Chaos abounds, and the goals are flying in around MLS, particularly into the Revs' net. Chivas suffer the standard-issue Alpha Dog setback, but do enough to maintain their perch, more on the basis of Chicago's continuing struggle to post points in threes than any stellar form of their own. At the bottom, the Gals draw again, but can't quite seem to force their way off the bottom of the Pile, mostly on the basis of their being quite lucky to still be in some of these games they're coming from behind to tie up. TFC posts the biggest gains this week, both with two victories and with the loss of Carver at the helm, while the Revs go tumbling. So how do the chips fall? To the Dogpile, my kennel companions!
The Alpha Dog
1. Chivas USA (WDWLW)
Curse of the Alpha Dog revisited as the Goats drop a midweek snorefest to TFC? 9 shots, 4 on frame? That's not just one team, that's both combined! Ugh. The Goats then followed that up with a victory that they can attribute to a tale of two keepers. Thornton kept them in the game with some significant saves, while Sala earned his marching orders by handling outside the box to deny Chijindu. How good are they? Who knows? But they certainly get results...for now. Chicago's failure to win (and they probably should have lost) means that the loss to TFC doesn't dump the Goats off the top of the Pile.
Next: Quakes (Away)
The Playoff Pack
2. Chicago Fire (DWDDD)
Ably abetted by the officials, the Fire eke out another draw, coming back from 2-0 down. That makes four draws in the last five matches. Chicago are still unbeaten, but a few more W's where those D's are and they would have a commanding position atop the league. Can they get the job done at home to the expansion club next week?
Next: Seattle (Home)
3. +1 Seattle Sounders (WWLLW)
A goal on either side of halftime, and it's back to winning ways for the Sounders. Have they shaken off their first brush with the dreaded Expansion Fever? Despite the win, they managed fewer shots on target than their visitors, though the Quakes don't seem to have the firepower to punish anybody at this point. Next week might not be so forgiving with a trip to Chicago.
Next: Fire (Away)
4. +2 Real Salt Lake (LWWLW)
Back in the friendly confines of Rio Tinto and with the result to prove how much they love playing in their new digs. 6-0 was reflective of a match they dominated, but it could have been worse with surer finishing in the first half. RSL have planted their flag as a force to be reckoned with. Now, can they get the results away from home that will make their title challenge a reality? We'll find out next week when the Rocky Mountain derby is renewed.
Next: Rapids (Away)
5. Kansas City Wizards (WWDWL)
KC had the midweek match gift-wrapped for them by the Bull's Carlos Johnson as he managed to concede the penalty that led to the game's only goal and get himself sent off in only the second minute. The worry for the Wiz will be that they didn't build on that one-goal cushion. Neither could they find the net at the weekend, where they had a few chances, but ultimately fell to TFC. Not the best way to enter a bye week.
6. +1 DC United (DWLDW)
A second win, this time a last-minute (literally!) comeback on the road against their archrivals with some key cogs (Moreno, Gomez, and the substituted Olsen) watching from the sideline. It looked like they had squandered their chance after misses on a couple of breakaways that would have made it 2-0, but fortune smiled on the guys in black. Crayton still looks worrying in net, but the goals are coming.
Next: Dallas (Home)
7. -4 New England Revolution (WDWDL)
And reality comes crashing down on Nicol the Illusionist's smoke and mirrors show. RSL put six past the Revs, but it could have been so much worse with better finishing from RSL in the first half. 29 shots, 12 on frame for RSL? Wow! I've been mystified by the Rev's solid record to open the season, but I think this match was a more accurate indication of where their season will be heading.
Next: Houston (Home)
8. Colorado Rapids (WWDLD)
How many times have the Rapids played the Galaxy so far this season? Whatever the case, they couldn't get the result this time as they failed to put away a few early chances that may have seen them crush the Galaxy's spirit. Instead, Arena's boys nipped back in for another come from behind draw, as is their wont.
Next: RSL (Home)
Bum-Sniffing Omega Mutts
9. Houston Dynamo (DLLDW)
A week on the sidelines, watching and waiting, trying to figure out how to score goals. Think RSL's 6-0 thrashing of the Revs will have the goal-shy Dynamo salivating at the chance to have their own crack at the Revs?
Next: Revs (Away)
10. +3 Toronto FC (LDLWW)
Guevara bundles home a scrappy goal to win a rough (and, let's be honest, butt-ugly) game to halt TFC's long slide towards the bottom, followed by a narrow 1-0 over KC in the wake of Carver's departure. In that second match, Vitti looked like he's settling into MLS nicely. I wonder if Barrett still has a place in the team when DeRo gets healthy? TFC are back in the win column, but they're not dominating games, which limits their climb to three places this week despite the two victories. The home stand continues next week against the struggling Crew. A third win running will surely see them enter the Playoff Pack.
Next: Crew (Home)
11. San Jose Earthquakes (WLDDL)
I said last week that the Quakes need a go-to finisher in order to remain in the hunt for the playoffs this year. Case in point: the match with Seattle. The Quakes had chances, registering more shots on frame than their hosts, but they were simply unable to create anything that really tested Keller.
Next: Chivas (Home)
12. -2 New York Red Bulls (LDWLL)
The Bulls have certainly been seeing red in this young season, haven't they? Unable to build on last week's victory, they'll take comfort from only losing 1-0 despite playing almost the entire match against KC a man down. That might have said something for the improvement of their defense, so hurtfully exposed by Seattle in the season opener. But then they watched it all fall apart at home to DC, where balls over the top and through the middle exposed a slow center of defense on a fast, bouncy pitch...much like in Seattle. Too bad Osorio's men have to call that patch of plastic home, eh?
Next: Galaxy (Away)
Will the Crew ever win again? They looked home and dry up 2-0 but couldn't seal the deal, as has happened so often this season. True, the red was probably harsh, but losing two goals in the last few minutes is no way to stake your claim as a true challenger for the league title. When do things go from worrying to desperation?
Next: TFC (Away)
14. -2 FC Dallas (LLDWL)
Despite being a man down for much of the match, they did have their chances, only to see Thornton come up big at every time of asking. Tough luck for the Starcows, but their defensive effort, in spite of surrendering two goals, was a bit better. The question is: was this down to anything Dallas was doing, or was it a lackluster Goats attack? They may get more answers away to DC United next weekend.
Next: DC United (Away)
15. Los Angeles Galaxy (DLDDD)
There's a pattern emerging here. LA come under heavy early pressure, are bailed out by Ricketts in net, then come into the game when their opponents fail to put them away completely, and finally the equalizer arrives. LA were fortunate to have an official who realized his mistake or this one may have been their second loss. Question: does only one loss in five outweigh not having any wins? Nope.
Next: Red Bulls (Home)