[MLS POWER RANKINGS] The busiest week of the season to date – 12 games – preceded a large exodus of players for Gold Cup duty. Los Angeles retained the top spot by winning both of its games, D.C. United ended Portland’s home winning streak, and Philadelphia overcame its scoring woes to pummel Toronto, 6-2.
1. LOS ANGELES (8-2-5). A pair of 1-0 wins – over Houston at home and New England on the road – ran the Galaxy’s winning streak to four games. The glamour attackers – Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Juan Pablo Angel -- get a lot of press, yet it has conceded zero goals in the last three games. Last week: 1.
2. FC DALLAS (6-3-4). FCD gained four points in a difficult road stretch by winning, 1-0, in Seattle with a Brek Shea goal set up by a through ball from Andrew Jacobson, who then scored the first goal as FCD tied Houston, 2-2. Jacobson, a Cal-Berkeley product who couldn’t stick with D.C. United nor Philadelphia following a brief fling with French club Lorient, is shouldering some of the playmaking load in the absence of David Ferreira. Last week: 6.
3. NEW YORK (4-2-6). The ties are starting to stack up. The Red Bulls needed equalizers from Thierry Henry and Luke Rodgers to earn a 2-2 deadlock with Colorado at home, and got another one from Rodgers in Vancouver to finish, 1-1. With five players away on international duty for the Gold Cup, head coach Hans Backe faces a dilemma he never had to contend with in Scandinavia. Last week: 3.
4. SEATTLE (5-4-5). A team reeling from injury problems and a lack of scoring parlayed goals by Patrick Ianni and Lamar Neagle – his first in MLS – plus a few outstanding saves by Kasey Keller to win, 2-1, at Rio Tinto Stadium. It scored both goals after RSL went down to 10 men yet should get a badly needed boost of confidence from this win. It had better. Last week: 7.
5. PHILADELPHIA (6-3-2). Justin Mapp earned Player of the Week honors for a two-goal performance as the normally staid Union – only eight goals scored in its previous 10 games – hammered Toronto FC, 6-2. It is unbeaten (4-0-2) at home and atop the Eastern Conference. Last week: 8.
6. REAL SALT LAKE (5-2-2). The streak had to end sometime, but RSL’s problems go beyond the 2-1 home loss to Seattle that ended a 29-game league unbeaten run at Rio Tinto. It will miss four players during the Concacaf Gold Cup, and though the backup contingent is among the strongest in MLS, June could be rough. Last week: 2.
7. COLORADO (4-3-6). Like the Red Bulls, which they tied, 2-2, last Wednesday after twice taking the lead on goals by Jeff Larentowicz, the Rapids are tough to beat and tough to lose to. The streak of consecutive ties ran to five when the defending champion couldn’t make a 13th-minute goal by the injury-riddled Conor Casey, his first of the season, stand up against Sporting Kansas City in a 1-1 game. Last week: 5.
8. PORTLAND (5-4-2). The Timbers lost for the first time at home, 3-2, to D.C. United after they had stormed out of the gate to win their first five league games at Jeld-Wen Field. Coach John Spencer had to designate Jack Jewsbury to take a penalty kick after Kenny Cooper couldn’t convert the original attempt nor a re-take, so even in defeat, there’s always something memorable in the Rose City. Last week: 5.
9. CHIVAS USA (3-4-4). Two weeks after stunning the Red Bulls, 3-2, on the road, Chivas USA batted another trio in Columbus, yet could only manage a point. Three times it took one-goal leads it couldn’t hold but it did hold out for the final 20 minutes a man down following a second caution to Jorge Flores, whose first goal of the season had regained the lead at 3-2. Last week: 11.
10. D.C. UNITED (4-4-3). Just about every week, win-lose-or tie, Chris Pontius does something to remind the league how much United missed him for half of the 2010 season while injured. His corner set up the first goal for rookie Perry Kitchen and he earned and converted a penalty kick that helped United end Portland’s home dominance with a 3-2 victory. Last week: 12.
11. HOUSTON (3-4-6). Rallies are all well and good, but falling behind at home and tying an in-state rival, 2-2, doesn’t build a lot of momentum. Brad Davis upped his league-leading assist total to eight as Cam Weaver got his fourth goal and Colin Clark netted his second to gain the point against FC Dallas. A midweek 1-0 loss to the Galaxy at HDC started the week’s double-dip on a sour note. It ended just the same with the news that Spaniard Koke was leaving after only seven minutes played. Last week: 10.
12. COLUMBUS (3-3-5). DP Andres Mendoza hasn’t done a lot to earn that designation, nor its salary, but he did net twice during a frustrating 3-3 tie with Chivas USA in which the Crew, at home, never led despite playing with a man advantage for the last 20 minutes. Emmanuel Ekpo assisted on the first goal and in the second half scored his first goal in more than two years to end the goal deluge. Last week: 9.
13. SAN JOSE (3-4-4). Rookie Anthony Ampaipitakwong earned his first two MLS assists with precise serves to Ramiro Corrales and Chris Wondolowski in the Quakes’ 2-2 tie at Chicago. The University of Akron product replaced Joey Gjertsen at halftime to add his name to the merry-go-round of candidates for the right mid slot. Last week: 13.
14. NEW ENGLAND (3-5-4). In a 1-0 home loss to the Galaxy, Benny Feilhaber set up a chance for Zak Boggs that was skied over the bar, and late in the match he hobbled off with a twisted ankle. His participation in the Gold Cup has yet to be determined, and his injury might rule him out anyway. Midfielder Shalrie Joseph has turned down Grenada’s invitation to play in the tournament, which is good news indeed in Rev-land. Last week: 15.
15. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (1-6-2). Ryan Smith, hampered by injuries for most of the season, got his first goal as SKC rallied to get a point off the defending champion, 1-1, on the road. Speaking of which, the 10-game forced march ends this weekend in Toronto, and DP Omar Bravo is near full recovery from sports hernia surgery. Last week: 18.
16. VANCOUVER (1-5-6). Team management wasn’t encouraged by a 1-1 home tie with New York secured when Eric Hassli put away a penalty kick for his fourth goal of the season. Suspicions that the ‘Caps roster was being under-utilized drove the team to dismiss head coach Teitur Thordarson; replacement Tom Soehn has promised some changes. His first test is Wednesday at Home Depot Center against Chivas USA. Last week: 17.
17. CHICAGO (1-4-6). Yet another lineup shuffle produced a 2-2 tie with San Jose in which the Fire had to come back twice; not coming back is former head coach Carlos de los Cobos, who has been replaced by technical director Frank Klopas. The Fire’s attacking potency has been undermined by defensive lapses and a mediocre (1-1-3) home record, the same problems it had last year. Last week: 16.
18. TORONTO (2-5-6). How can a 6-2 home thrashing by Philly get worse? Defender Adrian Cann, one of the team’s few reliables in 2010 and at times this season, is out for the year with an ACL tear. Seeing as what happened this past weekend to head coaches in Vancouver and Chicago, Aron Winter may be on the clock. Maicon Santos scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season to trim a 3-0 deficit to 3-2 before the roof caved in, again. Last week: 14.