By Ridge Mahoney
Impressive road wins by Columbus, Colorado, and D.C. United moved those teams up in the rankings, and by blasting Vancouver, 4-0, north of the border Los Angeles regained the top spot.
1. LOS ANGELES (12-2-9). Rather than looking jaded or disjointed after a busy month of league matches and friendlies, the Galaxy went north and pummeled the Whitecaps, 4-0. Landon Donovan moved back into a tie for the scoring lead (11 goals) by netting twice and setting up Sean Franklin, who had been goalless in his pro career but now has scored twice in his last two league games. Another offensive threat? Last week: 2.
2. FC DALLAS (12-5-6). A few days after Jackson notched a fine goal to push FCD past Alianza, 1-0, in Concacaf club play, Marvin Chavez scored as FCD endured 102-degree heat to beat Chivas USA by the same score. Bobby Warshaw replaced Daniel Hernandez, who was rested for the Tuesday second leg against Alianza, yet FCD maintained its stingy run; it has shut out eight of its last nine opponents and leads the league with 12 this season. Last week:3.
3. SEATTLE (10-5-8). A nine-game unbeaten streak, including three victories in the previous four games, ended with a 3-1 defeat in Houston. Alvaro Fernandez scored his sixth goal of the season on a penalty kick with the Sounders down, 2-0, and they didn’t have the drive to get another one. Depth is to be tested again this week with the home Concacaf leg against San Francisco of Panama and a league game in Kansas City. Last week:1.
4. COLUMBUS (9-6-7). The Crew opened a three-point lead atop the Eastern Conference by knocking off Real Salt Lake, 2-0, for their third win in the last five games. Robbie Rogers, perhaps inspired by U.S. Soccer hiring his former Orange County Blue Star teammate Jay Goppingen (a.k.a. Juergen Klinsmann) assisted on goals by Eddie Gaven and Tommy Heinemann. Only three teams have conceded fewer goals than Columbus (20). Last week:7.
5. COLORADO (8-6-10). The Rapids handed the Union its first home loss of the season, 2-1. Pablo Mastroeni revived his scoring touch with a clinical finish into the bottom corner and Sanna Nyassi hit his fourth goal; Omar Cummings picked up his sixth assist and keeper Matt Pickens preserved the win by saving a point-blank header in the final minutes. The speedy pairing of Cummings and Nyassi, supplemented by Macoumba Kandji if he gets healthy, may redefine this year’s attack with Conor Casey sidelined. Last week: 6.
6. PHILADELPHIA (8-5-7). A great goal by Roger Torres sparked hopes of at least a point but Sheanon Williams’ immaturity got the best of him; nailed with two quick yellows for dissent, he was dismissed. Thus ended a home unbeaten record this season but Philly’s overall mark and scrimpy goals-allowed (18) despite losing at home to the Rapids, 2-1, bodes very well for the rest of 2011, and that includes November. Last week:4.
7. REAL SALT LAKE (9-4-6). Missing the injured Javier Morales and Jamison Olave as well as suspended striker Alvaro Saborio, RSL fell at home to the Crew, 2-0. Jean Alexandre, filling in for Saborio, failed to convert two good chances. A hard Fabian Espindola shot was saved and a late strike by him was disallowed for offside. The back line, lacking Olave, looked shaky; on the good side, teenager Luis Gil played the final 20 minutes. Last week: 5.
8. NEW YORK (6-5-12). A week off from league play provided the Red Bulls with their first trophy, the Emirates Cup, which they captured by beating Paris St. Germain, 2-0, and tying Arsenal, 1-1, in a homecoming of sorts for Thierry Henry. Next up is a real road trip, to RSL, and without a win in the last four league games, New York isn’t on a bullish run. Last week:8.
9. D.C. UNITED (6-6-8) He probably should be a Designated Player, yet Dwayne De Rosario gave another demonstration of how important top-tier players are regardless of their classification at San Jose. He scored both goals in a 2-0 victory that raised United’s road record to 4-3-3; it has already surpassed the road points it acquired in 2010 (3-9-3 record). Last week:11.
10. CHIVAS USA (6-8-8). Defender Heath Pearce suffered through a hot, rough afternoon at Dallas; the only goal of the game bounced off him into the Chivas USA net and his apparent equalizer was disallowed for a foul. The loss ended a run of 11 points in the previous five games, and it gets much tougher. The next four are on the road as well. Last week: 9.
11. HOUSTON (6-7-9). Another top-tier non-DP, Brian Ching, reminded Seattle fans of his USL days for the Sounders by scoring the first two goals of a 3-1 Dynamo win. Rather quietly, Houston has improved its home record to 6-3-3 but as one of three teams still winless on the road (0-4-6), in the wake of recent trades it needs to find the right formula, and fast. Last week:12.
12. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (6-6-9). SKC needed to be rescued late again at home; this time, Teal Bunbury’s goal in the 89th minute salvaged a 1-1 tie with New England, which despite its struggles is only six points behind SKC in the standings. If that isn’t a wake-up call, there’s something amiss for a good team that keeps frittering away points. Last week:10.
13. NEW ENGLAND (4-9-9). In a classic display of when a road point is two points lost, the Revs conceded an equalizer in the 89th minute of a 1-1 tie at Kansas City. Rejko Lekic’s fourth goal and a sharp save by Matt Reis on C.J. Sapong weren’t enough for them to notch a second road win of the season. Last week:14.
14. SAN JOSE (5-8-9). Trades and midseason signings haven’t yielded results for the Quakes, which by losing at home, 2-0, to D.C. United ran their winless streak to nine games. So depleted is the centerback corps that left back Ramiro Corrales moved into the middle, where a slip by newcomer Nana Attakora provided United with the chance it converted. Steven Lenhart missed another game for personal reasons and not even playing a man up for the final 20 minutes produced a goal. Last week: 13.
15. PORTLAND (6-10-4). In tying feeble Toronto, 2-2, at Jeld-Wen Field, the Timbers stayed winless at home since May 16 and in nine of their last 10 games overall. Lovel Palmer and Mike Chabala, recent arrivals from Houston, got starting nods. Goals by Eddie Johnson and Jack Jewsbury staked them to a 2-0 lead that vanished in the last 20 minutes, a disturbing recurrence following a blown 3-1 lead against New York in a 3-3 tie and squandered one-goal leads in a 3-2 loss to Seattle. Last week: 15.
16. CHICAGO (2-6-12). A week off from league play gave newcomers Dan Gargan and Pavel Pardo time to get acquainted. Pardo’s arrival might move captain Logan Pause from central midfield to right back, and interim head coach Frank Klopas needed the week to prepare for a double-dip: at home against Philadelphia Wednesday and a roadie in Vancouver Sunday. Pardo and Gargan may help, but neither figures to jar an attack that has scored just 20 goals. Last week:16.
17. TORONTO FC (3-11-10). Goalscorers Peri Marosevic (waivers) and Danny Koevermans (signed as a DP) came to Toronto via very different routes, but they found the way to goal 10 minutes apart as TFC rallied for a 2-2 tie at Portland. Joao Plata, who scored twice in a 2-1 midweek defeat of Real Esteli in Concacaf play, in this game assisted on both goals. Last week:17.
18. VANCOUVER (2-11-9). Newcomer Mustapha Jarju missed the target in the fourth minute and a grateful Galaxy took control from that point to romp, 4-0. More painful to watch was Michael Boxall clumsily falling on his rear end as a cross floated over his head for Landon Donovan to put away. There’s really not much else to say. Last week:18.