MLS Power Rankings: Bulls up a notch
International play will start to affect MLS teams this week as players report to their national teams, and such is the foreign flavor of some squads that only a few of them are affected by U.S. callups.
The Red Bulls, for example, will be missing four players, none of them Americans: Roy Miller (Costa Rica), Dane Richards (Jamaica), Rafael Marquez (Mexico), and Joel Lindpere (Estonia). RSL will lose Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando, but since RSL plays only one game – at home against FC Dallas Saturday – during the period of USA friendlies and World Cup qualifiers the effect won’t be significant. (Rimando might even be released from duty for the first USA game against Scotland.)
Struggling Los Angeles will have to make do without Irish striker Robbie Keane and USA attacker Landon Donovan for important games this week against San Jose at home and Houston on the road. The Galaxy fell into last place in the Western Conference and all the way to 16th in the rankings by losing, 1-0, to archrival Chivas USA.
1. REAL SALT LAKE (8-2-3). RSL sat out the week and on Saturday plays (at FC Dallas), one of just three league matches it has scheduled in the next month. Last week: 1.
2. SEATTLE (7-2-2). Another great finish by Fredy Montero rescued a last-minute point for the Sounders, 2-2 in Vancouver, to maintain their unbeaten record (2-0-2) away from home. They have conceded only six goals in their 11 games, no other team has less than nine. Eddie Johnson’s third goal of the season adds a smidge more evidence that maybe he’s got his head and body moving in the right direction. Last week: 3.
3. NEW YORK (8-3-1).Victor Palsson’s ejection with a second caution in the 58th minute didn’t deter the Red Bulls, who scored the winner nine minutes later to win, 2-1, in Montreal. Kenny Cooper’s penalty kick tied the game and Dane Richards’ finish of a loose ball won it. They were without an injured Thierry Henry and several other regulars, including Mehdi Ballouchy, unable to travel because of visa issues. Not since 2003 (as the MetroStars) has the team won five straight and it can set a team record against Chivas USA Wednesday. Last week: 4.
4. SAN JOSE (7-2-2). For the second straight week the Quakes needed a very late Alan Gordon goal to salvage a 1-1 tie at home, this time against Columbus. Late heroics are all well and good but San Jose isn’t capitalizing on its edge in possession and chances, and it also hasn’t pitched a shutout in the last eight games. Still, Gordon’s spectacular scissor-kick volley of his own rebound off the crossbar is among the league’s best goals so far in 2012. Last week: 2.
5. D.C. UNITED (7-4-3). Home wins over Colorado and Toronto FC by combined scores of 5-1 moved D.C. into second place in the Eastern Conference and improved its record at RFK to 5-1-2. Dwayne De Rosario’s three goals in the two games earned him Player of the Week honors and Hamdi Salihi’s goal against TFC was his fourth in the last five games. Andy Najar at right back? Well, it seems to be working. Last week: 9.
6. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (7-3-1). A 2-0 lead at Colorado seemed a good way to eradicate the stigma of three straight losses, but SKC let the lead slip and came home with a 2-2 tie. After Teal Bunbury scored twice in the first 14 minutes, his goals were matched by a header from a free kick and aftermath of a saved free kick. SKC had also scored from a set play when Bunbury headed in Matt Besler’s throw-in. Last week: 6.
7. CHICAGO (4-3-3). For the sixth time this season the Fire came back from a deficit to tie a match but for the first time was unable to garner any points. A Logan Pause own goal canceled out a nice equalizer by defender Jalil Anibaba in a 2-1 loss at Portland. RookieAustin Berry started his fourth straight match alongside Anibaba as Arne Freidrich continues his recovery from a strained hamstring. Last week: 5.
8. VANCOUVER (5-3-3). A classic Cascadia Cup match ended 2-2 when the ‘Caps conceded a late equalizer to Seattle. They’d also allowed an equalizer while leading 1-0 on a Camilo free kick, then regained the lead when Alain Rochat drove up the left flank to fire home a shot off the inside of the far post. The two goals are encouraging for a team that still struggles offensively (only six teams have scored fewer than their 12 goals). Davide Chiumiento’s remark that the Sounders are “nothing special” may come back to haunt him.Last week: 7.
9. HOUSTON (3-3-4). The second home game at BBVA Compass Stadium and a road trip to New England both ended in ties. Portland frustrated the Dynamo in a goalless match despite the home team generating 17 shots. Calen Carr broke through in the final minutes but failed to finish. Against the Revs, Luiz Camargo scored his first MLS goal in the 87th minute after Brad Davis had given away a penalty kick, then set up Will Bruin for an equalizer. The Galaxy makes its first visit to BBVA this weekend. Last week: 8.
10. COLUMBUS (3-4-3). Spectacular work by keeper Andy Gruenebaum that included the smothering of a Chris Wondolowski penalty kick nearly got the Crew to the finish line with a 1-0 win courtesy of a Justin Meram goal, but the Quakes notched a late reply to secure a 1-1 tie. Meram scored his second goal in his many games after earning his first start of 2012, and Dilly Duka, sidelined by hamstring problems for most of the season, managed to play 30 minutes in just his third appearance. Last week: 12.
11. NEW ENGLAND (4-6-1).Saer Sene got both goals in the tie with Houston and that was about all that Coach Jay Heaps liked about the 2-2 tie. Sene won and converted a penalty kick to open the scoring, then stripped a Dynamo defender of the ball before thumping it into the net. A late goal left the Revs winless (0-3-1) against the Eastern Conference though it was their first intraconference point.Last week: 13.
12. COLORADO (5-6-1). The Rapids did not come off their bye week well, losing their midweek match, 2-0, at D.C. United and falling behind SKC at home, 2-0, before rallying to tie, 2-2. Defenders Tyrone Marshall and Kosuke Kimura connected on set plays to get the Rapids their first tie of the season. An MRI on midfielder Brian Mullan’s knee after he’d been injured against D.C. didn’t reveal any significant damage though he’ll be out of action for a few weeks with a strain. Last week: 10.
13. MONTREAL (3-6-3). The Impact failed to exploit a man advantage against New York in a 2-1 loss that was its first home defeat in MLS. The teams traded penalty kicks awarded for handling, with Bernardo Corradi scoring his fourth goal of the season for Montreal, prior to the Impact going up a man in the 58th minute. A few minutes after Felipe hit the post New York got the winner. The Impact plays one more game on the road, at Colorado Saturday, before opening up Stade Saputo June 16. Last week: 11.
14. PORTLAND (3-5-3). After seven saves by keeper Troy Perkins helped the Timbers snag a 0-0 tie at Houston despite a continuing goal drought, defender Eric Brunner got the vital touch in a 2-1 defeat of Chicago. He put away a scuffed bicycle-kick attempt by Kris Boyd to end a run of 448 minutes without a goal, and Portland got the victory when a flicked Boyd header caromed off an opponent for the winner. Both goals came off corner kicks via good service, which Coach John Spencer has been clamoring for. Last week: 16.
15. CHIVAS USA (4-6-1). Recent acquisitions Juan Agudelo and Danny Califf debuted for their new club in a 1-0 defeat of the Galaxy that snapped a six-game losing streak against the Home Depot Center landlord. Jose Erick Correa put away a penalty kick to score his second goal in as many games and give Chivas USA its first home victory of the season. Califf looked strong and steady as he led a defensive effort that blocked eight shots. Last week: 17.
16. LOS ANGELES (3-6-2). Last place in the Western Conference opened up for the Galaxy after a 1-0 loss to Chivas USA extended its winless streak to five games. David Junior Lopes was sent off for blocking a shot with his arm on the goal line and Chivas USA made the PK stand up. Landon Donovan (USA) and Robbie Keane (Ireland) have left the club to join their national teams, and those remaining face tough games against San Jose and Houston this week before the FIFA international break. Even the deniers have to think something is very amiss with the defending champion. Last week: 14.
17. FC DALLAS (3-6-4). A 1-1 home tie with Philly left FCD with just three points in its last seven matches. Blas Perez scored his fourth goal with a powerful header to provide an early lead FCD squandered. Brek Shea sat out the first game of a three-match suspension for kicking a ball at a ballboy and will have time to ponder his error as he’s not been called for the national team. The injuries continue:Hernán Pertúz was stretchered off with a knee injury and replaced by Carlos Rodriguez, out of the last four games with a dislocated elbow. Last week: 15.
18. PHILADELPHIA (2-6-2). One of the few bright spots for the Union this season, Gabriel Gomez, scored his fourth goal of the season in a 1-1 tie at Dallas that broke a three-game losing streak but did little to soothe the emotions bubbling after a shock trade of defender Danny Califf to Chivas USA. The player received in exchange, Michael Lahoud, started and played 55 minutes. Last week:18.
19. TORONTO FC (0-9-0). A 3-1 thumping at D.C. United and the appointment of former Canadian international Jim Brennan to the coaching staff officially starts the Aron Winter Countdown. At least Danny Koevermanns got a goal. Wonder if there’s any truth to the rumors of a red-headed vendor in a business suit outside BMO Field selling T-shirts adorned with the face of Mo Johnston and the message “Miss Me Yet?” Last week: 19.