[Well, I was going to wait for the DC-Houston result, but since that game appears to carry a curse, having been twice delayed, I'm just going to go ahead with the Dogpile and include tomorrow's result in with next week's column--assuming the game doesn't get delayed again ;-).]
1. New England Revolution (WDLWW)
SuperLiga rolls on, and with it, the Revs non-participation in all things MLS. Sadly, none of the active participants in the league has really done anything to challenge their lofty table status or their position atop the Dogpile. It's more of the same next week as the Revs are idle in MLS until August 9th. Maybe by then, somebody will bother to make a run at them instead of filling our weeks with draws.
The Playoff Pack
2. DC United (DWWWW)
We all know the en fuego United that went into SuperLiga--what exactly is going to come out of the other end of that fiasco? Sans Gallardo and Peralta, can United even hope to keep their fantastic league form alive, or are we looking at life support? One things for certain--nobody in MLS has done anything to displace the Black-and-Red . . . yet.
3. Chicago Fire (DWDWD)
I present a recipe for frustration: take two of the most solid defensive sides in MLS, add a home team that struggles in their own park, now stir in a visiting side with lackluster road form, blend together and allow to settle, sprinkle with nearly 20,000 to witness a miserable four shots on goal. Four shots? Two from RSL, two from the Fire. There were chances, to be sure, it's just that neither side was feeling particularly lethal. And just how does Chicago end up with more corner kicks than shots--not just shots on goal, shots in total! Despite the extension of the unbeaten run, this was a real chance for the Fire to put some pressure on other top playoff contenders from the East, and they failed utterly. Even if MLS HQ gets involved in the McBride muddle, he'll be away at the Olympics for the foreseeable future. Next up for the Fire is a visit to KC's precious little ballpark.
4. (+1) Chivas USA (LWDWD)
The Goats were busy with SuperLiga, so they won't get back to league action until August 2nd. Happily for Preki, it looks like the rest of the West is conspiring to keep things close until Chivas get back into the swing of things in MLS. How sporting of them! And look at that, being idle can actually have benefits, as the MLS Draw Express boosts the inactive Goats up to a lofty 4th spot. Still, with no Guzan, you've got to wonder if points he might have saved for them are going to start becoming a factor.
5. (+1) Real Salt Lake (WLDWD)
Not a spectacular offensive night, but the RSL defense continues its stifling ways. This was a good result on the road, and results elsewhere mean that Kreis' men continue to sit atop the Western Conference. Next up is a visit from TFC, whose familiarity with the plastic stuff may negate some of RSL's patented "Crappy Plastic Patch Advantage". Despite having predicted a playoff spot for RSL this year, I'm still not entirely convinced they can pull it off. Keeping balls out of the net sure is a good way to start though.
6. (-2) Columbus Crew (DWDLD)
Worrying signs out in Crew-land, as they take just one point from a 3-3 thriller with KC at home. While the fightback to earn the draw was impressive, and Hejduk probably should have buried the winner, a home draw and one win in the last five matches sees the Crew's mid-season wobble starting to morph towards a full-blown skid. Up next is a trip to visit the struggling Rapids, which, given the Rapids' mercurial nature, will probably result in a 5-0 win for Clavijo's Clowns.
7. Houston Dynamo (WLDDD)
The mirror image of United--the Dynamo entered SuperLiga in worrying form, but after some good results in continental competition, they're looking a strong bet to continue that form back to league play. Given an extra day's rest after pounding an underpowered United this past weekend, the men in orange should be ready to try for a repeat performance.
8. (+2) Kansas City Wizards (DWDWD)
Up-down, up-down, but at least it's all wins and draws for the Comeback Kids from KC. Five games unbeaten will have to be placed on the scale next to what might have been. The scoring floodgates finally open for the Wiz, yielding a 2-0 lead on the road, but they can't make the result stand. Wolff's triumphant goal-scoring return is promising for Onalfo. Now, can they maintain momentum after the break when the Fire come calling?
Bum-sniffing Omega Mutts
9. (-1) Los Angeles Galaxy (DLLDD)
Oh, so very close to grabbing all three points at the end there with a flurry of late chances in the Swamp. Ruiz is off the mark at long last, but will he be around long enough to add to his tally? And will the addition of Dominguez at the back start to take the pressure off the Galaxy's offense? As it stands, they pretty much know that they'll need two or three, if not more, goals to get a result. Next weekend's visit to struggling Dallas should provide Ruud's boys with a chance to finally get back in the win column.
10. (-1) Toronto FC (WDLLD)
Tumble, tumble, go the Reds. A draw at home to the league's worst team isn't the way to stake your playoff claim. There were chances, to be sure, and Ibrahim looks like a menacing handful, but you've got to stick the ball in the net. Guevara, in particular, will be shouldering a healthy portion of the blame, though many will feel that the soccer gods were fair to deny him a PK that probably never should have been given. Goals will be just as hard to come by next week as the Reds visit suddenly-stingy RSL.
11. (+1) New York Red Bulls (WDLLD)
A better performance by the Bulls in front of a big crowd (for once). Rojas is already proving his worth, assisting on both goals, though he came up short when given the chance to bury the winner. I'll be expecting my finder's fee from MLS any day now ;-). But late defensive lapses let the victory slip away. Over the coming weeks, we'll be able to see if Osorio's roster machinations pay off when it comes to the defensive effort as well. Next week against a goal-shy Quakes side might be a decent chance to demonstrate some solidity at the back.
12. (-1) Colorado Rapids (DLWDD)
I had this sneaking suspicion that the Rapids would get their asses handed to them by Dallas, so I'm not sure if the road draw counts as a moral victory against their predictable inconsistency (pause . . . take a moment to let that logical logjam clear . . . okay), or if following up a draw against the worst side in the league with a draw against the second-worst side in the league is really as crappy a set of results as it reads on paper. The big news is that Casey continues to score. If the Rapids have an honest-to-goodness goal threat, than it's only the consistency that needs to be settled in order to make a playoff charge. Well, that and their erratic goalkeeping. Oh, and don't forget Clavijo. From second-to-last to second-to-first, the Rapids will need to prepare for the visit of Columbus next week.
13. FC Dallas (WLDDD)
The Hyndman Draw Parade continues as Coop & the Hoops take advantage of Walkabout Bouna Coundoul to grab a lead, but can't quite make their advantage stand up. If Rosenborg are successful in prying Cooper away from Dallas, I've got a feeling that it's going to be a real struggle for FCD to hold off the Quakes, because Cooper is at the heart of everything good that's happening for Dallas these days. Next up is the Cirque du LA as the Goldenballs Road Show visits Pizza Hut Park.
14. San Jose Earthquakes (LDLDD)
When your back is against the wall, there's no better keeper in MLS than Joe Cannon. And he saved the bacon one again for the Quakes, though he was generously assisted by Guevara (1) skying the best chance of the match and (2) hitting a fairly tame penalty. The new boys saw action for Yallop, but it'll take a few weeks to get them into the swing of things. A point at Fortress BMO will be fair reward in the meantime. Can they do two points better against a Red Bulls side trying to bed in some new talent of their own?