D.C. United and MLS notebook

October 1, 2012

Red Bulls’ Thierry Henry posted a goal and 3 assists Saturday to boost his MVP candidacy. (Getty Images)

*With a victory at league-worst Toronto FC on Saturday and a Columbus Crew home loss to East-leading Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, D.C. United would, for practical purposes, clinch its first MLS playoff berth in five years.

Here’s how: United (15-10-6, 51) is three points ahead of the Crew (14-11-6, 48). Each side has three matches left. If the gulf is six points with two games remaining, Columbus would have to win out while D.C. loses both. United, though, has comfortable leads in each of the first two tiebreakers: goals for (48-39) and goal difference (+8 vs. 0). With the Crew unable to catch up, United wouldn’t have to worry how Houston (13-8-10, 49) finishes.

If United drops points at Toronto, the race remains very much up in the air heading into the DCU-Crew game Oct. 20 at RFK Stadium. The expansion Montreal Impact (12-15-4, 40) is mathematically alive but would need to win its last three matches and hope for both Houston and Columbus to collapse.

*San Jose scored in the waning moments Saturday to draw with FC Dallas — because that is what the Earthquakes do. They have now scored 21 goals in the 76th minute or beyond. Chivas USA has scored 21 goals … all season. The MLS record for fewest goals in a campaign was 21 by United in 2010, but that came in just 30 matches. Meantime, San Jose’s league-best 65 goals are mighty impressive, but in 1998, the Los Angeles Galaxy notched 85 in 32 games.

*Quakes striker Chris Wondolowski (22 goals) has been the MVP front-runner for months now, but New York’s Thierry Henry is making a late push. After posting a goal and three assists Saturday, the Frenchman has 14 goals and 12 assists for the contending Red Bulls.

The fact that he has appeared in just 22 games is a plus and a minus.

Plus: He has accumulated those numbers in far fewer minutes than Wondolowski.

Minus: He has skipped games on artificial turf — not exactly toughing it out.

Regardless, as the marquee player on the league’s best club, Wondolowski remains the favorite. Ten game-winning goals — four more than anyone else — is another feather in his cap.

*After a controversial penalty call went against his club Saturday, Portland owner Merritt Paulson vented on Twitter and confronted the match officials.

His gripe is that the Timbers have not been awarded a penalty kick all season. True. But other teams haven’t received many either. Which isn’t to say every side can rightfully claim an equal number of missed calls. Anyway, for the record:

0 penalties taken: Portland.

1: Seattle, Vancouver.

2: Toronto (missed both), New York, New England, D.C. (missed one), Columbus (missed one).

3: Chicago, Chivas, Colorado.

Montreal has been awarded nine. The Impact has also been whistled for nine.

*Weekend attendance average for nine matches: 18,224. Five topped 20,000, led by New York’s 25,017. The low was 10,744 at San Jose, but that’s over capacity at Buck Shaw Stadium. Through 292 games this season, MLS is averaging 18,521 and remains on pace for the best year at the box office in league history.

 

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff · October 1, 2012