September is here, and that means that Major League Soccer enters that period when the results seem to matter even more. Some teams have surprised thus far, others have followed form, but with a month and change left, teams that haven't risen to the top will be fighting to make the cut.
Let's group these teams into categories, and see how they all shake out:
DC United – A dismal 2013 behind them, their lead should help them withstand a slightly road-heavy backend of schedule.
COLUMBUS, Ohio With the Columbus Crew in need of a morale-boosting win, the team relied on one of their unsung heroes to secure victory.
Following a listless first half between both teams, the Crew were lifted by a pair of Justin Meram goals and a Bernardo Anor header to defeat Chivas USA, 3-0, in theonly meeting between the pair this season.
There has been a lot going on in the Eastern Conference lately, and all of it means a lot to the Philadelphia Union's playoff chances.
With just nine games left in the 2014 MLS regular season, the Philadelphia Union are sitting in seventh place and on the outside looking in. But they have been one of the hottest teams in MLS (as evidenced by their eighth place ranking out of the top 100 teams in the United States and Canada) and are just three points behind the Columbus Crew for the fifth and final playoff spot - and perhaps most importantly, they have a game in hand on the Crew.
COLUMBUS, Ohio For the second consecutive week, the Columbus Crew's offense came to life.
Receiving contributions from unsung heroes Justin Meram, Adam Bedell, and Aaron Schoenfeld, the Crew easily dispatched the Dynamo, 3-0, on a warm, muggy Saturday evening in front of 17,551 fans at Crew Stadium.
Sporting KC and U.S. Men's National Team defender Matt Besler checks in to talk MLS, CONCACAF Champions League, and why he loves playing for Sporting KC. In the second segment, Adam Jardy of the The Columbus Dispatch shares his reporting on the current state of the Crew.
Landon Donovan played his final game at Crew Stadium last Saturday evening, 15 years, two months, and 25 days after his first appearance in the United States' first soccer-specific stadium.
Prior to the game, which finished 4-1 in favor of the Columbus Crew, the Crew honored Donovan with a video tribute anda giftthat included a piece of the net from his prior match in central Ohio, where he scored the second goal in another U.
Saturday was supposed to be Landon Donovan's day. With retirement looming, the LA Galaxy star was meant to be the man-of-the-hour, with ceremonies, gifts and praise aplenty to make sure that Donovan's achievements were more than recognized.
Charlie Davies scored his second goal in as many games as the New England Revolution were held at home by the Portand Timbers while elsewhere in MLS, Sporting Kansas City opened up a five-point lead at the top of the Eastern Conference as they cruised to a 4-1 win over Toronto FC.
Both teams came into the match at Gillette on the wrong side of the playoff standings, and it looked like it was going to be the Revolutions's night when in the 27th minute Davies ran onto a Diego Fagundez through ball to make it 1-0.
Toronto FC completed their first season sweep of the Columbus Crew last Saturday, and a big reason for their latest road win was rookie defender Nick Hagglund.
The No. 10 overall selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft started and playedthe full 90 minutes in TFC's 3-2 victory over the Crew, neutralizing forwards Adam Bedell, Jairo Arrieta, and playmaker Federico Higuain through the run of play.
Count D.C. United as the latest MLS sideto find a European counterpart.
D.C. United announced Friday that they have partnered with Premier League side Sunderland in an effort to expand the two side's global fan base. Sunderland, who features U.S. Men's National Team striker Jozy Altidore, finished 14th in the Premier League last season.
I know what to do. Considering my recent misdirection episode, I feel for any scribe handed bad info and realize it can happen to anybody. Most of you have probably seen or tangentially read a report from NSC pal Grant Wahl claiming that Mikkel Diskerud had agreed a deal with the Columbus Crew until his dad/agent asked for more money.
In the post-apocalyptic wasteland known as The Bridge View, the Chicago Fire is incapable of anything except draws, and OTF's Alex White is losing it...
Like most descents into madness, it all started reasonably enough. After last game's clean sheet, coach Frank Yallop elected to continue sacrificing offensive fire-power (personified by rookie Harrison Shipp) for a defensive set-up that achieved an elusive feat of not-bottling-things.
Columbus Crew winger, Ethan Finlay joins the show talk about is scoring surge, Kirk Urso Memorial Night, and of course Settlers of Catan. In the second segment, New England Revolution forward Charlie Davies discuss his current form.
Order "Kirk Urso: Forever Massive"
The Settlers of Catan
Follow @EthanFinlay13 on Twitter | Follow @CharlieDavies9 on Twitter
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The New England Revolutions losing streak is up to eight games after Saturday nights 2-1 home defeat to the struggling Columbus Crew.
A.J. Soares' 50th-minute goal brought the Revs' level after Columbus scored the first goal just before halftime, but Ethan Finley's game-winning goal in the 84th-minute sealed the win for the visiting Crew.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. From 2005 till 2008, Michael Parkhurst was a rock in the New England Revolution's back line, earning Rookie of the Year, Defender of the Year, and MLS Best XI honors while leading the team to three straight MLS Cup appearances and a U.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Federico Higuain's first goal in more than two months could not have come at a better time for the Columbus Crew, who have now won consecutive games for the first time since opening the season with three wins.
Higuain scored his seventh goal of the season on a free kick just before halftime and Ethan Finlay broke a deadlock with six minutes to play, as the Crew sent the New England Revolution to their eighth-straight loss in a 2-1 victory at Gillette Stadium Saturday night.
As it turns out, Landon Donovan will get a final match with the U.S. Men's National team. After Donovan was unceremoniously cut from the World Cup squad this summer, it looked like Donovan would never wear the red, white and blue again. But U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday he will get a farewell match, even if it's not a full-blown testimonial.
From Ohio With Love COLUMBUS VS. TORONTO CREW STADIUM
FIRST HALF: 1' - A beautiful evening in Central Ohio as the rivalry between Crew and TFC continues. What better way to celebrate the Trillium Cup glory than with a big jug of refreshing imported Ohio drinking water!
The Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew, two of the oldest MLS teams renewed their rivalry in a match requiring the Fire to earn three points to keep their playoff hopes alive. In the end, the points were shared after an open and entertaining match.
Goals from Mike Magee and Federico Higuain left the Eastern Conference rivals tied, and both having missed a chance to bolster their playoff hopes.
The Under-20 U.S. Men's National Team have made a couple of late additions to their roster for this month's training camp.
With the U-20s set to fly to Buenos Aires on Monday, head coach Tab Ramos called in both Columbus Crew midfielder Romain Gall and Chivas de Guadalajara defender Luis Martir as replacements for San Jose Earthquakes forward Tommy Thompson and Orlando City defender Tyler Turner.
The Columbus Crew went to Canada looking to extend their winning streak to three matches, and looking to move a step further away from what is becoming a real logjam of a race for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
The Montreal Impact sent the Crew back to Ohio with zero points and a tough defeat as Argentine Designated Player Ignacio Piatti opened his account with a pair of goals to lead Montreal to a 2-0 victory on Saturday at Stade Saputo.
Sporting KC welcomes the Houston Dynamo, a team that Kansas City knows quite well over the last few years. Since 2011, no two teams have met more in MLS than these two. Both teams are heading into tomorrow's game with their tail between their legs a bit. Both Sporting and the Dynamo come into the game having lost their last game 3-0.
Toronto defeated the Columbus Crew for the third time in the 2014 season. I am not going to head to the TFC archives just now, but I suspect that it is the first time an opponent has been beaten three times by Toronto in a year. It was TFC's ninth victory and it is more than a little satisfying to calculate that a third of those victories were against Columbus.