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Recapping Week 23 in MLS

The Chicago Fire were streak breakers of the wrong sort last weekend.

Marco Di Vaio’s goal in the 84th minute ended Montreal’s seven-game winless skid, helping the Impact defeat Chicago 1-0.

The Fire have scored one goal or fewer in nine straight MLS games. That’s an ignominious mark for a club that remains near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Harry Shipp, the leading candidate for Rookie Of The Year honours, was the Fire’s best player on the pitch, as he has been for most of the season.

The Fire’s performance could be attributed to a short turnaround after a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Seattle in the US Open Cup semifinals three days earlier, but for a team looking to make a statement, Saturday’s result was clearly not what head coach Frank Yallop had in mind.

Acknowledging their need for more firepower up front, the Fire signed former Toronto FC striker Robert Earnshaw last week. Yes, the front flip master is back in MLS.

Prior to Earnshaw’s signing, the Fire boasted only three strikers, a stable that included Mike Magee, Quincy Amarikwa and Matt Fondy.

Earnshaw gives the Fire much needed depth up front, and for a team that is struggling to score goals, it makes sense to take a chance on the 33-year-old forward.

“He’s dangerous, he’s a goal scorer and we need help up front,” Yallop said, via Chicago-Fire.com. “We’ve gotten dry lately, it’s no one’s fault but we need help in that department.”

If Earnshaw can acquire his P-1 Visa and International Certificate in time, he could be available to face Toronto FC this weekend.

The Realest Salt Lake

The term "statement game" gets bandied about so much these days it’s almost lost all meaning.

Saturday’s contest between Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders, however, warranted the label. The two best teams in the Western Conference squared off at Rio Tinto Stadium, providing must watch material for every MLS neutral.

Seattle routed RSL 4-0 on May 31, but the MLS Cup finalists returned the favour with a 2-1 win this time around. Joao Plata, the smallest man on the pitch by a far margin, opened the scoring with a header in the 53rd minute.

Luis Gil and Luke Mulholland combined to give the hosts a two-goal lead just four minutes later.

Chad Barrett’s marker in the 72nd minute cut the deficit to one, but that was all Seattle could muster.

The Supporters’ Shield, thought to be Seattle’s by right just a few weeks ago, is now up for grabs. After trailing the Sounders by 11 points a few weeks ago, RSL is now one point ahead of their rivals.

“We felt if we could get on a run we could get back in the Supporters’ Shield talk, and that’s what we did,” said captain Kyle Beckerman following the win, via the Deseret News.

“Obviously it’s not finished by any means — we’ve got a long way to go before the Supporters’ Shield is done — but today we took a good step forward.”

Goal of the week

We don’t really need to put a disclaimer on this, but here it is: you should vote for Gilberto’s beautiful flick for MLS goal of the week.

But in the interest of fairness, LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes deserves his due.

The 22-year-old has scored in four straight matches, and tallied nine in his last 10 games. Zardes was quick to credit his teammates following yet another goal, this time against Columbus in a losing effort.

“It’s my teammates, definitely. It’s not just me,” Zardes said. “It’s the whole combination of play and when we combine I just make that hard run into the box and my teammates just put it right there on my foot and I just put it on frame.”

While Dan Gargan’s cross was excellent, this is the finish of a player at peak confidence.

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