas increased their lead in the Eastern Conference table with a 2-0 win against Chicago Fire in the top match at home at Livestrong Sporting Park. US American midfielder Graham Zusi was the match winner for the hosts with two goals in front of 21,010 spectators.
In the Western Conference four of the five teams have reached the play offs to be held in November, with the final set for December 1. The San Jose Earthquakes (61 points from 21 matches) top the table in the Western Conference, followed by Real Salt Lake (52-21), Los Angeles Galaxy (50-31) and Seattle Sounders (49-30). San Jose also lead in the “Supporter‘s Shield”, competed for by all 19 teams.
The top table encounter between Kansas and Chicago drew great interest. Chicago, with former German international Arne Friedrich, suffered their first defeat following four successive wins. The Fire team hold third position in the Eastern Conference with 53 points from 30 matches. Kansas are top and qualified for the play offs. With 58 points (31 matches) they now have an advantage of five points over Chicago and second-placed New York Red Bulls (53 points-31 matches).
Thanks to an outstanding Thierry Henry, New York defeated FC Toronto 4-1. The French striker contributed one goal and three assists in front of 25,017 fans.
However, the second-placed Red Bulls have not yet ascertained the play offs. Torsten Frings, who was a 2002 World Cup and 2008 European runner-up with the German national team, will be side-lined all year with the Canadian team due to a hip injury.
With just five wins, seven draws and 19 defeats, Toronto lag behind at the bottom in the Western Conference, but Frings has not regretted his move from Werder Bremen to the MLS. “I have enjoyed many great experiences. I feel comfortable in Canada”, Frings told the German football magazine “kicker”. He had thought, however, his team would reach a higher level, Frings disclosed. He is fully focussed on continuing next year to play with Toronto. Afterwards the 35-year-old would like to take on a coaching task in the junior area with Werder Bremen
The September 30 encounter between the last two MLS champions, title holders LA Galaxy and Colorado Rapids (2010 champions), ended in a 1-1 draw after early goals in front of 17,649 spectators at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado. After a four-week injury break (ankle) David Beckham made his comeback for 87 minutes with Galaxy. With the one point from that match Los Angeles qualified for the play offs. The sporting situation in the Western Conference of the MLS is hardly comparable with the Eastern Conference. As the competition in the west is not as tough as in the east, teams with less points achieved the play offs. In addition to LA Galaxy, these are Real Salt Lake (4-0 over Chivas USA), and Seattle.
Even fourth-placed Seattle Sounders FC have reached the play offs in the Western Conference, for which ten teams are eligible this year. A goalless draw on Saturday (September 29) in the Pacific coast derby against the Canadian Vancouver Whitecaps was sufficient for the American team. German Christian Tiffert, who recently moved from 1. FC Kaiserslautern to the MLS, was more successful with Seattle than Frings with Toronto.
The MLS had a famous visitor during the last week in September at Foxborough in Massachusetts, the home ground of New England Revolution. Pelé, the Brazilian “Footballer of the Century”, supervised a partnership between the “Revs” and a bank, which he himself has been promoting for several years. Forty years ago Pelé moved from FC Santos to the USA, and as a player with New York Cosmos played a great part in developing football in North America. “During my time we started the promotion of football. Since then football in the United States has reached a very good standard”, said Pelé, who later played alongside Franz Beckenbauer with the Cosmos team. “Football here has achieved a lot”, added the South American, “and I’m happy that I could contribute to that”. However, the New England Revolution, whom he visited shortly before their 4-1 defeat in New York, have no longer a chance of making the play offs. They are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 29 points from 31 matches.