1. Houston Dynamo - D W W W D - The Dynamo stomped all over a reeling Fire side while resting key men Ching and DeRosario, but were held by Mad Mo and his Road Warriors at the weekend despite playing most of the match with a man advantage. Jaqua isn't quite firing on all cylinders yet as a third forward, but Ngwenya is proving a shrewd acquisition for Kinnear's crew, adding pace and creativity whilst giving up only Moreno's bulldog mentality. Next up will be a Battle Royale between the conference leaders as Houston travel to the Big Razor to take on the Revs.
PLAYOFF PACK2. NE Revolution (+3) - D W L D W - The Revs marched into the Swamp and took their points in a physical battle decided on a moment of quality from Andy Dorman on the counter. The Revs frustrated the struggling Red Bulls and probably should have added another, but a win is a win and the Revs go top of the East. No rest for the weary however, as Nicol will have to prep for a Dynamo invasion in and around his duties with the All-Stars this week.
3. FC Dallas - L W D W D - Things were looking bleak for the Hoops as they surrendered three against the run of play to DC United in RFK, but then they started to find the holes and Toja and his Wonder Mullet came storming back for the draw. Dallas have generally struggled without Richetti anchoring the midfield, so it was a positive sign to see them performing without him. They've got a week off to rest and recuperate before jumping once more into the fray.
4. DC United (-2) - L W W L D - Moreno returned from the Copa with a vengeance, setting up two goals as United built a 3-goal lead. But defensive frailties and tactical naivete combined to thwart the Black-and-Red and they meekly gave up two points to settle for a draw in front of a good crowd at RFK. SuperLiga is on the horizon and now Moose, and possibly Moreno, have picked up niggling injuries. The jury is still out on the Vanney trade, but he'll certainly have plenty of games to integrate with the rest of the defense over the next couple of weeks, including the match this Sunday against the MetroBulls in RFK North.
5. Kansas City Wizards (+1) - L D L D W - The long winless streak ends as soon as EJ returns from international duty. Coincidence? I think not. Once again, the Wizards pounded the net, achieving the 20-shot mark, but this time Johnson found a finish despite Rimando managing to keep nearly everything else out of the net. The crowd numbers are finally starting to pick up as the KC renaissance continues under Onalfo. They'll host yet another group of strugglers from the west again this weekend as the not-so-Rapids come to town.
6. Columbus Crew (-2) - W W D W L - A bit of a stumble for the Crew against Chivas in LA. They were still in the match until an own goal confirmed their defeat in the second half. Chivas have been particularly tough at home, and the question will be whether the Crew can brush off the defeat on Sunday and consolidate their fragile hold on the final playoff spot by beating off a TFC side nipping at their heels.
7. Chivas USA (+1) - L W L D W - Chivas grabbed the reins and dictated the game against a surging Crew side. They've got influential players returning from Copa duty and will be looking to solidify their hold on the third spot in the West. The Goats have been strong at home despite woeful support, though the numbers did edge just over 10k in this match. Could that possibly be due to all the Angelino Argentines showing up for Schelotto?
8. Red Bull NY (-1) - D L L W L - Tough opposition this week at home and the Bulls return to their losing ways. Angel shows his, and the team's, frustration - seeing red for an elbow. Fortunately they'll be getting Wunderkind man-child Altidore back from U-20 duty to shore up the attack and lower the average age of the Methuselah-like Red Bulls roster. And they'll need him as free-scoring, but defensively shaky, rivals DC United are paying a visit to the Swamp this weekend.
BUM-SNIFFING OMEGA MUTTS
9. Toronto FC - L D W D D - The end of the long road trip is in sight for the road warriors of TFC and they'll have every right to feel pleased with what they've accomplished in their travels. A draw against the league leaders despite going down a man in the first half has to count as a victory in their books, and they've crept to within shouting distance of the final playoff spot despite the en fuego form of Colombus. With win against the Crew this weekend they can stake their claim to membership in the Playoff Pack.
10. LA Galaxy - L W L W D - The Beckham flotilla has landed! The British are coming, the British are coming! Will LA be able to put the hype of their new arrival and rebranding behind them and start to push up the standings? Will Beckham even be available to play given the injury he's carrying? He's sold a lot of tickets and now we'll get a chance to see what the Savior is capable of, but not in MLS action until next week.
11. Colorado Rapids - L L D D L - Clavijo's still in a job and has made another deal, this time shipping burgeoning national teamer Kyle Beckerman for RSL's Moroccan playmaker Mehdi Ballouchy. An upgrade or a horizonal move? What ever happened to Cancela out there in the mountains? Is he caught in a bear trap chewing his leg off even as we speak? How about Conor Casey? Trapped in a cabin under a mountain of snow from a freak avalanche? On paper, Clavijo has a decent roster, but they just can't seem to get it done. If they could build confidence and maybe get a decent coach (maybe this is the job that Osorio was meant for?), this team could make a late run to the playoffs. A Sunday matchup against the powerful Wizards in Arrowhead is a tough ask for the cRapids, but you've got to start somewhere!
12. Real Salt Lake - L L W L L L - Overrun by KC for the first 65 minutes, Rimando kept the dogs at bay for the most part until RSL could spark a late flurry to almost snatch a completely unearned draw. Still, that's the type of result they need to start picking up in order to avoid complete embarrassment this season and drag themselves off the bottom. They'll be getting some serious firepower back from the U-20's with Sturgis, Freddy, and Seitz all returning. How long Freddy, and possibly Sturgis, are around is subject to debate, but with Ballouchy being dumped, maybe Freddy finally gets an extended run in his favored central playmaking position after his sparkling play in Canada.
13. Chicago Fire - L L D L D L - The Fire did have their chances against Houston, despite Wynalda's seeming macular degeneration, but Houston has finishers and Chicago doesn't. Combine that with some lax defending on the part of the Fire and the Dynamo's hyper-organized defense, mix and season to taste, and you've got yourself a blowout. A better crowd turned up for this one and saw a decent effort, if not a good result. Osorio needs time to shape his team and he'll get an extra week to do just that. I'm not sure if Blanco is the sort of player he wants, but that's the hand he'll be dealt whenever the Mexican maestro joins up with his new side.
So, here we are at the halfway point and it's all happening in MLS. The second wave of DP's is set to arrive with more possibly on their way before the transfer window slams shut. Teams now know what weaknesses they need to address and only the Dynamo seem to have put together a complete team, with Dallas and the Revs close behind. A few sides are in need of major reconstruction and quite a few could turn into instant contenders with just one or two more pieces added. I don't know how other long-term supporters of the league feel, but this has to be the most exciting regular season in MLS history. Long may it continue!