By Ridge Mahoney
Defending champ Colorado played its most impressive game of the year to pound New York, 4-1, and the Revs and FC Dallas each posted a win and a tie on the road in Week 19. Three teams – Seattle, FCD, and Toronto FC – start Concacaf Champions League play this week to further congest a busy schedule.
1. SEATTLE (10-4-8). A week off from MLS play produced a 7-0 smackdown by Manchester United in which the Premier League champ blew open a close game with six second-half goals. With 13 points in their last five league games the Sounders are the hottest team during that span. Last week: 1.
2. LOS ANGELES (11-2-9). For all the attention lavished on David Beckham and Landon Donovan and a high-powered attack, the Galaxy is grinding out victories despite the absences of keeper Donovan Ricketts and centerback Omar Gonzalez. Defender Sean Franklin, the 2008 Rookie of the Year, scored his first MLS goal with 20 minutes left to beat the Crew, 1-0. Last week: 2.
3. FC DALLAS (11-5-6). FCD broke out of a semi-funk by getting four points on the road via a 1-0 triumph in Toronto and a 2-2 tie at New York in which Marvin Chavez scored both goals with clinical finishes. Yet conceding a late equalizer after taking the lead confirms a feeling that the defense just isn’t quite where it should be. Last week: 3.
4. PHILADELPHIA (8-4-7). The Union beat Everton, 1-0, and lost to Real Madrid, 2-1, in a pair of friendlies to give the league a dose of much-needed positive spin and some young players valuable experience. Teenager Christian Hernandez, an uncontracted academy player, scored against Everton 16 minutes after coming on as a sub. Last week: 4.
5. REAL SALT LAKE (9-3-6). RSL took advantage of a dubious penalty kick and red card to pummel San Jose, 4-0, after going goalless for the first hour. Alvaro Saborio took a tumble and converted the penalty kick to account for the first of his two goals. Unbeaten in seven games and with four fewer games played than the three Western Conference team it is pursuing, RSL is the team to fear down the stretch. Last week: 5.
6. COLORADO (7-6-10). Sanna Nyassi tore through the Red Bulls to score three goals and assist on a fourth as the Rapids embarassed New York, 4-1. The hat trick was the first scored by a Colorado player in nearly two years and Nyassi was replacing that scorer, Conor Casey, who is out for the season with an Achilles' tendon injury. Paired up front with Omar Cummings, Nyassi also earned an assist in a 2-2 tie with New England in which right back Kosuke Kimura scored from nearly 70 yards. The bad news? Colorado conceded an equalizer to the Revs with a last-minute foul and PK. Last week: 8.
7. COLUMBUS (8-6-7). While the defense looked tough while losing, 1-0, to the Galaxy at Home Depot Center and beating Portland, 1-0, the attack sputtered. A deflected own goal from an Eddie Gaven shot felled the Timbers and with 22 goals scored in 20 games the Crew is tied for 13th amongst the 18 teams. Last week: 6.
8. NEW YORK (6-5-12). Juan Agudelo’s fifth goal of the season and Thierry Henry’s league-high 11th got the Red Bulls a 2-2 tie with FC Dallas three days after Colorado riddled the back line and midfield in a 4-1 rout. Coach Hans Backe wasn’t sure if altitude or attitude should bear the brunt of the blame; new keeper and third DP Frank Rost would probably like some answers, too. Last week: 7.
9. CHIVAS USA (6-7-8). Justin Braun posted his second hat trick of the season in a 3-0 thumping of Houston as Chivas USA snapped a 12-game winless streak against the Dynamo. Ante Jazic, who’d missed nearly a month with a calf injury, set up the first and third goals as Chivas USA extended its unbeaten streak to five games and inched its way into the wild-card tier. Last week: 11.
10. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (6-6-8). Beating Toronto FC is no great feat, yet SKC hit three goals in nine minutes en route to a 4-2 triumph, with Kei Kamara netting the first two. Omar Bravo tallied twice himself; one goal came on an assist by the team’s newest signing, playmaker Jeferson. For the first time this season SKC is at .500 and has a positive goal difference (plus one). Last week: 12.
11. D.C. UNITED (5-6-8). Charlie Davies skied a penalty kick and some sharp goalkeeping denied Dwayne De Rosario as United fell at home to New England, 1-0. Ethan White lost his mark on the corner kick by which the Revs scored their goal to end United’s five-game unbeaten run that includes four ties. Last week: 9.
12. HOUSTON (5-7-9). Midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson went off with a second caution and Houston already down to Chivas USA, 2-0, in a match that Colin Clark and Brian Ching missed because of suspension. Recent trade acquisition Adam Moffat debuted for the team midway through the second half, and Watson went off a few minutes later. With only two wins in the last 14 league matches, playoff chances are eroding. Last week: 10.
13. SAN JOSE (5-7-9). The Quakes are laboring to stay in the postseason hunt. They tied again at home (record: 3-2-6) Wednesday when they failed to hold one-goal leads provided by Chris Wondolowski strikes and ended up 2-2 with Vancouver. At Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday they were tied, 0-0, when defender Bobby Burling was sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity despite minimal contact with Saborio and RSL quickly drilled in four goals. Last week: 13.
14. NEW ENGLAND (4-9-8). A good-bad week for the Revs and keeper Matt Reis. Some outstanding saves and a Stephen McCarthy goal powered them past D.C. United, 1-0, in midweek. On Saturday, Reis let a 70-yard shot bounce over his head for a goal that put Colorado ahead, 2-1 before a last-minute penalty kick by Shalrie Joseph snagged a 2-2 tie. Four points on the road is a very good haul but that 1-6-4 mark away from home is ugly. Last week: 17.
15. PORTLAND (6-10-3). An own goal sent the Timbers down to their fourth loss in the past five matches, 1-0, at Columbus. Ex-Dynamo Lovel Palmer debuted for the Timbers, who played well offensively but because of weak finishing forced just three saves out of backup keeper Andy Gruenebaum. A shot that bounced off defender Mamadou Danso accounted for the only goal. Last week: 14.
16. CHICAGO (2-6-12). In the contrarian tradition of soccer, one of the league’s worst teams gave Manchester United a decent test though the Fire lost, 3-1, in extreme heat. A goal by Cory Gibbs staked the Fire to a lead in the 13th minute, and in the second-half midfielder Sebastian Grazzini made his first appearance for the club as deflections and funny bounces aided United’s comeback. Last week: 16.
17.VANCOUVER (2-10-9). Two goals by Eric Hassli rallied the Whitecaps from one-goal deficits at San Jose in a 2-2 tie that is just the fourth road point garnered this season. Shea Salinas assisted on both goals against his former team and Gerson Koffie nearly stole an historic first MLS away win with a shot off the crossbar in the 89th minute. Gambian Mustapha Jarju made his MLS debut two days after coming on as a sub in City’s 2-1 loss to Manchester City. Last week: 18.
18. TORONTO FC (3-11-9). Dutch Designated Player Danny Koevermans scored a goal assisted by fellow newcomer Ryan Johnson, who also tallied to bring some life to an otherwise bleak 4-2 loss at Kansas City that left TFC winless (0-7-4) on the road this season. The week began with a narrow 1-0 loss to FC Dallas in which German DP Torsten Frings marshaled a good effort that TFC wasn’t able to replicate against KC, and thus sank to a fourth straight defeat. Last week: 15.