MLS Dogpile (Week 21) - Muddle Earth


1. DC United - W W W W W - Two more in the bag and the MLS win streak now stands at five. United jumped all over the Metrobulls early and then coasted to victory despite NY starting to get back into the game after DC's early brace. Congrats to Jaime on getting to 109 (finally!). Soehn got away with fielding a "lite" squad against TFC with Emilio and Olsen missing and Jaime only playing a half. The combination of the excellent Perkins and TFC's inability to stick the ball in the net conspired to give United their second win north of the border in two outings. Next up is a significantly more difficult road match as the Black-and-Red travel to Hoop Country in Dallas.


2. Houston Dynamo - D L L W D - A week after ending their winless streak, the Dynamo should have grabbed their second in a row, but were unable to make the man advantage pay against the Crew, who held on for a point. This weekend will present another big opportunity as two of their Supporters' Shield rivals face off when Dallas entertains DC while Houston entertain a Wizards side that will be playing on a single day's rest between two road matches.

3. FC Dallas - W D W W L - A week off for Dallas sees them slip a bit on the table, but they'll be buoyed by the acquisition of Denílson. Will the Brazilian be a factor in the run-in to the playoffs? We might get a chance to see this weekend as DC United stop by Pizza Hut Park on their travels. Now where's that salad bar?

4. NE Revolution - L W L W W - The Revs strike lucky through Conway's "brain gone walkabout" turn in the Red Bull net. On the balance of play, the Revs were lucky to take the victory, which is why they don't bypass either of the Texan teams. Still, they sit atop the table, though they'll be idle this week and looking over their shoulders nervously at potential usurpers.

5. Chivas USA (+1) - W L W W W - Chivas are quietly mounting a serious challenge in the west despite nobody seeming to realize it. That's probably down to the fact that nobody knows what's going on out there owing to miserable attendances. That's a shame because they've got a decent little team that thumped the hell out of the Gals in the LA derby (10 shots on goal to 1?) before disposing of pesky RSL in a match that they probably deserved a bit more flattering result than 1-0. Unfortunately, the Goats get Beckhamized (it's like sodomy, only bent?) by the schedulers and have to suffer another week off despite having games in hand on everybody but the bottom two.

6. Kansas City Wizards (+1) - W L L W L - A win and a loss in the home-and-away with Osorio's Inferno, and finally back in the scoring column despite EJ still being in a goal-less funk. They still look much too frail defensively to mount a serious title challenge and suffered at Blanco's hands (feet?) in the match at Toyota Park. Actually, they should probably be more worried about being sucked back into the battle royale for the final playoff spots as Chicago and Colorado have already caught the Crew and now have KC and NY firmly in their sights. They'll have a mixed bag this week as the MLS HQ scheduling demons screw over the Wiz with a Thursday match in Salt Lake, followed only two days later by a Saturday fixture in Houston.

7. Red Bull NY (-2) - L W W L L - It's not looking pretty in Swampland. The Bulls could never overcome their slow start against DC, though for the balance of the match they played fairly well. Against the Revs, they put things together for most of the match and would have deserved a draw were it not for the sweet own goal resulting from Conway's brain fart. Having been blessed with some phenomenal goalkeeping while the national team coach, Arena must be pulling out whatever strands of hair still cling to his gargoylesque noggin. The Bulls are in danger of being dragged into the battle for playoff spots and will have to find a result against the visiting Fire this week.

8. Chicago Fire - W D W L W - A tough loss to swallow in KC as the Wizard's second came from poor linesmanship (nice word, eh?). Blanco took revenge in the rematch in front of 18k+ at Toyota Park to signal the Fire's playoff intent. They'll have another chance to get the message across this weekend as they're swamp-bound for a date with the Metrobulls.


9. Colorado Rapids (+1) - D L W W W - Clavijo-ly crap! Three wins in a row and suddenly Rocky Mountain Arsenal are rolling. Of course they were facing a Beckham-less and Donovan-less Galaxy, which is basically a pretty crappy USL side (thank you Alexi and your pathetic personnel swapping!). But the last time Colorado faced USL opposition, they got abused by the Sounders in the Open Cup, so this victory shows how much the Rapids have improved of late. Now they're back in the playoff hunt and have a huge match in Columbus this weekend, where they'll need to get a result to gain the precious head-to-head advantage against a close rival for one of the final playoff spots.

10. Columbus Crew (-1) - W D L L D - Oh how the not-so-mighty have fallen. After a stellar run to nab a spot in the playoffs, the Crew have been inevitably sucked back down again. A ballsy display in Houston gave the men in yellow a fortunate point against a strong Dynamo side despite going a man down in the first half. Sigi's men may even feel slightly aggrieved that a foul was not given on Ngwenya in the build up to Houston's equalizer. They've got a huge match at home this weekend against Colorado as the Rapids and Fire have clawed their way back into the playoff picture.

11. Real Salt Lake (+1) - L L W L L - RSL climb a notch only because they aren't shipping goals at the rate that LA are. The "race" for the top draft pick in 2008 is well and truly on as Toronto seem intent on sinking down to LA and RSL's lowly level. This week will be busy one for RSL as they face a brutal two games in three days scheduling fiasco by MLS's nattering nabobs. Thursday Night Futbol at home against the Wiz will be followed by a trip to the circus - the Cirque du LA that is.

12. Toronto FC (+1) - L D L L L - Expansion fever reigns unchecked as TFC continue to flounder. They were somewhat unfortunate against an under-strength DC side in that United only had a couple of good looks at goal and managed to find net, while Perkins thwarted a number of good Toronto chances. Time to join the race for draft positions as postseason chances are fading fast. They'll watch the pack continue to pull away this week as they're idle.

13. LA Galaxy (-2) - L L L L L - Yallop's going to take the fall for this train wreck, but Alexi needs to be the one kicked to the curb. Despite Becks and Kissypants making valiant efforts to play only a day after suiting up for national duty in Europe, they got hammered in the LA Derby, where going to 10 v 10 was about the worst thing that could happen to a tired side with inexperience at the back. Without Becks and Kissypants, they were no match for the revitalized Rapids and dropped their second straight 3-0 result to take the losing streak to five in MLS. They'll probably have their best chance to get things turned around this week as RSL come calling, though the midweek SuperLiga final means no rest, and no chance to heal, for the weary and damaged Galaxy.

So LA with five losses in a row at the bottom and DC with five wins in a row at the top leave the pile nicely mirrored. I just hope LA aren't too embarrassing against Pachuca in the SuperLiga final. There's a serious muddle going on, not just at the top of the pile, but also around the edges of that playoff pack. It's a right old scrap for the canine crowd and the end of the regular season promises to be just as enthralling as the beginning and middle were.

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