Top 10 Regular Season MLS Match Finishes
Top 10 Regular Season MLS Match Finishes
As we wrap up the year of 2013, there is no doubt that you have seen plenty “best of” lists -- well, here is another one. This countdown deals with the top 10 MLS regular season match finishes of 2013.
It was another successful season in MLS and this season was filled with drama from beginning to end as there were four clubs within three points of winning the Supporters’ Shield and another six within eight points. The league had a very balanced feel as 14 clubs finished with more points than the league average point mark of 46.68.
As you will see in this list, there were clubs who were mere minutes away from picking up vital points in whatever race they were fighting. If some of these results were different, then we could have not only completely different conference winners, but also a different Supporters’ Shield winner.
Matches were rated on five different categories -- result of the match (a win equals one point while a draw equals a half point), point percentage of each club (number of points divided by number of points for Supporters’ Shield winner), the time which the tying/winner goal was scored (minute of stoppage time divided by 10) and the month in which the match was played (the later the match, the higher the point value). Any match played this season with a goal scored in the 80th minute or later was evaluated.
Feel free to comment with any matches that you feel did more to deserve to be on this list.
#10 Sporting Kansas City vs. Seattle Sounders (May 8)
Result: Seattle Sounders FC 1, Sporting Kansas City 0
Goals: Djimi Traore (SEA, 90+4')
Djimi Traore made the most of an Aurelien Collin clearance fail at the death of the match to lift Seattle to victory. A victory that would be very important for Seattle as they would need every point they could get to secure their fifth-straight postseason appearance.
For Sporting, this was one of a few missed chances to secure valuable points. They ended up losing out on the regular season Eastern Conference championship and Supporters’ Shield by only one point.
#9 Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC (Oct. 5)
Results: Philadelphia Union 1, Toronto FC 0
Goals: Kleberson (PHI, 90+5')
Though this match was played between two teams who did not make the postseason, it was still a very entertaining match. The clubs combined for seven yellow cards and two red cards (one of which was for two yellows).
Philadelphia dominated the match statistically with 61 percent of the possession even though they played the final 15 minutes down a man. Kleberson froze Joe Bendik on his line with a sweet free kick from 25 yards around the wall to give Philly the three points.
#8 San Jose Earthquakes vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (June 29)
Result: San Jose Earthquakes 3, Los Angeles Galaxy 2
Goals: Marcelo Sarvas (LA, 20’), Hector Jimenez (LA, 65’): Alan Gordon (SJ, 68’ & 90+3’), Shea Salinas (SJ, 90+2’)
If there was a countdown of the best matches of the 2013 season this match would easily be in the top three. It was the annual Earthquakes match at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto with 50,028 spectators on hand.
San Jose defender Victor Bernardez picked up his second yellow card of the match in the 77th minute with Los Angeles up 2-1, but San Jose never gave up.
Shea Salinas slammed home a juicy rebound given up by goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini and Alan Gordon head home a floater just a minute later to give San Jose a massive three points which would keep them in the postseason chase until the final day of the season.
#7 Montreal Impact vs. Colorado Rapids (June 29)
Result: Colorado Rapids 4, Montreal Impact 3
Goals: Atiba Harris (COL, 24’), Hassoun Camara (MTL, 38’), Daniele Paponi (MTL, 42’ & 72’), Dillon Powers (COL, 59’), Deshorn Brown (COL, 77’), Tony Cascio (COL, 90+6’)
Montreal Impact took a corner very late in the match which was dealt with easily by the Rapids' defense. Chris Klute led a counterattack the other way and Tony Cascio pounced on a garbage ball at the top of the eighteen yard box to secure three vital points for the Rapids.
Colorado needed all the points they could get as they finished tied for the final playoff spot with San Jose Earthquakes.
#6 Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City (Oct. 26)
Result: Sporting Kansas City 2, Philadelphia Union 1
Goals: Graham Zusi (SKC, 47’), Jack McInerney (PHI, 88’), Lawrence Olum (SKC, 90+2’)
Philadelphia Union was in desperate need of a win to secure a playoff spot while Sporting Kansas City was fighting for the Supporters’ Shield. Jack McInerney gave the Union hope with his tying goal in the 88th minute.
Kansas City though was able to get the winner on a nicely executed counterattack while Philadelphia pressed for their winning goal. It was the first MLS goal for Lawrence Olum.
#5 Portland Timbers vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (July 13)
Result: Portland Timbers 2, Los Angeles Galaxy 1
Goals: Marcelo Sarvas (LA, 17’), Ryan Johnson (POR, 27’), Andrew Jean-Baptiste (POR, 90+4’)
This match was very evenly matched with both teams almost splitting the possession 50-50. For a while it looked as though the clubs would split the points as well. Timbers defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste had a different idea.
Jean-Baptiste out-jumped Omar Gonzalez and placed a perfect header between Carlo Cudicini and the post to lift Portland to these three points. Three points which would help them hold off Real Salt Lake for the No. 1 seed out of the Western Conference.
#4 New York Red Bulls vs. Real Salt Lake (July 27)
Result: New York Red Bulls 4, Real Salt Lake 3
Goals: Tim Cahill (NYRB, 11’), Fabian Espindola (NYRB, 23’ & 89’), Alvaro Saborio (RSL, 45’, 80’ & 82’), Dax McCarty (NYRB, 90+4’)
It is a shame that scheduling only allows these two clubs to meet only once per season as this was another one of the most entertaining matches of the season. Real Salt Lake came in with the Supporters’ Shield lead and New York Red Bulls nipping at their heels.
It looked as though RSL would leave with the spoils after Alvaro Saborio scored a natural hat trick, but New York had other ideas. Fabian Espindola tied the match with a penalty kick just before stoppage time and Dax McCarty ended it with a beautiful diving header.
If Dax McCarty had not scored that goal then Sporting Kansas City would have finished first in the East and won the Supporters’ Shield while Real Salt Lake would have finished first in the West.
#3 Montreal Impact vs. Sporting Kansas City (July 27)
Result: Montreal Impact 1, Sporting Kansas City 0
Goals: Blake Smith (MTL, 90+6’)
Blake Smith had only been on the field for 10 minutes when he found himself wide open in the box. He gave Jimmy Nielsen a nutmeg to lift Montreal Impact to the win.
Sporting was very unlucky to miss out on the point for a draw -- that point which would have lifted them into a tie with New York Red Bulls for first. The three points were very necessary for Montreal who finished tied for fifth with Chicago Fire for the last Eastern Conference playoff spot.
#2 New York Red Bulls vs. New England Revolution (Oct. 5)
Result: New York Red Bulls 2, New England Revolution 2
Goals: Fabian Espindola (NYRB, 14’), Lee Nguyen (NE, 85’), Diego Fagundez (NE, 90+1’), Tim Cahill (NYRB, 90+7’)
This late season match proved to be very important for both of these teams. New York Red Bulls needed these points to keep Kansas City at bay while New England Revolution were in a dogfight with Houston Dynamo, Chicago Fire and Montreal Impact for playoff spots.
Things were looking good for the Red Bulls when Andy Dorman was sent off for New England in the 86th minute, but a defensive blunder allowed Diego Fagundez to walk in all alone and put New England on top.
New York pressed forward in attack leaving them vulnerable at the back which nearly came back to bite them. With the four minutes of original stoppage time already well passed, New York threw everybody forward including goalkeeper Luis Robles after a Diego Fagundez handball. Matt Reis got a weak punch on the cross which Tim Cahill then slotted home with a header from 14 yards away.
#1 Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City (July 20)
Result: Sporting Kansas City 2, Real Salt Lake 1
Goals: Robbie Findley (RSL, 56’), Soony Saad (SKC, 67’), Ike Opara (SKC, 90+7’)
The regular season meeting between the eventual MLS Cup finalists was the most controversial match of the season.
RSL had been down to 10 men since the 66th minute after Chris Wingert received his second yellow. The officials had added five minutes of stoppage time due to two goals and multiple cards in the second half.
After the five minutes had already expired there was a tangle up between Auerlien Collin and Nat Borchers before a Kansas City throw-in. As the ref walked over to settle the two down Ike Opara ran over and gave Borchers a shove which at least should have resulted in a yellow card.
The ensuing throw-in was headed out for a corner which Graham Zusi whipped in to be scored by none other than Ike Opara after the whistle should have already been blown.
It was a big goal for Kansas City because without that goal and those three points, then the 2013 MLS Cup Final would have been held at Rio Tinto Stadium instead of Sporting Park.