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Toronto FC and Colorado to face off in Impact Game of the Week

August 31, 2009 - Major League Soccer (MLS) News Release

Impact Game of the Week: Toronto FC at Colorado Rapids, Saturday, Sept. 5, 10 p.m. (FSC, FSE)

The race is on for the MLS Cup Playoffs and right in the thick of the hunt are the Colorado Rapids and Toronto FC. The Rapids are seeking a return to the playoffs after a two-year absence and Toronto FC - a 2007 expansion club - are in the hunt for their first trip to the post season.

While they play in different conferences, each club is currently out of the top two automatic qualifying spots and they are fighting for positioning as one of the four Wild Card teams.

The Rapids (9-7-6 record and 33 points) currently hold one of the Wild Card spots based on the multi-team tiebreaker and would enter the playoffs if they started today. Toronto FC (8-8-7; 31 points), are on the outside looking in and thus need a positive result to leapfrog the Rapids. Toronto is 3-1-0 all-time versus the Rapids. Colorado's only win versus Toronto FC came on Oct. 7, 2007 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

Adding to the drama of this game is the fact that these teams meet again next week - a home-and-home duel for playoff positioning. Colorado boasts the top scoring duo in the League as Conor Casey (11) and Omar Cummings (8) have combined to score 19 goals.

Supporters' Shield up for grabs; MLS Cup Playoff Race Heats up

Although positioning among the top two teams in each conference did not change, the race for the Supporters' Shield trophy as the top team in the regular season tightened last week. The Columbus Crew and Houston Dynamo each hold the top spot in their respective conferences, but losses by each team allowed the Los Angeles Galaxy to move into contention for the regular season's best record.

The Galaxy defeated Chivas USA on Saturday night, improving LA's record to 9-4-11 for 38 points. They are two points behind the Dynamo (11-7-7; 40 points). The Crew (10-4-9; 39 points) and Chicago Fire (10-6-8 with 38 points) remain first and second in the Eastern Conference, but they each took a loss over the weekend, Columbus to the last-place New York Red Bulls. The Red Bulls have pieced together a two-game winning streak and assured themselves they will not finish the season with the worst record in League history.

If the MLS Cup Playoffs started today the Crew (E1) would qualify as the top team in the East, with the Chicago Fire (E2) taking the second automatic berth. The Houston Dynamo (W1) and the Los Angeles Galaxy (W2) would be the automatic qualifiers from the Western Conference.

Seattle Sounders FC (8-6-10; 34 points) would capture the first wild card position, but then four teams, New England, Colorado, Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA, are tied with 33 points. Based on MLS Playoff qualification procedures, the team with the best points-per-game average against all other teams equal on points will advance.

In this case, New England would take the second wild card spot, Colorado would take the third wild card spot, and Real Salt Lake would qualify ahead of Chivas USA based on goal differential (+ 8 to Chivas USA's -1).

But the season does not end today, and these rankings do not take into account the uneven amount of games played.

Each club has between five and nine games left to secure one of eight spots before the MLS Cup Playoffs begin Oct. 29.

Wide Open Race for Budweiser Golden Boot

With two goals late in Real Salt Lake's 4-0 victory over Chivas USA on Wednesday, Robbie Findley joined the pack of players at the front of the race for the Budweiser Golden Boot - awarded to the top goal scorer in MLS at the end of the regular season.

Four players are just one goal behind the current leader, Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids). Casey has 11 goals, and Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Columbus Crew), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Fredy Montero (Seattle Sounders FC) and Findley each have 10.

This is only the third time in MLS history that five players were within one goal of the lead at the end of August or later in the season. The most widely contested Golden Boot race was in 2004, when eight players were all within one goal of the lead through most of September and October. Brian Ching and Eddie Johnson finished tied for first with 12 goals apiece that year.

This year's race could match that crowded 2004 race because 10 players are currently within three goals of the lead - Juan Pablo Angel (New York Red Bulls), Jeff Cunningham (FC Dallas) and Dwayne De Rosario (Toronto FC) each have nine; Omar Cummings (Colorado) and Luciano Emilio (D.C. United) each have eight.

Eight weeks remain in the season and nine MLS teams have at least one legitimate candidate. The first tiebreaker for the Budweiser Golden Boot is assists. If two players are tied for first in MLS in goals and have an equal number of assists, the player with the fewest games played wins the award.

Among the top five scorers, Casey's team has the most games left. See the chart below for a breakdown of remaining games for those five players.

Games Home

MLS Club Remaining Games

Colorado Rapids 8 3

Columbus Crew 7 4

Los Angeles Galaxy 6 4

Real Salt Lake 6 3

Seattle Sounders FC 6 2

Real Salt Lake forward Pablo Campos Wins MLS Player of the Week for Week 24

Brazilian-born forward Pablo Campos notched two game-winning goals for Real Salt Lake in Week 24 and earned his first MLS Player of the Week award. Campos captured the honor by besting Galaxy midfielder David Beckham and teammate Robbie Findley to win the award. For more on Campos' award click here.

The Major League Soccer Player of the Week is selected each week of the MLS regular season by a panel of journalists from The North American Soccer Reporters (NASR). The group consists of members of print, television, radio and online media. More information and membership information can be found at http://www.soccerreporters.com.

MLS Quotables

Colorado Rapids defender Julien Baudet on playing and scoring in his first game back from a broken arm:

"I wasn't planning to play today. Gary rang me earlier today and said, 'Look, I think we could use your experience today.' He made a good decision and it worked very well for us."

New York Red Bulls midfielder Dane Richards on scoring the winning goal versus the Columbus Crew:

"I'm getting used to this winning thing again. I like it"

Revolution head coach Steve Nicol on midfielder Well Thompson, who scored a wonder strike versus San Jose:

"(Thompson's) always saying he can kick with his left leg, so I guess we have to believe him now."

Previewing Week 25: Sept. 5, 2009

(All Times Eastern)

Saturday, September 5

Kansas City Wizards at New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. (DK, Match Center)

- The New England Revolution are one of the hottest teams in Major League Soccer, having won three in a row and posting a 5-1-1 record over their last seven games. Barely a month ago, the Revolution were sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference; if the season ended today, they would hold one of the eight spots in the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Wizards have fallen on hard times, having lost four in row and having not scored a goal in 424 minutes, three minutes shy of the club's all-time record. But Kansas City's lone win since mid-May came against New England, a 3-1 win in Kansas City on June 13 in their first meeting this season.

D.C. United at FC Dallas, 8 p.m. (DK, Match Center)

- Having pulled back within a point of the final playoff position, D.C. United travel to take on FC Dallas - who still have faint postseason aspirations of their own. United ended a four-game winless streak with a solid 1-0 victory at the Chicago Fire over the weekend, as Bryan Namoff scored his second goal of the season - and just the fourth of his nine-year MLS career. FC Dallas sit 10 points out of the final playoff spot with eight games to play, but are coming off back-to-back losses to Eastern Conference opposition. United will have a key midweek game ahead of the league encounter, playing Seattle Sounders FC in the U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday at RFK Stadium.

Toronto FC at Colorado Rapids, 10 p.m. (FSC / FSE)

- The biggest game of the weekend is set for Dick's Sporting Goods Park, where the Colorado Rapids and Toronto FC meet in the first leg of their home-and-home series. The two teams will face off again on Sept. 12 at Toronto's BMO Field. The Rapids are currently holding on to the final spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs by tiebreakers. TFC is currently on the outside looking in, two points out of the last spot after its scoreless draw at Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday. The Reds' visit to Colorado wraps up a three-game road swing which started with a 2-0 loss at Chivas USA.

Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final - Seattle Sounders FC vs. D.C United, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m. ET, RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C. (Fox Soccer Channel)

Defending U.S. Open Cup champions D.C. United host the Seattle Sounders FC at RFK Stadium. Seattle Sounders FC are looking to become the first MLS expansion team to win the U.S. Open Cup since the Chicago Fire achieved the feat in 1998. D.C. United has won two previous U.S. Open Cup Championships, while Seattle will be looking for its first major trophy as an MLS club.

Both teams are currently vying for spots in the MLS Cup Playoffs. D.C. United needs points in League competition, but also wants to add to an impressive trophy case that already includes 12 major domestic and international titles, so they likely will not take this game for granted. Including the U.S. Open Cup final, United will play three games in seven days, a grueling stretch that will test their skills, dedication and emotions.

Sounders FC do not play another MLS Regular Season game until Sept. 12, so they likely will press United and look to capture their first title since joining MLS this season.

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the U.S. Soccer Federation's national championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. Dating back to 1914, it is the oldest national annual tournament for team sports in the United States and among the oldest soccer tournaments of its type in the world. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor long-time soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt.


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Major League Soccer Stories from August 31, 2009


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