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MLS Power Rankings: March 25

1 (4) Montreal (4-0-0, 9 points). Beat New York 1-0; Beat Toronto 2-1. Montreal No. 1, really? Yeah, I know, but they’re the only team that has performed in every match so far this season.

2 (16) Dallas (3-1-0, 9 points). Beat Real Salt Lake 2-0; Beat Houston 3-2. Until the win over RSL, Dallas hadn’t been exactly convincing, but as the second 3-win team in the league, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

3 (1) Los Angeles (2-0-1, 7 points). Beat Colorado 1-0; Drew 1-1 with Chivas USA. Two sluggish performances kept the Galaxy undefeated, but just barely. They need to put teams away, though.

4 (2) Houston (2-1-0, 6 points). Beat Vancouver 2-1; Lost 3-2 to Dallas. A nice comeback against Vancouver kept the Dynamo’s long home undefeated streak going and also ended a bad stretch of results.

5 (15) Chivas USA (2-1-1, 7 points). Beat Chicago 4-1; Drew 1-1 with Los Angeles. A crushing win at Chicago hopefully will be enough to get by far the lowest-attended team in the league to start drawing a crowd.

6 (3) Vancouver (2-1-0, 6 points). Lost 2-1 to Houston. For about an hour, the Caps were the best team against Houston. Then Darren Mattocks failed to score on a break away and the Dynamo scored twice. Still, the Caps are pretty decent.

7 (11) San Jose (2-1-1, 7 points). Beat Seattle 1-0; Drew 1-1 with Columbus. Like Dallas, San Jose haven’t been exactly convincing so far, but a good win against a quality team should be enough.

8 (8) Columbus (2-1-1, 7 points). Beat DC United 1-0; Drew 1-1 with San Jose. The Crew’s win at DC might have been mostly down to good goalkeeping and some luck, but they have to feel like a solid playoff team.

9 (12) Philadelphia (2-1-0, 6 points). Didn’t play; Beat New England 1-0. The Union have only shown glimmers of their potential this season but have been eking out results against so-so teams while their new players try to gel.

10 (6) Kansas City (1-1-2, 5 points). Drew 0-0 with New England; Drew 0-0 with Chicago. Two matches, two excruciating goalless draws. KC were the more dominant in both matches, but aren’t creating – or scoring – chances.

11 (5) Real Salt Lake (1-2-1, 4 points). Lost to Dallas 2-0; Drew 1-1 with Colorado. We’ll probably give RSL a pass this week with so many internationals not playing, but they haven’t looked like the same team so far this season.

12 (7) DC United (1-2-1, 4 points). Lost 1-0 to Columbus; Drew 0-0 with New York. Good defense, virtually no attack whatsoever. Not sure what’s wrong in DC, but they need to get it right before they’re far back of the playoff pack.

13 (9) New England (1-1-1, 4 points). Drew 0-0 with Kansas City; Lost 1-0 to Philadelphia. No shock that the Revs didn’t score against the league’s best defense and minus Jerry Bengtson and Saer Sene. Still waiting for Lee Nguyen and Juan Toja to get on the same page, though.

14 (14)  Toronto (1-2-0, 3 points). Didn’t play; Lost 2-1 to Montreal. I’m enjoying Toronto, who probably have the worst squad – on paper at least – in the league, but seem hungry. The two signings from England are looking good as well.

15 (18) Portland (0-1-2, 2 points). Didn’t play; Drew 1-1 with Seattle. Well, Portland looked better against Seattle, though they gave up the first goal for the third straight match. Now if they can equate dangerous play with goals.

16 (10) Seattle (0-2-1, 1 point). Lost to San Jose 1-0; Drew 1-1 with Portland. It’s great that the Sounders advanced to the Champions League semifinals, but are they doing it at the expense of their league position?

17 (13) New York (0-2-2, 2 points). Lost 1-0 to Montreal; Drew 0-0 with DC United. Another scoreless match, though at least in this case it was because Thierry Henry refuses to play on turf was injured. New York have been desperately poor, though.

18 (17) Colorado (0-3-1, 1 point). Lost 1-0 to Los Angeles; Drew 1-1 with Real Salt Lake. Two decent performances (three if you count the loss to Dallas) have only resulted in one point for the Rapids, who, predictably, are still missing Martin Rivero and Edson Buddle.

19 (19) Chicago (0-3-1, 1 point). Lost 4-1 to Chivas USA; Drew 0-0 with Kansas City. On the bright side, it can’t get any worse for Chicago. Can it?

MLS Power Rankings: Birthday Edition

1 (1) Los Angeles (1-0-0, 3 points). Didn’t play. The Galaxy got a week off for Champions League matches, though that now means they have a three-day window between that and the Chivas match. Up next: Chivas USA on Sunday

2 (2) Houston (1-0-0, 3 points). Didn’t play. With Seattle’s Champions League win, the pressure is on Houston, sort of, to get a result at Santos Laguna, which seems a bit unlikely. Up next: At Dallas on Sunday

3 (7) Vancouver (2-0-0, 6 points). Beat Columbus 2-1. Vancouver were occasionally dominant against Columbus, but their finishing was poor. Also, Darren Mattocks is still 20 goals shy of his 20 goal prediction for this year. Up next: At Houston on March 23

4 (6) Montreal (2-0-0, 6 points). Beat Portland 2-1. There isn’t really a question that Montreal is pretty good. The question is more whether they can keep this up all season. Up next: Toronto on Saturday

5 (4) Real Salt Lake (1-1-0, 3 points). Lost to DC United 1-0. It was an uninspiring – if a little cruel – defeat in DC this weekend. Nonetheless, Real looks playoff-quality. Up next: Colorado on Saturday

6 (3) Kansas City (1-1-0, 3 points). Lost to Toronto 2-1. For the second consecutive match, KC gave up an early goal in a road game, except this time they couldn’t come back to win. They can’t keep doing that if they want to stay among the elite. Up next: Chicago on Saturday

7 (11) DC United (1-1-0, 3 points). Beat Real Salt Lake 1-0. It was a mostly mediocre performance against RSL, but three points are good, and they’re bound to figure out their striker situation at some point. Up next: At New York on Saturday

8 (5) Columbus (1-1-0, 3 points). Lost to Vancouver 2-1. The Crew were less convincing against Vancouver than they were against Chivas, but still could’ve gotten a point. Up next: San Jose on Saturday

9 (14) New England (1-0-0, 3 points). Beat Chicago 1-0. Well that was a nice way to open the season, wasn’t it? Sure, the Fire were better early on, but the Revs grew into the match and could’ve won by multiple goals. Up next: At Philadelphia on Saturday

10 (8) Seattle (0-1-0, 0 points). Didn’t play. The Sounders became the first MLS team to beat a Mexican team in the Champions League quarterfinals. And apparently Obafemi Martins is on his way. Up next: Portland on Saturday

11 (13) San Jose (1-1-0, 3 points). Beat New York 2-1. For 80 minutes, it looked like the Quakes were going to go goalless and lose again, then they rallied and grabbed a crucial three points. Still, they really need their wounded players to get healthy. Up next: At Columbus on Saturday

12 (17) Philadelphia (1-1-0, 3 points). Beat Colorado 2-1. It’s debatable whether the Union deserved three points against Colorado in terrible conditions, but the Union will take it. They have a winnable match at home against the Revs up next. Up next: New England on Saturday

13 (12) New York (0-1-1, 1 point). Lost to San Jose 2-1. The Red Bulls are still all over the place defensively, but they look decent in attack and get to play at home next. Up next: DC United on Saturday

14 (18)  Toronto (1-1-0, 3 points). Beat Kansas City 2-1. Wow, that’s probably the best Toronto has played in a year, at least. They probably still won’t win much this season, but their fight is encouraging. And Robert Earnshaw could score 15 goals this year. Up next: At Montreal on Saturday

15 (19) Chivas USA (1-1-0, 3 points). Beat Dallas 3-1. OK, so is Chivas the team that were hammered by Columbus at home or the one that wore Dallas out at the end to romp to an easy victory. Will anyone watch? Up next: At LA Galaxy on Sunday

16 (9) Dallas (1-1-0, 3 points). Lost to Chivas 3-1. You could certainly make the argument that Dallas are still better than Chivas, but nonetheless, falling apart as they did late is worrying. Up next: Houston on Sunday

17 (15) Colorado (0-2-0, 0 points). Lost to Philadelphia 2-1. The Rapids desperately need Edson Buddle, Jaime Castrillon and Martin Rivero back. And some decent goalkeeping. Up next: At Real Salt Lake on Saturday

18 (10) Portland (0-1-1, 1 point). Lost 2-1 to Montreal. I still think the Timbers will get it going at some point this year. It might not be enough to get them into the playoffs, but it’ll happen. Up next: At Seattle on Saturday

19 (16) Chicago (0-2-0, 0 points). Lost to New England 1-0. Arne Friedrich is out for at least a few more weeks, if not longer. Sherjill MacDonald is a disappointment. The midfield isn’t working. Am I missing anything, Fire fans? Up next: At Kansas City on Saturday

MLS Weekend Recap: April 30

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

Montreal 2 Portland 0. Montreal scores two late goals, one through a fairly harsh handball call and the subsequent penalty from Bernardo Corradi, and the other after backup keeper Joe Bednik failed to deal with a Davy Arnaud cross and Sinisa Ubiparipovic scored. Montreal dominated the match, which has prompted me to do a writeup on the Timbers’ struggles, which I’ll post some time this week. Hopefully today. Prediction: 1-1

New York 1 New England 0. Thierry Henry scores his league-leading ninth goal, then goes off injured, and against all odds the Red Bulls keep a clean sheet. Who knew? I didn’t watch this match – sounds like I didn’t miss much, but Red Bulls fans have to be happy that the team’s ongoing defensive miscues came to a halt, however temporarily. Prediction: New York 3-2

Philadelphia 1 San Jose 2. Steven Lenhart scores two goals off headers, one late in injury time, to help San Jose overcome a Gabriel Gomez equalizer in the 83rd minute. The second goal came off a nice bit of juking from Marvin Chavez before crossing – amazing what he can do when he’s not flopping to the ground like he’s been shot. The Union didn’t actually play too badly, which makes you worry about the safety of Piotr Nowak’s job, if they keep losing, since he was suspended for this match. Prediction: San Jose 2-1

Columbus 0 Vancouver 1. A dreadful match is won on Lee Young-Pyo’s free kick, which was either meant or accidental, depending on who you talk to. Columbus dominated possession, but failed to score, which leads me to believe that either the Whitecaps defense is great (it is good, though), or that Vargas is the second coming of Andres MenD’oh!za in the penalty area for the Crew. Prediction: Columbus 2-1

DC United 3 Houston 2. A fairly-barnstorming match where Dwayne DeRosario gets his firsts goal of the season, Maicon “Maybe I’m Not As Worthless As Jeremiah Always Says” Santos scores twice, including the winner, and United win two matches in a row for the first time since 2010. Will Bruin scored twice for Houston, the second one being basically bobbled into the net by DC keeper Joe Willis. Is it time to get Bill Hamid back in the starting lineup? Prediction: DC 2-0

Chicago 1 Seattle 2. Despite the Fire being the better team for most of the match, Seattle takes the lead through an Arne Friedrich own goal (What? MLS awarded an own goal? Heresy!) before Eddie Johnson’s head probably exploded with the realization he had put the ball in the back of the net. Celebrate it, Seattle fans, because it might not happen again in 2012. Chicago pulled one back after a Marco Pappa scored with his corner kick – not intentional. Seattle is a good team, so Chicago fans need not worry too much about this loss, it’s just every other loss or draw they should worry about. Prediction: 2-2

Colorado 4 Chivas USA 0. Finally Chivas back up all the complaining I constantly do about how bad they are with a performance that lives up to expectations. The Rapids got second-half goals from Tony Cascio, Kamani Hill (two) and Jeff Larentowicz, and probably could’ve scored six or seven. My analysis isn’t totally accurate, actually – the teams were fairly even in the first half, but the second half was a nightmare for Chivas. For Colorado, Conor Casey finally got into a game, which has to have Omar Cummings breathing a sigh of relief. Prediction: Colorado 3-1

Real Salt Lake 3 Toronto 2. I actually felt a bit sorry for Toronto after this match, because they were decent and probably deserved a point. TFC only made one horrible glaring defensive mistake to give up a goal, which is a step in the right direction. And sadly, this performance probably gave Aron Winter a couple more weeks as manager, which means they could start the season 0-0-10. Oh, goals were by … *looks at stats* … for RSL, Kyle Beckerman, a Richard Eckersley own goal and Johhny Steele (the winner in injury time). For Toronto, Eric Avila had a great match, scored and hit the post, and Donnell Henry also scored . Prediction: RSL 3-0

LA Galaxy 1 Dallas 1. Pat Noonan (What? He’s still alive?) scores a late goal for the Galaxy to give them a point. Brek Shea scored the first goal on a penalty. A dull match. I don’t think the Galaxy are even in first gear yet, just puttering along in neutral down a slope. Luckily, the MLS’s “Everyone makes the playoffs” policy will probably see them slide in at No. 8 or something. Prediction: 2-2

MLS Weekend Preview: April 28

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

All times Pacific, as usual.

Montreal (1-2-5) v. Portland (2-1-4). (11 a.m.) The Impact are looking for their second win of the season against a Portland team that ended a four-match losing streak last week by beating first-place Kansas City. Montreal play decent football, but give away too many fouls and are struggling on defense. Portland haven’t played too bad this season, but have given a few bad goals away late in matches. A win in this match would get Portland back in the playoff hunt. Prediction: 1-1

New York (3-1-3) v. New England (2-0-4). (12:30 p.m.) The Red Bulls come into this match after giving up four goals to DC United last week in a horrendous defensive display. They’re still missing Teemu Tainio, Roy Miller, Rafa Marquez, Wilman Conde and Juan Agudelo (who probably wouldn’t be playing anyway, but still) to injury or suspension. Which means that the Connor Lade-Marcus Holgersson-Victor Palsson-Stephen Keel (if he’s fit) defensive nightmare gets another match to show they’re not as horrible as they’ve looked. New England have looked good at times this year, but don’t yet know how to win. I think they’ll struggle to stop New York. Prediction: New York 3-2

Philadelphia (2-1-3) v. San Jose (5-1-1). (4 p.m.) The Union got three points last week against Chivas USA, but did it despite having two players (and coach Piotr Nowak) sent off and not necessarily playing well. San Jose have been the best team in the Western Conference so far. Missing Gabriel Farfan and Keon Daniels, I have a hard time seeing Philadelphia putting together enough in attack to win this match. Prediction: San Jose 2-1

Columbus (2-1-3) v. Vancouver (3-2-2). (4:30 p.m.) The Crew, who haven’t won their last three matches, take on Vancouver, who returned to winning ways by beating Dallas (somewhat fortuitously, I should say). The biggest problem the Crew have had so far this season is their defense. Julius James has yet to play a match, and Carlos Mendes, who would probably be James’ replacement, has also been injured. The Whitecaps still aren’t scoring goals, but they’ve been mostly solid on defense. Prediction: Columbus 2-1

DC United (3-3-2) v. Houston (2-2-1). (4:30 p.m.) United haven’t lost in their last six matches, but still have yet to win back-to-back games. Since 2010. This is actually a pretty good chance for them to do just that. Houston have been playing reasonably well, but are winding up their 7-match away streak to start the season, so will probably be a bit tired. Prediction: DC 2-0

Chicago (2-2-1) v. Seattle (3-1-1). (5:30 p.m.) After a fairly easy stretch of matches to start the season, the Fire get their hardest match of the season so far, taking on the Sounders, who just had a week off. Chicago might have Chris Rolfe playing again, which might help out their struggling attack. The Sounders will probably have Mauro Rosales back, at least for part of the match, which bodes well for them. Prediction: 2-2

Colorado (3-0-4) v. Chivas USA (3-0-4). (6 p.m.) If you went strictly by statistics, you would note that Chivas USA are 3-0-0 on the road so far this season, and are taking a Rapids squad that lost their last home match, to the Galaxy. However, doing so would ignore the fact that Chivas aren’t very good, and can mostly attribute their road success to the fact they are decent defensively and have gotten a bit lucky on the road. Colorado should have Conor Casey back, which has to be a relief for Omar Cummings, who has had to play up front with the likes of Andre Akpan for the last year. Yeesh. Prediction: Colorado 3-1

Real Salt Lake (5-1-3) v. Toronto (0-0-6). (6 p.m.) After two losses and a draw in a 3-game road trip, RSL return home to take on the league’s worst team. Toronto manager Aron Winter keeps talking about how they’re just about to turn it around, but they keep losing. It’s hard to see that changing in this match, even if they play well. I feel like I’ll say this every week until Winter is fired, but I’m amazed he hasn’t been fired yet. Prediction: RSL 3-0

LA Galaxy (3-0-3) v. Dallas (3-2-3). (7:30 p.m.) Back-to-back wins almost has the Galaxy starting to look like the defending champs. They’re still fairly bad defensively, though, and only Robbie Keane seems to be that interested in the attacking end. Dallas have played well lately, but the injuries are starting to pile up. Prediction: 2-2

MLS rankings: April 24

1 – 1. Sporting Kansas City (7-0-1 – 21 pts, 12 gf, 3 ga). This week: Lost to Portland 1-0. Despite suffering their first loss of the season, KC stays in top spot. Now they get a week off to stew on the loss. Up next: Montreal on May 5

2 – 3. San Jose Earthquakes (5-1-1 – 16 pts, 13 gf, 5 ga). This week: Beat Real Salt Lake 3-1. The scoreline might have flattered San Jose a bit, but nonetheless, they have come through two big tests with good performances. Up next: At Philadelphia on Saturday

3 – 4. Seattle Sounders (3-1-1 – 10 pts, 6 gf, 2 ga). This week: Didn’t play. The Sounders haven’t been scoring much, but they are (along with Kansas City) probably the top defensive team in the league. Up next: At Chicago on Saturday

4 – 2. Real Salt Lake (5-0-3 – 15 pts, 12 gf, 8 ga). This week: Lost 3-1 to San Jose. Once again RSL played fairly even with, but couldn’t beat, one of their playoff challengers. But, they’re road games, at least. Up next: At FC Dallas on Wednesday

5 – 9. DC United (3-3-2 – 12 pts, 12 gf, 8 ga). This week: Beat New York 4-1. This week is the biggest test for DC in showing they are a playoff team: Winning two matches in a row for the first time since 2010. Can they do it against a tired Houston squad? Up next: Houston on Saturday

6 – 6. Houston Dynamo (2-2-1 – 8 pts, 5 gf, 5 ga). This week: Drew 2-2 with Columbus. Houston have coped reasonably well with their 7-match road trip – and they probably deserved a win against Columbus. Up next: At DC United on Saturday

7 – 10. Vancouver Whitecaps (3-2-2 – 11 pts, 6 gf, 6 ga). This week: Beat Dallas 1-0. The Whitecaps should just keep Hassli on the bench, play LeToux at forward and let Camilo cut from the wings. It works better. Up next: At Colombus on Saturday

8 – 7. FC Dallas (3-1-3 – 10 pts, 8 gf, 10 ga). This week: Lost 1-0 at Vancouver. Dallas might statistically be a playoff team, but unless they find someone who can score goals without Blas Perez setting them up or scoring them, they’re going to struggle to make it. Up next: Real Salt Lake on Sunday

9 – 11. Chicago Fire (2-2-1 – 8 pts, 6 gf, 6 ga). This week: Beat Toronto 3-2. Sure, every goal the Fire scored against Toronto was thanks to poor defending. You still have to capitalize on those mistakes, amiright? Up next: Seattle on Saturday

10 – 12. LA Galaxy (3-0-3 – 9 pts, 10 gf, 10 ga). This week: Beat Colorado 2-1. The Galaxy have won their last two, but this weekend’s match against Dallas is probably a good marker for what seems to be two very equal teams. Up next: FC Dallas on Saturday

11 – 5. New York Red Bulls (3-1-3 – 10 pts, 17 gf, 14 ga) This week: Lost to DC United 4-1. Only Toronto is a more chaotic, awful defending team than New York. But at least the Red Bulls can score goals. Up next: New England on Saturday

12 – 8. Colorado Rapids (3-0-4 – 9 pts, 8 gf, 10 ga). This week: Lost 2-1 to LA Galaxy. The Rapids almost got a Get Out of Jail Free card against LA with the penalty call that wasn’t. But drawing that match wouldn’t paper over the lack of attacking impetus the team has so far. Up next: Chivas USA on Saturday

13 – 14. Columbus Crew (2-1-3 – 7 pts, 6 gf, 9 ga). This week: Drew 2-2 with Houston. The Crew grabbed a point at home against Houston, but their key players have been worryingly unproductive so far. Up next: Vancouver on Saturday

14 – 16. Portland Timbers (2-1-4 – 7 pts, 9 gf, 11 ga). This week: Beat Kansas City 1-0. It wasn’t pretty, but the Timbers four-match slide is over, and against the league’s best team to boot. Now they need to show it wasn’t a fluke by beating Montreal. Up next: At Montreal on Saturday

15 – 15. New England Revolution (2-0-4 – 6 pts, 5 gf, 8 ga). This week: Didn’t play. Players like Lee Nguyen, Saer Sene, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Moreno and Kelyn Rowe must be licking their lips at the opportunity to take on the catastrophic Red Bulls defense. New England’s defense? Well, not so much. Up next: At New York on Saturday

16 – 17. Philadelphia Union (2-1-3 – 7 pts, 4 gf, 6 ga). This week: Beat Chivas USA 1-0. Red cards to Keon Daniels and one of the Farfan brothers is not the way Union supporters hoped their team would gear up for San Jose’s visit. It was nice to see Freddy Adu score, though. Up next: San Jose on Saturday

17 – 13. Chivas USA (3-0-4 – 9 pts, 4 gf, 5 ga). This week: Lost 1-0 to Philadelphia. At some point Chivas’s weird “See, we’re a playoff team, no one can beat us on the road” charade has to end – particularly after losing to a team that was down to 9 men. What better place than Denver? Up next: At Colorado on Saturday

18-18. Montreal Impact (1-2-5 – 5 pts, 7 gf, 15 ga). This week: Didn’t play. After some half-decent matches lately, Portland, who aren’t completely out of the woods with their struggles yet, represents a half-decent chance for Montreal to get a home point or win. Up next: Portland on Saturday

19 – 19. Toronto FC (0-0-6 – 0 pts, 4 gf, 13 ga). This week: Lost 3-2 to Chicago. On the bright side for TFC, no one expects them to beat RSL, so they won’t have to worry about the weight of expectations hanging over them. On the not-so-bright side, everything else. Up next: At Real Salt Lake on Saturday

MLS Weekend Preview: April 7

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

Montreal (0-1-4) v. Toronto FC (0-0-3). (9 a.m.) Only Canadians and the most-dedicated of MLS fans will want to watch this match, and yes, I could be included among this group (Not the Canadians, though, oh god no), though at least I have the excuse of a baby to watch, what’s yours? Both teams are struggling, to put it mildly, but based on having watched each team once, I’d have to pick Montreal for this. But if I were basing it on who SHOULD win, I’d probably pick Toronto. Which means … Prediction: 0-0 draw. Or 8-8. It doesn’t matter.

Columbus (2-0-1) v. New York (2-0-2). (Noon) Two teams on two-match winning streaks meet for this one, which is probably called the “Olentangy/Hudson River Cup” or some nonsense. Columbus has been efficient in dispatching Montreal and Toronto in their last two games. The Red Bulls were awful for their first two and have been inspired their last two against inferior opposition (Colorado on a bad day, Montreal). However, I think the key to this match will probably be the fact that New York’s defense is very shaky (and Wilman Conde might not be able to play) and Columbus’ is generally not. Also, New York hasn’t won here since 2006. Prediction: 2-1 Columbus

Sporting Kansas City (4-0-0) v. LA Galaxy (1-0-2). (1 p.m.) This match features the best team in the league so far (apologies to Real Salt Lake) against the defending champs, who have been ATROCIOUS (I’m all about the caps today). So all signs point to a KC win, though obviously things never work that way, and I’d like to think that the Galaxy will raise their game against a team thought to be one of their big competitors for the MLS Cup this year. Can they raise it enough to overcome a starting backline of Andrew Boyens and AJ DeLaGarza? I’m not so sure. Prediction: KC 2-1

San Jose (3-0-1) v. Vancouver (2-2-0). (4 p.m.) OK, who thought that this match would feature the best and second-best defenses in the MLS? You? Nope. You? No way. I didn’t either. The odds are that this will not end scoreless, thus continuing the teams’ strong defensive play. At some point, Vancouver has to score, and at some point, someone other than Chris Wondolowski has to score for the Quakes. Oh, I’ve been distracted: This is in the MLSSoccer.com preview for the match: “The Quakes sit in a three-way tie for first place in the Western Conference with 9 points from 6 games.” A. The Quakes aren’t in first place, but sure, maybe this was written before the RSL match on Wednesday and posted now, though that would make no sense. B. The Quakes have played four matches, not six. Prediction: 0-0

DC United (1-1-2) v. Seattle (2-0-1). (4:30 p.m.) After a middling start to the season, United came out guns blazing and crushed Dallas. Seattle lost at home to the Earthquakes, and have been struggling in attack so far this season, except for David Estrada. There has some debate over whether Eddie “No goals in 27 matches last year” Johnson should start at forward ahead of Estrada, who already has four goals this year, and I’d have to say no, which probably means he will. Go get them, Eddie! Prediction: 2-2

Real Salt Lake (4-0-1) v. Colorado (3-0-1). (6 p.m.) An intriguing “Rocky Mountain Cup” match between two of the better teams in the West. Colorado has looked great except for the match against New York, and RSL has looked great except for the win over Montreal. By the way, Wednesday-Saturday matches? Is that necessary, MLS? I think it says a lot for RSL’s qualities that they have only lost once (and it was a match they should’ve won) despite not really firing on all cylinders. Colorado’s new signings, and the return to form of Omar Cummings, have them looking like a playoff team as well. Prediction: RSL 2-1

Portland (1-1-2) v. Chivas USA (1-0-3). (7:30 p.m.) I always enjoy watching Timbers matches, but this isn’t one of the more inspiring ones on the docket for this year. Portland has lost two in the row, the last one particularly tough, considering they were winning with five minutes to go. Chivas hasn’t clicked at all except (barely) against Real Salt Lake. In fact, I think saying they “haven’t clicked” is a bit generous – they haven’t scored in any other match. Portland has allowed the first goal in every match so far, which can’t keep happening, and probably isn’t likely to in this one. They should be much improved. I’d like to see a better showing from Diego Chara and Kris Boyd, who have both had indifferent starts to the season. Prediction: Portland 2-0

MLS rankings: Week 24

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

All times Pacific; first number is current ranking, second is previous ranking. I trust you can figure out the rest…

1 – 1. LA Galaxy didn’t play. Galaxy are going through a tough stretch of the tougher Western Conference opponents. If they make it through this unscathed, the Supporter’s Shield (best record) should be theirs.  Season: 14-9-3, 37 gf, 20 ga; Up next: Sporting Kansas City on Monday

2 – 2. Seattle Sounders beat Columbus 6-2 at home. Sounders are undefeated in their last eight in all competitions. Season: 13-9-5, 42 gf, 29 ga; Up next: Real Salt Lake on Saturday

3 – 4. FC Dallas won 3-2 at Sporting Kansas City. A surprising rally from two goals down at Kansas City helped alleviate Dallas’ recent slump. The playoffs are assured, but can they stay in the Top 4? Season: 13-7-7, 36 gf, 28 ga. Up next: At New England on Saturday

4 – 3. Colorado Rapids lost 2-0 at Chicago. After being in fairly imperious form, Rapids were woeful against Chicago. All the Champions League travel might cause a slip in MLS play. Season record: 10-11-7, 39 goals for, 36 goal against; Up next: At LA Galaxy on Friday

5 – 7. Real Salt Lake won 2-1 at home against Philadelphia; won 1-0 at Chivas USA. RSL are very up and down this year, but on their day, they’re very hard to beat. It helps that they’re starting to get injured players back, finally. Season: 12-6-7, 34 gf, 21 ga; Up next: At Seattle on Saturday

6 – 5. Columbus Crew lost 6-2 at Seattle. After a very strong second half, the Crew were annihilated at Seattle. Now at least they host Toronto, who can’t stop anyone from scoring. Season: 11-7-8, 31 gf 30 ga; Up next: Toronto on Saturday

7 – 8. Philadelphia Union lost 2-1 at Real Salt Lake. Philadelphia needs to find some way to turn things around of they’re in danger of missing the playoffs; they are winless in their last six and have only won once in their last nine.  Season: 8-10-7, 31 gf, 26 ga; Up next: New England on Wednesday

8 – 6. Sporting Kansas City lost 3-2 at home to FC Dallas. After giving up a two-goal lead the last twenty minutes of the match for the second time this season – this time at home – KC needs a much better performance against the Galaxy. Season: 9-9-8, 38 gf, 34 ga; Up next: LA Galaxy on Monday

9 – 9. Houston Dynamo lost 1-0 at Vancouver. It says it all about the Eastern Conference that after the mediocre season Houston has had, they’re still third in the conference. They still need to finish strong to ensure a playoff spot. Season: 8-11-8, 33 gf, 33 ga; Up next: At Sporting Kansas City on Saturday

10 – 10. DC United didn’t play. DC are one point out of the last playoff spot, but have two games in hand. Winning at Chivas would go a long way toward getting them there. Season: 7-10-7, 34 gf, 35 ga; Up next: At Chivas USA on Saturday

11 – 11. Portland Timbers didn’t play. It says a lot for Portland that despite their occasional poor play, they have stayed on the edge of making the postseason. Unfortunately, they haven’t proven conclusively they can beat anyone on the road. Season: 9-5-12, 33 gf, 41 ga; Up next: At Philadelphia on Saturday

12 – 13. Red Bull New York didn’t play. Vancouver is the sort of team New York should beat 4-0 in a home match, but the way they’ve played this season, they could lose 4-2. Will Hans Backe keep his job if they miss the playoffs? He probably shouldn’t. Season: 6-14-6, 41 gf, 37 ga; Up next: Vancouver on Saturday

13 – 12. Chivas USA lost 1-0 at home to Real Salt Lake. After some good results, Chivas have now lost their last two to fall back out of the playoff positions. Season: 7-10-10, 32 gf, 30 ga; Up next: DC United on Saturday

14 – 16. Chicago Fire won 2-0 at home against Colorado. Will a late-season rally be enough to get the Fire into the playoffs? Probably not, but the way the MLS works, it’s never impossible. A match at San Jose is one the Fire are fully capable of winning. Season: 4-15-7, 30 gf, 33 ga; Up next: At San Jose on Saturday

15 – 14. New England Revolution didn’t play. A miserable season for the Revolution is almost over, at least. Can they salvage some pride in hosting the Union? Season: 4-11-11, 26 gf, 39 ga; Up next: Philadelphia on Wednesday

16 – 15. San Jose Earthquakes drew 1-1 at Toronto. On the bright side, San Jose managed to not lose at Toronto. On the down side, they still didn’t win, and the playoffs are all but out of their reach at this point, unless they go undefeated the rest of the way. Season: 5-11-10, 27 gf, 35 ga; Up next: Chicago on Saturday

17 – 17. Toronto FC drew 1-1 at home with San Jose. Toronto probably should be beating a team like San Jose at home. There have been enough intriguing signs from the team this year – and at least they’re playing well in the Champions League. Season: 4-12-12, 26 gf, 49 ga; Up next: At Columbus on Saturday

18 – 18. Vancouver Whitecaps won 1-0 at home against Houston. Vancouver won at home against Houston. They have been terrible this season, but they have great fans, and man, what a beautiful city. Season: 4-9-13, 27 gf, 42 ga; Up next: New York on Saturday

MLS rankings: Week 23

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

All times Pacific; first number is current ranking, second is previous ranking. I trust you can figure out the rest…

1 – 1. LA Galaxy beat San Jose 2-0 at home. The Galaxy continue to roll on, winning matches where they don’t even play well, but that’s what champions do. The question is, will any of it matter when the playoffs roll around? Season: 14-9-3, 37 gf, 20 ga; Up next: Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 5

2 – 2. Seattle Sounders won 1-0 at FC Dallas. A win at Dallas goes a long way toward solidifying the No. 2 spot for Seattle. The teams is also doing quite well in Champions League play. Is this the season the MLS is officially on par with Mexican teams? Season: 12-9-5, 36 gf, 27 ga; Up next: Columbus on Saturday

3 – 4. Colorado Rapids drew 2-2 at home against Chivas USA. The Rapids are now undefeated in six straight. They have a shot at the best record in the MLS, though it’s doubtful. Season record: 10-11-6, 39 goals for, 34 goal against; Up next: At Chicago on Saturday

4 – 3. FC Dallas lost 1-0 at home against Seattle. Dallas continues to excel in the Champions League, but their exertions of have started to take a toll on what has been a very good MLS campaign. Season: 12-7-7, 33 gf, 26 ga. Up next: At Sporting Kansas City on Saturday

5 – 6. Columbus Crew won 2-1 at home against Philadelphia. Columbus are interesting in the sense that they never really seem much better than their opposition, yet more often than not, have won. They’re not very good on the road, though. Season: 11-7-7, 29 gf 24 ga; Up next: At Seattle on Saturday

6 – 7. Sporting Kansas City won 1-0 at home against DC United. An exhausted Dallas team gives Sporting a chance to boost their point total before the grind of a tough season-ending stretch of matches. Season: 9-9-7, 36 gf, 31 ga; Up next: FC Dallas on Saturday

7 – 5. Real Salt Lake lost 3-2 at Houston. Unless they completely collapse down the stretch, RSL should be able to get into the playoffs at No. 6 or 7. And as the playoffs have shown, anything can happen – especially for a team with their experience and defense. Season: 10-6-7, 31 gf, 20 ga; Up next: At Chivas USA on Saturday

8 – 8. Philadelphia Union lost 2-1 at Columbus. The Union have only collected 3 points from their last five matches. They desperately need to turn around their poor run of form and start scoring some goals. Season: 8-10-6, 30 gf, 24 ga; Up next: At Real Salt Lake on Sept. 3

9 – 12. Houston Dynamo won 3-2 at home against Real Salt Lake. The Dynamo have three games they should be able to win easily the rest of the season. They probably need to win two to get into the playoffs. Season: 8-11-7, 33 gf, 32 ga; Up next: At Vancouver on Saturday

10 – 9. DC United lost 1-0 at Sporting Kansas City. Good performances recently by Houston and Portland mean United have a big three points at stake on Saturday. Nonetheless, it’s been a heartening season after last year’s struggles. Season: 7-10-7, 34 gf, 35 ga; Up next: Portland on Saturday

11 – 13. Portland Timbers won 1-0 at home against Chivas USA; won 2-1 at home against Vancouver. With back-to-back wins and a favorable season-ending schedule, the Timbers are a dark horse to sneak into the playoffs at No. 9 or 10. Season: 9-5-12, 33 gf, 41 ga; Up next: Vancouver on Saturday

12 – 10. Chivas USA lost 1-0 at Portland; drew 2-2 at Colorado. After a good performance against Colorado, Chivas were poor in Portland. They will struggle to reach the postseason. Season: 7-10-9, 32 gf, 29 ga; Up next: Real Salt Lake on Saturday

13 – 11. Red Bull New York drew 2-2 at New England. Hurricane Irene caused the postponement of the Red Bulls’ match against the Galaxy, and it’s probably just as well, because I don’t see how they could’ve done anything but lose 3-0. Season: 6-14-6, 41 gf, 37 ga; Up next: Vancouver on Sept. 10

14 – 16. New England Revolution drew 2-2 at home against New York. The Revs will be bitterly disappointed to have drawn with New York after being two goals up. Will coach Steve Nicols keep his job? Season: 4-11-11, 26 gf, 39 ga; Up next: Philadelphia on Sept. 7

15 – 14. San Jose Earthquakes lost 2-0 at LA Galaxy. Amazing to think that only a few months ago, the Earthquakes were flirting with being a Top 6 side. I expect some changes in the offseason. Season: 5-10-10, 26 gf, 34 ga; Up next: At Toronto on Saturday

16 – 17. Chicago Fire won 2-0 at home against Toronto. “Operation Salvage Some Sort of Pride” goes into week two with a home match against Colorado. It’s a season of missed chances for the Fire, but Sebastien Grazzini looks good. Season: 3-15-7, 28 gf, 33 ga; Up next: Colorado on Saturday

17 – 15. Toronto FC lost 2-0 at Chicago. Toronto are all but out of the playoff race after losing at Chicago, but at least they have a match they should win in hosting San Jose on Saturday. Season: 4-11-12, 25 gf, 48 ga; Up next: San Jose on Saturday

18 – 18. Vancouver Whitecaps lost 2-1 at Portland. It says it all about the ‘Caps that their season highlight has to be either a draw against Seattle or a win at home against Toronto, but nevertheless, hey, welcome to the MLS. Season: 3-9-13, 26 gf, 42 ga; Up next: Houston on Saturday

MLS rankings: Week 22

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

All times Pacific; first number is current ranking, second is previous ranking. I trust you can figure out the rest…

1 – 1. LA Galaxy did not play. The Galaxy get a week off and trade off one foreign striker (Juan Pablo Angel) for a younger version (Robbie Keane). Season: 13-9-3, 35 gf, 20 ga; Up next: San Jose on Saturday

2 – 2. Seattle Sounders drew 0-0 at home with Chivas USA. The Sounders probably feel a bit hard done by in drawing at home to Chivas. After an impressive Champions League win, can they keep their momentum going? Season: 11-9-5, 35 gf, 27 ga; Up next: At FC Dallas on Saturday

3 – 3. FC Dallas drew 2-2 at Philadelphia. Dallas is having a bit of a hiccup in regular season play after losing to LA and drawing against the Union in a match they dominated, though they did manage to become the first MLS team ever to win in Mexico, in midweek. They get another big test this weekend. Season: 12-7-6, 33 gf, 25 ga. Up next: Seattle on Saturday

4 – 5. Colorado Rapids won 2-1 at San Jose. Colorado continues to steamroll the opposition in MLS play and opened their Champions League campaign in impressive fashion despite some horrible defense. Season record: 10-10-6, 37 goals for, 32 goal against; Up next: Chivas USA on Saturday

5 – 4. Real Salt Lake lost 1-0 at Toronto. A stop-start season continued with a loss at Toronto. Where is the RSL attack of a year ago? Oh, it’s probably on the sideline, injured. Season: 10-6-6, 29 gf, 17 ga; Up next: At Houston on Saturday

6 – 6. Columbus Crew won 3-1 at home against New England. The Crew could benefit from not having to deal with midweek Champions League matches like other teams – oh wait, none of the Eastern teams except for Toronto are in the Champions League. Nevermind. Season: 10-7-7, 27 gf 23 ga; Up next: Philadelphia on Saturday

7 – 8. Sporting Kansas City won 3-1 at home against Portland. After the blip at home against Seattle, it was business as usual for Kansas City in hammering Portland at home. Season: 8-9-7, 35 gf, 31 ga; Up next: DC United on Sunday

8 – 7. Philadelphia Union drew 2-2 at home against FC Dallas. The Union were somewhat lucky to escape their match against Dallas with a draw. Their match against Columbus could go a long way toward determining who finishes first in the East. Season: 8-10-5, 29 gf, 22 ga; Up next: At Columbus on Saturday

9 – 10. DC United drew 1-1 at Chicago; won 4-0 at home against Vancouver. United are on a nice run of form, but winning at Kansas City is going to be a difficult task for this team. Season: 7-10-6, 34 gf, 34 ga; Up next: At Sporting Kansas City on Sunday

10 – 9. Chivas USA drew 0-0 at Seattle. Chivas added Juan Pablo Angel to a fairly weak attack. Can he partner up well with Justin Braun? Season: 7-9-8, 30 gf, 26 ga; Up next: At Colorado on Saturday

11 – 11. Red Bull New York drew 2-2 at home against Chicago. Lack on concentration on defense? Overconfidence? Whatever the cause of the Red Bulls struggles, Thierry Henry was right when he said their match against the Revs is a must-win. Season: 6-13-6, 39 gf, 35 ga; Up next: At New England on Saturday

12 – 13. Houston Dynamo drew 1-1 at New England; won 2-1 at home against Portland. The Dynamo might have played their way back into the playoff race with a string of good results. Can Carlo Costly enliven their attack?  Season: 7-11-7, 30 gf, 30 ga; Up next: Real Salt Lake on Saturday

13 – 12. Portland Timbers lost 3-1 at Sporting Kansas City; lost 2-1 at Houston. The Timbers are struggling to stay in the playoff race. They must beat Vancouver if they still have hopes of making the postseason – plus, it’s a totally winnable match. Season: 7-5-12, 30 gf, 40 ga; Up next: Vancouver on Saturday

14 – 14. San Jose Earthquakes lost 2-1 at home against Colorado. The Earthquakes continue to struggle to beat … anyone. Despite having a relatively easy run-in, it’s hard to see this team challenging for the playoffs. Season: 5-10-9, 26 gf, 32 ga; Up next: At LA Galaxy on Saturday

15 – 16. Toronto FC won 1-0 at home against Real Salt Lake. Toronto’s recent run of success – undefeated in their last six in all competitions – has a good shot of continuing in their visit to Chicago. Nonetheless, their defense is stunningly awful. Season: 4-11-11, 25 gf, 46 ga; Up next: At Chicago on Sunday

16 – 15. New England Revolution drew 1-1 at home against Houston; lost 3-1 at Columbus. The bad news: The Revs have struggled to beat anyone this year. The good news: They’re taking on New York. Nonetheless, a wasted season is almost over. Season: 4-10-11, 24 gf, 37 ga; Up next: New York on Saturday

17 – 18. Chicago Fire drew 1-1 at home against DC United; drew 2-2 at New York. It must be excruciating to be a Fire fan (right, Fire fans?). They often play decent football and counter attack with pace. They’re also horrible defensively and incredibly bad finishers. Season: 2-15-7, 26 gf, 33 ga; Up next: Toronto on Sunday

18 – 17. Vancouver Whitecaps lost 4-0 at DC United. Vancouver is pretty bad, but they have a good chance at beating struggling Portland – who are playing their third match in less than a week. Season: 3-9-12, 25 gf, 40 ga; Up next: At Portland on Saturday

MLS rankings: Week 21

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

The Galaxy won the biggest game in the MLS this weekend, beating Dallas 3-1 to consolidate their spot at the top of the table. Colorado was the other big winner, beating Columbus impressively to continue their recent good run of form. At the bottom of the table, Vancouver won the clash of probably the two worst teams in the MLS, hammering Chicago 4-2.

All times Pacific; first number is current ranking, second is previous ranking. I trust you can figure out the rest…

1 – 2. LA Galaxy beat Dallas 3-1 at home. Now having safely defeated nearest rivals Dallas, the Galaxy can take it easy and rest their aging bones until the have what should be a fairly easy match against San Jose next week. Season: 13-9-3, 35 gf, 20 ga; Up next: San Jose on Aug. 20

2 – 3. Seattle Sounders won 2-1 at Sporting Kansas City. The Sounders rallied from a goal down at Kansas City, thanks in a large part of Omar Bravo’s red card. With their playoff spot all but a formality at this point, they’ll try to catch LA for best record. Season: 11-8-5, 35 gf, 27 ga; Up next: Chivas USA on Saturday

3 – 1. FC Dallas lost 3-1 at LA Galaxy. Dallas will be disappointed to give up three goals – all on set pieces to the Galaxy, but on the bright side, they showed they can compete very well against the league’s top team – and at times looked like the better of the two. Season: 12-6-6, 31 gf, 23 ga. Up next: At Philadelphia on Saturday

4 – 5. Real Salt Lake beat New York 3-0 at home. RSL escaped from their recent doldrums to crush New York, though at this point, that’s not saying much. Nonetheless, they have an eminently winnable match coming up against Toronto, and they’ll hope to move up the table. Season: 10-6-5, 29 gf, 16 ga; Up next: At Toronto on Saturday

5 – 6. Colorado Rapids won 2-0 at home against Columbus. The Rapids are probably the league’s hottest team at this moment after beating East-leading Columbus convincingly in their last match. Can they continue their streak against San Jose? Well, they should. Season record: 9-10-6, 35 goals for, 31 goal against; Up next: At San Jose on Saturday

6 – 4. Columbus Crew lost 2-0 at Colorado. The Crew were punchless against Colorado, but a home match against New England should be a cure for their ills. Season: 9-7-7, 24 gf 22 ga; Up next: New England on Saturday

7 – 7. Philadelphia Union drew 1-1 at home against Houston. The Union continue to struggle lately. They need to pick up some results so they don’t drop further down the playoff table. Dallas will be a tough team to get three points against. Season: 8-9-5, 27 gf, 20 ga; Up next: Dallas on Saturday

8 – 8. Sporting Kansas City lost 2-1 at home against Seattle. KC’s 14-match undefeated streak was ended by Seattle – and Omar Bravo’s red card. Sporting now get some time off before traveling to Jello Wind Park in Portland. Season: 7-9-7, 32 gf, 30 ga; Up next: Portland on Aug. 17

9 – 11. Chivas USA won 3-2 at New England. The Goats continue their recent resurgence by beating New England, though they have a tough match coming up at Seattle. Nick LaBrocca is one of the players of the year in the MLS. Season: 7-8-8, 30 gf, 26 ga; Up next: At Seattle on Saturday

10 – 10. DC United drew 3-3 at home against Toronto. United were perhaps a bit fortuitous to draw at home against Toronto after Bill Hamid was sent off in the 7th minute. Their defense will need to be better against Vancouver. Season: 6-9-6, 29 gf, 33 ga; Up next: Vancouver on Saturday

11 – 9. Red Bull New York lost 3-0 at Real Salt Lake. A season of low points reached another one with a dismal display in Salt Lake. At least their next match is against Chicago, probably the only team that is playing worse than them at this point. Well, them and San Jose. Season: 6-12-6, 37 gf, 33 ga; Up next: Chicago on Saturday

12 – 12. Portland Timbers drew 1-1 at San Jose. After a barren stretch of no wins and one point in 9 matches, the Timbers have gotten back into the playoff race in recent weeks. Can they win at Houston this weekend? Season: 7-5-10, 28 gf, 35 ga; Up next: At Houston on Sunday

13 – 13. Houston Dynamo drew 1-1 at Philadelphia. Houston managed to get a point at Philadelphia this past week. To stay in the playoff race, they need to get three points against Portland. Season: 6-10-7, 27 gf, 28 ga; Up next: Portland on Sunday

14 – 14. San Jose Earthquakes drew 1-1 at home against Portland. San Jose are in full on free fall. Can they catch themselves when they take on the defending champs? Not likely, but hey, that’s what they play these games, amiright? Season: 5-10-8, 25 gf, 30 ga; Up next: Colorado on Saturday

15 – 15. New England Revolution lost 3-2 at home to Chivas USA. The Revs have been somewhat resurgent lately, but that ended when they gave up three goals to Chivas this past weekend. It doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Columbus, but New England is reaching the point where they have to go on quite a run to make the playoffs. Season: 4-9-10, 22 gf, 33 ga; Up next: At Columbus on Saturday

16 – 17. Toronto FC drew 3-3 at DC United. Toronto should have picked up three points at DC United after Bill Hamid was sent off in the 7th minute. Unfortunately, their defense is BY FAR the worst in the league. Was that the final nail in their playoff-making coffin? Season: 3-11-11, 24 gf, 46 ga; Up next: Real Salt Lake on Saturday

17 – 18. Vancouver Whitecaps beat Chicago 4-2 at home. The Whitecaps beat Chicago – and convincingly – on Sunday. They won’t make the playoffs this year, barring something crazy happening, but with Eric Hassli and … well, with Eric Hassli, at least … they have something to build on for next year. Season: 3-9-11, 25 gf, 36 ga; Up next: At DC United on Saturday

18 – 16. Chicago Fire lost 4-2 at Vancouver. Will this season ever end? If Chicago wins the US Open Cup, that means they will play in the Champions League next year with a 36-year-old designated player and a team that has only won two matches 67 percent of the way through the season. Season: 2-13-7, 23 gf, 30 ga; Up next: At New York on Saturday

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