MLS Dogpile - The Pitches Were Awash In Red

Alpha Dog

1. (+1) New England Revolution (WWWDW)
The Revs hang on, despite the balance of play favoring the opposition, but this is nothing new for fans of MLS. Reis makes a few key saves, Napoleon-complex-addled Michael Kennedy gives a friendly boost (A Kennedy favoring a New England side? Against a Dallas side no less? Wait, Kennedys don't have anything against Dallas do they? Ooh, that last one was pretty tasteless, wasn't it?), and the tens of thousands showing up early for the international fixture to follow are probably wondering if MLS teams know how to mark up at the far post. The Revs continue to get results, but you've got to admit that they haven't inspired terribly much confidence while doing so. Still, when the other top dogs get mauled and you win your scrap, that vaults you to the top. But for how long? A Thursday Night Futbol date with the surging Dynamo in Houston promises to continue the trend of fallen Alpha Dogs.

The Playoff Pack

2. (-1) Chicago Fire (WWLWL)
Ah, the struggles of the MLS Alpha Dog! The Fire looked like they had things figured out. They were even starting to sniff a major trophy haul this season with the rumored addition of ex-US international and Fulham hitman (and, yes, the Crew as well, if you insist) Brian McBride. But DC were all over the Fire from the start, and if not for 8 saves, some of them tremendous, by Jon Busch and yet another defensive miscue from United, this scoreline could have been worse. Of course, a solid (if desperate at times) defense and United's ill discipline left things open for the Fire, but they couldn't capitalize on their late advantage and so go a-tumblin' from the top. Next weekend's visit to FCD might just be the tonic for what ails Blanco et al.

3. (+2) Houston Dynamo (WLDWW)
The Dynamo are officially rolling as Chinger and DeRo shake off the cobwebs. It's interesting to speculate on what might have happened in RFK on Wednesday if not for the torrential rains. DC and Houston are both starting to flex their muscles and you have to wonder which side would have spoiled the other's current run. We'll get a window on this wide world of speculation next week as Houston entertains the Revs in a clash of the two hottest sides (recent-results-wise) in MLS.

4. Chivas USA (LWWWL)
Thud! Angel clubs the Goats in the Swamp to kill the winning streak at three. Despite the loss, the game was a fairly even match that may have deserved to end in a draw. That said, Chivas have been on a pretty solid run while the Bulls were headed in the opposite direction, so the loss has to hurt Preki's boys. Still, results elsewhere and the fact that the roster is still the walking wounded are enough to keeps Chivas' position stable on the Dogpile. A visit from RSL next weekend should see them get the winning juices flowing again.

5. (-2) Toronto FC (DWLWL)
TFC's international-friendly-hamstrung midfield can't compete with a Houston side that looks to be starting to roll, and raises that oh-so-ugly specter of team depth. We all saw how Houston continue to steam through the league in the late summer and fall last year as Kinnear was able to mix and match pieces, slotting in players who filled a role. Does this Reds side have enough pieces to fill out the puzzle? If not, qualifying matches and the Olympics could turn this into a very long summer for the Canucks. But next week it's back home to the friendly confines of Fortress BMO and a date with the Clavi-holes. Will the Commish's interdict on streamers be heeded? Prospects unlikely.

6. (+2) Los Angeles Galaxy (LWWLW)
A win is a win, but jeez! Three up, at home, with less than twenty minutes to play, and you nearly let the win slip away? True, LD wasn't available, but come on! For all of LA's vaunted offensive power, they only managed 5 shots (4 on goal) in the entire game? That's lame. It only speaks to the relative softness of the rest of the West that LA continue to threaten to win the conference. Next time out, the Cali Derby will be renewed, as the Gals visit the Quakes 2.0.

7. (+2) New York Red Bulls (WDLLW)
Throw the form book out the window! The Barnyard Derby between the Goats and Bulls is decided by an Angel header after an even match just days after the departure of Altidore is announced. What will Osorio do with the cash? Will Red Bulls HQ continue to disappoint by plowing the funds into even larger signage to disguise the wide swathes of empty seats? Much easier on the eyes will be the Barra and Screaming Eagles (and that plucky little La Norte ;-) in RFK next weekend when the Bulls pay United a visit, with yours truly up and to the right a little of the Barra if you're watching on television or from the Quiet Side of RFK.

8. (-2) Columbus Crew (WDLLL)
The Crew's free-fall continues as a home loss to the lowly Quakes makes it three losses on the trot and four matches without a win. Although they created a lot of attempts, too few were on target, a problem that has been haunting the goal-shy Crew over their current disastrous run. Slowly, inevitably, class is beginning to tell as Sigi's men get their yellow hides dragged down by the pack. Karma for bad fan behavior? More like a team relying on Alejandro Moreno to provide the goals finding out that this might not be the most reliable strategy for MLS success. Could a visit to the even more woeful Wizards cure Columbus' ills?

Bum-sniffing Omega Mutts

9. (-2) Colorado Rapids (LWLWL)
Good God, but Clavijo has got this yo-yo thing mastered. Win, lose, win, lose--how long can he keep this streak going? Not exactly a tremendous display by the Rapids, though LA's defensive ineptitude almost allowed them to nick a point in the end. You've got to wonder if a new hand on the rudder might stabilize the Rapids a bit. Anybody want to lay odds on the yo-yo being disrupted by illegal streamers in the Frozen White North next week?

10. (+1) DC United (LLWDW)
A first road win of the year in dramatic fashion. Baldomero Toledo must have thought he was at a bullfight the way he was flashing red. But Emiligol seems to have returned just in time for the struggling Black-and-Red. Three games unbeaten and seven points from the last nine on offer have vaulted United back into playoff contention. But will the suspensions kill their renaissance? Is the revival just smoke and mirrors doomed to fall apart in short order? Or will United finally achieve their off-season promise? All these unanswered questions keep me from getting carried away and boosting United into the Playoff Pack. But a win at home to the Red Bulls next week should see them finally take their place in that company.

11. (-1) FC Dallas (LWDLL)
Despite probably having the balance of play, FCD also has to deal with FBF arch-villain Michael Kennedy and their own inability to finish the chances they fashion. Next up for struggling Dallas is a visit from Blanco and an angry Fire, who will be looking to expunge the bad memories of this weekend's failure against DC United.

12. (+1) Real Salt Lake (WLLWD)
One step forward, two steps back. It's getting to be a broken record--this inability of RSL's to never string positive results together. To be fair, they probably deserved more from this match, but Hartman was tremendous in the KC net, and RSL just couldn't find a way past him. Still, results elsewhere allow for slight progress up the Pile and keep the rest of the West within striking distance. Now, if only Kreis can just find a way to build a little momentum. I can't say I see that happening away to Chivas though.

13. (+1) San Jose Earthquakes (LLWLW)
O'Brien sets up the only two shots on goal, and Quake heads dutifully nod them into the net. The Crew offense is really struggling right now, and Yallop's boys took full advantage, claiming another scalp to keep the rest of the league from creating a continental divide above them on the table. Current Quake soundtrack provided by the Beastie Boys: "You've got to fight . . . or you might . . . be Derby!" Next up is a visit from their old Galaxy foes and their very own Judas, Landon Donovan.

14. (-2) Kansas City Wizards (LLDLD)
The winless streak stretches to five as KC can't get a result away to RSL. Despite having some nice periods of play, it was RSL who probably deserved something from this match. Onalfo's got some thinking and tinkering to do if he's to get the ship turned around. DC United have finally woken from their slumber, and KC continue to plummet down the Eastern Conference. Now that they've hit rock-bottom, there's nowhere to go but up, and Hartman can only do so much to continue saving their bacon.

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