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What We Learned This Weekend In The MLS

1. There is no great team in the MLS this year. At least, not yet. Probably the best team so far has been Kansas City, but they were predictably thumped in LA by the Galaxy in their second match this week and just aren’t scoring as many goals as their domination suggests they should. The Galaxy will be helped out by Landon Donovan’s return to fitness, but don’t look as dominant as last year yet. Dallas and Montreal are probably the two surprises of the season so far, but does anyone expect either to win the MLS Cup this year? That’s what I thought. Houston are as bad away as they are good at home. Meanwhile, last year’s playoff teams like New York, DC United, Chicago, Seattle, San Jose, Vancouver and Real Salt Lake are all off to less than convincing starts. Will anyone step up?

2. Jack McInerney and Robert Earnshaw are the two best forwards in the league. It remains to be seen whether they will keep this up all season long, but McInerney (6 goals in 7 matches) and Earnshaw (5 goals in 6 matches) are scoring goals in bunches for teams that don’t necessarily create a lot of chances. Earnshaw in particularly has been a revelation (or as much as a guy who has scored double figures in the Premier League and has 164 total in England can be a revelation) in his ability to create something out of nothing for Toronto. Meanwhile, Robbie Keane and Chris Wondolowski, who combined for 49 goals in all competitions last year, are blowing chances more often than they’re scoring, and their teams are struggling in attack as a result.

3. Ben Olsen could be the first coach to lose his job. Do I think he will? Well, MLS teams tend to be a bit more patient with their managers than their European counterparts (See Toronto and Winter, Aron). However, with United’s start this season – 1 win in 7; 17th in goals scored; but perhaps more importantly, a string of dreadful performances to go along with their results – it wouldn’t be too shocking to see Olsen either get dismissed or just resign. It’s hard to say what’s wrong with this team. The defense is experienced; they have experienced stars in Dwayne DeRosario and Chris Pontius; and they were one of the best teams in the MLS last year. Clearly the blame for the start can’t be laid solely at the feet of Lionard Pajoy – as terrible as he has been, he is the team’s leading scorer. If something doesn’t happen too soon, the Olsen tenure could be over in DC.

Friendly: Philadelphia Union 0, Aston Villa 1

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

Normally I’m bored by friendly matches, but since my team was playing this one, I thought it would be a good enough excuse to do a write-up. Villa opened their 3-match U.S. tour (the other matches being against the Chicago Fire and Portland Timbers) by playing the Union at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. I get the appeal of bringing European teams in for friendlies, but I imagine for the manager and some of the players, having to stop in the middle of the season to play a meaningless game against a team that will probably play reserves for half of the match has to be frustrating. But as the MLS continues to grow, we’ll see more of these. Anyway, on to the match.

Aston Villa’s lineup was made up mostly of players who will be expected to start, along with the odd wildcard (Nathan Delfouneso, Barry Bannan). They dominated the first half – particularly the first 20 minutes or so, and Delfouneso in particular had several chances to score he didn’t take. He ended up making up for it late in the first half, though, curling the ball into Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath’s top right corner after a layoff from new signing Brett Holman. In the second half, both teams made a flurry of changes, and the Union were probably the better team the last 25 minutes or so.

Overall, it wasn’t a particularly exciting game. Villa certainly looked like the better side for most of the match, though the Union had a couple players on the pitch who I don’t recall seeing in an MLS match. Villa will take heart in continued (after their preseason opening win over Burton Albion) strong play from new signings Holman, Karim El Ahmadi and Matt Lowton, and it seems like it has been ages since Delfouneso scored. It’s also nice to see Villa passing the ball around quickly after the drudgery of last season’s play under fired manager Alex McLeish. Next up is Chicago, who should provide much more of a test, at least depending on how many regulars get on the pitch for them. Philadelphia looked good in spots in this match, but you could tell they were struggling to keep up with the speed that Villa moved the ball around.

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 rankings: April 20

New York's favorite son will miss three matches after more questionable decision-making.

1 – 1. Sporting Kansas City (7-0-0 – 21 pts, 12 gf, 2 ga). This week: Beat Vancouver 3-1; Beat Real Salt Lake 1-0. KC looked uncharacteristically shaky once Vancouver scored in their 3-1 win Sunday, but still held on. Aurelien Collin might be the league’s most dangerous player on set plays. Up next: At Portland on Saturday

2 – 2. Real Salt Lake (5-0-2 – 15 pts, 11 gf, 5 ga). This week: Lost 1-0 to Sporting Kansas City. Despite the loss to KC, RSL showed enough to keep them as a favorite for the MLS Cup. Next up: A trip to the surprise package of the season so far, San Jose. Up next: At San Jose on Saturday

3 – 3. San Jose Earthquakes (4-1-1 – 13 pts, 10 gf, 4 ga). This week: Drew 2-2 with New York. After starting out the season as a long-ball team striking on the counter, the Quakes’ performance against New York was the first to establish that they can actually play some nice football. Up next: Real Salt Lake on Saturday

4 – 4. Seattle Sounders (3-1-1 – 10 pts, 6 gf, 2 ga). This week: Beat Colorado 1-0. After beating Colorado, the Sounders get a week off to hopefully get Mauro Rosales and Steve Zakuani closer to coming back. Up next: At Chicago on April 28

5 – 5. New York Red Bulls (3-1-2 – 10 pts, 16 gf, 10 ga) This week: Drew 2-2 with San Jose. The Red Bulls looked strong on the attack against San Jose, but were fairly well dominated in the second half, and will be without Rafa Marquez, who was suspended for three matches. Up next: At DC United on Sunday

6 – 6. Houston Dynamo (2-1-1 – 7 pts, 3 gf, 3 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with Chicago. The Dynamo’s seven-match road streak continues with a trip to struggling Columbus, but at least Houston is more than half way through. Up next: At Columbus  on Saturday

7 – 10. FC Dallas (3-1-2 – 10 pts, 8 gf, 9 ga). This week: Beat Montreal 2-1. Dallas has improved dramatically the last couple weeks, though a trip to Vancouver could be a challenge. Up next: At Vancouver on Saturday

8 – 8. Colorado Rapids (3-0-3 – 9 pts, 7 gf, 8 ga). This week: Lost 1-0 to Seattle. The Rapids have been playing nice football, but not creating chances. They must test LA’s defense in this match. Up next: LA Galaxy on Saturday

9 – 12. DC United (2-3-2 – 9 pts, 8 gf, 7 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with Montreal; Beat New England 2-1. Up next: New York on Sunday

10 – 7. Vancouver Whitecaps (2-2-2 – 8 pts, 5 gf, 6 ga). This week: Lost 3-1 to Kansas City. After not allowing a single goal in their first match, the Whitecaps have conceded six in their last two. Up next: Dallas on Saturday

11 – 9. Chicago Fire (1-2-1 – 5 pts, 3 gf, 4 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with Houston. You would think after last season’s awful start that the Fire had learned their lesson, but their intensity so far this season suggests that they haven’t. Up next: At Toronto on Saturday

12 – 11. LA Galaxy (2-0-3 – 6 pts, 8 gf, 9 ga). This week: Beat Portland 3-1. Despite a reasonably impressive scoreline, the Galaxy were somewhat lucky to grab three points against Portland. Colorado is a better team. Up next: At Colorado on Saturday

13 – 15. Chivas USA (3-0-3 – 9 pts, 4 gf, 4 ga). This week: Beat Toronto 1-0. Wow, Chivas really have three wins? Who knew? This team needs to start winning some matches at home. Up next: Philadelphia on Saturday

14 – 13. Columbus Crew (2-0-3 – 6 pts, 4 gf, 7 ga). This week: Lost 1-0 to Philadelphia. The Crew have been a disaster the last two weeks defensively. Will Erig Gehrig Gehrig their chances again this week? Up next: Houston on Saturday

15 – 14. New England Revolution (2-0-4 – 6 pts, 5 gf, 8 ga). This week: Lost 2-1 to DC United. The Revs are a work in progress, but at least it should be an interesting one. Up next: At New York on April 28

16 – 16. Portland Timbers (1-1-4 – 4 pts, 8 gf, 11 ga). This week: Lost 3-1 to LA Galaxy. Despite the rough stretch lately, the Timbers are far from the worst team in the league. Can they turn things around against the league leaders? Umm…not so sure. Up next: Kansas City on Saturday

17 – 18. Philadelphia Union (1-1-3 – 4 pts, 3 gf, 6 ga). This week: Beat Columbus 1-0. The Union are OK defensively, but arguably the league’s worst attacking team. Will the addition of new signing Kai Herdling help? Up next: At Chivas USA on Saturday

18-17. Montreal Impact (1-2-5 – 5 pts, 7 gf, 15 ga). This week: Drew 1-1 with DC United; Lost 2-1 to Dallas. The Impact have played well enough the last two matches to get six points, but unfortunately just grabbed one. Oh, expansion teams. Up next: Portland on April 28

19 – 19. Toronto FC (0-0-5 – 0 pts, 2 gf, 10 ga). This week: Lost 1-0 to Chivas USA. Operation Save Aron Winters Job continues with a home match against the Fire. What defensive player’s error will give Chicago three points in this match? Up next: Chicago on Saturday

Aston Villa to do 3-match U.S. tour in July

I sure hope posting this photo on the web doesn't ruin its resale value

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer

Aston Villa, who are terrible again this year, but it’s worth noting have won the English league, Champions League and FA Cup more than Chelsea, are doing a three-match tour of the MLS ballparks in July. They open against the Union in Philadelphia on July 18, play the Chicago Fire on July 21, and close the tour with a match against the Timbers in Portland on July 24.

I’m all for a tour of the U.S. by Villa, though they never seem to play anywhere I can get to. The optimist in me is hoping that the team will be buoyed by the recent jettisoning of dead wood like Emile Heskey (1 goal in 2012 – yes, he’s a striker), Richard Dunne and Stephen Warnock and a healthy influx of new players, though I’ll probably be disappointed in that end.

At any rate, I hope those of you in those cities get a chance to attend the matches.

MLS Playoffs: Philadelphia Union 1, Houston Dynamo 2, first leg

Goals: PHI – Sebastien LeToux (1); HOU – Andrew Hainault (1), Calen Carr (1)

A pretty action-packed, but not necessarily quality-packed first leg in Philadelphia. Probably the most notable thing about the first half is how poor the Union were – probably because it is their first year in playoffs. Houston scored twice and probably could’ve had another goal or two by halftime. For the Union’s part, LeToux’s goal was probably a bit fortuitous. The Union were significantly better in the second half, but failed to find the equalizer, though Brad Davis should’ve been whistled for a handball in the box for Houston. The Dynamo have the edge, but only just.

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 weekend preview: August 20-21

By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood*Games to watch ^Games not to watch
All times Pacific, as usual

Saturday

New England (3-5-4 at home) v New York (1-8-4 away). (4:30 p.m.) New York somehow contrived to draw at home with Chicago in a match they might even have been lucky to draw. New England continues to be terrible, getting hammered at Columbus. The Revs are virtually out of the playoff race at this point. New York is treading dangerously close to dropping out of it themselves. But, and this seems to be an ongoing mantra with this team, they should be good enough to win this game. But … Prediction: 2-2

*Columbus (7-4-1) v Philadelphia (3-4-4). (4:30 p.m.) Columbus hammered New England to pull alone into first in the East. Philadelphia is running second after escaping with a home draw against Dallas. This will be an important game in the race for first in the East, though I’m not sure that really matters anyway. Prediction: Columbus 2-1

Houston (7-3-3) v Real Salt Lake (2-3-4). (5:30 p.m.) Houston have been a decent team at home, most recently beating Seattle and Portland there. Real Salt Lake have been disappointing this year, though they figure to be dangerous when they reach the playoffs. Prediction: 1-1

*FC Dallas (8-3-2) v Seattle (5-5-3). (6 p.m.) Dallas should have beaten Philadelphia last week, only to have George John sent off and then conceding a penalty late in the game. They did become the first MLS team ever to win in Mexico after beating Pumas in midweek in the Champions League. Seattle have been good this year, and also won convincingly in the Champions League. The question with this match is, will two sort of tired teams cancel themselves out? Prediction: Dallas 1-0

Colorado (5-6-2) v Chivas USA (3-5-4). (6 p.m.) Colorado continues to roll on. They’ve only lost once in their last 10 in all competitions, and that was a close match against Seattle. They won in midweek Champions League play despite having a player sent off and being horrendous in defense. Chivas have played well lately, though it remains to be seen if Juan Pablo Angel revitalizes one of the weaker attacks in the league. I’m going to say, probably not. But still, they look like they could be a playoff team.  Prediction: Colorado 2-1

Portland (6-2-4) v Vancouver (0-4-9). (7 p.m.) Normally this match would be a match not to watch, but given that there is a regional rivalry born in the USL here, and the fact that Portland HAS TO win this match, it could be a fun match. Vancouver could pull this out – Portland are playing their third match in a week, but more likely is that the Timbers will win. Still, they’re probably not reaching the playoffs this year. Prediction: Portland 2-0

LA Galaxy (7-5-0) v San Jose (2-3-5). (7:30 p.m.) This match will be interesting because Robbie Keane – who I expect to be very good in the MLS – is playing his first match for the Galaxy. He makes probably the best team in the MLS even better. San Jose are lousy and are probably one more loss from just playing out the string. You have to feel sorry for Frank Yallop – his player decisions sounded decent in theory, but the players drafted in to replace those moved on just haven’t produced. Prediction: LA 3-0

Sunday

^Chicago (1-8-2) v Toronto FC (0-6-7). (4 p.m.) Both teams are fairly bad, though Toronto are undefeated in six, which is probably why I have to pick this as a draw. Prediction: 68-68

Sporting Kansas City (5-4-1) v DC United (4-4-3 away). (5:30 p.m.) United are making a serious bid for the playoffs, or possibly (though unlikely) the top spot in the East. Kansas City have also been great since their great road trip to open the season ended. KC are almost done with their enormous stretch of home matches, so they need to get three points here. Prediction: KC 2-1

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

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