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
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
Goals: Osvaldo Alonso (1), Lamar Neagle (1)
Seattle takes 26 shots against Real Salt Lake, but fail to find the breakthrough until the second half and eventually run out of steam. It wasn’t a terrible performance from the Sounders, but they were a bit wasteful in the first half, and Real Salt Lake was always going to sit back and defend and soak up all the pressure, which they did very well. Osvaldo Alonso got the first goal on a penalty, and when Lamar Neagle scored around the 63rd minute, there was hope for Seattle, but they never found a third. Real Salt Lake, who played quite well in this matchup, move on to face either LA or New York. Probably LA.
Goals: Saborio 2(2), Grabavoy (1)
A bit of a shock result with RSL overwhelming Seattle in Utah. It will be very difficult for the Sounders to win by 3 or 4 in Seattle, though it’s not impossible. Alvaro Saborio scored twice. The first was contested as offside by Seattle, though it didn’t look it, and the second was a nice backheel flick. Ned Grabavoy wrapped up the points with a second-half goal, and he might have sent RSL into the second round. A pretty disappointing performance from the Sounders, who were all over the place defensively and created little in attack. Fredy Montero in particular was poor. The second leg is Wednesday.
I’ve been reading some of the debate over the Sounders getting hammered in a friendly, at home, by Manchester United yesterday. A lot of the talk, unsurprisingly, has been along the lines of “Oh, MLS, you screwed this one up again!” Well, I don’t think that’s true, really. I mean, obviously losing by seven goals at home is terrible no matter who you’re playing, but I don’t think it’s a true representation of the quality of the league as a whole. And here’s why:
1. Manchester United are really good. I think some people who watch the Premier League (and aren’t Red Devils fans) get so caught up in the race for someone to knock United off their peg that they don’t realize how good the team really is. Manchester United are certifiably either the second- or third-best team in the world, as of last year. They certainly didn’t hurt themselves by signing Ashley Young or David DeGea, either. Do you think United would lose if they played a friendly at Osasuna (in Spain) or Fluminense (in Brazil) or Catania (in Italy)? Probably not. They might even win by seven goals.
2. The Sounders made eight changes at half-time. The Sounders were probably always going to lose this game, but they didn’t help themselves by taking eight of their starters out at half-time with the score 1-0. Would United have scored six goals in the second half against the starters? Maybe, but probably not – 3-1 would be my pick as the most likely result. And I know some will argue that United played several of their reserve players (Mame Biram Diouf, Macheda, whoever that goalkeeper was that played in the second half), but one thing you have to remember is, every player in Manchester United’s team would walk into the starting line-up of an MLS team. Heck, every player in Manchester United’s team would probably get some playing time for Everton, and they’re considered one of the better teams in England.
3. The Sounders have bigger fish to fry. I get the impulse to criticize Sounders management for not trying to win a game against one of the world’s top teams, but Seattle is in the thick of the supporter’s shield (best regular season record) race and starts Champions League play during the week next week, and is in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup. There is just no incentive to risk injury on a team with so much to play for on one exhibition match, no matter who it’s against.
4. The MLS is getting better. No, really. It might seem weird to use such a pasting as an example of improved play in the league, but, at least for 45 minutes, Seattle did compete against one of the best teams in the world. If you look at MLS squads, you could make the argument that every team has at least one guy who, maybe wouldn’t play for a top English team, but would certainly see playing time on a lower-level Premiership team. In Seattle’s case, players like Osvaldo Alonso, Fredy Montero, Alvaro Fernandez and James Riley wouldn’t make United’s bench, but they’d almost certainly make the team at Norwich or QPR or Wigan. And to have a European team come to a match in the U.S. and play in front of 67,000 crazy fans would’ve been unheard of even a few years ago. That’s progress.
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
*Game to watch ^Game not to watch
All times Pacific, as usual
Vancouver v Real Salt Lake. (1 p.m.) I haven’t been able to find any information anywhere on the web about whether Vancouver expects to have Eric Hassli back for this game after missing the last two with injury, though he did show up for the ESPYs after having his goal against Seattle nominated (He didn’t win). New signing Mustapha Jarju (a forward) will probably play some part. Real Salt Lake are undefeated in their last six (2 wins). Prediction: As with most Caps games, if they don’t have their best player, they won’t win. But against RSL, it might not matter anyway. RSL 2-0
*Seattle v Colorado. The Sounders haven’t lost in their last seven matches (4 wins). They take on Colorado, who have been much improved since the return of Omar Cummings, though he has yet to score since coming back from injury. Fredy Montero scored twice for Seattle in the win over Portland, which I think equaled his total coming into the game. (1 p.m.) Prediction: Seattle 2-1
Columbus v San Jose. At some point, Columbus realized they were playing in the Eastern Conference, so if they woke up and started playing any brand of football whatsoever, they could end up finishing first in the East. They’ve been very good over the last two months. San Jose had a good run minus Chris Wondolowski, but now that he’s back, they can’t score. (4:30 p.m.) Prediction: Columbus 3-0
Houston v Sporting Kansas City. (5:30 p.m.) After a good start, Houston only won once in 11 matches before beating Toronto last weekend. The last two games they’ve played relatively mistake-free soccer, which for this team is important. If they can do that against Kansas City, they have a chance. For Sporting, they haven’t lost in their last 10 games, though they’ve drawn their last two at home. They’re a good attacking team, they just need to avoid falling behind early and take their chances when they get them. Prediction: Sporting 2-1
Chicago v Portland. (5:30 p.m.) The Fire outplayed the Galaxy last weekend, but still lost. They are playing at home this time around, where they have only lost once. But they’ve only won once as well. (Six draws) Portland are 0-1-6 in their last seven matches and have yet to win on the road. Prediction: Theoretically this should be an easy win for Chicago, but in the MLS, a draw is the most likely result. Nonetheless, I’m going to pick the Fire, 3-1
FC Dallas v DC United. (6 p.m.) Last time Dallas lost – at home to Kansas City – they responded by winning their next three matches by a combined 8-1 margin. The previous loss they responded to by going undefeated in 9 straight (6 wins). So after losing to Real Salt Lake last weekend, odds are they will win this game. United are OK and look better with Dwayne DeRosario playing in midfield, but they’re horrifically shaky in defense. Prediction: Dallas 2-0
Chivas USA v New York. (7:30 p.m.) Justin Braun scored a hat trick the last time these teams met, in New York, a loss that send the Red Bulls spiralling downward for, oh, 2 1/2 months. Braun hasn’t scored since that game, but Chivas have looked decent their last two, drawing with Kansas City and beating San Jose. This one has draw written all over it. Prediction: 2-2
^New England v Philadelphia. (4 p.m.) The Revs haven’t won since May 14 and were dismantled in a friendly by Manchester United. We’re at the point in the season where MLS teams have to decide between playing their first choice lineup for a friendly against an opponent with a big draw or playing their first choice in a league match. The Revs chose to play their first-choice side for the first half of the game, so if they end up losing this one because they’re tired, they’ll look foolish. Philadelphia are still on top of the East, but they only have one win in their last six, and they struggle greatly on the road against teams that aren’t Toronto. This sounds like another draw. Prediction: 1-1
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
The Galaxy continue to own the Sounders in MLS regular season play, and have won the last five meetings between these two teams (excluding the US Open Cup), and the Sounders have only scored twice in those matches. Juninho (no, not that one) scored the only goal in the 58th minute with a strike inside the near post in the 58th minute that Kasey Keller should’ve done better with, but in his defense, he is 63. Seattle probably had the better of the chances, though neither team was too amazing. Los Angeles was without Donovan Ricketts in goal, Omar Gonzalez in defense and new signing Juan Pablo Angel at forward, meaning Chad “Look at that barn door. Oops, missed it” Barrett started in his place. For the Sounders, Swiss designated player Blaise Nkufo left the team shortly before kickoff for reasons that weren’t explained, though rumor has it that he had demanded a transfer in the past week. Up next for Seattle, it doesn’t get any easier, with a trip to New York on Saturday to take on the Metro Stars (sorry, I can’t deal with the Red Bull thing). LA has a home match against Houston on Sunday. Highlights below.
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood
(6:30 p.m., ESPN, ESPN Deportes) The Sounders have played the season opener the last two years as well, probably largely due to the fact they have the best attendance in the league. They take on the Galaxy, who they lost to in all four meetings last year, including in the first round of the playoffs. They didn’t add much to what is already a decent roster, though O’Brian White looks like a solid signing. For the Galaxy, Juan Pablo Angel was the big offseason signing, replacing Edson Buddle, who is trying to help German Second Division team Ingolstadt escape relegation. The Galaxy are getting old, and are most people’s picks to win the MLS Cup this year.
Angel will not play this game, however. Donovan Ricketts will probably miss it as well. For Seattle, Nate Jacqua is out, though I don’t know that he would’ve started anyway. Their starting forward line should be Fredy Montero and Blaise Nkufo (five goals in 11 matches last year). The Galaxy had an impressive season last year, but faltered in the playoffs. They should start with Landon Donovan and Chad Barrett at forward, and yes, David Beckham will probably start.
As another in the endless list of nonsensical MLS scheduling ideas (Hello, MLS matches taking place at the same time as the World Cup), this match will be taking place around the same time as the CONCACAF Champions League match between Saprissa and Real Salt Lake at 8 p.m.. (I’m picking Real Salt Lake to win 3-0, cementing their place in the final)
Prediction: Should be a good one. 2-1 Sounders