1. (+1) Chivas USA (---DW)
The Toolbox was a fortress--a Fortress of Solitude, but a fortress nonetheless--for Chivas last year, and looks to be much the same sort of emplacement this year. The Goats disposed of the new-look RSL, though not without a touch of difficulty. That said, as the match progressed into the later stages, the result only looked more and more inevitable. RSL are a tougher nut to crack this year, but Chivas have got to be among the favorites in the league this year. The points should keep on flowing next weekend as the Goats visit the Crew. Unless, of course, they get mesmerized by that big-ass Glidden jersey draped over the stage, or Sigi manages to import a chupacabra or three.
The Playoff Pack
2. (+1) Kansas City Wizards (---WW)
A second win at home as the Wizards hold on against the Rapids in a 5-goal second half. Despite the victory, Colorado probably had more and better chances and will feel they deserved at least a point. The Wizards aren't dominating games, but they're getting results and sitting atop the league after two weeks. That has to please Onalfo, but how will his minions fare on the road? Not that it matters in the near term, as the cruddy little ballpark will host another two matches this week (WTF--four home matches to start the season? groundshare maybe?) with the battered and bruised Revs and Dynamo limping into town. It's probably as good a time as any to face those two dangerous franchises with so many injuries and continental matches providing a bit of distraction. I'm still not convinced that KC are the real deal, but the portents sure look promising thus far.
3. (+1) DC United (---LW)
United demolish lowly TFC as expected, and the scoreline could have been far worse than 4-1 if not for some poor finishing by United and some great saves by Sutton in the TFC net. However, TFC's continuing threat in the later stages of the first half after going a man down has to be a slight concern for Soehn going forward. United's defense had a few worrying wobbles, but once United settled into the pretty possession stuff in the second half, any doubts about the result faded gently into the night. Most of the big guns are now on the tally sheet, and confidence at RFK will be high, but how much of this dominating performance can be attributed to Harmse's early dismissal and TFC's general crapitude? After a midweek tussle with Pachuca, the Black-and-Red hit the road again for an RSL side that looks like it's generally coming together. Fixture congestion may see some lineup adjustments for United, and they've never done well in Salt Lake, so a bit of a speedbump there wouldn't surprise me.
4. (+2) Chicago Fire (---DW)
Frankowski and Barrett off the mark. Blanco wheeling and dealing. The Fire topple the top dogs in the friendly confines of Bridgeview with an apparently dominant 4-0 romp over the Revs. But the stats tell a slightly different story, and the Fire played nearly the entire match up a man after Larentowicz's dismissal in the 7th minute. So far, so good for the Fire, but worries over depth and the bit of luck that they've been riding have to still concern Hamlett, though probably not until after next weekend as the Fire hit the road to visit to the spanking-new (and fairly ineffectual) Quakes.
5. (-4) New England Revolution (---WL)
The mighty go tumbling! On the back of injuries to Rev mainstays Ralston and Twellman comes a 4-0 thumping at the hands of the Fire. That said, the 4-0 might be a bit flattering for the Fire. They played nearly the entire match up a man, and yet still only managed 8 shots on goal to New England's 5. More telling are the corner kick stats--Chicago 1, Revs 11, and it would be hard to claim the 11 came as a result of chasing the game late as the Revs had 7 in the first half. So is this really a worrying sign for the Revs or just an early season blip owing more to cards and injuries? Though my heart wishes nothing but the worst for any team that employs Jay Heaps, my money is on the latter. Nevertheless, you can't take a 4-0 and still be the top dog. Isn't the early season great? When teams can take a beating and topple four places off the top of the Dogpile?
6. (-1) Houston Dynamo (---LD)
Wow. Wither the vaunted Dynamo defense? Seven goals shipped in two games--didn't it take them about two months to concede that many last year? If Robinson and Onstad are out for any period of time, it's going to be an even more tumultuous start to the season. But of course, such is the curse of BobbyBoswell.com/blog/oh/crap.owngoal#badclearance. I still think that Kinnear can right the ship, but how long will it take? A visit to high-flying KC is on the cards following a taxing midweek CONCACRAP trip to Costa Rica.
7. FC Dallas (---DD)
The first installment of the Lone Star derby is a goal-fest, with a Cooper brace nearly netting the Hoops a first victory of the season. Unfortunately, Morrow's crap-ass defense just couldn't hang on long enough, and Dallas stumbles to a second draw to start the season. Still, the offense is clicking, and the two draws come against what are probably the top two in the Western Conference. Now if they could just sort out that pesky back line, things would start to look a bit rosier. Next weekend sees a similarly top-heavy side come calling as Osorio's Red Bulls roll into Big D (oh, the unintentional irony of place-names). Odds of another goal-fest? Well, it is Dallas and the Red Bulls, so they'll probably manage to disappoint.
8. Colorado Rapids (---WL)
Another pretty good showing from Clavijo's Clowns, but KC are not LA, and the Rapids drop all three points on the road. Despite the loss, the performance was encouraging, and they nearly nicked a point late on. They've just got to learn how to defend set pieces, and the Rapids might find themselves in contention for a playoff spot come the end of the season. The road show continues this week as the Rapids head farther east to face the wounded Revs. A result in this match would go a long way towards convincing pundits, including yours truly, that the cRapids are for real.
Bum-sniffing Omega Mutts
9. New York Red Bulls (----W)
The Osorio Era begins on a positive note as the Bulls scrap their way past Columbus to open their account for 2008. So, was the Crew getting off 20 shots a worrying sign, or does only putting 4 of them on target mean that Osorio has that thin back line organized and relatively competent? Or maybe the Crew just need some shooting practice? Regardless, Hesmer made some big saves to keep the Bulls out, including Angel from the spot, and New York (or some spot in the swamplands thereabouts) deserved their win. Unfortunately, stomping the Crew doesn't do much to help you climb the Dogpile, so the Bulls are still sniffing around the fringes of the Playoff Pack. Any sort of positive result on the road against Dallas next weekend will probably see them stake a claim to one of those coveted places in the top 8.
10. Real Salt Lake (----DL)
Buried by the old boys. Harris and Eskandarian come back to haunt Real. Despite the setback, RSL didn't look completely overmatched by one of the stronger sides in MLS. Chivas were really flowing on the break in the second half, but RSL looked to have gotten back into the game when Deuchar opened his account for Real and dragged them back to 2-1. In the end, it always looked like Chivas were going to manage to put it away and they did. Encouraging stuff from RSL, but the results still won't come. DC United come calling next weekend, and that looks to be a stern test, but RSL have always handled United well at home, so Kreis men will be thinking that three points may just be on the cards for them.
11. Columbus Crew (---WL)
Sigi's boys trip and stumble at the second hurdle as they drop their first points of the year in the Swamp. Hesmer sure looked a goat on that first goal from distance, but he more than made up for it with saves later in the match to keep things close. Back to the drawing board for Sigi and company. I still think that they're a lethal finisher away from being in contention for a playoff spot. Unfortunately, said assassin will be unlikely to arrive prior to next weekend's visit from Chivas, so a draw may be the best they can hope for.
12. (+1) Los Angeles Galaxy (---LW)
Two out of three ain't bad--at least as far as the Galaxy's shining (as well as overpriced and overpaid) stars are concerned. Donovan sets up Becks, and Golden Balls returns the favor as Lalas' Abomination manage to sweep aside expansion San Jose and bounce back from last week's embarrassment at the Dick. Of course, San Jose were the only side below the Gals in the previous edition of the Dogpile, so if comfort can be cold, than this is truly such a frigid example. Luckily for Alexi and company, the Scheduling Gods have tossed LA another softball as TFC pay their respects to the Galacticos at the Toolbox next weekend.
13. (-1) Toronto FC (---LL)
Yikes and double-yikes! Back-to-back road losses for TFC and it's all starting to look distressingly familiar for the Canucks. Edu grabs a late consolation goal on the wrong end of a 4-1 beating at RFK. Cunningham looks disinterested and sulky, and the defense was tentative at best, and incompetent in truth, on United's two early goals in the opening 5 minutes, as the Black-and-Red swarmed all over the hapless Canadians. Robert adds danger from set pieces and the occasional through ball, but precious little else. TFC are two, three, maybe four pieces shy of putting together the whole puzzle. Are the reinforcements coming? Whatever the case, a visit to LA next weekend looks to be their best chance of the young season to grab a result.
14. San Jose Earthquakes (----L)
San Jose will struggle for goals this year, so they've got to rely on Cannon and the defense to keep them in games long enough to eke out draws or nick late winners. Unfortunately, the Galaxy's stars had a healthy luster about them Wednesday night and managed to stick a couple in the back of the net in the first half. Down one, the Quakes might have enough about them to rally and equalize, but down two, I'm afraid that's usually going to be beyond them until they get some forward talent (or get exceedingly lucky). The fact that they couldn't test a woeful LA defense has got to worry Yallop.