By Ridge Mahoney
San Jose moved into second place by knocking off Real Salt Lake, 3-1, in one of several dramatic matches played during Week 7 of the MLS season. Sporting Kansas City held the top spot despite a 1-0 loss in Portland that ended its perfect start to the season.
Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia posted important road wins to move up the Power Rankings, and San Jose flipped places with Real Salt Lake thanks to the win with two stoppage-time goals while RSL played two men short.
The early-season schedule is still unbalanced with two teams, Sporting Kansas City and Montreal, having played eight games, and three others – Seattle, Houston, and Chicago – on just five. As games add up, recent results take on more importance than the overall records.
1. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (7-1-0). SKC looked as impressive as ever while beating the Whitecaps, 3-1, on the road on Wednesday, but fell in Portland, 1-0, Saturday on a Chance Myers header into his own net. A bye week offers a chance to recharge and regroup. It still leads the Eastern Conference by nine points. Last week: 1.
2. SAN JOSE (5-1-1). Speaking of impressive, four wins and a tie in the last five games has pushed the Earthquakes atop the Western Conference. They took advantage of two red cards to eventually subdue Real Salt Lake, 3-1, yet didn’t break a 1-1 tie until stoppage time. Tressor Moreno is rounding into the playmaker team management believes he can be, and right back Steve Beitashour’s accurate crosses that set up two goals are getting notice around MLS. Last week: 3.
3. HOUSTON (2-1-2). The only team to beat San Jose this season played the fifth of seven straight road games Saturday, and departed from Columbus with a 2-2 tie. Forward Will Bruin scored the first goal and set up a late equalizer for partner Brian Ching as that pairing carried the Dynamo to another good away result. A clutch save by keeper Tally Hall preserved the point. Last week: 4.
4. REAL SALT LAKE (5-3-0). A two-footed tackle by Fabian Espindola on which he might have slipped and a one-v-one challenge by Jamison Olave that looked mostly incidental resulted in two red cards and eventually the loss in San Jose. Coach Jason Kreis expressed admiration for how well his team defended while shorthanded and lauded Kyle Beckerman for some clever, poised footwork that he polished off with an excellent goal. Last week: 2.
5. SEATTLE (3-1-1). The Sounders, idle last weekend, get back to work with five games in 15 days, starting with two biggies: at Chicago Saturday and home against the Galaxy a week from Wednesday. Last week: 5.
6. VANCOUVER (3-2-2). After the shutout kings got roughed up while conceding six goals in two defeats, they got back to the zero zone last weekend by blanking FC Dallas, 1-0. A great goal by Camilo – with Eric Hassli and Davide Chiumiento left out of the starting lineup in the wake of a loss to SKC – and some rugged defending carried the ‘Caps to their fifth whitewash of the season. Last week: 7.
7. CHICAGO (2-1-2). The Fire took a 3-2 win at Toronto in which it led early, came back to tie, and won it with a goal by Patrick Nyarko early in the second half. Dominic Oduro and Sebastian Grazzini got the goals to get Chicago into the locker room at halftime tied at 2-2, and Oduro’s through ball set up Nyarko for the winner. Still, a defense that let youngster Reggie Lambe loose to score his first two professional goals needs to tighten up. Last week: 9.
8. D.C. UNITED (3-2-2). Whatever ailed United as it tied, 1-1, with expansion Montreal last Wednesday had been cured by the time New York came to RFK on a rain-drenched Sunday. Player of the Week Chris Pontius netted his first career hat trick as D.C. trampled the Red Bulls, 4-1, to run its unbeaten streak to six. A crucial phase is approaching; after a home game against Houston this weekend, United goes on the road for three straight. Last week: 10.
9. NEW YORK (3-3-0). Statistically, as in goals allowed per game, the Red Bulls’ defense isn’t the worst in the league – take a bow, TFC -– but it looked bad enough against United to fully deserve its 14 goals conceded in seven games. Giveaways, ball-watching, missed tackles, fluffed clearances … New York’s defensive errors ran the gamut. On his own, injured defender Wilman Conde can’t sort this out. Last week: 6.
10. FC DALLAS (3-3-1). Nearly a year after playmaker David Ferreira suffered a season-ending injury against the Whitecaps, FCD returned to Vancouver and lost, 1-0. Coach Schellas Hyndman decried the rough stuff meted out by the ‘Caps, for whom Martin Bonjour was particularly attentive to Blas Perez. Still, FCD managed to put five shots on goal. It jumps right back into action at home Wednesday against RSL. Last week: 8.
11. LOS ANGELES (3-3-0). It wasn’t by last year’s typical 1-0 scoreline but the Galaxy did grit out a 2-1 victory at Colorado, with keeper Josh Saunders performing the heroics by turning away a stoppage-time penalty kick. Robbie Keane’s through ball sent Landon Donovan clear to score the winner. Omar Cummings, who squandered the PK, overpowered defender David Lopes to score the first goal. Last week: 15.
12. COLUMBUS (2-3-1). Eddie Gaven got into the scoring groove with a pair of goals amid changes invoked by Coach Robert Warzycha: Nemanja Vukovic, Danny O’Rourke, Tony Tchani, Josh Williams and Emilio Renteria all came into the starting lineup. Yet Columbus fell behind early at home and after Gaven’s goals provided a 2-1 lead it conceded an equalizer. Last week: 13.
13. COLORADO (3-4-0). The Rapids lost at home for the first time this season, 2-1, and helped out the Galaxy considerably by scoring an own goal (Marvell Wynne) and failing to convert a penalty kick (Omar Cummings). A few poor finishes, particularly from rookie Tony Cascio, wasted the type of buildup play Coach Oscar Pareja wishes to implement, and the own goal resulted from slack marking on a free kick. Last week: 12.
14. NEW ENGLAND (2-4-0). No action last weekend for the Revs, who are stuck in a two-game losing streak as they prepare to play at New York Saturday. Captain Shalrie Joseph returns from the suspension he served in a 2-1 loss to D.C. United on April 14. Last week: 14.
15. PHILADELPHIA (2-3-1). A back-heel goal by Freddy Adu provided the Union with a 1-0 defeat of Chivas USA at Home Depot Center that ran its shutout streak to 332 minutes. Late red cards issued to Keon Daniel and Gabriel Farfan for dangerous tackles mean they will miss this weekend’s game against San Jose. Disciplinary action on the two, as well as Coach Peter Nowak, who was also dismissed, will be announced midweek. Last week: 16.
16. CHIVAS USA (3-4-0). Juan Pablo Angel, sidelined with post-concussion problems, made just his second appearance of the season as a substitute during a contentious 1-0 loss to Philadelphia. Chivas USA has yet to score in four home matches, all of which it has lost, and is one of three teams to score the fewest goals, four, so far this season. Last week: 11.
17. PORTLAND (2-4-1). The Timbers broke a four-game losing streak in a rather inglorious manner, with an own goal, yet a 1-0 victory ended Sporting Kansas City’s perfect start to the season. Kris Boyd, who scored in the last two defeats, sent over the cross that Chance Myers headed the wrong way. Man of the Match Hayner Mosquera showed how badly he’d been missed at centerback while recovering from a fractured orbital bone and concussion suffered in late March. Last week: 18.
18. MONTREAL (1-5-2). The Impact’s first MLS road point came courtesy of a 1-1 tie at RFK Stadium last Wednesday in which it controlled play for significant periods. Ex-Sounder Lamar Neagle set up Bernardo Corradi for his second goal in as many games and Donovan Ricketts came up with a couple of good saves. Over the weekend Montreal traded another ex-Sounder, Mike Fucito, to Portland. Last week: 17.
19. TORONTO (0-6-0). A super two-goal game by Reggie Lambe wasn’t enough to prevent a sixth straight loss for TFC, which rallied at home to take a 2-1 lead against Chicago, only to collapse again to lose, 3-2. Lambe blasted a shot into the top corner from nearly 30 yards and three minutes later tapped in a deflected cross to fire up the home crowd, which departed once again in deep disappointment. Last week: 19.