The US soccer community might be focusing on the World Cup, but the teams in Major League Soccer welcomed a short summer break with a bumper week of action that saw LA continue their remarkable unbeaten season so far. There are four games later this week, and a mini-FA to cover all the goings-on.
The week's action got underway at Red Bull Arena, where New York Red Bulls picked up a dramatic win over Houston Dynamo. Sinisa Ubiparipovic opened the scoring after 15 minutes, taking advantage when a speculative shot from distance fell to him in the penalty area. Brian Ching's clever finish drew the Dynamo level from a possible onside position, but the Red Bulls would get their way deep, deep into stoppage time with Juan Pablo Angel's stunning free kick.
It got worse on Saturday for the Dynamo when they headed for their second game of the week against LA Galaxy, who defeated the men in orange 4-1 despite missing Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle. It was a lightning start at HDC. Jovan Kirovski took just 45 seconds to head in the opener, but Houston were level not long afterwards thanks to Cam Weaver's bravery and a mix-up between Donovan Ricketts and one of his defenders.
The Red Bulls also played twice this week, and bagged another three points as a result. This time it was a 1-0 victory over Chivas USA and Seth Stammler got the winner with less than half an hour gone, driving it low from 25 yards and finding the bottom corner. Angel had one disallowed for offside.
After that it was all Galaxy, and another neat finish from Kirovski made it two before Tristan Bowen added a third and Alex Cazumba a fourth with a low shot across Pat Onstad.
It was a quick start at Buck Shaw Stadium too. Columbus Crew took just five minutes to go ahead at San Jose Earthquakes with a tap-in by Eddie Gaven, but the Quakes were level a minute later through Arturo Alvarez's low drive. Chad Marshall put the Crew back in front with 20 minutes left, heading in superbly from a corner, but Chris Wondolowski soon earned a point for the Quakes by nodding in at the back post from a free kick by Bobby Convey.
The Earthquakes were back in action at the weekend, facing FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park. The game was won with a quick-fire second half double from FCD's Football Americana favourite Brek Shea. The first was a close range finish after good work by David Ferreira, the second a poacher's finish after he forced errors from Chris Leitch and goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
The Crew's second game saw them face Colorado Rapids, and they were beaten 1-0. A relatively uneventful game came to live 14 minutes from time, when Steven Lenhart and Pablo Mastroeni were sent off after the most pathetic spat you could hope to see. Only in the strictest sense of the law could the referee send the pair off. Minutes later, Drew Moor rose high at the back post to head in the winner for the Rapids.
There were goalless draws at both BMO Field and RFK on Saturday. Toronto FC and Kansas City Wizards did exchange red cards, though. Londoner Craig Rocastle was dismissed for a stupid second bookable offence, but his first had been very harsh and a possible attempt by the referee to even the game up after the opinion-splitting sending off of Nick Garcia in the first half.
In the capital, DC United dominated Real Salt Lake with a decent enough performance, but they were unable to create the necessary chances and, when they did, Stephen King's finishing wasn't up to scratch.
Philadelphia Union fell to another defeat, this time at the hands of Chicago Fire. Baggio Husidic continued his decent scoring season with the opener, an easy tap-in after yet another blistering run from Patrick Nyarko. Marco Pappa's easy 74th minute goal banked the three points before Philly's rookie Danny Mwanga scored another stoppage time goal by cleverly wrong-footing Andrew Dykstra for his third stoppage time goal in as many games.
After struggling to score at home lately, Seattle Sounders opened up against New England Revolution, without stricken goalkeeper Preston Burpo, with a 3-0 win. Leonardo Gonzalez made it 1-0 with a wonderful swerving left-footed rocket, and Steve Zakuani doubled the lead by cracking in an unstoppable volley in the 24th minute. Before half time, it was three. Fredy Montero finished low after cleverly beating his man on the edge of the box.
After an action-packed weekend of action (which you can see here), two consecutive wins see the Red Bulls go level on points with Columbus at the top of the East. DC's point pulls them level with Philadelphia at the bottom. In the West, the Galaxy are now 12 points clear of Real Salt Lake, who have the Rapids just one point behind. Chivas USA are propping up the conference. The latest standings can be viewed here.