Chris N (follow on Twitter: @ChrisTSC)
Thu 6 August 2009

Football Americana Week 20: Cunningham doubles up

If I said not much had changed in the Major League Soccer table in the last seven days, I'd be doing Week 20 a terrible disservice. The action was thrilling, surprising and eventful, shaking things up even if the shock didn't quite register in the standings.

The week got underway in nauseatingly corporate fashion on Wednesday at Rio Tinto, where the MLS All-Star game 2009 saw Premier League side Everton go up against the league's hottest talents. Amid owner talk of the Designated Player rule and fan talk about whether the league's showpiece match still belongs, Louis Saha and Brad Davis scored as the teams finished one apiece. James Vaughan, Jo, Brad Davis, Davy Arnaud and Freddie Ljungberg missed from the spot, giving Everton all three points an historic victory the win.

More important matters began at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, where New England Revolution hosted - and shared the points with - Toronto FC. Chad Barrett's blocked shot fell for Dwayne DeRosario who thumped in an unstoppable half-volley to put the Reds in front. Shortly afterwards Barrett was booked for petulantly dragging down Kevin Alston, and in the 49th minute he put in a nasty, late challenge on the Revs defender to earn himself an early bath. With 15 minutes left, the Revolution equalised through Edgaras Jankauskas who turned the ball home off a Shalrie Joseph knockdown.

Houston Dynamo had a three-minute first-half blitzkrieg and the return of Brian Ching and Stuart Holden to thank for three points against DC United. Brad Davis beat Josh Wicks way too easily from distance in the 36th minute before Brian Ching added to the scoring in the 38th and 39th minutes, Wicks appalling on both occasions. Luciano Emilio came on for DC, scoring in the 49th minute with a deflected shot. Dejan Jakovic clearly won the ball from Dominic Oduro in the 64th minute, but the Dynamo striker launched himself to the ground and earned a penalty, converted by Holden for 4-1. DC continued to fight back, scoring through Fred and Emilio, but to no avail.

Huge shock number one came at Pizza Hut Park, where languid FC Dallas shook off their demons to demolish Kansas City Wizards. 6-0! Jeff Cunningham, starting the evening on four goals for the season, doubled his tally to take the edge off the sale of Kenny Cooper to 1860 Munich. The pick of the four was a sidefoot volley from an irresistible long ball from Brek Shea, and he had one disallowed for good measure. David Ferreira grabbed the other two with a helping hand from FCD's blonde bombshell Shea. Kansas City's Claudio Lopez was sent off at 3-0 for an elbow.

Things were a little more dignified at Chicago Fire, where the hosts triumphed over Real Salt Lake by the moderate-by-contrast scoreline of 1-0. Patrick Nyarko helped himself to the three points in the 76th minute with a simple header. But there was worse news for RSL - Yura Movsisyan picked up an early shoulder injury.

It was the same scoreline at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Eastern leaders Columbus Crew were in town to play Colorado Rapids and they got the job done with a goal from Chad Marshall. In the 39th minute Robbie Rogers touched a 30-yard free kick to Marshall, who drilled it into the bottom corner. Colorado's Ugo Ihemelu picked up a red card in the 84th minute for a second bookable offence.

And at Buck Shaw it was San Jose Earthquakes who caused the second emphatic surprise of the weekend. Their 4-0 victory over Seattle Sounders pulled them even further ahead of New York Red Bulls, now the worst team in the league by what would be described on da street as "mad distance". An Osvaldo Alonso own goal got the scoring underway early, and James Riley was sent off for the Sounders in the 33rd. Cornell Glen added the second, and Darren Huckerby a comical third. Chris Wondolowski sealed it in the 84th minute.

At the end of Week 20, Columbus lead the East with 33 points from Chicago with 32. Houston are top of the West with 35 ahead of the Sounders (29). DC United (East, 28), LA Galaxy (West, 28), Chivas USA and Colorado (both West, both 27) are the current best of the rest.

Full results and standings here.

For more great football writing by Chris Nee, visit TwoFootedTackle.com...

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