Here come the Parity Police with the thud of jackboots and the crackle of tasers! Only one of my previous week's Playoff Pack + Alpha Dog managed a win this week, and it just happened to be a Chicago side stuck in neutral on the back of five draws that had me looking to drop them a bit down the pile before the results rolled in. I bet tomorrow's Table Talk will make for some interesting conversation. In the meantime, let's see if I can spark a little interest on the Dogpile. Cue the intuition, it's time to hit the Pile!
The Alpha Dog
1. Chivas USA (LWWWD)
Ah, so they are mortal! 2-0 up with under 15 minutes to go, and the Goats, who had only given up three goals all season (that's nine previous games for those keeping score at home) managed to concede two and drop two points in the process. At home. After being outshot nearly 2-to-1 by the visiting United. Sadly for the rest of the league, that's nowhere near enough to see them toppled from the top dog position considering the efforts of those immediately below them and the overwhelming evidence of previous results. The question now will be: what response can Preki get from his men next week?
Next: KC Wizards (Away)
2. +2 Chicago Fire (DDDDW)
The Playoff Pack
A win at long last and a clean sheet to boot. Am I ready to start warming up the "Here comes the Chicago steamroller" headlines? Not quite yet. Even though TFC was at home, I'm not convinced they're a real playoff contender as of yet, though a defender or two might help that situation. And against that suspect defense, the Fire only managed seven shots? And Barrett managed to look dangerous for TFC? Hmmm, something's not quite right in Chi-town, though a shutout on the road is tidy business. Now we'll see if they can get the momentum building that their roster and the bated-breath expectations of the drooling punditry would have us believe is possible.
Next: Red Bulls (Away)
3. DC United (WWDDD)
United are starting to look like a team that refuses to be beaten. Sure, they're sitting on three draws in a row, the equivalent point total they would have taken by winning any one of those three games, but coming back from 2-0 down on the road against the clear league leaders to maintain their unbeaten run has got to carry some heavy psychological mojo. I'll keep them amongst the lead dogs for now, but a result at home against RSL will be mandatory to keep them there next week.
Next: RSL (Home)
Three draws running seems pretty much equivalent to DC's current form, but DC's latest draw came against the undisputed Alpha Dog, while Seattle's was against a whipped and whimpering Omega Mutt scrounging for scraps at the bottom of the Pile. Seattle had enough quality in their starters to come out of the gates strong. It's what pads the roster after those starters that is the real worry. The miles logged on tired legs are beginning to pile up, and summer approaches. Are we about to witness a Hull-esque collapse?
Next: Rapids (Away)
5. Houston Dynamo (DWWWD)
A road draw, but one that's got to feel like a loss after being up a man for nearly an hour and surrendering a late, late equalizer to the ten men of New York. This is the Dynamo's big problem at the moment. They're pretty solid at the back, they often dominate games, but they just can't seem to score enough goals. That being said, they were robbed of what looked a perfectly legitimate goal by the whistlemen, though Red Bulls fans may argue that those same whistlemen were slow with the cards against a Houston side that's increasingly resembling the thuggish Chivas. Or is that the other way around? Perhaps Preki's winning formula is based upon observation of Kinnear's recent success rather than original gangsterism? Discuss.
Next: Quakes (Home)
6. Colorado Rapids (DLDWD)
Tough one for the Rapids as they looked to have done enough to deserve all three points on the road against the Revs. Casey stays hot, taking his season total to five, and the defense (or was it the Rev's lack of offense?) limited the home side to just six shots, with only two on frame. Next week throws up a big opportunity for the Rapids to ambush a stumbling Seattle at the (largely uninhabited) Dick to boost their stagnant league, and Dogpile, position.
Next: Seattle (Home)
7. Columbus Crew (DDDWD)
Last week I asked the following: "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?" Thank you! Thank you! I doff my Nostrodamus cap in the general direction of the adoring interweb throngs. Just when it seemed that the Crew might register back-to-back wins to get their season back on track, Eddie Lewis casts aside his walker and cranks one from range to give the HDC its second MLS late long-distance equalizer in a single weekend. Sure would have been nice to be entering a bye week on the back of two wins, eh?
8. +1 Kansas City Wizards (WLDLW)
Looks like the Wiz want to steal the roller-coster club crown from RSL. Not a dominant 2-0, but a significant one, as Josh Wolff (sigh) climbs atop the scoring charts with Brian McBride by netting his fifth and sixth of the season. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is going to be the Wizard's pattern all year. They'll hover right around the fringes of the Playoff Pack, one week looking like a good bet for post-season danger, and the next dropping points they shouldn't.
Next: Chivas (Home)
Bum-Sniffing Omega Mutts
9. -1 Toronto FC (WWDDL)
Oof! That was a bit of 2-0 brick wall to slam into at Fortress BMO, wasn't it? Despite the scoreline, TFC looked to be more than holding their own against the Fire. Still, it's a loss at home, and that drops the Reds from the Playoff Pack. Is the "Phew, we finally got rid of that crazy coach!" boost finally petering out? Will Mad Mo be able to find a couple of quality defenders in the summer to bolster the ranks ahead of Frei? Heck, they may need more than defensive help when the Gold Cup starts sucking their roster dry this summer.
Next: Revs (Home)
10. Los Angeles Galaxy (DWDDD)
This is getting to be a rather stale tale, isn't it? Ricketts saves the LA bacon. Stupid defensive lapse lets the opposition in. LA grabs the late equalizer. How many times have we seen this film before? Ah well, I suppose it's only appropriate given Hollywood's penchant for resurrecting horses that have been beaten to death a handful of times already, just to give them one final licking (until the next time, of course). When does Beckham return again to face the boos at the HDC? Anything to break the monotony, please!
Next: FC Dallas (Away)
11. +1 New York Red Bulls (LLLWD)
So what to take from this one? Kandji still looks a terror, and they scrapped for a point after playing a man down for nearly an hour. But Rojas lived up to his name to earn yet another early-season red for the (also appropriately named) Red Bulls. They lost another of Osorio's imports to injury (Johnson). And, of course, it was a draw at home and the defense, yet again, looked slow and exploitable. So which Red Bull roster do you see: full of scrap or full of crap? I tend to think they've got at least a minor run hidden in there somewhere.
Next: Fire (Home)
It's all falling apart for a side that many (including yours truly) thought would qualify easily for the playoffs, if not challenge for the Shield and Cup outright. Can Kreis plug the holes and break out the bilge pump in time to save their rapidly sinking season? The tools would seem to be there. Perhaps they just need (hello mutilated corpse of the deceased equine I can't seem to stop pummeling!) one really lethal finisher to complete the puzzle.
Next: DC United (Away)
13. New England Revolution (DLLDD)
All right, Revs, so you got a draw. But you got it after mustering just two shots on frame in your own park. Not good. Nicol's smoke and mirrors show is now winless in five, with just three points to show for the last fifteen available to them. A trip to BMO with TFC having just been stung at home by the Fire would not seem to present too many opportunities for improvement on that sorry figure. Is the Rev's long run as one of the top sides in the league at long last at an end, or can Nicol draw one last drop of blood from the stones that pass for soil in New England?
Next: Toronto FC (Away)
14. FC Dallas (WLLLD)
Alright, so it wasn't a loss, the performance wasn't embarrassing, and it came against the #2 team in the league. But it's still a home draw that claims a solitary point from the last twelve on offer. Dallas are still deep in the mire. Will the FO finally start to question their commitment to Hyndman if they fail to get anything at home to LA next week?
Next: LA Galaxy (Home)
No help for the lowly. Both sides immediately above the Quakes on the Pile earned draws, while Yallop's men had to continue to stew on that 4-1 hammering by their fellow Omega Mutts from New York. A visit to the Quakes-turned-Dynamo seems an unlikely source of succor, but these "Clone Wars" do tend to be close affairs, so hope springs eternal. Even without any proven goal scorers.
Next: Houston (Away)