MLS Dogpile (Week 6) - Roll on Parity!

The Fullback Files is engaging in a bit of re-branding this week, as the boring and staid "MLS Power Rankings" give way to the more colorful "MLS Dogpile". Each week, we'll crown an Alpha Dog at the top of the heap, followed by the Playoff Pack in slots 2 through 8. The rest of the league will fall into the unenviable position of Bum-Sniffing Omega Mutts. Right - let's get on with it.


1. NE Revolution (+2) - Can anybody stop the Revs right now? New England is banging them in and they move to the top of the pile on the back of successive victories. A solid midfield and the most deadly finisher in MLS compensate for a somewhat leaky defense. The question has to be asked though - are they peaking too early? Next week will be a real tester against a resurgent Houston Dynamo.


2. Red Bull NY (-1) - An Open Cup loss to LA, a draw with RSL, and a loss to the Rapids at home have the Bulls in a mini-slump. That said, they had the balance of play in each of those matches and are unlucky to only emerge with the single point from Salt Lake City. Is Metro-failure catching up with the Bruce? Also - if pathetic home attendance could hurt you in the Dogpile, it would bite the Bulls in their collective red asses - hard.

3. Houston Dynamo (-1) - An inactive Dynamo don't have the chance to build on last week's success. They'll need the rest though, as they travel to the Great White North and hope to avoid being buried in an avalanche of seat cushions, before coming home to face top dogs New England. Two big chances for DeRo and Co. to prove that the result in Colorado was no fluke.

4. Kansas City Wizards (+1) - Despite losing, KC benefit from Chicago's miserable last two outings to climb a spot. The Wizards were unfortunate to lose to Dallas after they more than doubled the total shots and shots on goal that the visitors managed. Kansas City were left to rue a magnificent performance from Dallas keeper Dario Sala. Next week away to big climbers Colorado gives the Wizards a chance to prove that they can do it against teams in the top half of the table.

5. Colorado Rapids (+3) - A home draw to lowly RSL in midweek following a home loss to Houston looked to be indicating a drop in form for the Rapids, but a smash-and-grab win against last week's top dogs NYRB vault the Rapids to the top of the Western Conference and boost them a few places up the Dogpile. Next weekend they get a chance to climb further with a home match against the team directly above them.

6. Chivas USA - A solid draw on the road against the Crew keeps Chivas treading water in the sixth spot, though they have Guzan to thank for saving the point. They still need help at the back and the LA Derby next week could turn into a goal-fest as neither LA side has looked particularly impregnable this season.

7. LA Galaxy - LA fought back well to equalize late on against new top dogs New England, but even Cannon isn't enough with the defense that the Galaxy fields. Lalas needs to forget about Zidane and focus on signing a quality center back before it's too late and the pack runs away from them. At least in the LA Derby next week, they'll be facing a team with a very similar problem. As I'm expecting loads of goals, it'll probably end 0-0.

8. FC Dallas (+3) - A clinical win against an improved Wizards team saw Dallas grab two goals from four shots on frame. Sala comes up huge with nine saves, a few of very high quality, and proves how valuable he is to a vulnerable Hoops defense. A busy week ahead sees them travel to struggling Chicago and home to bottom-feeders RSL, two big chances to grab some points and climb further up the Dogpile.


9. Chicago Fire (-5) - The Fire are in freefall after their second consecutive loss while shipping three goals. Will that leave the Revs as the only team still sporting the 3-man backline next week? Mapp's influence on games is too ephemeral and Rolfe desperately needs a quality partner up top. Will Blanco be the man, or will he be too little, too late? At home to Dallas on Thursday Night Futbol gives the Fire the chance to stop the rot and claw their way back into the Playoff Pack.

10. Columbus Crew (-1) - The draw specialists stick to form despite a good effort that may have deserved three points were it not for the heroics of Guzan in the Chivas net. Schelotto is already providing them with an extra dimension up top. Next week throws up a tough one in the form of an away date with the Red Bulls, but it's also an opportunity to highlight their improvement by grabbing a result.

11. DC United (-1) - Inactivity dumps United a spot, leaving them hovering just over the bottom two. Next week they'll have a chance to put some distance between themselves and the cellar with an away fixture against Toronto FC. Can the Black-and-Red build on last week's results and start climbing the table?

13. Toronto
FC (+1) - They're off the bottom with an emphatic, stormy victory over Chicago. Did we just witness the birth of the Great Lakes Derby? The midfield looks to be coming together well as Edu was a dominant force in the middle of the park, while O'Brien and Welsh looked dangerous on the wings. That said, the backline still needs some upgrades and the coming week will be a tester with pre-season favorites Houston and DC coming to town.

13. Real Salt Lake (-1) - Despite a second consecutive draw, this one away to rivals Colorado, and a much improved performance, Real are the only winless team in MLS, and this drops them to the bottom of the Dogpile. Next week away to Dallas will be tough as the Hoops have the finishers to punish Real's often questionable defending.

So, Colorado and Dallas are the big movers up, with the Rapids making me look a bit foolish for discounting them after Thursday's draw at home to RSL. On the flip side, the Fire plummet on the back of two consecutive losses. If anything, the results point to the uncertainty that parity throws into the mix every week. On any given Saturday...or Thursday...or Sunday...well, you get the picture.

Stay tuned later this week for the introduction of "Tickle v. Tackle", a new weekly feature looking at the highs and lows of the week that grabbed my attention.

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