June 2011: Big week for Kansas City and Chicago

After starting the season with 10 straight road games and a nine-match winless streak, Sporting Kansas City's first home performance was not nearly as impressive as its new $200 million Livestrong Sporting Park stadium. An over-capacity crowd of 19,925 saw their side play to a scoreless draw with the Chicago Fire in last Thursday night's stadium opener.

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The new stadium of Kansas City cost 200 million dollars (ca. 160 million Euros). Cycling superstar Lance Armstrong was a guest at the opening. (Photo: GettyImages)


Both clubs were without a victory since March. SKC last won on March 19 in its opener against Chivas USA, 3-2 and Chicago last won by the same scoreline on March 26, over Kansas City. But all that changed when the Eastern Conference cellar-dwellers both won their second games of the season with road victories on Sunday. SKC crushed FC Dallas, 4-1, in a game Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman described as an "embarrassing moment" and Chicago won for the first time in 12 matches with a 1-0 victory at Columbus.

Kansas City, playing short-handed with four players gone for national team duty at the Gold Cup, two others suspended and star striker Omar Bravo injured, scored as many goals in the win over Dallas as it had in its previous seven games. Luke Sassano and Aurelien Collin each scored their first league goals while Graham Zusi scored twice and notched an assist. Zusi's second was a spectacular 45-yard free kick that will likely be a candidate for MLS Goal of the Year.

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Fireworks at the opening of Livestrong Sporting Park stadium in Kansas: Unfortunately the match between Sporting Kansas City and Chicago Fire remained goalless. (Photo: GettyImages)


The Chicago Fire, playing their third match in eight days since Frank Klopas took over as interim coach, needed the full 90 minutes and then some before forward Cristian Nazarit broke the team's 280 minute scoring drought with a game-winning tally in second-half stoppage time for his first MLS goal. The Columbus Crew followed a thrilling, come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake on Wednesday with one of the worst offensive performances in team history and its first home loss since last September.

Henry gives short-handed Red Bulls a much needed win

With seven regulars missing and a six-game winless streak mounting, Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry played through knee and Achilles woes for arguably his most animated game since arriving last summer, as he and his struggling, shorthanded team beat the New England Revolution 2-1 on Friday night.

"It was about the courage we put out there at the end," said Henry. "I know it wasn't always beautiful football, but sometimes you've got to win games like that. All I can say is we did fight, and that's the most important thing."

The French star set up the Red Bulls' first goal when his low square ball through the goalmouth was deflected in by Revolution defender Ryan Cochrane for an own goal. He then scored his seventh goal of the season five minutes into the second half and now trails league-leader Landon Donovan, who is on Gold Cup duty with the USA, by one goal.

"It was good effort, hard-working," said coach Hans Backe. "I think it was showing phenomenal attitude and spirit in his game, as a captain and as leader. The last 15 minutes dropping back as a second striker if we were in trouble, almost a 4-4-1-1. And the understanding of the game, his tactical play, is phenomenal. He's just getting better and better."

It only took four minutes for the Revolution to get a goal back on Zak Boggs strike, but Red Bulls keeper Greg Sutton, who already had saved midfielder Shalrie Joseph's first half penalty kick, made several key stops to hold the lead as the 21,201 at Red Bull Arena saw their team earn its first victory since April 30.

The Red Bulls played with five regulars missing for the Gold Cup, two more veterans hurt, and Henry, Luke Rodgers, Teemu Tainio and Jan Gunnar Solli all playing through injuries of their own. But they gutted out three needed points to move into first place in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.

Road warriors dominate Saturday MLS action

Saturday was not a good day for the home team. Only the Houston Dynamo, a 2-1 victor over Chivas USA, won at home. The San Jose Earthquakes won at DC United, 4-2, the Portland Timbers fell at home to the Colorado Rapids, 1-0, Toronto FC held the Los Angeles Galaxy to a 2-2 at the Home Depot Center and the Vancouver Whitecaps drew at the Seattle Sounders by the same scoreline while Real Salt Lake earned a 1-1 draw in Philadelphia.

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During their 1-1 draw in Philadelphia Real Salt Lake recorded just one shot on goal. Fabian Espindola (right), here beating Michael Farfan, scored the spectacular equaliser. (Photo: GettyImages)


San Jose's Steven Lenhart recorded the first hat trick of his MLS career and tallied an assist against DC United to earn MLS Player of the Week honors. Despite missing Chris Wondolowski, MLS’s top scorer last year, to U.S. Gold Cup duty, the Earthquakes extended their unbeaten run to six games and put a halt to United's five game unbeaten streak.

Colorado needed a stoppage time goal from Drew Moor to get a win for the first time in seven games. The Rapids had finished with a draw in their previous six games and are now undefeated in nine straight matches, while the Timbers have lost three straight, including two in a row at Jeld-Wen Field.

Los Angeles thought they had wrapped up three points when Juan Pablo scored in the 91st minute to give the Galaxy a late 2-1 lead over Toronto, but Alan Gordon, who spent seven seasons with LA, scored his second of the game in the 94th minute to give the struggling Canadian side it's third draw in the last four games. Los Angeles has gone eight matches without a loss, mixing four wins and four ties and leads the Western Conference standings by six points.

Vancouver's Eric Hassli, the Frenchman who already has three red cards this season, upped his scoring total to six with a penalty-kick strike and a magnificent volley from outside the penalty area that beat Seattle keeper Kasey Keller to the far post in the 2-2 tie. The teams scored three goals in four minutes in a thrilling late-game scoring frenzy as the Whitecaps tried to protect a 1-0 lead late in the second half, but the floodgates opened and they surrendered two goals to Seattle before Hassli's incredible equalizer that could very well be the MLS Goal of the Year.

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Frenchman Eric Hassli, of Vancouver Whitecaps, scored a spectacular goal for the 2-2 final score against Seattle Sounders’ goalkeeper Kasey Keller. (Photo: GettyImages)


The Philadelphia Union blew their chance to ascend to the top of the Eastern Conference standings when Real Salt Lake's Fabian Espindola scored a spectacular second half equalizer with his team's only shot on goal. After starting the season by winning five of its first six matches, RSL has won just one of its past six.

In the day's only home victory, Huston snapped a seven-game winless streak with a come-from-behind victory with the help of a game-winning own-goal. Chivas’ Michael Lahoud attempted to clear a second half corner kick, but the ball caromed into the goal off teammate Heath Pearce to give the Dynamo their first win since April 29.