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Western Conference Notebook: Rocky Mountain Cup, Klein retires and more

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                             Photo by ISIPhotos.com

BY ADAM SERRANO

For the third straight year, the final Rocky Mountain Cup match will have a direct affect on the outcome of the playoff race.

But this year rather than playoff spots being at stake, it will be the Supporters Shield on the line for Real Salt Lake. With a victory against the Colorado Rapids, RSL will force the Los Angeles Galaxy to earn a victory over FC Dallas on Sunday to take the Shield. A loss against the Rapids and the Galaxy clinch the Supporters Shield with a game to spare. One might suspect that with their first appearance in the playoffs since 2006 locked up that Colorado may take a cautious approach to the match. However, according to forward Omar Cummings, beating the defending champions remains of the highest priority for the Rapids.

"That's the game that we definitely want, they've won the last two meetings so we want that game," said Cummings. "I think that we need a win against Salt Lake to give us that momentum to bring us into the playoffs. We'll start everyone in that game because we're going for it."

KLEIN CALLS IT QUITS

The road is finally over for MLS' own ironman. 

Chris Klein has not been a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Galaxy this year and will retire at season's end. The 34-year-old ends his career with 334 career games played — 5th most in MLS history — , scoring 49 goals and earning 69 assists with three different clubs (Kansas City Wizards, Real Salt Lake and the Galaxy). What made Klein so memorable was his status as MLS' answer to Cal Ripken. Klein owns the league record for most consecutive games played at 141 and consecutive games started at 119. The midfielder joins veterans Eddie Lewis and Clint Mathis, who have already announced their retirement from the Los Angeles-based club. 

Klein was a two time recipient of the MLS Comeback player of the year award in 2002 and 2005 after battling back from ACL injuries. During his career, the midfielder appeared 22 times for the United States, scoring five times during his international tenure. 

BORNSTEIN TO PLAY FINAL MATCH FOR CHIVAS USA

The Galaxy may be out several key veterans at the end of the season, but on after Saturday, the Rojiblanco side of the Home Depot Center will lose their captain.

Jonathan Bornstein is joining the ever growing list of American players playing in the Mexican league. The United States International will join Mexican club Tigres UNAL at years end and play his final match for Chivas USA on Saturday against the Chicago Fire.

A native of the Los Angeles area, Bornstein will leave home for the first time after playing his college career with Cal Poly Pomona and UCLA while playing his entire MLS tenure with Chivas.

WEST STARS DOMINATE MVP RACE

2010 has been a good year for the Western Conference.

The West has obtained six out of eight of the playoff spots. To go along with its  dominance in the standings, it is looking incredibly likely that a player from the Western Conference will be league MVP. Aside from Philadelphia Union forward Sebastien Le Toux, most of the top candidates for the league's most valuable player reside in the Western Conference. With Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski, FC Dallas midfielder, David Ferreira and Galaxy strike tandem of Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan leading the way it is likely that the MVP will come from one of these four players.

In addition to the top candidates, Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, FC Dallas Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, Seattle Sounders forward Fredy Montero, and Rapids striker Omar Cummings round out the darkhorses for the award.  

GAME OF THE WEEK

Apart from the Rocky Mountain Cup, the match of the week is Sunday's battle between the Los Angeles Galaxy and FC Dallas. A victory against Dallas and the Los Angeles Galaxy will wrap up the Supporter's Shield for the first time since 2002. Should the Galaxy fail to capture the shield, Los Angeles will likely face Dallas in the first round of the playoffs.

FC Dallas may welcome back goalkeeper Kevin Hartman who has missed several games after suffering an injury during Dallas' match with the New York Red Bulls. Hartman returned to training after an MCL tear and will be a game time decision for Dallas. 

Comments

  1. I always look forward to this rivalry. In my mind, it is one of the best that is overlooked by the rest of the league. But, in all honesty, being in the stadium with the opposing fans is what they are missing. Crazy! I’m glad that there is something on the line again this year, not as crazy as last year, but still it should be a great match!

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  2. Chris Klein is one of the most honorable players in MLS history. He was never the best player on the field, but was always one of the hardest working men in the game and reaped the rewards. Never forget his Superliga goal against Pachuca.

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  3. Interesting point, Curtis. American sports don’t schedule the final games all at the same time like Euro soccer does. NFL, NBA, MLB, etc. all just put a schedule together and let the chips fall where they may.

    In a sport with three possible outcomes though, W-T-L, it seems like a good idea to schedule them simultaneously.

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  4. So is there any reason for the RSL-Colorado game and the LAG-Dallas game not to be played at the same time? It seems like playing them a day apart gives the galaxy an unfair advantage in winning the supporters’ shield. The same could have been said for NY and Columbus playing on different days to end the season, though they were only playing for the top spot in the east.

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  5. RSL vs Rapids game should be a thriller. RSL will be going for 3 points and you k ow Colorado wants to enter the playoffs hot. The Rocky Mountain Cup is at stake too.

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