September 2011: Davies keeps D.C. United playoff hopes alive

D.C. United midfielder Dwayne De Rosario has been on Charlie Davies' back about working hard and making the correct runs. Davies heeded De Rosario's remarks and came up with his most impressive performance of the season, striking for a hat-trick in United's 3-0 win over Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center on Saturday night.

Davies, who is still trying to recapture his form before a horrible car accident two years ago almost took his life, was named the MLS player of the week for his performance.

“This past week after the break did a lot for me," Davies said. "I was able to really clear my mind, get fit, and this whole week I’ve worked really hard. I finally felt 100 percent mentally and 100 percent physically, and I hadn’t felt like that in a long time.

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Charlie Davies #9 of D.C. United kicks the ball against Chivas USA. He made three goals, D.C. won 3-0. (Photo Getty Images)

So I knew I was ready for this game.

"I wanted to come out with a bang; it kind of felt like my first game. Kudos to the guys for finding me. De Rosario was really harping on me being a hard worker and making my runs and it showed today.”

Midfielder Chris Pontius set up all three Davies goals as the 25-year-old Davies scored in the 11th, 14th and 66th minutes past goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.

“Fortunately Chris made some great runs to get the ball in behind and basically gave me tap-ins," Davies said. "That made me more confident. I made a lot of deep runs to help stretch the team and it paid off.”

Davies has 11 goals this season, third on the MLS goal-scoring chart, one behind leaders Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) and Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls).

"I saw Charlie Davies back today, which is a great sign for the club," D.C. coach Ben Olsen said.

The win boosted United back into the playoff picture.

“We know the playoffs are nine games away," Davies said. "We want to be in the top three, forget the wild card. The push starts now. We know this was a very important game. Chivas has 31 points, we had 31 points. We came out and showed that if we work hard we’re a very tough team to play against. We just got to keep it going and make sure we stay healthy."

Los Angeles clinches playoff spot

The LA Galaxy became the first team to clinch a playoff spot with a 1-0 win over the defending MLS champion Colorado Rapids. Landon Donovan scored his 12th goal of the season and Jamaican international goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts returned from a broken left forearm in which he missed six weeks.
 
Last year, the Galaxy was the first team to clinch a playoff berth, doing so with five weeks remaining in the regular season. This year, they did it with six weeks still left to be played – the earliest a team has clinched since FC Dallas in 2006, also with six weeks remaining.

Now, with six weeks left in the regular season, 17 teams will compete for nine remaining playoff berths.
 
Costa Rican international striker Alvaro Saborio broke a 1-1 deadlock in the 56th minute to lift Real Salt Lake into a 2-1 win over the host Seattle Sounders.

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RSL scored first on an own goal, but Seattle equalized on a goal from Colombian Fredy Montero. In spite of the loss Sounders FC are the only club with a chance to secure a playoff spot in the coming week, but none of the of the 17 teams competing for nine remaining playoff berths can be mathematically eliminated based on results from games in the coming week either.

That’s a good thing for the New York Red Bulls, who continue to confound their fans, media and themselves as they played the lowly and expansion Vancouver Whitecaps FC to a club-record 15th draw this season, a 1-1 home tie. Davide Chiumiento had given the Whitecaps a halftime lead. Eighteen-year-old U.S. international Juan Agudelo came off the bench to score the equalizer for the underachieving Red Bulls, who boast the likes of international stars Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez.

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Juan Agudelo #17 of the New York Red Bulls celebrates after his goal against Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The match finished with a 1-1 draw. (Photo Getty Images)

 
Houston pulls level atop the Eastern Conference as Columbus stumbles

Teal Bunbury scored twice and C.J. Sapong added another goal as Sporting Kansas City moved into a share of the Eastern Conference lead with the Columbus Crew behind a 3-0 victory over the visiting Houston Dynamo. Honduran international striker Carlo Costly was red-carded after he tackled Chance Myers from behind in the 64th minute.

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Canadian international midfielder Julian de Guzman scored one goal and set up two others as Toronto FC stunned the Columbus Crew. Nick Soolsma, Jamaican international Ryan Johnson and Dutchman Danny Koevermans also scored for the winners. Tommy Heinemann registered the Crew's first goal and assisted on Andres Mendoza's ninth goal of the season.

Grenadan National Team midfielder Shalrie Joseph and Rajko Lekic tallied for the New England Revolution in its 2-0 triumph over FC Dallas, which was mourning the loss of former player and popular Dallas play-by-play announcer Bobby Rhine, who passed away from a heart attack earlier in the week. Rhine was 35.

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Julian de Guzman #6 of Toronto FC and Joao Plata #7 celebrate Toronto's 4-2 win over the Columbus Crew. (Photo Getty Images)

U.S. National Team forward Chris Wondolowski tallied the game-winner and set up another goal -- by Ramiro Corrales -- and had a penalty kick saved as the San Jose Earthquakes ended a 13-game winless streak behind a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire.

The Philadelphia Union played to a scoreless draw with the Portland Timbers after enduring a wild 4-4 tie with New England earlier in the week. The Revolution had taken leads of 3-0 and 4-1 behind A.J. Soares, Lekic, Moncef Zerka and U.S. international Benny Feilhaber. But the Union rallied as Sebastien Le Toux struck for a brace over the final 13 minutes and the equalizer two minutes into injury time. Roger Torres and Freddy Adu also tallied for Philadelphia.