1. Red Bull NY (+1) - A bit of a mixed bag this week as a two-minute double salvo from Angel downed TFC at Fortress BMO, but the Bulls fell apart in their third consecutive road match in just over a week at RFK. The back line needs help even when fully healthy, so it will be interesting to watch Arena's moves when the summer transfer window opens. Next up is a chance to reassert their mastery of the East and claim a little revenge against an EJ-less Kansas City, who come calling at the Swamp on Saturday.
PLAYOFF PACK2. Kansas City Wizards (-1) - A week off and the departure of the "Grown-Ass Man" for Gold Cup duty see the high-flying Wizards sink back to the head of the Playoff Pack. Up next is a top of the table clash away to the Red Bulls. Can KC score sans EJ?
3. NE Revolution - The Revs also had a week off and bid adieu to nearly a third of their starters to National Team call-ups. How will they fare at home against a struggling Columbus side that just can't buy a win right now?
4. DC United (+2) - A big win over the conference leaders and a much improved overall performance see United rise into the top half of the Playoff Pack. There will be questions next week as the Black-and-Red will be without Boswell due to suspension and Moreno due to a call-up to the Bolivian National Team for the Copa America. Chicago have owned DC recently, but have been struggling to find goals. Can United maintain the attacking flair they displayed this week and down an impotent Fire?
5. FC Dallas - A solid, if expected, home win over the shipwreck that is LA is tempered by the loss of Kenny Cooper to a broken leg. With Cooper and Mina sidelined by injury and Ruiz away at the Gold Cup, Thompson and Oduro will look to fill the void up top. They'll get plenty of chances as Dallas hits the road for Thursday Night Futbol at Salt Lake and a Sunday tilt up in Hoser-land with TFC.
6. Houston Dynamo (+1) - The upward trend continues as the Dynamo grab two wins and start to show their pre-season promise despite losing De Rosario, Clark, and Ching to the Gold Cup. Ngwenya is starting to settle in his new environs and the bye week probably hurts Houston, who are starting to build momentum despite the missing pieces.
7. Colorado Rapids (-3) - Blitzed by a surging Dynamo, but they still look a useful, if middle-of-the-road, team and played Houston fairly even for most of the match. Their fall is more a reflection of how strong others around them looked combined with the loss of Mastroeni to the Gold Cup. How will Colorado face up to the attacking prowess of the Goats in the HDC this weekend without him?
8. Chivas USA - Chivas had the better of the play and the chances in Chicago and finally claimed a road victory with a nice team goal. Next week gives them a chance to build on this win by climbing over the solid, if unspectacular, Rapids in the friendly confines of the HDC. A big question has to be what kind of crowd they can draw now that they've started winning some games.
BUM-SNIFFING OMEGA MUTTS
9. Toronto FC - Weakened by the Gold Cup, TFC still managed to look favorites to win at home until Angel smacked them down with a quickfire double. Mo dealt Buddle to LA for defensive depth in the form of Tyrone Marshall, but suspension will keep him from making his Toronto bow probably until after the Gold Cuppers return. Next up is a visit from a Dallas club missing some of its best attacking talent.
10. Chicago Fire - So much for their short-lived winning ways. They may have been unfortunate not to draw against Chivas, though in truth there was only one team that was ever going to win this game on the balance of play. The Fire have looked toothless in attack and rumors are swirling about the impending arrival of offensive help. A visit to an improving DC United will be a tester for Chicago, who have dominated the recent matches between the two sides.
11. Columbus Crew (+1) - Question: How do you lose and still climb a place up the Dogpile? Answer: Don't be the LA Galaxy. The Crew were unfortunate to lose to the Dynamo as they probably deserved at least a draw. Next week they'll get a shot at another side castrated by the Gold Cup when they travel to face the Revs at the Big Razor. Can the Crew put things together and grab a result against Nicol's under strength squad? Is Sigi's dead being measured for the noose?
12. LA Galaxy (-1) - Ouch, ouch, and triple ouch! They had their moments against Dallas, but too many pieces of the puzzle are missing and the new blood can't arrive soon enough. The nomadic Edson Buddle will try to rediscover his scoring touch as he arrives from TFC and new signing Abel Xavier will look to shore up a weak back line that has sent its most experienced defender packing as Tyrone Marshall heads north. RSL roll into LA on Sunday in what we can only hope will someday be considered a relegation 6-pointer.
13. Real Salt Lake - Kreis has had two weeks to work with his team, and the results will be on full display in two matches as a midweek visit from FC Dallas is followed by a trip to fellow strugglers Los Angeles. Both opponents are weakened through injury and call-ups and RSL has a major chance to pick up some points and crawl out of the cellar.
Here they come! The pre-season favorites are starting to put two and two together as DC United and the Houston Dynamo are both on a roll. Injuries and call-ups are starting to take their toll and the long summer months and Copa America ensure that there will be no let up any time soon. There could be some real shakeups in the next few weeks as the Parity Express rolls on.