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Dan Gargan exhibits his "Stop, Drop and Roll" defensive move.

Dan Gargan exhibits his “Stop, Drop and Roll” defensive move.

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

As someone who is more or less a neutral when it comes to MLS teams – I vowed to support whatever team is closest to wherever my job is located after graduation, I’m always amused by MLS offseason transactions. Sure, there are always a bunch of Colombians signed, and the odd designated player no one has heard of who is doomed to play 12 matches and then sign with some mid-level team in Paraguay. But the thing I am always struck by is how many stunningly mediocre MLS vets continue to get signed by new teams – probably at or near their already exorbitant wages. Here are a few examples:

John Thorrington (MF, DC United). Previously played for: Chicago Fire, Vancouver Whitecaps. When Thorrington was younger, he was a serviceable winger, but now he’s 33. Last year, Thorrington made $170,000, which is more than All-MLS defender Young-Pyo Lee or up-and-coming midfielder Gershon Koffie made for the Caps – heck, it was almost four times the amount San Jose paid Steven Beitashour, one of the best players in the league. For this salary, Thorrington contributed one assist in 19 games – which was an improvement over the previous year. In the last 7 years, he’s made 89 appearances total. He probably didn’t sign with DC for $170,000, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the figure was still over $100,000.

Maicon Santos (F, Chicago). Previously played for: Chivas USA, Toronto, FC Dallas, DC United. I get the attraction with Santos – he’s big, he’s Brazilian, he occasionally scores goals in bunches. Unfortunately, as his previous four MLS employers have found, when he’s not scoring goals – and let’s face it, 21 in 88 matches does not count as prolific – he does little else. Don’t worry, Fire fans, based on his past history, it’s doubtful he’ll be with the team by the time the playoffs roll around. I’m going to guess and say he’ll be with Columbus. Here’s a video of Maicon Santos in action.

Eric Brunner (D, Houston). Previously played for: New York, Columbus, Portland. At one point Brunner was seen as a rising star in U.S. soccer ranks, but two seasons in Portland exposed him as a lightweight (despite his height) central defender who doesn’t move particularly well and struggles at set pieces. On the bright side, it’s hard to see him displacing Hainault and Boswell in the Dynamo defense, so as long as they stay healthy …

Chad Barrett (F, New England). Previously played for: Chicago, Toronto, LA Galaxy. Oh, Chad Barrett. Perhaps it’s his Wayne Rooney-esque stature that keeps getting Barrett jobs, because it can’t be his goal-scoring. Barrett’s two-year stint in Los Angeles saw him score 8 goals in 45 matches – and that’s with the likes of Donovan, Juninho, Beckham and Keane supplying him. For this, he was paid more than $250,000 each year. By way of comparison, Alan Gordon, who scored 13 goals in 23 matches for San Jose, earned $120,000. With his average of a goal ever five matches and joining a Revs team without LA’s firepower, he’s got to be at least good for 2 or 3 this year.

Dan Gargan and Ty Harden (D, San Jose). Previously played for: Colorado, Chivas USA, Toronto, Chicago (Gargan); LA Galaxy, Colorado, Toronto (Harden). After earning the MLS Supporter Shield last year for best regular season record, apparently Earthquakes execs decided they wanted no part of success this year by signing two players that are undeniably among the worst regular starters (though in fairness to Harden, his time as a regular starter has rapidly faded) in the MLS. I don’t have much in the way of stats to support this argument, except to say that both played regularly for Toronto in the last two years.

Good luck, MLS fans!

Match Report: FC Dallas 1, New England 0

Calling this a “match report” might be a bit ambitious, since I’m posting about 55 words, but that’s OK. A late, late injury-time goal from Ugo Ihemelu (I’m not checking the spelling on this) gave Dallas a much-deserved win over New England. The fightin’ red and whites dominated the match, particularly Fabian Castillo, who gave the slow Revs backline fits, but seemed destined for a draw until Ihemelu scored on a corner. A much-heartening result if you’re a Dallas fan, especially on the heels of the disaster in DC last week. The Revs weren’t particularly good, but let them enjoy their 2-match winning streak that just ended, please.

MLS rankings: March 27

And you thought today wouldn't start off so sexy.

For once, MLSsoccer.com’s Power Rankings and ours relatively agree. That’s nice to see. I’m not trying to rhyme. Not a lot of huge changes in the rankings, though good performances by San Jose and Chivas USA have them moving up a little bit. With Sporting Kansas City and Seattle off to such good starts, the onus will be on the Galaxy to keep pace after a bye week. Luckily they’re playing the Revs.

1 – 1. Sporting Kansas City (3-0-0 – 9 pts, 6 gf, 1 ga). This week: Beat Dallas 2-1. KC grinds out a result, which is a good sign for a team hoping to challenge the Galaxy, who are kings of grinding out results. Up next: At Chivas USA on Sunday

2 – 3. Seattle Sounders (2-0-0 – 6 pts, 5 gf, 1 ga). This week: Beat Houston 2-0. The Sounders aren’t great at retaining possession, which is a bit surprising for what is clearly one of the top teams in the league. They do have enough weapons that it doesn’t matter, though. Up next: San Jose on Saturday

3 – 4. LA Galaxy (1-0-1 – 3 pts, 4 gf, 4 ga). This week: The Galaxy got a week off so Landon Donovan can concentrate on his real love: Crocheting. Up next: New England on Saturday

4 – 2. Real Salt Lake (2-0-1 – 6 pts, 5 gf, 2 ga). This week: Lost to Chivas USA 1-0. RSL never should have lost to Chivas USA, but they certainly weren’t helped out by Alvaro Saborio’s annual March dry spell in front of goal. Up next: At Portland on Saturday

5 – 7. Vancouver Whitecaps (2-1-0 – 7 pts, 3 gf, 0 ga). This week: Drew 0-0 with DC United. For a team having Camilo, Eric Hassli and Sebastian LeToux up front, the Caps have struggled to score. But they still have yet to concede a goal. Up next: At Philadelphia on Saturday

6 – 5. Houston Dynamo (2-0-1 – 6 pts, 2 gf, 2 ga). This week: Lost to Seattle 2-0. After their 2-0-0 start on their 7-match season-opening road trip, the Dynamo crash down to Earth at Seattle, though they weren’t dominated. If they can pick up another win on their travels, they’ll be well-placed for the playoff battle when they return home. Up next: At Chicago on April 15

7 – 11. San Jose Earthquakes (2-0-1 – 6 pts, 4 gf, 1 ga). This week: Beat Toronto 3-0. They don’t play beautiful football, but their defense is solid, and Chris Wondolowski is the best finisher in the MLS. And with a much deeper team this year, the Earthquakes have to think the playoffs are a very real goal. Up next: At Seattle on Saturday

8 – 10. Chicago Fire (1-1-0 – 4 pts, 2 gf, 1 ga). This week: Beat Philadelphia 1-0. It’s been a bit of an uneven first two matches for the Fire, but they have enough quality in the team that they shouldn’t fall apart like they did last year after starting 1-1-0. Up next: At Colorado on Sunday

9 – 6. Portland Timbers (1-1-1 – 4 pts, 4 gf, 3 ga). This week: Lost 1-0 at New England. If the Timbers want to be serious contenders in the West, they need better performances from their midfield – Jack Jewsbury and Diego Chara were dominated by the Revs midfield. Don’t expect Kris Boyd to miss as many chances as he did in that game, though. Up next: Real Salt Lake on Saturday

10 – 9. FC Dallas (1-1-1 – 4 pts, 4 gf, 4 ga). This week: Lost 2-1 to Kansas City. Dallas continues to wait on David Fereira returning from injury. At some point, they have to find a plan B if they want to challenge for the MLS Cup. Up next: At DC United on Friday

11 – 12. Columbus Crew (1-0-1 – 3 pts, 2 gf, 2 ga). This week: Beat Montreal 2-0. New DP Mirosevic looks like quite a player, which is good, because the Crew need him to be if they’re going to go far in the playoffs. Up next: At Toronto on Saturday

12 – 8. Colorado Rapids (2-0-1 – 6 pts, 5 gf, 5 ga). This week: Lost to New York 4-1. The Rapids were inept in New York, but falling victim to a bunch of dumb defensive mistakes, it wasn’t a completely accurate picture of the team’s quality. Up next: Chicago on Sunday

13 – 14. New York Red Bulls (1-0-2 – 3 pts, 5 gf, 5 ga) This week: Beat Colorado 4-1. Yes, the Red Bulls beat the Rapids by three goals. If they want to move up in the rankings, they need to produce like that more often. Up next: Montreal on Saturday

14 – 13. DC United (0-1-2 – 1 pt, 1 gf, 4 ga). This week: Drew 0-0 with Vancouver. Could United’s laboring offense be all Maicon Santos’s fault? If you read OLS regularly, you know the answer can only be yes. Up next: FC Dallas on Saturday

15 – 19. Chivas USA (1-0-2 – 3 pts, 1 gf, 2 ga). This week: Beat Real Salt Lake 1-0. Chivas finally scored! Chivas finally scored! This team is still a mess. Up next: Sporting Kansas City on Sunday

16 – 18. New England Revolution (1-0-2 – 3 pts, 1 gf, 4 ga). This week: Beat Portland 1-0. Lee Nguyen provided quite a spark in midfield for the Revs, though the jury is still out on Saer Sene’s ability to be a top-notch striker. Up next: LA Galaxy on Saturday

17-16. Montreal Impact (0-1-2 – 1 pt, 1 gf, 5 ga). This week: Lost to Columbus 2-0. Only woeful starts for Philadelphia and Toronto are keeping the Impact from propping up the rest of the league in the rankings. They should be doing it pretty soon. Up next: At New York on Saturday

18 – 17. Philadelphia Union (0-0-3 – 0 pts, 2 gf, 6 ga). This week: Lost to Chicago 1-0. A better performance from Zack MacMath is a start, but the Union are still porous defensively and punchless offensively. Up next: Vancouver on Saturday

19 – 15. Toronto FC (0-0-2 – 0 pts, 1 gf, 6 ga). This week: Lost to San Jose 3-0. Losing Sebastian Freis for two months really hurts a team that can’t defend anyway. When does Torsten Frings get back? Up next: Columbus on Saturday

MLS weekend picks: And we’re off!

Too late, Frank and Rita realized that photographers weren't interested in their family logging expedition, but rather, something far more insidious.

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

Hello everyone. After a fairly nondescript offseason, America’s No. 1 professional American soccer league is back for its 17th season. Incidentally, MLS Live is a decent service if you feel like being able to watch most of the games in the season. Better than paying for the DirectTV package, anyway. Lots to watch for this weekend, with Canada vs. Canada (Montreal vs. Vancouver), the defending champs against the stingiest defense (Galaxy vs. RSL) and San Jose vs. New England. (anyone?) All times Pacific.

Saturday

Colorado vs. Columbus. (3 p.m.) I’ll be in Denver for this one, though I won’t actually watch the game, probably. Maybe on TV? Both teams have a couple new foreign players, but Colorado just found out a couple might not be able to play. Bummer. Crew fans are eager to see new signing Milovan Mirosevic, who they’re hoping is good enough to carry them into the playoffs. Colorado won’t have Conor Casey, so it’ll be up to Omar Cummings to carry the scoring load, something he didn’t do very well last year. (3 goals) Prediction: 1-1

Vancouver vs. Montreal. (3 p.m.) Last year, in their first-ever MLS match, the Whitecaps destroyed the other Canadian team, then proceeded to not win for their next 14 matches. Will the Impact suffer a similar fate? Well, not likely, given that A) Vancouver is much better than last year and B) The Impact are playing in Vancouver and aren’t very good. It should be fun to watch, anyway. Prediction: Whitecaps 4-1

DC United vs. Sporting Kansas City. (4:30 p.m.) In 2011, Sporting Kansas City played their first 10 (TEN!) matches away from home, were predictably in last place, yet somehow managed to make the playoffs and finish first in the East anyway. With LiveStrong (Don’t misspell it or they’ll sue!) Park now widely acclaimed as the best field in the MLS, they should have no such worries. But this weekend, they’re playing in Washington DC. Prediction: United 1-0

San Jose vs. New England. (7:30 p.m.) I’m actually pretty excited for what San Jose has done with their roster. They also have the momentum of having a new stadium on the way, though that won’t happen this year. New England had a surprisingly good preseason, which has gotta factor into their regular season, right? Prediction: San Jose 2-0

LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake. (7:30 p.m.) The Galaxy open their season against RSL, so in terms of sheer quality, this should be the match to watch this week. But…the Galaxy are dull, and Real Salt Lake like to take the sting out of the game by passing it around the back a bit. I think I’ll pass. Prediction: Galaxy 2-1

Sunday

FC Dallas vs. New York. (Noon) I haven’t seen any FC Dallas preseason highlights, but I guess they’ve had a somewhat rough go of it in Mexico. I’ll be curious to see how new signing Blas Perez is bedding in at forward, if Colombian Fabian Castillo can take the next step in his development, and if Brek Shea returns to his early 2011 form as opposed to how he’s played since for club and country. New York has the potential for excitement but will probably fall short of expectations, just like George Lucas has done the last 29 years. Prediction: 1-1

Chivas USA vs. Houston. (4 p.m.) I couldn’t find the Spanish translation for “Gawdawful” (the closest I could get was “pinche terrible, ese”) to describe Chivas USA’s offseason/preseason, and they’re taking on the defending MLS Cup runners-up, which, well, doesn’t really mean anything. But Houston should be able to nab at least a point on the road, which is always a good way to start. Prediction: Houston 2-1

Monday

Portland vs. Philadelphia. (6:30 p.m.) The Timbers get to show off their new signings against 2010′s expansion team, so it should be a typically raucous affair with ironic mustaches shining with drops of PBR and home brew and the smell of food cart Korean tacos in the air as the sounds of cheering are mingled with arguments over questionable resource trading in Settlers of Katan games around Jeld-Wen Park. Then after the match, all the soccer dads in their vegi-oil-powered Priuses will gesticulate politely at the people stopping traffic with their unicycles and double-decker bikes covered in green and white streamers and confetti, before everyone meets at Hawthorne Theater for a midnight showing of “The Go-Bots Movie.” Prediction: Portland 3-1

Jeremiah’s Desert Diamond Cup report

Together, not a single call was missed.

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.

MLS weekend preview: August 5-7

Finally, Landon Donovan found someone who was less than six inches taller than him.

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

*Games to watch ^Games not to watch
All times Pacific, as usual

Friday

*Colorado v Columbus. (6:30 p.m.) This is a matchup between the 4th- and 5th-place teams in the standings. Colorado is coming off a 2-1 win at Philadelphia – the first time an opposing team has won at the Union’s ground, and Columbus beat RSL in Salt Lake – the second time that’s happened this season and third overall, ever. Both teams are playing well right at the moment, though with leading scorers Andres Mendoza and Emilio Renteria hampered a bit by injury, Columbus is probably the less potent of the two. Sanna Nyassi has four goals since being inserted into the striker role when Conor Casey went down for the season. Prediction: Colorado 2-1

Saturday

New England v Chivas USA. (4:30 p.m.) The Revs are starting to show an eency-teency bit of life, drawing their last two matches after getting hammered at home by Philadelphia, which would have to be considered the low point of the season. Despite a loss in their last match against Dallas, Chivas have played well, and beat Houston 3-0 two weeks ago. With both teams being on the outside looking in as far as playoff berths, it’s an important match for both teams. You’d have to give the Revs the advantage due to playing at home, but they have yet to put any team away this season convincingly, so it would be a surprise to see it happen now. Prediction: 1-1

DC United v Toronto. (4:30 p.m.) DC are coming off a surprisingly easy win at San Jose, and Toronto ended their four-match losing streak by coming back from two goals down to draw at Portland. United are playing much better defensively, particularly since acquiring Brandon MacDonald from San Jose. Toronto has completely reshaped their team, though the results haven’t really been coming for them. They did manage to advance in the Champions League, though, and with the draw against Portland, they probably showed more fight than they have all season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Toronto pulled what would be a relatively minor upset, though they are incredibly inept defensively without Adrian Cann and Dicoy Williams playing (though they’re not great with them playing either, in fairness.) Prediction: 1-1

Philadelphia v Houston. (5 p.m.) Interestingly, despite Philadelphia just coming off an expansion season, Houston have never beaten them. The Union lost at home to Colorado and drew at Chicago. They’re clearly missing Carlos Ruiz in attack, where Sebastiean Le Toux is having a terrible year. Houston came out of the doldrums to beat Seattle at home, though they can probably thank Manchester United for inflicting a 7-0 pounding on the Sounders prior to the match. Neither team is playing particularly well, but it would be surprising if Houston got a result here – particularly with Will Bruin and Danny Cruz out. Prediction: Union 2-0

Sporting KC v Seattle. (5:30 p.m.) Kansas City hasn’t lost in 14 matches and after their 10-match season-opening road trip, are enjoying an endless stretch of matches at home. Their latest victims were Toronto and Real Salt Lake. Seattle finally came out after taking the pasting at the hands of Manchester United and then losing their Champions League opener and getting thumped by Houston and beat San Francisco to advance to the Champions League group stages. Though these are both good, playoff-bound teams, it’s hard to see the Sounders getting anything better than a draw out of this match. Prediction: 2-2

Real Salt Lake v New York. (6 p.m.) After crushing San Jose a couple weeks ago, RSL have lost the plot, losing to Columbus and Kansas City, the Crew match at home, which never happens. The Red Bulls are still looking for whatever spark they had in opening the season with four wins out of seven – since that point, they’ve gone 2-10-4, though they did get some solace in winning the Emirates Cup in London this week, though WHO CARES? I thought bringing Frank Rost in at goalkeeper would tighten them up somewhat, but it hasn’t helped. But with all that said, New York will always have the personnel to go on a run, it just seems more and more unlikely as the season goes on. Prediction: Real Salt Lake 2-1

*LA Galaxy v FC Dallas. (7:30 p.m.) Oh snap folks, this is the big one! Or it should be. Though the Galaxy were hammered by Portland (!!) last week, they have been mostly the best team in the league this year. Dallas continue to win. At this point, with all due respect to RSL, Seattle and Colorado, these are the two best teams in the league. The big question is, with Landon Donovan and David Beckham shackled last week by the likes of Mike Chabala and James Marcelin, how will they do playing against the upper-tier MLS defenders Dallas has? Since they’re playing at home, I’m going to say they’ll win, though I’d like Dallas to pull this one off. Prediction: LA 2-1

San Jose v Portland. (7:30 p.m.) Is there any doubt over what the game not to watch is? Well, since Vancouver is hosting Chicago, there is. But this is still a terrible match. I actually have enjoyed watching both teams this season. Neither is as painfully dull as Columbus, as low on quality as Vancouver, as mismatched as New England or as wasteful as Chicago. But still, this is a matchup between a team that can’t score – San Jose have scored four goals in nine matches since scoring four in one at DC United. Weirdly, they seem to be a better offensive team without last season’s Golden Boot winner in Chris Wondolowski. Portland have righted the ship somewhat after a bad stretch, but they still have only one win on the road – against Chicago, who has only won once at home anyway – though if they’re going to win another away match this season, this could be it. Prediction: Portland 1-0

Sunday

^Vancouver v Chicago. (4 p.m.) Both teams have two wins this season. Vancouver lost 4-0 in their last home match, are terrible defensively, have a miserable array of forwards except for Eric Hassli and have no one playing in midfield. Chicago are masters at fashioning multiple chances for their array of misfiring strikers to blaze over the bar when it’d be easier to at least force the goalkeeper into saving. Since Chicago are a better defensive team, I have to give an edge to them on this one, but let’s be honest: barring something COMPLETELY IMPROBABLE happening, neither team will be playing in the postseason, and since the MLS doesn’t do relegation, why bother? Prediction: 1-1

MLS rankings: Week 18

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

I get the league’s justification for all the exhibition matches against English and Spanish teams – it’s a money maker and they do it every summer. But next to, oh, a major international tournament, it severely disrupts the regular season. And for what? So you can find out that Frederico Macheda would probably be a viable goal scorer in the MLS. Exciting stuff. It’ll be interesting to see how some of the teams pick themselves up after these exhibition matches. The Galaxy beat Columbus after being throttled by Real Madrid. New England was hammered by Manchester United, then lost to Philadelphia. Seattle’s 2nd team gave up six goals in the second half to ManU. Next up: Chicago and Philadelphia. The thing is, of course Manchester United will crush MLS teams. They have to. All it does is highlight the disparity between the money flowing into Manchester, excuse me, Boston or New York or wherever the owners live, and since the major teams in Europe operate without financial restriction, it makes perfect sense that they can stockpile talent. And that’s what makes the current state of European soccer so painfully dull. Nice to see Mame Biram Diouf get a goal for Manchester United, since he probably won’t see a minute for this team in the regular season. But you know what? He’d score double-digit goals in the MLS. Anyway, off my soapbox and on to the rankings.

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

1 – 1. Real Salt Lake did not play. RSL didn’t play, but as noted the last few rankings, have been playing back to almost their best. A visit from struggling San Jose shouldn’t change that. Season: 8-6-3, 22 gf, 12 ga; Up next: San Jose on Saturday

2 – 2. LA Galaxy beat Columbus 1-0 at home. The Galaxy were whipped by Real Madrid – predictably – but recovered for a somewhat uninspiring win over Columbus. And that’s all they need to do, really. Season: 11-9-2, 28 gf, 16 ga; Up next: At Vancouver on July 30

3 – 4. Seattle Sounders won 4-3 at home against Colorado. The big question is, will Seattles 8-match unbeaten streak be adversely affected by the absolute pasting their B team (They were only down 1-0 with the starters in) took against Manchester United? For the sake of their fans, let’s hope not. Season: 10-8-4, 32 gf, 23 ga; Up next: Houston on July 30

4 – 3. FC Dallas won 1-0 at Toronto; drew 0-0 at home with DC United. Dallas had a tougher than expected (maybe) couple of matches against DC United and Toronto, but did what good teams do and got results. Brek Shea continues to have a fantastic year, even if his hair is dumb. Season: 11-5-5, 27 gf, 18 ga. Up next: At New York on Saturday

5 – 5. Philadelphia Union won 3-0 at New England. An impressive road victory over New England will probably be followed by a spanking at the hands of Real Madrid. Nonetheless, Philadelphia have firmly established themselves as the class of the East. Season: 8-7-4, 24 gf, 16 ga; Up next: Colorado on July 29

6 – 8. Colorado Rapids won 4-1 at home against New York; lost 4-3 at Seattle. After improved play lately, the Rapids finally broke out and crushed New York. This will be a team to watch in the push for the Top 3 playoff spots late in the year. Season record: 7-9-6, 29 goals for, 28 goal against; Up next: New England on Saturday

7 – 7. Columbus Crew lost 1-0 at LA Galaxy; drew 0-0 at home with San Jose. The Crew are competitive, but they’re also tied for fourth from last in goals scored. It’s nice that their defense is so tight, but they’re doomed to an unfavourable playoff matchup unless they start putting the ball in the back of the net.  Season: 7-7-6, 21 gf 20 ga; Up next: Portland on Saturday

8 – 6. Red Bull New York lost 4-1 at Colorado; drew 0-0 at Chivas USA. I thought that the Red Bulls couldn’t get any worse than their 11-match stretch where they won once earlier in the year. I was wrong. The first half against Colorado was as bad as I’ve seen any team in the MLS play this year, and that’s including Toronto’s 7-1 loss to Philadelphia. Season: 6-11-5, 35 gf, 28 ga; Up next: FC Dallas on Saturday

9 – 10. Sporting Kansas City drew 1-1 at Houston. KC lucked out a bit in getting a draw at Houston. They face a potential banana peel in hosting Toronto this weekend. It’s a match they should win easily, but Toronto looked better with all the new players in the team, and Kansas City hasn’t shown any killer instinct lately. Season: 5-8-6, 24 gf, 25 ga; Up next: Toronto on Saturday

10 – 9. DC United lost 1-0 at home to New England; drew 0-0 at FC Dallas. After being a fun, high-scoring team the first half of the year, now United can’t score, despite having Dwayne De Rosario in the team. Was trading for him a mistake? Season: 5-8-6, 24 gf, 30 ga; Up next: San Jose on July 30

11 – 11. Chivas USA drew 0-0 at home against New York. Chivas have to be disappointed failing to score goals against the hapless Red Bulls. They’re still on the fringes of playoff qualification. Season: 5-8-7, 24 gf, 23 ga; Up next: Houston on Saturday

12 – 13. San Jose Earthquakes drew 2-2 at home against Vancouver; drew 0-0 at Columbus. After failing to score in ages, the Earthquakes finally came out of their shells against Vancouver. Who was the culprit? Well, Chris Wondolowski, of course. Season: 5-9-6, 24 gf, 23 ga; Up next: At Real Salt Lake on Saturday

13 – 12. Houston Dynamo drew 1-1 at home against Sporting Kansas City. Houston were dead-set on three points against KC and then their players inexplicably went crazy and started committing bad fouls and getting sent off. Poor discipline is to blame for their failure to get three points, and we’ll have to see if that torpedoes their season. Season: 5-9-6, 23 gf, 23 ga; Up next: At Chivas USA on Saturday

14 – 16. Portland Timbers won 1-0 at Chicago. It seems that playing the Fire is a cure-all for struggling teams, and last weekend, the Timbers were the beneficiary. Did they deserve the win? Well, not really. Nonetheless, they’ll take it, and maybe even push on from here, though don’t count on it, unless they can find a remedy for their striking woes. Season: 6-3-9, 22 gf, 31 ga; Up next: At Columbus on Saturday

15 – 14. Chicago Fire lost 1-0 at home against Portland. Alright Fire, I’m not predicting a win for you again this year. You were taking on the team in the worst run of form in the league, at home, and you couldn’t score a single goal. Pitiful. I hope the Fire win the US Open Cup, because it’ll give them something to look at instead of watching the playoffs on TV. Season: 2-12-6, 20 gf, 25 ga; Up next: Philadelphia on Aug. 3

16 – 17. Vancouver Whitecaps drew 2-2 at San Jose. The Caps finally got Eric Hassli back and immediately looked dramatically better. He should be the MLS newcomer of the year. They’re still having trouble winning games, though. Season: 2-9-10, 21 gf, 30 ga; Up next: LA Galaxy on July 30

17 – 18. Toronto FC lost 1-0 at home to FC Dallas. Toronto looked considerably better with all the new signings, though it remains to be seen whether all the pieces can gel before the playoffs are completely out of reach. Season: 3-9-10, 17 gf, 37 ga; Up next: At Sporting Kansas City

18 – 15. New England Revolution won 1-0 at DC United; lost 3-0 at home to Philadelphia. Based on their win at DC, I would move New England up in the rankings, but a dreary home loss to Philadelphia is keeping them in dead last. Season: 4-7-9, 17 gf, 27 ga; Up next: At Colorado on Saturday

10 Questions with A.J. Soares

A.J. Soares: Sorry Beyonce, take a number. – Courtesy New England Revolution

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood

A.J. Soares

Team: New England Revolution
Position: Defender
Height: 6-foot
Weight: 170
Age: 22
College: California
More: Drafted #6 by New England … has appeared in 15 out of 16 matches this season for the Revolution … only missed two matches in college career for Cal … A 2010 NSCAA first-team All-American and 2010 Pac-10 Player of the Year

1. At what point did you realize that you could be a professional soccer player?
You never really know until the day comes. I think in college, I was just thinking about being at Cal and then eventually the time came when people started talking about how I could be a pro and that’s kind of when I realized it.

2. How do you rate the Revs’ chances of making the playoffs and competing for the MLS Cup?
I think we have a good chance, always. We have a really good, talented team that works hard. We’ve put some good performances together and once we get a few more, we’ll be on a really good streak.

3. How do you feel the addition of Benny Feilhaber has changed the team?
I think Benny just brings experience. He’s a World Cup veteran and a Gold Cup veteran. He just brings a high level of play and is a high level guy. He’s a cool guy and he adds a lot.

4. Do you have a favorite European club team?
I like Real Madrid, I like Manchester United, but I like American soccer best.

5. What players have you modeled your game after or took inspiration from?
Carlos Bocanegra. I think he’s one of the best American defenders ever, so I try to play like him. I think we’re similar in stature too, so I learned a lot from him there.

6. You guys have struggled to win games on the road this season. How can you turn that around?
Just try to perform like we did at home. I think, individually, everyone needs to think about how they prepare when they’re at home and try to do that on the road.

7. How would you describe your style of play? (as an individual)
My style of play is just reading the game. I try to use my brain more than anything and, you know, always keep intensity high. If you work hard to get to the ball, you can always beat the guy you’re playing against.

8. If you were allowed a specific song to be played when you were subbed into a match, what would it be?
A full song? If it was a full song, I’d do Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and it would be like an eight-minute intro.

9. How would you describe the difference between college ball and playing in the MLS?
There’s a lot more on the line because it’s guys’ jobs and everything, so you’ve got to do the best you can every single day in training to try to keep your job and try to help the team do well.

10. Beyonce or Katy Perry? (Note: “Neither” is an acceptable answer)
Katy Perry, easily. That’s not even a question.

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Thanks A.J.!

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