So has Preki been making threatening phone calls or something? Stuffing horse noggins in ball bags? Because it seems that nobody wants to challenge Chivas USA. All of the teams that were within striking distance of the Goats managed only draws this weekend, ceding an eight-point head start in the race for the Supporters' Shield. You've got to expect that at some point the Parity Police will come in hard with the tear gas and tasers, but until then, the song remains the same atop the Pile. Time to cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of Major League Soccer!
The Alpha Dog
1. Chivas USA (WLWWW)
Kings of the heap, and all of their potential challengers seem to be conspiring to give them as comfortable a lead as they could wish. I'm still suspicious about their ability to maintain this run, but for now, they're grinding out results at an impressive rate, particularly given other supposed top clubs inability to do the same. In a league beset by parity, it's not always quality and attacking flair, but consistency and defensive organization that get the job done. Preki has learned that lesson well. Next week brings the current top dogs in the East calling.
Next: DC United (Home)
2. Seattle Sounders (LLWDD)
The Playoff Pack
Riley's ill discipline put a stop to a Sounders rally that looked like it might finally see off the Galaxy. One win in the last five sees their bright start blunted, but none of the others hanging about in the Goats' wake seem to be doing any better, so they see no Pile penalty...yet. A winless weekend away to Dallas would surely see them tumble from their high perch.
Next: FC Dallas (Away)
3. +1 DC United (DWWDD)
The unbeaten run is now five, but both draws were disappointing this week, as United will feel that they may have deserved more away to KC, and will certainly be disappointed with the defensive letdowns that saw them concede three to visiting TFC at the weekend. Still, unlike last year's band of misfits, this Black-and-Red side is managing points from games that would have slipped away, and with the rest of the Pile failing to impress as well, they manage to rise slowly. Big test next weekend away to the dominant Goats.
Next: Chivas (Away)
4. -1 Chicago Fire (DDDDD)
Still unbeaten, but five draws running makes it just five points from the last fifteen on offer. Chicago looked to be bossing things early, but a makeshift Revs side managed to withstand the pressure, put together a few chances of their own and finally capitalize. Get some "W's" on that form chart and I'll push you back up, guys. Till then, it's a slow slide into the middle of the Playoff Pack.
Next: Toronto FC (Away)
Three wins running and things are starting to look up for the Dynamo, though their inability to score the goals to bury opposition they should really be seeing off leaves the backdoor swinging open. It was a gaping backdoor this weekend, but the Starcows couldn't find their way through it. A Red Bulls side that pushed four past the current Quakes might prove a sterner test for the former Quakes next weekend.
Next: Red Bulls (Away)
6. Colorado Rapids (WDLDW)
The bye week was relatively kind to the Rapids, with not enough being done by those around them to see any sort of penalty occur for failing to be in action. Next week brings a trip to visit a New England side licking its wounds and trying to regain some measure of respectability.
Next: Revolution (Away)
7. +3 Columbus Crew (LDDDW)
Another dominant early performance that nearly slipped away for the defending champs, but this time they managed to hold on for their first win. A four-game unbeaten stretch certainly looks a bit better with a "W" tacked on the end of it, doesn't it? In the first half, Columbus looked every bit the MLS Cup contender. It's those late collapses that have to be hugely worrying, particularly against their next opponents. Question: is it inevitable that a team that seems to specialize in giving up late draws and a team that specializes in grabbing them will produce late drama leading to a draw?
Next: LA Galaxy (Away)
8. +1 Toronto FC (LWWDD)
Though United had the better of the match, TFC took their chances well, with DeRo starting to prove that he's not past it yet. Two game-changing goals almost took the wind out of DC's sails completely, but when push came to shove, United did just about enough to make their home and territorial advantage pay. An impressive result to go four games unbeaten, but they'll have much to prove against the Fire if they want to stay in the hunt for the Eastern crown.
Next: Fire (Home)
Bum-Sniffing Omega Mutts
9.-4 Kansas City Wizards (DWLDL)
Tough week for the Wiz. After a passionless draw at home in the midweek against DC United, they nearly managed to grab another undeserved point away to the Crew, but couldn't quite manage it. One point from six on offer sees the Wiz trending downward on the Pile. A visit to Rio Tinto and this week's other big Pile-plummetters offers hope for redemption...or continued downward spiraling.
Next: RSL (Away)
10. +1 Los Angeles Galaxy (DDWDD)
An impressive six games unbeaten sees the Gals continuing to climb, though their assent might be more rapid if they could turn some of those one point hauls into three pointers. Am I the only one who keeps expecting Arena's men to have one awful weekend where it all comes completely off the rails and they get a real hammering? Whatever the case, they're doing better than many expected with the Beckham fiasco.
Next: Crew (Home)
An insane stoppage time prevents the roller coaster loss-win pattern from continuing perfectly, but losing narrowly to Chivas puts them back on the familiar rails. RSL seem like they should be a more competent side than they are. Perhaps it's just that lack of an assassin in front of net that keeps them from achieving any really steady progess. I hesitate to drop them so far, but my intuition says they'll never be better than hanging about the fringes until they develop consistent results on the back of consistent finishing.
Next: Wizards (Home)
12. +1 New York Red Bulls (WLLLW)
Kandji proves a holy terror on the plastic patch. The Quakes couldn't live with his strength and speed, nor could they muster much threat on the Bulls' goal. It's a much needed win for the Swamplanders, though they'll need more than one big result to propel themselves further up the table and up the Pile. Does Osorio finally have the proper mix figured out?
Next: Houston (Home)
The bleeding stops with a big point away to Chicago. Shalrie Joseph, target man? Nicol continues to pull aces from sleeves we didn't know existed. Unfortunately for the Revs, the draw isn't enough for me to rate them above RSL, and the Red Bulls' dominant win demands a move up the Pile, thus the further erosion of their position. Beating the Rapids at home would surely see them rise.
Next: Rapids (Home)
14. FC Dallas (DWLLL)
Another loss, but they did have a chance to snatch a point late. Regardless, it's only the miserable form of the Quakes that keeps Dallas off the bottom. How long until Cooper and Cunningham start finding the net again? How much longer can the Dallas FO continue to leave Hyndman in charge of a sinking ship?
Next: Sounders (Home)
Last week there was a shadow of doubt in my mind when I stuck them on the bottom of the Dogpile, but losing 4-1 to the similarly moribund Red Bulls proves my intuition right. It's all falling apart for Yallop and the Quakes. Last year, despite their lack of scoring, they still had a defense they could be proud off. Not so much this year, eh? To rub salt in the wound, they'll have to sit idle next week, unable to seek an immediate response on the field.