By Ridge Mahoney
First-year coaches normally struggle in MLS, but such is not the case for Marco Schallibaum and Caleb Porter.
The men in charge of Montreal and Portland, respectively, are a combined 12-3-9 one-third of the way into their initial MLS stints. The Impact returned from a week off to smash Philadelphia, 5-3, and edge past New York into second place; Portland moved up a notch to fourth by beating D.C. United, 2-0, at RFK Stadium to run its unbeaten streak to 11 games and road mark to 2-0-5.
Their teams are also scoring: On the goals chart, Portland is tied with New York for the lead with 22, FC Dallas and the Galaxy are next (21 apiece), and Montreal is fifth with 20.
Marco Di Vaio’s first-half hat trick for the Impact was matched by Robbie Keane Sunday in a 4-0 Galaxy thrashing of Seattle that edged L.A. back into the top tier along with Colorado, which ran its unbeaten streak to five games by dumping Chivas USA, 2-0.
How dire are matters for teams in the bottom tier? Chivas USA has lost four in a row and six of its last seven, yet still has a better points-per-game mark (0.92) than does Chicago (0.73), which is nevertheless ahead of two teams, Toronto FC and D.C. United.
Week 13 Soccer America MLS Power Rankings
RANK TEAM (W-L-T) LAST WEEK
1. FC DALLAS (8-2-3), 1.
2. MONTREAL (7-2-2), 3.
3. NEW YORK (7-4-4), 2.
4. PORTLAND (5-1-7), 5.
5. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (6-4-4), 4.
6. HOUSTON (6-4-3), 6.
7. COLORADO (5-4-4), 8.
8. LOS ANGELES (6-4-2), 10.
9. REAL SALT LAKE (6-5-3), 9.
10. PHILADELPHIA (5-5-3), 7.
11. COLUMBUS (4-4-4), 11.
12. SEATTLE (4-4-3), 12.
13. NEW ENGLAND (4-4-4), 14.
14. VANCOUVER (3-4-4), 13.
15. CHICAGO (2-7-2), 16.
16. SAN JOSE (3-5-6), 15.
17. CHIVAS USA (3-7-2), 17.
18. TORONTO FC (1-7-4), 18.
19. D.C. UNITED (1-9-2), 19.
THE BEST. FC Dallas rebounded from its 4-2 loss to Seattle a week ago by topping San Jose, 1-0, with a Fabian Castillo goal and another sharp game by keeper Raul Fernandez, who pulled off several big stops in the final minutes. Di Vaio rang up his hat trick in 32 minutes but some careless defending required additional tallies by Andrew Wenger and Blake Smith for Montreal to record its third win in the last five games. New York needed a stoppage-time goal by Jamison Olave to salvage a 2-2 home tie against Columbus, and Red Bulls coach Mike Petke proudly predicted he’ll be fined for comments regarding the penalty-kick decision by which the Crew had taken a 2-1 lead. At 5-0-2 in their last seven games, the Red Bulls are rolling regardless of obstacles.
Rather than vying for the Eastern Conference title as many had predicted, Sporting Kansas City and Houston are spinning their wheels. They tied, 1-1, at a soldout Sporting Park to sum up their current form. SKC is 2-3-2 in its last seven games and Houston snapped a two-game losing streak thanks to a Brad Davis goal that was matched by the first MLS goal of 2013 for Kei Kamara since returning from his loan with Norwich City.
THE MIDDLE. The Sounders were 4-0-2 in their last six games before the shellacking at Home Depot Center, so maybe they were due for a clunker, but being blown away so comprehensively reinforces the sense they’re still missing something. The same feeling permeates Real Salt Lake, which took a 1-0 lead against Chicago at Rio Tinto Stadium with an Alvaro Saborio goal in the 78th minute, then conceded an equalizer six minutes later.
Columbus was minutes away from a 2-1 win at Red Bull Arena (via the sixth goal of the season for Dominic Oduro and a Federico Higuain penalty kick) when Olave got free to score the equalizer. At 2-2-1 in its last five games the Crew is still searching for a higher level of consistency. So, too, is Philly, which followed its win-loss-win-loss pattern of the last four games by getting stomped in Montreal despite goals by Antoine Hoppenot, Sebastien Le Toux and Jack McInerney, whose ninth of the season ties him with Di Vaio for the league lead.
Diego Fagundez is blossoming into one of the league’s player-development success stories; he scored in a third straight game -- by neatly finishing a Chris Tierney cross -- to provide the winner in New England’s 2-0 victory over Chivas USA. (He’s 18 by the way.) Juan Agudelo’s goal in the 93rd minute rubbed a little salt into the wound inflicted on the team that traded him.
THE REST. Chicago squeezed a point on the road at RSL with a Quincy Amarikwa equalizer that broke a 361-minute goalless streak; the tie ended a three-game losing streak. There’s hope for better, with recent arrivals Mike Magee and Bakary Soumare in the mix, yet the Fire is 10 points out of a playoff spot and its minus-10 goal difference is third-worst in MLS.
The Quakes have lost four of their last 10 games after falling to FC Dallas, which wouldn’t be so bad if they had more than one win in the other six. Five of the next six away from home does not bode well for a rebound, but one is desperately needed.
No longer is “El Chelis” looking like “El Genius,” as some observers believed after Chivas USA’s fast start under Jose Luis Sanchez Sola. Agudelo’s play in New England adds further evidence that this season is already in the tank even with 22 games to go. As long as ownerJorge Vergara’s priorities lie south of the border, nothing is going to change.
Two goals scored is all you need to know about Toronto FC’s five-game losing streak. United didn’t get any goals at home for the third time this season while losing to the Timbers, though Carlos Ruiz brought some energy to his first start. A clear Portland handball that wasn’t called would have helped. Maybe.