MLS – Big 5
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The 2013 Major League Soccer season has reached the backstretch and this week’s featured game took place when the New York Red Bulls travelled to soggy Seattle and came away with a valuable point.

1) Red Bulls Maintain Lead in Supporters Shield

When we think of Seattle we think of deafening crowds at Sounder and Seahawk games, we think of rain, coffee and grunge. Soccer lovers may think also of artificial turf.

The New York Red Bulls medical staff certainly do. That turf kept New York captain Thierry Henry out of the lineup and also deprived the Bulls of center back Jamison Olave, both were held out to avoid CenturyLink’s difficult playing surface. New York’s medical staff were credited with the decision. Will the soccer staff, or Henry himself, disobey Doctor’s orders if New York face the Sounders in a few weeks time in the playoffs?

Dempsey's exclusion may have cost Seattle. (ISI Photos/Nick Turchiaro)

Dempsey’s exclusion may have cost Seattle. (ISI Photos/Nick Turchiaro)

Seattle were also short handed, they were without their marquee signing Clint Dempsey. Maybe an in form Deuce would have converted one of the many chances that Seattle spurned on the night.

Brad Evans scored Seattle’s lone gone on a well struck penalty just before the half. The home team had the better of play most of the night, but the Red Bulls worked hard on a rainy, windy Sunday night and got what they deserved when Tim Cahill banged home a 76th minute equalizer.

The win gives the Red Bulls a leg up in the Supporters Shield race, and the battle for home (grass) field throughout the playoffs.

2) Sporting Fail to Keep Pace

New York were surely pleased to take a road point home from Seattle, but that tie opened the door for Kansas City, who failed to walk through it. KC lost 1-0 at home to slumping Philadelphia, who hadn’t won in six games.

(ISI Photos/Jose L. Argueta)

Philadelphia were unlikely winners on the evening. (ISI Photos/Jose L. Argueta)

In fact, when Conor Casey scored from a goalmouth scramble, it was the Union’s first goal in almost 350 minutes, that’s almost four full games. The win propels Philly into fifth place with 42 points, one ahead of Columbus and New England and just two back of Houston.

Sporting missed a chance to pull within a point of New York at the top of the Eastern conference, but Kansas City does have a game in hand.

3) Real Salt Lake Rest Starters – Still Top Vancouver

If ever Vancouver wanted to see Real Salt Lake lining up against them, this would have been the time. With RSL looking ahead to Tuesday night’s U.S. Open Cup Final, coach Jason Kreis rested some of his top players. Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando didn’t even make the trip.

Nick Rimando was rested and his team still managed a clean sheet. (Getty Images)

Nick Rimando (R) was rested and his team still managed a clean sheet. (Getty Images)

Still, backup keeper Jeff Attinella and company were up to the task, as Salt Lake made rookie striker Devon Sandoval’s ninth minute tally hold up.

The loss is a blow to Vancouver’s playoff hopes, the Caps remain four points out of the fifth and final playoff spot, behind Colorado and also trail San Jose by three.

4) The Battle in West

If the MLS season is a sprint, the runners have turned the corner in a tightly packed bunch, and they are racing for the tape, elbows high, as they fight for the last remaining playoff positions.

In the Western Conference, only Chivas knows for sure when their season will end, and only the top three spots appear safe, RSL, Seattle and Portland.

Galaxy should hopefully make playoffs with the help of their stars..(ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Galaxy should hopefully make playoffs with the help of their stars..(ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Could two time defending champions Los Angeles miss the playoffs? Yes, they could. But they probably won’t. With 45 points, fourth place Galaxy are level on points with surprising young Colorado, both just a single point ahead of never say die San Jose. Vancouver are a single point ahead of Dallas, all but the Earthquakes have four games to play. San Jose have just three.

Virtually all remaining games are within the division and Colorado and Vancouver wrap up the season with a two game set. First in Colorado on October 19th. On the 27th, BC Place is the venue as Vancouver plays host. Dramatic stuff from the MLS schedule maker.

5) And What About the East?

If anything the East might be even tighter. New York and Kansas City should be good at 52 and 48 points, but third place Montreal is just four points above fifth place Philadelphia. Eighth place Chicago sits just two points out of the playoff berth currently occupied by the Union.

NY Red Bulls should have enough quality to see them through. (ISI Photos/

NY Red Bulls should have enough quality to see them through. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

New England and Columbus are in the Fire’s path and now that Philadelphia has relocated the opposing team’s goal, they may be hard to displace. Fourth place Houston could move up, they are just two behind Montreal, or down they lead the Union by just two points.

About Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan is a staff writer for the GotSoccer Magazine, covering MLS and other US leagues, He's GotSoccer's chief National Team Correspondent.
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