Tick...tick...tick...We're nearing the end of the 2014 MLS Regular Season! It's becoming more and more apparent that this is a six-horse race for five spots in the Western Conference. Here's the weekly look at the Western Conference playoff picture as the MLS week gets underway tonight:
1. Seattle Sounders FC
51 points(+13 GD) - 8 games remaining - Last match: 4-2 win at Chivas USA - Next match: 9/12 vs Real Salt Lake - Last 5: W-W-W-D-L
Three wins on the bounce for Seattle Sounders FC who easily dispatched a hapless Chivas USA side before enjoying the weekend off. A tough match at home against Real Salt Lake awaits Seattle who can put RSL pretty much permanently behind them in 2014 with a win.
2. LA Galaxy
50 points(+27 GD) - 7 games remaining - Last match: 2-2 draw at Montreal - Next match: 9/14 at San Jose - Last 5: W-D-W-W-W
A draw at lowly Montreal on Wednesday will be some dropped points the Galaxy will want to have back. A point behind Seattle with one more game played suggests the Sounders are still in the driving seat for Supporters Shield, but the teams still have a game left against each other. LA has a tough Cali Clasico on Sunday, a game in which Landon Donovan is suspended.
3. Real Salt Lake
46 points(+10 GD) - 7 games remaining - Last match: 2-1 win vs FC Dallas - Next match: 9/12 at Seattle - Last 5: W-T-L-W-W
Real Salt Lake scored a huge 2-1 win over our FC Dallas last weekend, a win that creates some daylight between them and FCD for that third playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Supporters Shield certainly isn't out of reach for Jeff Cassar's side, but they'll need a huge result in Seattle this weekend to keep those hopes alive.
4. FC Dallas
42 points(+10 GD) - 7 games remaining - Last match: 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake - Next match: 9/13 vs Vancouver - Last 5: L-L-W-W-W
FCD lost their second consecutive road game at RSL last weekend, a result that likely ends Supporters Shield hopes. With RSL playing at Seattle and a favorable home matchup, however, that four point gap to third place could definitely be tightened this weekend. A win over Vancouver would all but clinch a playoff spot for
5. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
37 points(+1 GD) - 7 games remaining - Last match: 2-0 win vs San Jose - Next match: 9/13 at FC Dallas - Last 5: W-D-L-L-D
Vancouver finally broke their winless and scoreless streak in a much-needed 2-0 win at home against San Jose on Wednesday night. The Whitecaps are back above the dreaded red line, two points up on Portland with equal games played so the next seven games are going to be a dogfight.
6. Portland Timbers FC
35 points(+1 GD) - 7 games remaining - Last match: 3-3 draw vs San Jose - Next match: 9/13 at Colorado - Last 5: D-W-L-D-W
If you're a playoff team, you need to win that game at home against San Jose. All the hard work of their win at Vancouver what somewhat undone by this clunker of a result. With just three of their last seven at home and CONCACAF Champions League complicating the travel schedule, it's really going to be tough on Portland down the stretch. They need a win this weekend.
Note: We dropped the Rapids from playoff contention as their chances are now less than 5%. Sorry guys, the dream is over for 2014.
Three FCD players are currently out on international duty right now as Blas Perez is with Panama for the 2014 Copa Centroamericana, Je-Vaughn Watson joined Jamaica for an international friendly at Canada and Jesse Gonzalez plays with the Mexico U-20 National Team at an international tournament in China.
WATCH: Panama 2 Costa Rica 2
Blas Perez and Panama started their 2014 Copa Centroamericana on Sunday at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas and the man known as "Raton" had a great game for La Marea Roja, scoring and drawing a penalty in Panama's 2-2 draw. Panama had a 2-0 lead against the Ticos before conceding two late goals.
The Copa Centroamericana is a relatively complicated tournament, but we'll do our best to explain the situation as Panama heads into their final group stage game tonight in Houston against Nicaragua. Panama is in a three-team group with the winner advancing to the championship game, 2nd place advancing to the 3rd place match and 3rd place advancing to the fifth place match.
The winner of the Copa Centroamericana championship advances to the 2016 Copa America to be held in the United States, so there's certainly a huge prize on the line with that. The third place game is relatively meaningless as both teams will qualify for a 2015 Gold Cup while the winner of the fifth place game will qualify for the 2015 Gold Cup qualification playoff against a team from the Caribbean Cup.
Panama needs to beat Nicaragua tonight by more than three goals to qualify for the championship game. If they win 3-0, it will go to a coinflip. If they win 2-0 or 1-0 they'll qualify for the 3rd place game while if they lose they will make it to the fifth place game. Clear as mud right?
Je-Vaughn Watson joined up with a young Jamaica squad to face Canada at BMO Field in Toronto on Tuesday night.
The Reggae Boys fell 3-1 to the hosts in Canada's first win in over two years.
Watson played 90 minutes for Jamaica in midfield, but did not get on the score sheet.
The thing about good ideas is that once one is created, people are going to copy it.
Our friends up north in Vancouver had one of the best ideas of last season with their Whitecaps FC Fish Cam, in fact the idea was voted Best Social Media Activation of 2013 at the MLS year-end awards.
With the Whitecaps coming to Toyota Stadium for their only visit of 2014 on Saturday night, and the wild success of our Toad To Brazil 2014 World Cup live streams, we thought what better time than to try our hand at an FC Dallas Fish Cam!
Vancouver has visited Toyota Stadium four times since joining the league in 2011, earning exactly zero points from those four matches, so we thought we'd stream the audio from those four matches throughout the day on Wednesday to go with our little fishies swimming to their heart's delight.
But if listening to FCD victories at Toyota Stadium isn't enough for you, we want to get you in to Saturday's big game as we make our push towards the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Wednesday at 10:00AM, 12:00PM, 2:00PM & 4:00PM we will start our four home wins over Vancouver and insert a secret key word on the screen during a goal of each match. Be the first one to Tweet the secret key word @FCDallas using #FCDFishCam and you'll win a pair of tickets to Saturday's match plus a piece of FCD signed gear/! There's four games so that means four pairs of tickets to give away.
To help you out a little bit, here are the four match recap articles from our four wins over Vancouver Whitecaps FC:
October 15, 2011 - FC Dallas 2 Vancouver 0 Prize - 2 tix + an FCD Jumbo Scarf used on LH statue
September 15 2012, - FC Dallas 1 Vancouver 0 Prize - 2 tix + an FCD team-signed poster
April 20, 2013 - FC Dallas 2 Vancouver 0 Prize - 2 tix + an FCD signed Hispanic Heritage poster
September 7, 2013 - FC Dallas 3 Vancouver 1 Prize - 2 tix + a Mauro Diaz signed scarf
Happy watching and don't forget to look out for those key words!
The USL PRO regular season wrapped up last weekend meaning both Jonathan Top and Cobi Span will soon be returning to FC Dallas from their year-long loan spells.
Top should be back with FCD as soon as this week as Arizona United SC's season has come to a close. AZ United finished ninth in the 14-team league just one spot below the playoff line having earned 33 points from 28 matches in their inaugural season.
For Top, his loan spell to Arizona was certainly a success as the 21-year-old Homegrown saw his first extended minutes as a professional appearing in 21 of 28 games for Arizona. Top finished as the expansion side's leading scorer with 12 points(5 goals + 2 assists) as well as tied for the team lead in goals with five this season.
While Top had five goals to his name this season, one stands out above the rest and that was his August 16th strike vs Pittsburgh. The curling effort won USL Pro Goal of the Month for August.
Span headed to playoffs with Orlando City
In their final season before making the jump to MLS, Cobi Span and Orlando City won their third regular season title in four years earning 62 points from 28 games, seven points ahead of second place Sacramento.
Cobi enjoyed a nice season with the Lions, appearing in 19 matches while scoring three goals in the regular season starting in a right wing role for most of his matches. Orlando City goes in search of their USL PRO championship starting this weekend with a quarterfinal playoff match against Harrisburg on Saturday night at 6:30PM.
Here are the best pictures from FCD's match at Real Salt Lake:
All the best action from FC Dallas' narrow 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium:
Head coach Oscar Pareja and rookie forward Tesho Akindele talk about FCD's upcoming match against Real Salt Lake.
It's been three years since Bobby Rhine passed away. It doesn't feel like it could've possibly been that long ago.
Bobby (below right, celebrating a goal scored by now-head coach Oscar Pareja in Pareja's final professional match) was one of the genuinely nicest people I've ever known. I was lucky enough to work with him on a daily basis for a little over a year. Even when I was an intern brand new to the world of Major League Soccer, Bobby went out of his way to make me feel welcome at FC Dallas. He had a unique ability to lighten the mood and make you feel like he was one of your oldest friends.
Bobby was also a better ambassador for the Beautiful Game than FCD could've asked for, and he set the bar for what a club icon should be.
He was drafted by the Dallas Burn sixth overall in the 1999 MLS College Draft. From that point on, Bobby made Dallas his home.
He spent his entire 10-year playing career in a Burn/FC Dallas jersey (212 games played, 23 goals and 34 assists). Bobby met his wife here and started a family here. And after he hung up his boots in 2008, he became the voice of the club as he transitioned into a broadcasting career.
It's impossible to put into words what Bobby meant to those who knew him, but I highly recommend Nick Firchau's in-depth article from a year ago.
FC Dallas carries on Bobby's memory in a number of ways; the "Forever Our Voice" banner that hangs from the Toyota Stadium press box, an annual youth soccer tournament that bears his name, and for the third year in a row, FC Dallas staff, ownership, fans and partners will come together for the American Heart Association Heart Walk in Dallas.
You can sign up to join team BR19 here, and walk with us as we pay respect to the man who will be Forever Our Voice.
It's almost time for Saturday's huge match at RSL with third place in the Western Conference on the line. We break it down with our Toyota Keys to the Match:
Last weekend wasn't terribly kind to FC Dallas as Oscar Pareja's men lost for the first time since May 31st, falling 1-0 to Chicago. That coupled with two wins by Los Angeles and a win from Seattle certainly doesn't help FCD's quest for a top-3 finish, but Real Salt Lake failing to win in San Jose provides some relief, especially with Saturday's showdown at Rio Tinto looming. Here's the weekly look at the Western Conference playoff picture as the MLS week gets underway tonight:
1. Seattle Sounders FC
48 points(+11 GD) - 9 games remaining - Last match: 1-0 win vs Colorado - Next match: 9/3 at Chivas USA - Last 5: W-W-D-L-W
A mid-season swoon seems to be in the rearview mirror for Sigi Schmid's side who secured all three points at home against Colorado last weekend despite not playing at their highest level. The Sounders have a two-point lead over Los Angeles with nine games left on their schedule and face a trip to Chivas USA on Wednesday night before taking the weekend off from MLS action.
2. LA Galaxy
46 points(+21 GD) - 9 games remaining - Last match: 3-0 win vs Chivas USA - Next match: 9/5 vs Colorado - Last 5: W-W-W-W-L
The league was put on notice this week. The Galaxy are officially red-hot. A two-match week of games at StubHub Center saw Los Angeles earn all six points with blowout victories over DC United and Chivas USA. They have another relatively straight-forward test on Friday night against Colorado and could take over first place in the Western Conference soon. They look like the team to beat right now.
3. Real Salt Lake
43 points(+9 GD) - 8 games remaining - Last match: 1-1 draw vs San Jose - Next match: 9/6 vs FC Dallas - Last 5: T-L-W-W-W
Real Salt Lake won't be too disappointed with a point from a tricky trip to San Jose, but the fact remains that Jeff Cassar's side let a valuable opportunity to gain three points on FCD slip away from them. The draw at San Jose simply makes Saturday's upcoming game between RSL and FCD that much bigger. Given the form of Los Angeles and the points plus game in hand of Seattle, RSL and FCD look to be fighting it out for that third playoff spot in the west.
4. FC Dallas
42 points(+11 GD) - 8 games remaining - Last match: 1-0 loss at Chicago - Next match: 9/6 at Real Salt Lake - Last 5: L-W-W-W-W
There's no reason for panic after a 1-0 loss at Chicago in what was really a strange game from the start. With all eight games remaining against the top six of the Western Conference, FCD will have to earn their way to the top of the West, but these tough games will certainly prepare them well for playoffs. FCD has had RSL's number this year so far and Saturday will be another tough test in Rio Tinto.
5. Portland Timbers FC
34 points(+1 GD) - 8 games remaining - Last match: 3-0 win at Vancouver - Next match: 9/7 vs San Jose - Last 5: W-L-D-W-L
Wins in August don't come much bigger than that one for Caleb Porter's side. The Timbers walked into BC Place and thoroughly demolished the Whitecaps 3-0 last weekend to jump above them into the 5th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They're certainly not out of the woods, but according to Sports Club Stats they raised their chances of making the playoffs by a whopping 20% with the win.
6. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
33 points(-1 GD) - 9 games remaining - Last match: 3-0 loss vs Portland - Next match: 9/6 vs DC United - Last 5: L-L-D-W-D
Boy that was quite the surprising result for the Whitecaps. We know how they struggle on the road, but the side is typically one of the strongest in MLS at home. They'll need to recover quickly from Sunday's loss with a tough DC United side coming to town this weekend in a match they really need to win.
7. Colorado Rapids
30 points(-3 GD) - 8 games remaining - Last match: 1-0 loss at Seattle - Next match: 9/5 at Los Angeles - Last 5: L-L-L-L-L
There were plenty of positives to take from Saturday's 1-0 loss at Seattle, but we're getting to the time of the season where moral victories don't count for much. The losing streak is at six with just one win in their last ten and a trip to high-flying Los Angeles on Friday night won't provide any respite. Let's just say the Rapids are huge Earthquakes fans this weekend.