MLS Dogpile (Week 23) - The Muddle in the Middle

1. DC United | WWWDW | Next: WED-RSL
The win streak ends at six, but the unbeaten run continues. A draw away to a Chivas side that has been unbeatable at home is a decent result, though United will be disappointed that they couldn't make a 2-0 lead hold up. The weekend saw a quick recovery as DC snatched the catbird seat in the Supporters' Shield race by coming from behind against New England, their chief rivals in the East. Next up may be a tricky fixture as a hungry and improved RSL side come to RFK having already beaten DC, who will be without the influential Jaime Moreno, away on international duty.

2. Chivas USA | WWWDW | Next: THR-LA, SUN@Rapids
A good fight-back to earn a draw against a United side they've never gotten a point off of, though they stalled just short of grabbing the win they probably deserved as DC got a little help from the men with flags. No such assistance was needed at the weekend as the Goats brushed aside the Red Bulls 3-0 to stake their claim as a top MLS side and a viable contender for both MLS Cup and the Supporters' Shield. Now, if only they could attract a crowd. That shouldn't be a factor for Thursday night as the next installment of the LA Derby comes to TNF. They'll also burn a game in hand with a weekend trip to Rocky Mountain High Colorado.

3. (+1) Houston Dynamo | LWDDW | Next: SUN@LA
Beat down RSL early, but Kreis' boys have a new level of fight and fell just short of clawing back a result on the road. Up next is another lowly side that's recently found a ray of sunshine peeking through le merde as the Dynamo pay a visit to Lalas' SuperClub! I'm afraid that, yes, the exclamation point is part of the trademark, and Alexi does insist on its inclusion.

4. (-1) New England Revolution | WLWWL | Next: SAT-Dallas
A battling performance to scrap their way to the lead, but United came back at them hard and hit three unanswered to take the points and extend their lead at the top. New England limp home to the Big Razor with their tails between their legs and prepare for another top side as Dallas and their mighty midfield come calling.

5. FC Dallas | WWLLW | Next: SAT@Revs
Back in the win column though it took two pens, including one that looked a bit of a gift, to get past a woeful TFC side. Denílson gets his first for the Hoops from the spot as they look to spark a late run to the top. They've got a much tougher match up next as head east to pay a visit to a Revs side that should be plenty angry after their dismissal by DC United.

6. Red Bull NY | WLLWL | Next: SAT@Fire
The roller-coaster continues for Arena's lot as they're sunk by their miserable defense despite having some chances against the Goats on the left coast. Chivas are a side that's proven unbeatable on its home ground despite miserable support. Not that the Bulls enjoy much better themselves at the Swamp, so they'd have felt right at home in front of barely 10k. They'll see significantly greater numbers this weekend as the Chi-town hordes turn out for Blanco and the revitalized Fire.

7. Kansas City Wizards | LWLLD | Next: SAT-Crew
A bye week sees the Wiz slip back towards the battle for playoff spots, though a victory over the visiting Crew this weekend should all but assure Onalfo and company of a spot in the post-season fray.

8. (+1) Chicago Fire | WLWLW | Next: SAT-NYRB
Smash and grab for Wanchope and friends in a match the Crew seemed to have control of. But a win is a win and Chicago's march to the playoffs is back on track as their main rivals lose and they vault into the coveted 8th spot. Osorio's boys head back to Bridgeview this week to prepare for Arena and the Red Bulls. Blanco, Wanchope, et al are probably licking their chops with the prospect of facing that steaming pile of a back line.

9. (-1) Colorado Rapids | WWWDL | Next: SUN-Chivas
Clavijo's Clowns miraculously managed to look like a pretty slick side at times. But slick and effective are miles apart and Coundoul's error gifted LA a lead that they did not relinquish. The Rapids need results against teams like the Gals if they want to make the playoffs. They'll get the other half of LA this week as the Goats come calling at the Dick in a game with big implications at both ends of the playoff mix.

10. Columbus Crew | LLDDL | Next: SAT@KC
Tough loss for the Crew, who probably did enough to win despite losing two starters, including the hugely influencial Schelotto, to injury early. Sigi's men are playing well, but the results aren't coming and that's all that matters at this point as they watch their playoff chances start to evaporate. It's put up or shut up time this week with a visit to the similarly moribund Wiz. If they Crew can manage a point or three, they're right back in the race. If not and they might be facing a bit of a chase to get into the post-season scrap.

11. Real Salt Lake | LLWWL | Next: WED@DC, SAT@TFC
RSL tried to nick a draw late but fell just short. Still an improved performance though it's all too little, too late for this season. Kreis' men have a busy week ahead as they visit en fuego United midweek before heading up to the daunting environs of BMO Field. To bad for Mad Mo that he can't actually get that big, noisy crowd on the field as there's bound to be someone who can find the back of the net in all that lot.

12. (+1) LA Galaxy | LLLLW | Next: THR@Chivas, SUN-Dynamo
How about that? The Gals finally let in less than three goals in a game and they manage a win. Of course, this being the Gals, their starting forwards both managed to limp off after netting LA's two opening goals. LA will burn games in hand this week as the have a Derby Party on Thursday Night Futbol, followed by a visit from the big dogs of Houston. What the hell - the Galaxy players get to stay home for a week? What universe is this and how did I get here? Is there a SuperClub here?

13. (-1) Toronto FC | DLLLL | Next: SAT-RSL
TFC has never traveled particularly well, and with the half-assed side they're fielding at the moment, it gets even more difficult. Tough to go down on pens, but that's the way it's gone for TFC in their first season. Home sweet home for Mo's suffering squad this week and a chance to keep a suddenly competent RSL from vaulting right over them in the table. Oh expansion fever, how you mock the poor Canucks! Letting them get that string of results that made the playoffs glitter like a sweet, wonderful, warm mirage before their cold, frostbitten faces - then yanking the rug out from under their asses. Those poor hosers never knew what hit them!

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