1. Chivas USA (--DWL)
Woeful defending by the Goats, and Guzan is made to look very ordinary, perhaps even foolish in the case of the Crew's winner. Despite racking up three goals on the road, Chivas slump to their first defeat of the season, and late red cards to Mendoza and Klejstan will cause some suspension problems going forward as well. However, nobody else near the top of the Dogpile really did enough in my eyes to warrant displacing them as Alpha Dogs. KC got one point from the six on offer, United got bent over in Salt Lake (as is their wont), Chicago won, but in less than impressive fashion against a cellar-dwelling expansion side, the Revs dropped three at home, and Houston have yet to win this season. Next weekend, the Goats get to set up shop at La Fortaleza de Herramientas as they entertain the Hoops in what usually proves to be an entertaining fixture. Will missing their wide midfield put a dent in the Goats' chances?
The Playoff Pack
2. (+2) Chicago Fire (--DWW)
A win is a win, but that wasn't a terribly impressive outing by the Fire as they're outshot nearly 2-to-1 by the expansion Quakes. Fortunately for the Fire, the Quakes were firing blanks. I still don't know exactly what the Fire are bringing to the party this year. They haven't looked good in their two road outings, but still managed a draw and a win, probably due more to their opponents' inability to finish than to anything special that they're doing themselves. And the home victory, while an impressive scoreline, was generously assisted by the Revs going nearly the entire match down a man. Next week's tussle with the Wiz at home ought to clear the picture up a bit, and perhaps pave the way for the Fire's claim atop the Pile.
3. (+2) New England Revolution (-WLWL)
Back on track in midweek as the Gambian dynamic duo both net in the Revs 3-1 road win over KC. However, reality comes crashing down on the Revs' collective heads as the Rapids steal three points at the Big Razor, finding net with their only chance on goal in a match that the Revs should have won. Still, missing large swaths of their potential starting lineup, the Revs are holding their own, which has to be a promising sign for Nicol. Time to chalk that loss up to soccer's reputation as an often unfair game, and move on to face the Red Bulls in the swamplands of Jersey, looking for a bit of redemption.
4. (-2) Kansas City Wizards (-WWLD)
Reality check for the Wiz as they play well, but fall to the visiting Revs, and then survive a nil-nil draw with struggling Houston, who maybe shaded the chances in a close-fought match. Despite the poor week, the Wiz still look a tough proposition at home. How well will they handle the road though? We'll get a chance to see this week as they face a top of the table clash with the Fire in Chicago.
5. (+2) FC Dallas (--DDW)
Undefeated and now in the win column, Dallas climb the Pile after surviving a visit from the Red Bulls. Not that they dominated the game, but they managed to finish their chances, while Osorio's men could not. They'll be handed a golden opportunity to climb still further this week as they'll pay a visit to a suspension-weakened Chivas side. Should they manage to overcome the Goats, at top 3 spot might be on the cards for the Hoops.
6. (-3) DC United (--LWL)
Yuck, yuck, yuck, and quadruple yuck as RSL hammer the Black-and-Red and knock them a few pegs down the Dogpile on the back of a 4-0 hammering. DC's road woes continue as the defense looks fragile, and the attack impotent, away from RFK. DC were resting some players and coming off an emotionally draining midweek cup tie, so they'll be hoping to just sweep this one under the rug and forget about it. We saw a similar wobble at the start of last season, and United managed to recover pretty well from that, so we'll see what 2008 brings. The talent on the roster is still very high, and they'll get a chance to prove their class and right the ship on Thursday Night Futbol when the invigorated Crew, fresh off a thrilling win over Chivas, come calling.
7. (+1) Colorado Rapids (--WLW)
So, are the cRapids for real? How long can they pretend to competence with Clavijo at the helm? True, they managed to win in New England--not an easy feat. But they got that win by scoring from a set piece with their only shot on frame. The play wasn't particularly stellar, but this is a results business--or so I've been told. If that's the case, how does Clavijo keep managing to get coaching gigs? Despite their fearless leader, the Rapids should continue their run next week as they entertain the expansion Earthquakes at the Dick.
8. (-2) Houston Dynamo (--LDD)
A second straight draw in the league, but that won't sit too poorly with the Dynamo, who managed to staunch the bleeding a bit with a shutout. Despite the defensive recovery, it's worrying (and unsurprising) to see little mention of the Houston strikers in the match write-ups. All the threat stems from the midfield, and Houston will continue to be goal-shy until they have a genuine danger man up top. Of course, the Galaxy defense may just be the cure for what ails them as the Dynamo pay a visit to the stained mattress that everybody seems to score on next weekend.
Bum-sniffing Omega Mutts
9. (+1) Real Salt Lake (--DLW)
Finally in the win column, and in emphatic fashion over the defending Supporters' Shield winners. A sign of things to come, or a one-off against a United club resting some starters and on an emotional low after their midweek cup exit? Whatever the case, RSL have a definite advantage on their crappy patch of rug in Utah. Whether they can travel is another matter entirely, and one that will have to addressed if they hope to push for a playoff spot. What better place to start than next week at Fortress BMO, where the atmosphere will be electric, but the opposition might prove shockingly bad?
10. (-1) New York Red Bulls (---WL)
Lots of chances, but nobody's finishing for the Bulls with Angel on the shelf. Dallas poked fewer holes in the Red Bull back line, but the ones they opened were gaping and well exploited. The Bulls still look a relatively competent bunch, despite their defensive frailties, but they'll have to be in good form to get a result against an injury-hampered Revs side that somehow keeps running on three wheels, some dental floss, and a generous dollop of chewing gum. Hmmm, Nicol's a Scot right? MacGyver sounds a bit tartan-ish as well . . .
11. Columbus Crew (--WLW)
A big win over a tough Chivas side as the Crew come good on the right side of a seven goal thriller. Despite the win, conceding three at home is never good. Also, I'm well and truly sick of Schelotto's diving and whining. Screw pedigree, that stuff sucks, so I'm docking them the places they would have climbed up the Pile out of sheer spite and petulance. Here's hoping for a little less flopping and a little more class when the Crew pay a midweek visit to RFK on Thursday Night Futbol.
12. (+1) Toronto FC (--LLW)
It's not every week that you get to face LA's defense, and the Canucks took full advantage, posting their first victory of the season. The additions to the midfield look to have added the creativity (and let's face it--the talent) that was so sorely lacking in previous weeks. With a reasonable set of attackers and an improving midfield, all that's missing now is the defense. Sort that out, and perhaps TFC can really give their confetti-spewing faithful something to cheer about. Next week, it's home to the cauldron of Fortress BMO and a visit from fellow mangy mutts Real Salt Lake.
13. (-1) Los Angeles Galaxy (--LWL)
Yep, they suck with a capital "S". The Gals didn't look bad when they were flooding forward in the first half, but you've got to lay some serious blame at the feet of Donovan. He was right to be pissed off at himself by the time he finally blasted one home--he squandered a couple of chances that could have put the game out of reach early and buried TFC (see DC United v TFC last week). You've got to say that if Lalas' Abomination had some decent central defenders, they might be a dangerous team. As it stands now, "Sexy Football" looks pretty much the same as being caught with your pants around your ankles. I have a feeling we're going to be hearing a lot more of those boos that came raining down on Becks and company at the end of the match. Next week against the Dynamo doesn't get any easier, though at least they're at home.
14. San Jose Earthquakes (---LL)
Good crowd, lots of chances, but no finishers equals a second straight defeat for the Quakes version 2.0. How did they not get at least a draw in this match? That'll be the question that keeps Yallop up at night. While thin, San Jose have the talent to win a few games--they just need somebody who can stick the ball in the net consistently.