So just how long will it be until the wheels fall off the Goats' cart? They keep piling improbable result upon improbable result, while the rest of the league stutters along in their wake, watching Preki's merry band disappearing over the horizon, presumably singing Serbian pirate chanties or some such discordant nonsense as would match the flailing limbs and hurtling bodies of their on-field play. Are you ready, me hearties? To the Dogpile!
The Alpha Dog
1. Chivas USA (DWLWW)
Will no one step up to expose these charlatans? I'm mystified at how Preki's doing it. Voodoo, perhaps? Whatever the case, the points keep piling into the Goats' pockets, whether they deserve them or not, and nobody else seems to be making a sustained effort to keep pace with them. So somehow, unbelievably, Chivas continues to reign atop the league and atop the Pile.
Next: RSL (Home)
2. +1 Seattle Sounders (WLLWD)
The Playoff Pack
"In a clearing stands an X-boxer." Honestly, how many men do you need marking Jaqua's near post run on that corner? With an extra man, you'd think the Fire might find a way to mark Marshall. Instead, they concede the only shot on goal that the Sounders managed, and it's promptly stuck in the corner of the net. Montero's downward slide continues as he sees red, but the results are still good for Sigi's boys. I'm waiting to see what toll the summer might take on their depth, but so far, so good.
Next: LA Galaxy (Home)
3. -1 Chicago Fire (WDDDD)
The Fire looked home and dry, up a goal and up a man, but once again, they couldn't seal the deal. It's a funny old game when you look at the difference between the pre-season favorites from the East. Chicago won a couple, earned some draws that they maybe didn't quite deserve, and have drawn a few that they couldn't quite put away. Contrast that with the Crew, who lost a couple, but have generally been on top of games that they can't quite put away. A goal or two less for the Fire, and a goal or two more for the Crew and how different things might look, both on the table and on the Pile. A visit from the Revs next weekend should get the Fire back on the winning track.
Next: Revs (Home)
4. +2 DC United (WLDWW)
Two wins in a row and three unbeaten has United turning in a surprising open to the season. Despite a commanding performance that saw them create more than enough chances, the finishes were not appearing until the Godfather of Goals pointed the way home with a brace. Now comes a big test of their early season promise with two games in a week against teams also punching above their weight at the top of the East.
Next: KC Wizards (Away), Toronto FC (Home)
United rise, but RSL plummet, leaving the inactive Wiz steady in fifth, despite a challenge from the Rapids, who they probably just marginally shade at the moment. That could all change this week with conference testers home to United, and away to the Crew.
Next: DC United (Home), Crew (Away)
6. +2 Colorado Rapids (WDLDW)
Not as dominant a performance as you'd like given that they were up a man for over a half, but a solid result. No mistakes at the back and enough chances created to win the match. I suppose you could ask for more, but this is the Rapids, so they'll take the 3 points and continue on the road to mediocrity. And speaking of mediocrity...yes, I realize it was wet and in the 4o's, but only 9k in that lovely new stadium for a clash with your biggest rivals? I know a bunch of folks in DC who'd eagerly fill such an edifice. Just sayin'.
7. -3 Real Salt Lake (WWLWL)
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your MLS roller coaster team of the year! Is it just a matter of home and away, or is Kreis' bunch infected with some deadly strain of inconsistency influenza? A week removed from a 6-0 pasting of the uninspiring Revs, Olave sees red, as he always threatens to do, and RSL go a whole match without a shot on goal, falling 2-0 to the uninspiring Rapids. Until the performances and results become consistent, RSL still can't be considered among the favorites for the Shield or the Cup. Let's see if the roller coaster continues against the LA sides this week.
Next: LA Galaxy (Home), Chivas (Away)
8. +1 Houston Dynamo (LLDWW)
Turns out, the cure for what ails struggling sides from the West is the Revs. Houston grab as easy a 2-0 road win as you're likely to come across in MLS, having their first gifted to them by Reis and facing just three shots, only one of which was actually on target. Back into the playoff hunt go the Dynamo. Just in time for the Lone Star derby.
Next: Dallas (Home)
Bum-Sniffing Omega Mutts
9. +1 Toronto FC (DLWWD)
Outshot 3 to 1 at home? Only two tries on frame in the "cauldron" of Fortress BMO? Ouch. It speaks more of the Crew's struggles than of TFC's recent good run that they took a point from this match. They'll need to muster a much better effort if they're to survive a trip to DC next weekend.
Next: DC United (Away)
Jeebus. And I thought DC's inability to chances was frustrating. I can only imagine what Crew fans must be feeling. 17 shots? 8 on goal? On the road? Against a team looking to defend? Damn. I wonder if the master plan is to try and win the Supporters' Shield with more draws than Andrulis' crew (pardon the pun) a few years ago? Nevertheless, they manage to climb over some of the other useless bodies down here on the bottom of the Pile.
Next: KC Wizards (Home)
Four games unbeaten, but finally a win to call their very own. Despite the win, and despite having the better of the match, it took a penalty to get the points for LA. Still, the defense looks improved, and Ricketts has been a big addition in net. Might Arena navigate the tricky waters of the Sea of Becksmania and survive the season? Perhaps. Much will depend upon his ability to hang onto Donovan this summer, rather than the "will he, won't he" of the Return of Becks saga. No rest for the victors as they hit the road for a pair of matches this week.
I said last week that I thought the 6-0 loss to RSL might be a better indication of what the Revs are bringing to the party than their undefeated start might indicate. Need more evidence? How about 3 shots, 1 on frame...at home? A ball dribbling through Reis' legs? Need any more? I thought not. Out of the playoff pack they tumble. And what's this? A trip to face a Chicago side desperate for a win after four draws? Yeah, good luck with that.
Next: Fire (Away)
13. -1 New York Red Bulls (DWLLL)
Hey look! Carlos Johnson started a match and managed not to get himself ejected. Still, he was the only player booked in a rather drab match. A few weeks ago it looked like Osorio had the ship pointed in the right direction, but now the Bulls are taking on water and looking pretty dire. But look at what a glorious softball the MLS scheduling homunculi toss up for them next--the Quakes in the Swamp. Race to the bottom indeed!
Next: Quakes (Home)
United controlled large swathes of the match, but Dallas had their chances, mainly through dangerous balls from van den Bergh. Still, it's another loss to continue FCD's struggles to start the season. The defense is still the Achilles heel. And just how long is Hyndman's leash? It doesn't get any easier with the Lone Star derby away leg coming up next.
Next: Dynamo (Away)
The Quakes certainly created enough to merit at least a draw, but their lack of a finishing touch continues to wreak havoc with their results. Think Frank's drawing up a shopping list for the summer? He needs to find the scoring soon if San Jose are to challenge for the playoffs this year. Also, would it be too much to ask for somebody at Quakes HQ to greenlight the Middlesbrough away kit for next year's home garb?
Next: Red Bulls (Away)