In the midst of a sinking SuperLiga (Is anybody paying attention to this tournament this year? Does it last another?) drawing more than a quarter of the MLS teams away from action, and with many of MLS's domestic stars away making a dramatic run at the Confederations Cup, MLS plods on, slogging through a handful of matches that don't really accomplish a whole lot on the table and leave the Dogpile nonplussed. Let's review...
The Alpha Dog
1. Houston Dynamo (WWWDL)
Ouch. Throw the form-book out the window as the Galaxy tame the Dynamo. I only saw highlights, but I wonder about that lineup for Kinnear's boys as they didn't seem to have too much bite available in midfield. With Rico Clark back in the fold as Ching and Holden head the other way in a national team swap, that shouldn't be a problem next time around, but scoring might be. Time to test the depth once again. Fortunately, nobody else is doing much to try and claim the Alpha Dog crown. Can they recover from their wobble away to KC next weekend?
Next: KC Wizards (Away)
The Playoff Pack
2. +1 Columbus Crew (DWWLW)
Back on track, though you'd have to say that wins against the Red Bulls aren't exactly a rare item in MLS these days, and you might have expected them to win by a more significant margin considering the recent fortunes of both sides. Still, the Crew are steadily climbing their way up the conference ladder and look to be on the slow-burn path to post-season success once again. Next weekend brings a chance to host DC United and to climb atop the East for the first time this season.
Next: DC United (Home)
3. +3 Seattle Sounders (LWDDW)
Back on song, and I wonder if Bob Bradley is noting the kind of form that Jacqua's been in this year. Casey may have been his choice to replace the injured Ching for the Confederations Cup, but Casey isn't really a target forward, despite his size. Jacqua, on the other hand...Two well-taken goals and an assist that would have been a goal (if Montero didn't stick his noggin in the way to deflect it home) confirm the Sounders' choke-hold on the #3 spot in the West and give them a healthy boost up the Pile. Despite the margin of victory, the 3-0 win was more a result of taking the chances they created while the Rapids did not. Sadly, a week off doesn't give them the chance to build momentum.
4. -2 Colorado Rapids (WDWDL)
You see what happens? You go and give a club some laudatory boosting up the Pile, and then they go and drop points at home to lowly Dallas. That said, they created more than enough to win, but couldn't take their chances. And the end of the week confirmed a slide back down the Pile as the Sounders gave them a hefty thumping to confirm their place as #3 in the West. Despite the scoreline, the Rapids created enough chances but just couldn't find the finishing. The question becomes: does that finishing fare better with Casey returning and Cummings heading off to the Gold Cup?
Next: Fire (Home)
A week off but no damage done as far as conference standings are concerned. But the Crew have pulled to within a point, making next weekend's encounter a battle for all the Eastern Conference marbles.
Next: Crew (Away)
6. -1 Chivas USA (DLWLL)
They went down fighting, but down they went down in SuperLiga nonetheless. With that competition out of the way, Preki's boys now get a week off to recover ahead of their return to league action. Fortunately, a draw and loss from Houston have kept the latter from extending their lead at the top, so Chivas will be poised to contest the crown upon their return.
7. Chicago Fire (WWLLL)
The Fire advance in SuperLiga, but their absence from league play sees them slip to the fringes of the playoff qualifiers. A trip to Colorado awaits with an opportunity to solidify their position, but they'll have to do it sans the Gold Cup call-ups.
Next: Rapids (Away)
8. Kansas City Wizards (WDDLW)
The Wiz can't make it happen in SuperLiga and will return to MLS to engage in the playoff dogfight. First up? A visit from the Dynamo, still stinging from this weekend's loss to the Galaxy.
Next: Dynamo (Home)
Bum-Sniffing Omega Mutts
9. +1 Real Salt Lake (LDWDW)
The revival seems to be well and truly on for RSL with four games unbeaten and a 3-0 hammering of their fellow playoff fringe dwellers, TFC. So how much longer does Kreis have to keep this run going to restore confidence in his regime, and will RSL miss the driving force and energy of Beckerman in midfield when the Gold Cup sucks him up for a few weeks?
Next: Quakes (Home)
10. -1 Toronto FC (LLWWL)
TFC follow up their qualification campaign for the CCL with a mauling of the Red Bulls. 2-0? They could have put six past the Bulls with better finishing. Sadly for the Reds, RSL seem to have found the form we thought they'd be capable of--when they're in Rio Tinto in any case. Frei probably kept this one from turning into 5 or 6 goal rout rather than the 3 they conceded. Also, a note to Mad Mo: Nick Garcia was not the upgrade you were looking for in central defense. Time to go shopping with some of that cap space you cleared.
11. New England Revolution (DLWWL)
No rest for the weary and injured Revs as they advance in SuperLiga, prepare to lose a couple of key components to Gold Cup call-ups, and face a cross-country trek in their return to league action with a date in LA.
Next: LA Galaxy (away)
12. FC Dallas (WDLWD)
Huh? When did FC Dallas suddenly become hard to beat? What is that, one loss in seven? Of course, making such a claim would ignore the Rapids squandering chance after chance to make their dominance pay. But the result is what counts, and Dallas have slowly been accumulating points. Not enough to make a serious playoff push, but the momentum could be building. Then again, this is Dallas, so we're probably only a week or two away from the wheels falling off. Could it happen at home to the hapless Red Bulls?
Next: Red Bulls (Home)
13. +1 Los Angeles Galaxy (DWLLW)
Huge win for the Gals over the tog dogs. Donovan will be returning full of confidence after his excellent Confederations Cup, and the prodigal Becks is due back in a couple of weeks as well. The problem is this: they're still not in a playoff position, Donovan might have turned a few heads for the summer transfer window, and Becks brings the circus back to town. Break out the black top hat, Bruce; it's going to be a long, long summer.
Next: Revolution (Home)
14. -1 San Jose Earthquakes (LWDLW)
Only the woeful Red Bulls are keeping the Quakes off the bottom, but Yallop is making moves to spur another second-half run. Can they replicate 2008's push? We shall see, though a trip to Rio Tinto, where RSL have been in full-on recovery mode of late, is not promising.
Next: RSL (Away)
15. New York Red Bulls (LLDLL)
The first leg of this week's away jaunt was a mild capitulation to a rampant, pink-shirted TFC, who, but for lax finishing, might have put away a half-dozen. The second leg involved more of a fight against the Crew, but much wasted finishing (by Robbie Rogers in particular) kept things interesting, enough so that the Bulls might actually have snatched a point. Unfortunately, individual points, while morale building, won't do much for Osorio's cause these days. Will he still be in charge against Dallas next week?
Next: FC Dallas (Away)