1. New England Revolution (WWDLW)
Steve Ralston, goal machine? Back to winning ways for the league leaders, and for most of the match they were looking comfortable. It's somewhat of a mystery then whether TFC's late surge that almost resulted in a draw was down to the Reds themselves or can be laid at the feet of a Revs side that hasn't exactly been awe-inspiring in their run to the top. They've looked surprisingly fragile, but maybe getting all of the starting lineup back and playing together will see a more certain team emerge on the far end of the SuperLiga tunnel. But first, they've got a little date with the Gals in LA on Friday night.
The Playoff Pack
2. (+2) DC United (DWWWW)
Four goals, a bloody Donovan, and Benny's Lazarus-like return--what's not to like? I'm damn tempted to toss the Black-and-Red atop the Dogpile based on recent form, but I still can't shake that terrible start to the season and the lack of a shutout this season. And now, just when they get up a head of steam in the league, here comes SuperLiga to throw a spanner in the works. It's going to be quite a while till we see United in league action again. Will the same team come out on the far side of SuperLiga?
3. (+4) Columbus Crew (LLWDW)
Things look to be turning around for the Crew, but they weren't exactly a dominant force against the moribund Rapids. Alejandro Moreno looks like he's graduated with honors from the Schelotto school of diving (or perhaps he was taking notes when Beckham went flopador last week against the Crew). Yes, yes, there was some contact, but Moreno reacted like he'd been touched by an exposed high voltage wire. And it's a shame really, because the work just prior to the "foul" was some really nice stuff. The Crew get to stay home this week and work on their hunchback impressions prior to the visit of Blanco and the struggling Fire, a game that could plant a real flag of intent when it comes to the Crew's playoff ambitions.
4. (-2) Houston Dynamo (WWLDD)
Only having viewed the highlights, it looked to me that the Dynamo did a fantastic job of shooting themselves in the foot by not converting the first-half chances that would have put the game well beyond Dallas. Having said that, it also looks like the ref took pretty direct aim as well (I know, I know, imagine my surprise at an MLS ref's utter incompetence!). Was that Ricchetti with takedown on Holden that miraculously did not lead to an ejection? That's a stone wall red card in pretty much anybody's book. Unfortunately for Houston, MLS refs are quite illiterate. Can't blame poor finishing on the refs though--Houston has far too many draws in games they should be winning. They've got one last shot at MLS opposition, away to RSL on Thursday Night Futbol, before stalking off into the glorious SuperLiga sunset.
5. Toronto FC (WLWDL)
The Reds had their chances, including a golden one to steal a point, but they couldn't find their way past Reis (or the defenders on the goal line when they did manage to give him the slip). There certainly wasn't much that was impressive about TFC's play, but they did almost manage to earn a draw on the road to the league leaders, which has to be worth something. The chances were fairly even, but I've got to ask--how does Dicchio manage to be caught offside 5 times? The Reds take a break from league action this week to have a go a scooping up the Canadian slot in the CONCACRAP Champions' Leauge and a friendly against some Mexican opposition.
6. (-3) Los Angeles Galaxy (WLWDL)
Ouch, that's gotta hurt! Since when did Disney-owned ABC allow sodomy on the air? The Gals had a few chances, but even when Buddle's effort went in (effort? Buddle? Edson Buddle? huh, whadaya know?) for the equalizer, there was only going to be one team that claimed the spoils. DC could easily have padded their four, and LA's goal differential will be thanking them for their wastefulness in front of net. Now the Gals get to head home and get ready for another tough ask as the Revs roll into the Toolbox.
7. (-1) Chivas USA (WLLWD)
Chivas made a few decent chances of their own, but it was the one that the Red Bulls provided that delivered the point. I'd guess you could call that karma as Conway made some fantastic saves that you wouldn't necessarily expect him to make if you've been following this league for a while. Still, the Goats would have been expecting more from this match, and a point will be a poor reward for their possession. Next up is a golden opportunity to get back on track as the Quakes 2.0 come calling.
8. (+2) New York Red Bulls (WLDWD)
The Bulls seem to have found their form a little--at least the best form that can be expected of a side that's missing its two designated players to injury and has just put Jozy on the slow boat to Spain. The reinforcements are still at least a couple of weeks away, but adding some new blood to some of the decent players they have on the roster and getting Angel back healthy would go a long way towards having a solid run at the post-season. The Bulls continue their travels out west with a very winnable visit to the Clavi-holes.
Bum-sniffing Omega Mutts
9. (-1) Real Salt Lake (DWDWL)
And . . . thud! The long unbeaten streak finally comes to an end at the hands of a Wizards side on a long winless stretch. RSL had their chances. In fact, they put more of them on frame than the home side did. If we're living in the land of hypotheticals, then hypothetically that Andy Williams chance that he dragged wide in the second half (or any of Deuchar's solid opportunities) would have buried a Wizards side that was already low on confidence. As it stands, the late winner for the Wiz was perhaps a touch unfair to RSL. It's back to the crappy plastic patch this week as Houston come calling prior to their SuperLiga endeavors.
10. (-1) Chicago Fire (WLLLD)
My, oh my--how the mighty have fallen! Now, it's understandable that perhaps a team coming off of three losses and low on confidence would struggle to create chances. But only 8 shots (4 on goal) . . . at home . . . against the worst team in the league? That's an indication of how far the Fire have fallen. That's an indication of how much they need a real danger man. Say, perhaps, a Brian McBride? The mid-summer doldrums have happened to many an MLS side--let's see if the Fire can fashion a recovery in time for the playoff push. Can they get started away to the Crew this week?
11. FC Dallas (LLWLD)
After emerging just a goal down after an opening stanza that should have see the Dynamo clear of their cross-state rivals, FCD rode Big Coop and craptastic referee decisions to a somewhat fortunate point. Still, Coop & the Hoops have only one win in their last five and four points from a possible fifteen. That's not exactly playoff form. Fortunately, the rest of the teams in the West aren't exactly piling up points either, and all FCD needs is to finish 3rd out of 6 to claim an automatic playoff berth, a position that's still well within reach. Provided, of course, that the dreaded Curse of Ellinger hasn't cast a preemptive pall of doom across their season. Next up is a battle for respectability and desperately needed points as the Wiz come calling at Pizza Hut Park.
12. (+1) Kansas City Wizards (LDLDW)
A win at last for the floundering Wiz, but how many chances did they need to finally stick one in the net? I think the shots statistics speak for themselves--21 shots, only 2 on frame, and the one that finally wound up in the net got there off an RSL head. Baby steps for Onalfo's boys. The build up play was nice, the finishing just has to get better. Is Josh Wolff the answer? As in many questions involving Josh Wolff being the answer--NO, NO, NO, emphatically NO! Have I mentioned lately how much I dislike Bradley calling Wolff in for the Nats? Next up for the Wiz is a trip to visit Dallas.
13. (-1) Colorado Rapids (WLLDL)
Not a horrendous performance on the road from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, but no points to show for their efforts either. The Rapids had some chances, but they come up short once again, leaving just two words in the wake of another failure: Fire Clavijo! Seriously, how long is the Colorado FO going to let him continue to squander the decent set of talent at his disposal? They're not the strongest or deepest team in the league, but they've got enough about them to contend for a playoff spot at the very least given how weak the rest of the West is. Unfortunately for Clavijo, it's not the West that comes calling this week, it's the Red Bulls, riding just 6th out of 7 in the East, but still boasting more points than everybody in the West save LA.
14. San Jose Earthquakes (WLDLD)
The Quakes were probably a bit fortunate that Chicago don't have any predatory strikers that could have capitalized on some of the decent chances they made. They're probably all still patting Joe Cannon on the back for preserving a solid road point. But Yallop has got to be staring at the highlights package and wondering how Kamara managed to not find the net when that late Salinas chance bounced back to him in the middle of the box with Busch stranded out of position. I suppose those are the things you live with when you're an expansion side. Next up, it's a visit to the Goats in the Toolbox.