Plenty has changed in the overall Major League Soccer standings since the last time the New York Red Bulls took the pitch. Seattle Sounders, Chicago Fire and LA Galaxy are now all (technically) ahead of New York in the table, making Saturday evening's RBNY vs. Columbus Crew match even that more important for the "MLS Cup or bust" Red Bulls. New York did get a bit of help from two Eastern Conference sides on Friday evening, and they could be just a few favorable results away from sitting atop the Eastern Conference at the end of September.
NY Red Bulls fall again in MLS standings: Sporting KC vs. Houston Dynamo
A popular thought often voiced by MLS fans and analysts is that Livestrong Sporting Park is a fortress for KC. Don't look now, but KC have dropped points to Chicago, Houston, New England Revolution, Columbus and New York since June. They had an opportunity to make up for July's scoreless draw against Houston, but a lack of clinical finishing coupled with Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall standing on his head (Hall was credited with seven saves on the night) prevented the hosts from snatching the lead. Houston then stunned the home crowd when Brad Davis opened the scoring in the 58th minute with a curling shot that maybe should have been stopped by KC 'keeper Jimmy Nielsen.
Kansas City, who dominated much of the first half but had nothing to show of it, controlled most of the final 20 minutes of play. They then found an equalizer three minutes into stoppage time when Graham Zusi, who has had himself a solid week while on international duty and with his MLS club, delivered a pinpoint cross into the penalty area toward teammate C.J. Sapong. The pass sailed over the head of a Houston defender, and Sapong nodded home the tally that leveled the match. It was a goal that had been coming, and there was nothing Hall could do about the header.
What the result means for New York: It's a good news/bad news draw for New York, who are on 46 points in 27 league matches played. KC remain atop the MLS East after Friday evening. They are on 51 points with 28 league games played. Houston are tied with RBNY in the standings, but Dynamo have completed 29 league contests.
NY Red Bulls fall again in MLS standings: LA Galaxy vs. Colorado Rapids
This match, as far as New York are concerned, can be summed up with one phrase: Thanks for nothing, Colorado. The defending MLS champs have looked like true champions in the past month of play, and they are back in the top five of the league table after an impressive 2-0 victory. Robbie Keane opened the scoring 15 minutes into the match, when a trio of passes ended with the ball landing at the feet of the unmarked designated player. Keane, as one would expect him to do when presented with such an opportunity, deposited a cool finish to put the hosts up a goal. Christian Wilhelmsson then scored in his Galaxy debut to double LA's lead two minutes before the hour-mark of play.
What the result means for New York: LA are on 46 points after having played 29 total league matches this season. They sit ahead of New York in the standings due to MLS tiebreaker rules. Colorado will need even more help from other clubs if they are to qualify for postseason play this fall. They are on 29 points, eight points behind fifth place Vancouver Whitecaps, with 29 games in the bag.