1. (+2) Columbus Crew (DWLWW)
A second straight win sees Sigi's men draw level at the top of the league in impressive fashion. Could they be the real deal this year? My one big concern would be that they don't have the real predator up top that they might need to claw out playoff results, relying instead upon goals from midfield. I wonder if there was ever any chance of Sigi landing Ruiz before TFC took him off LA's hands? Next weekend it's off to Dallas to see if the men in yellow can avoid the Curse of the Alpha Dog.
The Playoff Pack
2. Chicago Fire (DWWLW)
Back on track on a mostly starless (no Becks, Lando, or Blanco) night in LA. Thorrington and the Chicago defense emerge as the heroes, but Fire fingers will be crossed regarding Nyarko's injury status as the kid was just starting to make his presence felt. Sunday sees the road swing continue with a trip to a Houston side that were looking a real threat until the Red Bulls casually brushed them aside.
3. (+1) New England Revolution (WLLWD)
A quick return to their deadly and efficient best sees the Revs put down DC United, but that big result is followed by eking out a draw at Fortress BMO. Better finishing by the Reds might have snatched that point away, but Twellers does enough to keep things knotted at the top of the league. Home to the Galaxy next weekend should see them back to winning ways.
4. (-3) Houston Dynamo (WWWWL)
Ouch, the Curse of the Alpha Dog is starting to get eerie again. After a midweek romp over the Goats, the Bulls get a little revenge for the barnyard by pasting the Orange 3-0. What remains to be seen is if this was a turf-inspired blip, further evidence that the West is lame this year, or a symptom of Kinnear not quite having all the kinks worked out in Dynamo-land. Next weekend brings the Fire calling and presents an immediate opportunity to sweep the NY result under a fuzzy orange rug.
5. (+2) New York Red Bulls (DDWWW)
Black Magic Osorio has the Bulls headed in the right direction as they hammer one of the hottest teams in the league. Could this be the year that NY finally does some damage in the playoffs? Let's call that a long shot at this point, though a result next weekend in DC will put them in sole possession of the #4 spot in the East.
6. (-1) DC United (WLWLW)
The roller-coaster ride continues, sometimes even within a game. After going down early to the Revs, United surge back with a credible second-half performance but can't find the equalizer. At home to Colorado was a different story, though the 3-0 scoreline was a bit flattering to a United side that added two late goals after injury forced the Rapids to play with ten men. Injury and inconsistency are the two banes of Soehn's existence, and he'll be looking for a little continuity and some more healthy bodies at home to the hated Red Bulls next weekend.
7. (+1) FC Dallas (DWWLD)
Ricchetti's sending off triggers a late Wizards' storm, and Dallas are fortunate to emerge with a point in the end. Dallas had some great chances of their own, but it was a thunderbolt from distance that nearly clinched the win for them. Conrad's stoppage-time equalizer will be a blow to FCD's charge up the table, but the point gives them a two-point lead over Colorado in the race for the all-important third place in the West. With RSL stumbling, Dallas may be positioned to make a decisive late charge. Next weekend brings the new Alpha Dogs of Columbus calling at Pizza Hut Park.
8. (-2) Real Salt Lake (WDWLL)
Seven goals shipped in two games sees the defensive strength of RSL evaporate in a hail of balls fired into Rimando's net. If it weren't for the weakness of the West, RSL might be in more trouble. As it stands, they'll have difficulty catching the Dynamo, but a couple of results could see them solidify their hold on one of the three guaranteed playoff spots up for grabs in the West. Next week at home to Colorado, a rival for a Western Conference playoff spot, gives them a chance to recover and shore up their position.
Bum-sniffing Omega Mutts
9. Kansas City Wizards (DLWLD)
Not enough goals. If the Wiz fail to make the playoffs, that's going to be their epitaph. 21 shots, 6 on frame, and with more than enough chances to win it, the Wiz leave it until stoppage time to grab the equalizer from the usual source. When a central defender (Conrad) is your leading scorer, the offense is in all sorts of trouble. Next week brings a visit to a side that seems to have solved its own offensive woes--the Quakes 2.0 (or are they a 2.1 product at this point--having carried out a few major bug-fixes?)
10. San Jose Earthquakes (DDWWD)
It's been a while since the Quakes lost a game, and that's reflected in their being just four points shy of the playoffs after a draw on the road to the Goats. Can Yallop pull off the miracle cure for Expansion Fever and get the Quakes into the post-season? If he does, he'll have to thank the rest of the West for being so crappy. Next week brings a very winnable game at home to impotent KC, three points that might vault them right into the thick of the playoff scramble.
11. (+3) Toronto FC (LLWLD)
A credible draw against the league leaders sees the Reds climb off the bottom of the Pile, but they really should have won it. Barrett does his usual routine of misfiring on the easy chances before converting the hard one, but TFC fans will be left wondering if Barrett has somehow managed to infect Rohan Ricketts with his disease after the midfielder spurned two golden chances to win the match. Regardless, the incompetence of their fellow cellar-dwellers propels them a good stretch up the Pile. Next week brings a visit to one of those troglodyte brethren--the Goats.
12. (-1) Chivas USA (LLDLD)
Are we in a Greek restaurant? Cause I sure smell some roasting Goats. It's been ages since Chivas snatched three points, and a 4-0 midweek thrashing at the hands of a Dynamo side missing some starpower to international duty sure looked to buried them. The draw at home to the Quakes wasn't impressive either, but it did show that they're a different team with Kljestan in the mix. If they get some players back from injury and can start to find the net again, the relative weakness of the West should still offer them a back door into the playoffs. They'll need points quickly though, and a win against visiting TFC might cure a lot of ills.
13. (-1) Colorado Rapids (DLLWL)
Clavijo is gone, but the Rapids can't build on last week's result, falling 3-0 to DC United. There are still two games left in the Rapids' road trip, and you've got to feel that they need to get some points in those games if they're to keep hope alive for the playoffs. Away to RSL on Friday promises a crappy patch of plastic, but also a defense that's starting come apart at the seams--the perfect opportunity for Casey to continue his Mile High Renaissance.
14. (-1) Los Angeles Galaxy (DLLDL)
The Arena era opens in disappointment as the Gals fall 1-0 to the Fire on national television. Of course, the Gals are built on starpower, and their two brightest, Beckham and Donovan, were not available. I suppose if you're digging for positives, you might say that they only gave up one goal--a feat that might have brought them much needed points if the big guns were playing. It doesn't get any easier next week with a visit to New England.