1 (1) Los Angeles (1-0-0, 3 points). Beat Chicago 4-0. Mike Magee and the Galaxy announced they wouldn’t be pushovers sans Donovan and Beckham by thrashing the Fire. Now they deal with Champions League matches. Up next: Chivas USA on March 17
2 (2) Houston (1-0-0, 3 points). Beat DC United 2-0. Houston did what they were supposed to, beating a surprisingly defensive DC United. Next up is the Champions League. Up next: At FC Dallas on March 17
3 (3) Kansas City (1-0-0, 3 points). Beat Philadelphia 3-1. KC was a bit shaky initially against Philadelphia, but cruised in a dominant second half. Up next: At Toronto on Saturday
4 (6) Real Salt Lake (1-0-0, 3 points). Beat San Jose 2-0. RSL might have been a bit lucky that San Jose’s finishing was so poor, but the attack – particularly Joao Plata – looks good. Up next: At DC United on Saturday
5 (5) Columbus (1-0-0, 3 points). Beat Chivas USA 3-0. Since Chivas were arguably the worst team in opening weekend, it’s hard to give the Crew too much credit. They were very good, though. Up next: At Vancouver on Saturday
6 (17) Montreal (1-0-0, 3 points). Beat Seattle 1-0. The Impact could’ve been three goals up against Seattle in the first half, but will have to just settle for three points on the road. Up next: At Portland on Saturday
7 (11) Vancouver (1-0-0, 3 points). Beat Toronto 1-0. It wasn’t a vintage display from Vancouver against Toronto, but this still looks like a fairly solid team. Now for Kenny Miller to start scoring. Up next: Columbus on Saturday
8 (4) Seattle (0-1-0, 0 points). Lost 1-0 to Montreal. Perhaps their opener wasn’t a true indication of Seattle’s quality, but it was still disappointing. Up next: Portland on March 16
9 (12) Dallas (1-0-0, 3 points). Beat Colorado 1-0. A win is a win, but Dallas’s inability to put Colorado away in the second half was a warning sign. Up next: At Chivas on Sunday
10 (13) Portland (0-0-1, 1 point). Drew 3-3 with New York. Based on one match, the Timbers will be a fun attacking team that can’t stop anyone. Mikael Silvestre in particular had arguably the worst MLS debut EVER. Up next: Montreal on Saturday
11 (9) DC United (0-1-0, 0 points). Lost 2-0 to Houston. United were perhaps a bit unlucky to not leave Houston with a point, but they were surprisingly flat. Up next: Real Salt Lake on Saturday
12 (8) New York (0-0-1, 1 point). Drew 3-3 with Portland. What’s worse, giving up 3 goals at home or blowing a 2-goal lead on the road? Not sure, but the Red Bulls look all out of sorts on defense. Up next: At San Jose on Sunday
13 (7) San Jose (0-1-0, 0 points). Lost to Real Salt Lake 2-0. Uncharacteristically poor finishing from Chris Wondolowski and Mike Fucito … well, Wondolowski, anyway … was mostly to blame for the Quakes loss. Up next: New York on Sunday
14 (15) New England (0-0-0, 0 points). Didn’t play. Chicago on Saturday will either be a rude awakening for a young team or a good opportunity to take advantage of a struggling one (Chicago). Up next: At Chicago on Saturday
15 (14) Colorado (0-1-0, 0 points). Lost to Dallas 1-0. The Rapids were probably a bit unlucky against Dallas, but were sorely lacking a creative presence in midfield with Martin Riveros injured. And decent goalkeeping … Up next: Philadelphia on Saturday
16 (10) Chicago (0-1-0, 0 points). Lost to Los Angeles 4-0. The Fire probably aren’t as bad as this scoreline indicates, but wow, when you say “At least it wasn’t 5-0!” that’ s not the way a playoff team wants to start. Up next: New England on Saturday
17 (16) Philadelphia (0-1-0, 0 points). Lost to Kansas City 3-1. After a very good start against Kansas City, the Union were steamrolled. But, all things considered, they looked mostly OK. Up next: At Colorado on Saturday
18 (18) Toronto (0-1-0, 0 points). Lost to Vancouver 1-0. As lacking as Toronto is in the squad department, they were well-organized against Vancouver. Not a playoff team, but maybe they’ll fight their way out of last place. Up next: Kansas City on Saturday
19 (18) Chivas USA (0-1-0, 0 points). Lost to Columbus 3-0. Well, based on one match, the Chelis’ experiment is an unmitigated failure. Let’s hope it gets better. Up next: Dallas on Sunday
1. Los Angeles. As defending champs, the Galaxy get their spot here. Don’t expect them to stay, at least not for the first month or two.
2. Houston. I didn’t just put the Dynamo here because they were runners-up – they do have the pieces to be a top team. I think.
3. Kansas City. Despite some offseason changes, KC has enough talent on the roster to continue their domination of the East.
4. Seattle. How Seattle replaces Fredy Montero will mean the difference between this team being an MLS Cup contender or just a playoff team.
5. Columbus. Can Higuain and Arrieta duplicate the form they showed at the end of last season? I guess we’ll find out.
6. Real Salt Lake. RSL cut a lot of players from their staff in the offseason, but still have a solid core.
7. San Jose. Can lightning strike twice? It’s hard to see the Quakes challenging for the Supporter’s Shield again if it doesn’t.
8. New York. The Red Bulls were brutal in the preseason, and not the good kind of brutal. A team with Henry should be a playoff team, though – they just might take a while to gel.
9. DC United. DeRo will miss the season opener and possibly a few other matches. The defense hasn’t been fixed, and there are some new faces in attack.
10. Chicago. The Fire are younger and more mobile in midfield, but a lot depends on Sherjill MacDonald’s ability to score goals.
11. Vancouver. The Whitecaps should be higher, but after their fade at the end of last season, we’re a bit hesitant to place them there.
12. Dallas. Kenny Cooper, Eric Hassli and David Ferreira and Blas Perez healthy could make this one of the top teams in the West. Could.
13. Portland. Tons of changes for the Timbers, but after the struggles of last season, that’s a good thing. Question is: Can they win on the road?
14. Colorado. Oscar Pareja finally has closer to the team he probably wants, but it seems woefully thin in attack and lightweight in defense.
15. New England. The Revs should be better, but don’t quite look ready to challenge in the East.
16. Philadelphia. The Union are stocked with young talent, but the Freddy Adu saga and lack of veteran presence could hinder them.
17. Montreal. Montreal could very well be a playoff team, but a lot depends on the old guys still getting up for games, which is a big if.
18. Chivas USA. Hard to tell what will happen with Chelis’ new Chivas team, but they don’t seem to be ready to be a contender this season. Will he be given time?
19. Toronto. It’ll be a long season for Ryan Nelson and co., but at least they should be fighting in games and not quite as bad defensively.
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer
So there were a couple big(gish) trades in the MLS this weekend that I should mention. First off, Toronto shipped midfielder Julian DeGuzman to Dallas for forward Andrew Wiedeman. It’s a good trade for Toronto, who were paying DeGuzman a hefty salary – and honestly, does a team need two DP’s in central midfield? No. No they don’t. Wiedeman is unproven, but it doesn’t really matter. Dallas has had trouble, well, everywhere this season, so maybe De Guzman will be a good pickup, though I’m inclined to think not.
Meanwhile, the Red Bulls were active, picking up Sebastian LeToux for winger Dane Richards and then snagging goalkeeper Bill Gaudette from the LA Galaxy for a draft pick or allocation money. I forget which. Both good trades. LeToux wasn’t flourishing in the Caps defense-first system, and Richards gives them a little more speed on the wings, which has been missing. LeToux, meanwhile, gives the Red Bulls another good option in the event Thierry Henry takes a month off to vacation in Barbados. Gaudette is a decent backup goalie, which the Red Bulls needed.
1 – 3. Seattle Sounders (6-1-1 – 19 pts, 11 gf, 3 ga). This week: Beat Philadelphia 1-0. The Sounders have been virtually flawless the last couple weeks, hence the jump up to first this week Up next: At Dallas on Wednesday
2 – 2. San Jose Earthquakes (7-1-2 – 22 pts, 21 gf, 11 ga). This week: Lost 2-1 to Vancouver. The Earthquakes weren’t bad against a good Vancouver team, but their defense is definitely their weak point. Up next: Chivas USA on Sunday
3 – 1. Sporting Kansas City (7-0-2 – 21 pts, 12 gf, 5 ga). This week: Lost to Montreal 2-0. More worrying than a home loss to Montreal was KC’s complete inability to muster anything offensively against an expansion team. Up next: At Chicago on Saturday
4 – 4. Real Salt Lake (7-1-3 – 22 pts, 18 gf, 12 ga). This week: Beat New England 2-1. Poor refereeing overshadowed a decent performance by RSL defensively with only 10 men. Up next: At Chicago on Wednesday
5 – 5. Vancouver Whitecaps (5-2-2 – 17 pts, 9 gf, 7 ga). This week: Beat San Jose 2-1. With the win against San Jose, can we finally call Vancouver elite? Not quite yet, I don’t think. Up next: At New England on Saturday
6 – 6. DC United (5-3-3 – 18 pts, 20 gf, 15 ga). This week: Beat Toronto 2-0. United get back on track at Toronto, but it WAS Toronto. Up next: At Houston on Saturday
7 – 9. New York Red Bulls (5-1-3 – 16 pts, 19 gf, 14 ga) This week: Beat LA 1-0. Two matches, two clean sheets? What happened to this team? Up next: Houston on Wednesday
8 – 8. Houston Dynamo (2-2-2 – 8 pts, 7 gf, 8 ga). This week: Didn’t play. Dynamo had their third weekend off of the season already and close out their season-opening road trip at New York on Wednesday. Up next: At New York on Wednesday
9 – 10. Colorado Rapids (5-0-5 – 15 pts, 15 gf, 12 ga). This week: Beat Dallas 2-0. It might have been mostly thanks to the two red cards, but the Rapids come back from a bad loss to get a big win. What’s next? Up next: At DC United on May 16
10 – 11. Chicago Fire (3-2-2 – 11 pts, 9 gf, 9 ga). This week: Beat Chivas USA 2-1. Can a win at Chivas get the Fire’s season going? Up next: Real Salt Lake on Wednesday
11 – 7. FC Dallas (3-3-4 – 12 pts, 10 gf, 14 ga). This week: Lost 2-0 to Colorado. Moments of madness from Daniel Hernandez and Blas Perez condemned Dallas to a home loss, but they didn’t look like winning before the sendings-off. Can they beat Seattle without the two? Up next: Seattle on Wednesday
12 – 16. Montreal Impact (3-2-5 – 11 pts, 11 gf, 15 ga). This week: Beat Kansas City 2-0. Based on their performance of the last two weeks, maybe the Impact can make it to the playoffs. They’re only another mid- to late-thirties Italian away! Up next: LA Galaxy on Saturday
13 – 12. LA Galaxy (3-1-5 – 10 pts, 11 gf, 14 ga). This week: Lost to New York 1-0. Congrats, Galaxy, you’ve officially dropped below an expansion team in the power rankings. Up next: At Montreal on Saturday
14 – 13. New England Revolution (3-0-6 – 9 pts, 8 gf, 12 ga). This week: Lost 2-1 to Real Salt Lake. The Revs were unlucky to come away from Salt Lake City with a loss, due to some horrendous ref’ing. Up next: Vancouver on Saturday
15 – 14. Columbus Crew (2-2-4 – 8 pts, 6 gf, 10 ga). This week: Drew 0-0 with Portland. I suppose a scoreless draw at Portland counts as a positive result for the Crew now, right? Up next: Dallas on Saturday
16 – 17. Portland Timbers (2-2-5 – 8 pts, 9 gf, 13 ga). This week: Drew 0-0 with Columbus. The Timbers’ play was much-improved against Columbus, but if they want to get back in the playoff race (and keep John Spencer in a job), they’re going to have to start winning games. Up next: At Houston on May 15
17 – 15. Philadelphia Union (2-1-5 – 7 pts, 5 gf, 9 ga). This week: Lost to Seattle 1-0. Kai Herdling looks like a decent signing at forward, but the Union just are not creating goal-scoring chances for him or Lionard Pajoy. Up next: New York on Sunday
18 – 18. Chivas USA (3-0-6 – 9 pts, 5 gf, 11 ga). This week: Lost 2-1 to Chicago. The last-second loss to Chicago must have been hard to take, but it was deserved. Up next: At San Jose on Sunday
19 – 19. Toronto FC (0-0-8 – 0 pts, 6 gf, 18 ga). This week: Lost 2-0 to DC United. Toronto is doomed. Seriously, why haven’t they fired Aron Winter yet? Up next: At DC United on May 19
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
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer
Philadelphia 1 Columbus 0. A Gabriel Gomez Panenka penalty is enough for the Union to notch their first win of the season. Probably not what the suits at NBC had in mind for a game of the week when they signed their deal with MLS. “Get ready America, because Lionard Pajoy and Eric Gehrig are lighting up your TVs! Move over Pujols, there is a midfielder named Bernardo Anor taking over where you left off!” And so on. Columbus were probably the better team but couldn’t score. The Gomez penalty came about because of another Gehrig “Oops!” moment with a handball in the box. Prediction: 0-0
Seattle 1 Colorado 0. A Zach Scott header gives the Sounders the win against Colorado. The biggest storyline of the match was Brian Mullan returning to the place where he practically chopped off Seattle winger Steve Zakuani’s leg last year. Zakuani is still injured. Mullan had a goal ruled off for offsides. Not a super-exciting match, but Fredy Montero showed signs of waking from his traditional six-match slumber to start the season. Prediction: Seattle 2-1
New England 1 DC United 2. I am actually grudgingly getting to the point where I can say the Revs aren’t so bad, and long-time readers of this blog should know how hard that is for me. New England was actually a bit of unlucky to lose this, despite dictating play for most of the match. Jose Moreno grabbed an early goal for New England before Maicon “See, I’m not totally useless” Santos tied it, then substitute Chris Pontius won it with a very nice strike late on. The Revs has a couple chances to tie and/or win it, but poor decision-making cost them in the end. Nonetheless, both of these teams could be playoff teams, though I doubt it. Prediction: 2-2
Toronto 0 Chivas USA 1. The big question now is, “How patient is Toronto management?” I thought after a fifth-straight loss to start the season, which now gives Aron Winter six wins in 39 matches, could end up with him losing his job. Clearly this team needs a change. A big one. As for Chivas, they’re still undefeated on the road, but still very poor in attack. But if they can keep picking up points on the counter, they might be able to stay in the playoff race. Oswaldo Minda got the goal off a header in another lesson in poor defending from TFC. Prediction: Toronto 2-1
New York 2 San Jose 2. This was actually the first match where I’ve been legitimately impressed by San Jose, who rallied to tie the match and probably could’ve – and should’ve won it in the end. New York took the lead through a goal from Kenny Cooper (tied for a league-leading 7) before Rafael Baca equalized. New York retook the lead through Dax McCarty, before Chris Wondolowski scored his seventh. Then San Jose dominated the second half but failed to find the breakthrough. Thierry Henry has seven goals and five assists for New York after six matches. He’s that good. Even though he’s annoying. Prediction: New York 2-1
Kansas City 1 Real Salt Lake 0. Sporting KC stays undefeated thanks to an Aurelien Collin goal (and shocking marking from Alvaro “Is it May yet?” Saborio. Impressive performance from KC, who should’ve had a second goal (from CJ Sapong), but it was incorrectly marked off for a foul. For the record, Sporting’s record of 335 minutes without allowing a shot on target ended in injury time thanks to a Nat Borchers header. Despite the loss, RSL still looks like the second-best team in the MLS. Prediction: Kansas City 1-0
FC Dallas 2 Montreal 1. For the second straight match, Dallas rallies to take three points at the death. Montreal took the lead against the run of play thanks to a Bernardo Corradi penalty (which he dedicated to Udinse player Piermario Morosini, who died Saturday after suffering a heart attack on the field). Dallas rallied late thanks to a header from Blas Perez and then Brek Shea’s winning strike. Nice performance from Dallas, and Shea is starting to return to form by the looks of it. Their Shea/Perez/Fabian Castillo attacking trio is a good one. Prediction: Dallas 3-1
LA Galaxy 3 Portland 1. I actually feel sorry for the Timbers, who took the lead through Kris Boyd’s goal, had another Boyd goal incorrectly chalked off for offsides, then crumbled after conceding a goal to Landon Donovan late in the first half. Juninho and David Beckham scored after the 83rd minute. The Galaxy won by having better players – their performance wasn’t great again, and their defense is woeful. At their current form, they won’t possibly beat the likes of RSL, San Jose or KC. As for Portland, Jack Jewsbury and Diego Chara have been miserable this season – a big reason why they’re struggling. Prediction: Galaxy 2-0
Chicago 1 Houston 1. Goals from Will Bruin and Logan Pause (deflecting in a Pavel Pardo free kick) give Chicago and Houston a share of the points in a match called early due to lightning, something that apparently angered ex-German international and new Fire signing Arnie Friedrich. Overall it was a pretty even match, though the Fire will be disappointed to once again not create much in front of their home crown. Where is Sebastian Grazzini this season? What happened to new signing Federico Puppo? And one more note to the MLS scorekeepers: Don’t give Pavel Pardo credit for an assist because his free kick was deflected in. Why not give the goalie an assist for not catching it? Prediction: 1-1
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
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer
Saturday I was able to head down to Tucson to attend the final and third-place matches of Tucson’s possibly turning annual preseason tournament, dubbed this year the Desert Diamond Cup. I attended last year, when Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake joined FC Tucson and the Arizona Sahuaros for a round-robin tournament. This year they eliminated the local clubs – which I kind of wished they hadn’t – and moved the tournament to Tucson Electric Park (I think it’s called something else now, but it was TEP when I lived there, so TEP it stays.) I liked it at the smaller stadium, though seeing as how attendance was announced as over 10,000, it was probably a wise move on their part. Here is my verdict on the games.
Third place match: Real Salt Lake 1, New York Red Bulls 0.
I was actually a little surprised that both teams fielded largely first teams in this game. Thierry Henry played the whole match, as did Kyle Beckerman, who is apparently the Cactus Pricks’ (FC Tucson’s supporters club. Yes, you heard that right) favorite player. Of the two teams, RSL, as you’d expect, looked the more composed of the two, and new signing Terakazu Tanaka should compete with Beckerman for most ridiculous hair on the team. The Red Bulls were a little wasteful, though Kenny Cooper and Henry combined nicely on a couple occasions. The match’s lone goal came from Chris Wingert, and it was a firebolt. (I just made that word up. Watch it here – goal comes at about the :35 mark.) The atmosphere was good, but the lack of local teams (or Beckham or Donovan or Keane, though I’ll get to that in a minute) made it a little flat sometimes.
Championship match: LA Galaxy 0, New England Revolution 0 (Galaxy win 4-2 on penalties)
OK, a big boo goes to the Galaxy, who didn’t play any starters except Juninho and Todd Dunivant in the match. I know the Galaxy have a Champions League match coming up on Wednesday, but throw us a bone here, guys, OK? Hey, I’m a big fan of Brian Perk and Jack McBean too, but still. As far as the Revs go, though their tournament was a surprisingly good one, they still couldn’t beat the Galaxy’s fourth string with their starters. It’s been mentioned in other blogs, but Saer Sene – a new signing at forward – was unconvincing despite being a foot taller than anyone on the Galaxy. By the end of the match, we were ready to go – it was cold and dull. Sort of a anticlimactic end to what has been a good tournament, with several good goals. On to the regular season!
Oh, one more thing: The second match had twin refs. No joke.
Ho-hum. The Galaxy beat Real Salt Lake and Houston surprised Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference final to advance. The Galaxy match was fairly by the book, but Houston lucked out a bit with what looked to be a definite penalty for KC getting waved off. They did manage to win the game without Houston winger Brad Davis, who was injured in the match and will likely miss the final.
All the stars are aligned for the Galaxy to claim their first title with Beckham on the team, before he leaves for France, England or Mexico, presumably. Will it happen? We shall see.
Goal: Mike Magee (1)
The Galaxy’s typical defensive solidity proves too much for the Red Bulls in the first leg of their playoff series. Mike Magee scored the long goal. In truth, the Galaxy could’ve won by a couple more goals, but Frank Rost made some nice saves for New York, and Robbie Keane was wasteful. It’ll be interesting to see if Keane plays in the second leg as he is clearly not match-fit. At the end, there was some fighting initiated by New York’s increasingly useless Rafa Marquez. I wouldn’t be surprised if he were suspended for the second leg. LA definitely has the edge, but as the MLS playoffs have shown before, a one goal lead heading home doesn’t mean a team is going through.