Gold Cup Goodness + How U.S. v. China Got Interesting

Unbelievably, the CONCACAF Gold Cup is just a week away, which could be why things like rosters of all the teams and scouting reports of Mexico (who look pretty scary...till you consider the Jedi mind-trick the Yanquis have working on 'em; whoops, and hat-tip to du Nord) are trickling out lately. I'm hoping there's plenty more to come. For instance, I read of a scouting report to come from Fox Soccer's site (which means I'll have to bookmark it...again) and I see they've got a pretty snazzy spread for the tournament already laid out (as well as more power-rankings for me to mine - yippee!).

But, as all y'all no doubt know, there's that game against China for an appetizer of sorts. About a week ago, I confessed to an utter lack of interest in this Saturday's game, but, with the appearance of some weird, new names on the game-day roster (Davies, Hill, and Nguyen; and hats off to the Sacramento Bee for paying attention to the California Victory), I'm suddenly thinking this could be worthwhile viewing; so, here's to Bob Bradley for making good use of a friendly.

In a related piece, Jeff Carlisle did some roster day-dreaming for ESPN. While that's worth reading for its own sake, he mentioned a couple angles that got wheels turning in my head. First, there's this bit about Dempsey:

"The absence of the team's MLS contingent means that the U.S. only has youngsters Charlie Davies and Kamani Hill, as well as veteran Ante Razov available, although the likes of Dempsey could slide up top."

Loathe as I am to play the "build-yer-own-line-up" parlor game, I have to say here, "yes, yes, YES!" I like a free-role for Deuce, which I think he'd get at forward; his defending's not so hot in any case. Just a thought...I'm not sure it will happen.

The big thing for me, though, is what Bradley does with the second 45 minutes - or however much time he opts to devote to experimentation. I'm all for giving the first-choice Gold Cup team - or as much of it as is feasible - time in a live-game situation to play together. But by the second half, I want to see some young guys getting a sniff - and the more the better. Put another way, I'm watching this to see Charlie Davies and Lee Nguyen, guys I've heard decent things about but have never seen. If not for yourself, do it for me, Bob. Thanks. I'll be watching now. last thing: I'm finally seeing the reason why China is playing half of MLS after the U.S. Men: they've got the Asian Cup looming - and a poor result to wipe out. That should help raise the level a bit. Good stuff.


And It's Seattle Edging Portland, and -OH! - Look Out, Here Comes Vegas Turning Into the Stretch...

...and, with that, I have composed my longest-ever title. Yesss....

If the evil, evil (oh, so profoundly evil) did not forbid my registration from taking, I might have stopped by the Timber Blog to see to Bob Kellett, "You monster. You beat me to the punch on this post." But it does, so I didn't...which is why I'm doing it here.

As you may have guessed, Bob Kellett did, in fact, note that, due to the existence of a soccer-ready surface at Seattle's Qwest Field, the Seattle area enjoys an early leg-up in the "qwest" (tee hee hee) to bring a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise to the Pacific Northwest. It takes a certain kind of half-baked thinking to read anything else into the language used by inside-track (only track?) investor, James Keston, when he says, ""I think the best opportunity to play immediately would come playing in Qwest." As such, it would seem Seattle's odds look a lot better - especially when one takes into account Kellett's point about the absence of action among Portland's political leadership.

Then again, the timer just went off on one particular half-baked line of thinking to make a long-shot counter-point to the apparent upside of Qwest. There's a reason why Keston should be wary of the situation in Seattle: Qwest Field could be a trap. Here's the thing: there's a very real risk that a Seattle-based MLS franchise would start play at Qwest Field, only to find the Seattle-area public unwilling to pony up for a soccer-specific facility.

So, the question for MLS and Keston is, what constitutes a bigger headache: the short-term problem of figuring out how, or even whether, to share a facility with two teams and a crappy field (PGE Park), but with (possibly) greater potential for making it their own versus the long-term problem of getting held hostage in a giganto-motherfucker of a stadium by a public whose fists tighten at the thought of spending on sports teams? So long as the equation plays out like that - and, honestly, I have no idea as to whether it does - I'm not sure that Portland looks so bad for a market.

At the same time, given recent developments in las vegas real estate, Nevada (not to mention the noises coming out of the Bay Area), it's possible that Keston will have a little more time than he may want to let events and actions on the ground flesh out a bit more. Promising as a return to the Bay Area is looking lately, the Vegas bid looks like it's coming together big and fast - in a word, like gang-busters. Put another way, given a solid bid on the table from Vegas, Keston has no clear reason to rush into either Pacific Northwest city.

Speaking for myself, I'm getting a little wary of that short dead-line of Keston's...


MLS + YouTube = Joy

I know I'm way, way behind on this one, but the whole Major League Soccer (MLS), Youtube partnership? I'm fer it.

All y'all should join up when you have the chance. It gives the league something to show money people when they talk.


MLS Week 8: The Collective's Power Ranking

The Semi-Detached Pundit Collective has again rendered judgment on the state of Major League Soccer's 13 clubs after the 8th week of action. Here's the source material:

It's a Simple Game (me)
ESPN (aka, the Mothership)
Sports Illustrated (aka, the Frat Boys)
WVHooligan (hope the "WV" stands for what I think it does)
My Soccer Blog (who seems to hate Chivas USA)
The Other Football (still working themes effectively)
Sideline Views (Luis "Rapids Man" Bueno)
MLS Underground (unofficial MLS Hombre Secreto)

On principle, I think The DCenters' Freezer belongs in this scrum as well; they don't take the same approach, but it's an educational read nonetheless.

Oh, and if the dude who does the Scariness Rankings can reintroduce himself...ah, never mind. He just jumped in a bit ago (Hey Pat!), so click the link to read that rock-solid piece of statistical business. I'm too far in to work you in this week, but will remember well the heck you are for the next edition.

Before dumping the numbers, some things of note about the collective mind:

1) Nearly everyone agrees on the top 6 teams in the league: Red Bull New York, Kansas City Wizards, New England Revolution, Colorado Rapids, DC United, and FC Dallas. That 4-2 split between West and East ain't an accident.
2) If it weren't for Mike H of My Soccer Blog gumming up the works (non-conformist!), Chivas USA would be a universal #7.
3) Then again, who am I to talk: I'm the only one spiteful/impulsive enough to dump Chicago to #13.
4) On the subject of near-universals, I saved RSL from batting a perfect "13."
5) The teams no one knew quite what to do with, ranked in order of bemusement: Houston Dynamo, Toronto FC, and Chicago Fire. The Galaxy almost sneaks in.

Now, to the rankings as judged by The Semi-Detached Pundit Collective (albeit minus the two fellas noted above):

1. Red Bull New York: 1.1 (Bueno was the lone hold-out)
2/3. Kansas City Wizards: 2.8 (didn't count on ties)
2/3. New England Revolution: 2.8 (they don't deserve it! The assholes!)
4. Colorado Rapids: 3.9 (actually, pretty big spread on these guys as well)
5. FC Dallas: 5.1 (a 1.2 spread over a team below them in the standings)
6. DC United: 5.4 (strong #6, no?)
7. Chivas USA: 7.4 (must tell David; he needs cheering up)
8. Toronto FC: 8.9 (playoff figure...a weak one, but still)
9. Houston Dynamo: 9.4 (incredible...)
10. Los Angeles Galaxy: 9.9 (whodathunkit?)
11. Chicago Fire: 10.5 (a strong 11th? Wrong. WRONG!!)
12. Columbus Crew: 11.13 (I think this adds up...a bit)
13. Real Salt Lake: 12.9

Now, one last bit to consider: did any single person match the mind of the collective? Nope.

Week 8: Power Rankings + Standings

As usual, last week’s ranking appears in parentheses immediately after this week’s ranking. So as to not misrepresent my judgment as entirely first-hand, here’s a key for my viewing: “@” means I watched a given team’s most recent performance in its entirety; “$” means I caught it through Quick Kicks, which provides extended highlights; “&” means I watched only the rump highlights available through Later today, I’ll compare what I’ve got below with the other rankings I’ve found - though, as always, I compiled my rankings without reference to anyone else’s.

Before naming names and assigning numbers, here’s an important caveat: I’m only comfortable with my #1 pick. #2 - #5, that’s not so bad either. But everything from #6 up? It’s like half the teams in the damn league are fighting for last place. And I'm guessing my ranking slide around more than most to boot. Christ, what a mess.

Here goes...and after the rankings, you’ll find a current listing of the standings for the permanent record.

1. (1) Red Bull New York (&)
Even if the fact they reportedly let Chicago get back in it during this game’s (delicious, squishy) middle, they not only won by a robust margin, but look like they’ve got a good, deep team.

2. (5) Kansas City Wizards ($ + a good amount of @)
Oh, how they rise. It wasn’t so much the win - and the three goals allowed don’t impress much, though most were fluky and came against a green, make-shift defense - as it was how they looked in the attack. A confident Eddie Johnson feeding off Carlos Marinelli passes, supported by Davy Arnaud...well, you get the picture. They looked incisive, they looked good, and they beat a (mainly) strong team.

3. (4) Colorado Rapids ($)
The assist from the referee (the Kyle Martino red card and it was a fair one in my book) takes the shine off this win just a little. But look at the gol-durn competition. They salient fact is they won.

4. (2) New England Revolution ($ + a good amount of @)
These guys, on the other hand, did not win. Worse, they got twisted like slow-moving pretzels in defense. And they’re goals were lucky. While the fan part of wants to view Week 8’s performance as a good team hiccupping (bile), the cold, hard reality is the Revs have looked flat-out shitty on several occasions this year. This struck me as karma taking its pound of flesh - worse may follow. Then again, it may not.

5. (6) DC United (hearsay)
Three wins is three wins, y’know? Having seen exactly zero of those wins, I’ll probably have to sit down to watch these guys this weekend to see what they do against LA. Mmmm...on second thought, the three games on look more interesting...

6. (3) FC Dallas (@)
I tried - I mean really tried - to peg Chivas over FC Dallas. Couldn’t do it. Yeah, Dallas lost, but I think that had to do with their offense and midfield misfiring - and the fact that Dallas teams seem allergic to LA, speaking historically. They played lousy, but the defense gave away less than the score-line suggests. (Then again, having just completed the standings, I can in no way defend my contention that Dallas’ defense has improved. 2nd worst? Yikes.)

7. (3) Chivas USA (@)
In all honesty, I don’t think Chivas is the 7th best team in MLS. Hell, I might have looked good against Dallas last weekend. But they did win and some of the moves made in recent weeks - here I’m thinking Paolo Nagamura and Shavar Thomas - look to have plugged the right holes. So, for this week, they do deserve to be this high; I wouldn’t be shocked if they climb higher. I also wouldn’t be shocked if they got overtaken by some of the underperforming teams below.

8. (10) Toronto FC ($ + a good amount of @)
It’s not just picking up their first point on the road; it’s the scrappy this team shows. With a lot of teams sucking down a surprising amount of dirt, these guys may yet contend for the playoffs.

9. (8) Los Angeles Galaxy ($)
The flipside of DC: losses are losses and draws are draws, right? Get too many and it doesn’t matter who you’ve got or who is on their way.

10. (9) Houston Dynamo (hearsay)
Can’t score, in spite of frequently shelling the opposition goal. Brian Ching is only distantly familiar with the concept of form - ditto, and more disconcertingly, for Dwayne DeRosario. And Eddie Robinson is a thug...just thought I’d throw that in there.

11. (12) Columbus Crew ($ + a good amount of @)
Had I not seen the two goals actually go in the net, I would likely have doubted it happened; works on the same principle as miracles attributed to medieval figures. And then they go and let in two going the other way (so, one of ‘em was totally boffo, top-drawer, and all that) - at home no less. Beats losing, I suppose.

12. (13) Real Salt Lake ($)
I suspect I’ll be the only pundit out here shifting RSL out of the bottom spot. Do they still suck? Yep. But there’s one crucial difference between RSL and the team I slipped beneath them...

13. (7) Chicago Fire (& + $)
...and that’s that RSL seems to want to play for their coach; plus they’ve got the excuse of missing Carey Talley and, I don’t care what anyone says, picking up Richie Kotschau, who is good enough, helps. On the other hand, Dave “Dead Man Walking” Sarachan simply hasn’t done a lot right lately and the reinforcements either coming (Cuauhtemoc Blanco) or in play (Marcelo Salas) won’t do much about the goals the Fire are bleeding. Whatever ails this bunch, it’s frickin' serious - maybe even least to those of the Sarachan tribe.

Moving on to the standings (official ones here):

Eastern Conference
1. Red Bull New York: 17 pts. (5-1-2: 15 GF, 4 GA, +11; home, 4-1-0; away, 1-0-2)
2. New England Revs: 17 pts. (5-1-2: 18 GF, 11 GA, +7; home, 2-1-0; away, 3-1-2)
3. Kansas City Wiz: 16 pts. (5-2-1: 16 GF, 10 GA, +6; home, 2-1-0; away, 3-1-1)
4. Chicago Fire: 11 pts. (3-4-2: 8 GF, 13 GA, -5; home, 2-1-1; away, 1-3-1)
5. DC United: 10 pts. (3-3-1: 10 GF, 11 GA, -1; home, 2-1-1; away, 1-2-0)
6. Columbus Crew: 8 pts. (1-2-5: 6 GF, 10 GA, -4; home, 1-0-4; away, 0-2-1)
7. Toronto FC: 7 pts. (2-5-1: 7 GF, 15 GA, -8; home, 2-2-0; away, 0-3-1)

Western Conference
1. FC Dallas: 16 pts. (5-4-1: 13 GF, 14 GA, -1; home, 2-2-0; away, 3-2-1)
2. Colorado Rapids: 15 pts. (4-2-3: 11 GF, 10 GA, +1; home 2-1-3; away, 2-1-0)
3. Chivas USA: 11 pts. (3-3-2: 12 GF, 8 GA; +4; home, 3-0-1; away, 0-3-1)
4. Houston Dynamo: 7 pts. (2-5-1: 5 GF, 7 GA, -2; home, 1-2-1; away, 1-3-0)
5. Los Angeles Galaxy: 5 pts. (1-3-2: 7 GF, 8 GA, -1; home, 1-2-0; away, 0-1-2)
6. Real Salt Lake: 5 pts. (0-3-5: 7 GF, 14 GA, -7; home, 0-1-3; away, 0-2-2)

MLS Week 8: (Still) Filling in the Blanks

Yeah, ideally I get to this Monday, but I've got a wife, two kids, and a bitchy cat to support and help, etc.

Anyway, I've spent the past couple days reviewing the chatter on the action from Major League Soccer's (MLS) Week 8, mainly to build on the first impressions I had from the games. I did learn a thing or two to be sure - and that's what appears below. So, in no particular order (and don't let the fact I start with Thursday's game throw ya)...

Red Bull New York 3 - 0 Chicago Fire
The Red Card's Luis Arroyave threw out some analysis of the crisis on everything from Matt Pickens apparently wavering confidence (he's getting shelled; can you blame the man?), to Dave "The Man" Sarachan's dubious tactical decisions...suffice to say, if you read this, you'll get smarter. Elsewhere, Chris, who took over the Red Bull Offside blog, takes a tidy front-to-back look at what makes the East's most-talked-about team tick (for the record, it ain't the back).

Chicago Fire 0 - 0 Real Salt Lake
Given the score, it's not surprising that's write-up says something about a "'keeper's duel"; and, speaking across the board, nearly everyone liked what they saw out of RSL 'keep, Nick Rimando (which makes it a minor shame he may get bumped for Kasey Keller...which, in turn, makes me wonder what the hell Keller is doing signing up to get shelled). As a couple Chicago-based outlets note, Fire fans have turned on coach Dave Sarachan with a freakin', banner-waving vengeance and line-up changes ain't enough to placate 'em.

Writing from the other side of the game, Real Salt Lake's people seem relatively happy with the draw. And, is it just me or does Jason Kreis make a lot of sense when he talks about the game. Oh, and that same link gives some quotes on what new-signing Alecko Eskandarian and his new coach thought of his first game in, Salt Lake.

Colorado Rapids 1 - 0 Los Angeles Galaxy
A look at the box score info at the bottom of the write-up proves that, once in a while, stats can meet reality when it comes to soccer. Naturally, a big part of making those numbers came with Kyle Martino's sorta-silly sending off: the Denver Post's report was good enough to let Joe Cannon vent some (un-fineable) frustration about the call (or maybe they were just being nice to an old source), while the FC Rocky blog (good one, by the way) essentially saw the call as the correct one (like me). The same source also has an interesting bit questioning Colorado's "killer instinct" - the author(s) write a powerful passage on that - and it's fair to wonder about that; they're also stoked about the crowd, and rightly so.

On the other side, the LA Times' report did little more than get me wondering about how many assists Terry Cooke - who assisted on Herculez Gomez' goal - has on the season. The fairly modest number may have disappointed, but the horror-movie-esque photo of the "poor Man's Beckham" showing on his profile page...well, that's the face (and complexion) of a man with bodies in his basement. Think I'll blow it up and hang it on my kids' bedroom wall...just for a laugh...

Chivas USA 2 - 0 FC Dallas
While both and the Dallas Morning News basically saw what I saw in this game - namely, a seemingly baffled Dallas team getting pushed around in midfield - not all Chivas fans see much to celebrate in the game. At the risk of sounding like I'm making fun (I'm not), I have to confess my complete admiration for David, the guy who runs the Chivas Offside blog. You can search far and wide in the blogoverse, but you'll have to walk a fair patch before you find anyone as capable of finding every grey cloud behind the silver lining. And in Dave's world, those clouds are all named Preki. (In all honesty, I'm in awe of people who can get as riled as Dave; it's just not in me.)

Returning to the report, though, they mention something I neglected - e.g. that the Shavar Thomas/Claudio Suarez pairing seems to be gelling after a somewhat shaky start. And, for the stats-fanatics out there, FC Dallas Updates pulled together some cool stats about home and away records - just the regular numbers data dump for all y'all obsessives out there.

DC United 2 - 1 Houston Dynamo
If the stats don't lie on's report for this one, I'm a little mystified: twice the shots for Houston? Steve Davis, writing for ESPN looks a bit beyond the numbers to explain the seeming nuttiness...but's almost enough to make me want to watch the Dynamo. Maybe it's DC's "mystique" noted by Christian felt silly just reading that let's ignore that and read all the wonderful, wonderful things that appeared in The DCenters' debriefing - and I'll give a special shout-out to their crack at "Gomez Theory."

Still, there's no doubting Houston knows about their, um, issues, as evidenced by their attempt to lock out the world. But I think the Houston Chronicle's Bernardo Fallas framed Houston's situation the best with this lead:

"The Dynamo's start to the season so far has been progressively downgraded from slow to lackluster to disappointing. After Saturday's 2-1 loss to D.C. United, 'free-falling' has made its way into the list of terms used to describe the situation. 'Horrible' is warming up and ready to sub in, just in case."

Columbus Crew 2 - 2 Toronto FC
Speaking of leads, I've got to start this one with what the Columbus Offside wrote about the Crew offense: "But when Andy Herron limped off the field in the 38th minute with strained quadriceps, our offense limped off the field too." Ah, magic.

And, truth be told, whatever happened on the field, Crew-related outlets did bang-up analysis on this match. Whether it was the Columbus Dispatch slowing the "Schelotto Will Solve All!" parade by noting he's having some trouble gelling with the team or smartly capturing the Crew's disappointment with the draw, they did good. With regard to Schelotto, though, I think the general feeling is that the problem lies in part with the team he's joining...

That's not to say the Toronto papers totally dropped the ball; after all, it was the Toronto Star who answered my earlier question about how Crew 'keeper, Andy Gruenebaum, got beat by Jim Brennan's long-range bomb.


New England Revolution 3 - 4 Kansas City Wizards
Was this the game of the week, or who? (And that's why I buried it.) I think the crucial thing I missed - or of which I was ignorant - was a lingering injury to Shalrie Joseph, picked up last week against Houston; the Boston Globe's Frank Dell 'Appa mulls that one quite a bit in explaining the loss. The Revolution Offside throws in another facet by pointing out an obvious, but too often overlooked truth about the 3-5-2: "it’s a strong formation with little room for error." Those are both swell, but they lose out in my personal "Analysis Stakes" to Blue Blood Journo's dispatch from the Jersey shore. What can I say? So far as I'm concerned, the man nailed his analysis of New England.

Not to be outdone, the Kansas City contigent weighed in with some beauties. For instance, Down the Byline credited defending high upfield for KC's success against the Revs. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Offside, well, it's just hard to beat Michael's post for dissecting the way KC beat the Revolution; #5 is a masterpiece.


MLS Week 8: What I Think About ____

In another installment of my personal favorite parlor game - e.g. talking about the results before reading what anyone else had to say - below are some bulleted thoughts about Week 8 in Major League Soccer play. For the record, I certainly didn’t watch all the games (I’ve got a wife, some kids, and a bitchy cat), but I caught several in whole or pieces; I note below each score/link thingy how closely I observed the proceedings.

So, here goes: what I think about...

Red Bull New York 3 - 0 Chicago Fire
(highlights, mainly of the goals)
...more than anything else, that all the people predicting a good showing from Juan Pablo Angel had it right. What can I say? I take a while to impress.
...that Chicago really is in trouble. Based on reports, it sounds like they fought back fairly well, but fat lot of good that does them after going two goals down in only 3 minutes.
...the extent to which Red Bull had to scramble players to fill positions to cover for injury shows either, 1) that they have useful depth, 2) managerial genius of the “on-the-fly” sort, or 3) the depths of Chicago’s problems.
...all in all, it’s hard to dismiss Red Bull at this point in the season; Chicago, on the other hand...

New England Revolution 3 - 4 Kansas City Wizards
(Quick Kicks, plus a 45-minute view of archived footage)
...confirmed a personal suspicion that New England has been riding its luck; to use an almost dirty word in the sporting (OK, horse-racing), they were due.
...both outside backs - James Riley and Jay Heaps - got burned in this one, Heaps badly so. Riley has long struck me as suspect, which gets me wondering where Avery John is these days. Heaps, though, typically does pretty well.
...those two players’ defensive woes may have something to do with Eddie Johnson’s “superfreak” performance. The man was, simpy put, a force, not just notching his first hat-trick in, oh, forever, but doing so with menacing power.
...sure, New England scored three, but Taylor Twellman’s was lucky and, nice as it was the Shalrie Joseph both forced the penalty and scored on the kick, that’s still a half-lucky goal. Of New England’s three goals, only Ralston’s looked like much.
...simply put, New England got beat at home and the score flattered them. They constructed the pretty passing triangles and moved around quite a bit, but the movement took on this strange eddying quality - e.g. they ran a lot, but most of it in circles. In other words, they weren’t getting much for forward movement.
... Kansas City, meanwhile, looked pretty fluid out there. And that was without Carlos Marinelli pulling the strings till the 60th or so minute; Marinelli did come on, though, to provide the assist to Johnson’s third goal, which featured a perfectly-weighted twenty-yard pass into an incisive run by Johnson.

DC United 2 - 1 Houston Dynamo
(bastards kept this one under lock and key)
...going by the result alone - as I have to do under self-imposed circumstances - I’ll only say DC’s return to form still classes under “apparent.” Victories are indeed victories, but wins over Chivas USA, Toronto FC, and, now, Houston, means they haven’t downed one of the big boys.
...on the other hand, winning often begets winning; who’s to say these seeming warm-ups won’t help down the line?
...Hey! Houston scored! Didn’t think that would happen again. Still, the streak of essential futility so far puts the champs in a dim light.

Columbus Crew 2 - 2 Toronto FC
(Quick Kicks, plus a 40-minute view of archived footage) about not being able to win for losing: Columbus scores two for a second time this season, only to scrape another tie. Something about being snake-bit goes here.
...a brace sure seems a nice way for Andy Herron to come back from suspension. And both goals looked pretty nice. Shame about his leg taking him out of the game; Lord knows Columbus needs all the help it can get. Before leaving Herron be, is that a stupid way to pick up a yellow or what (goal celebration; yeah, it shouldn’t be bookable, but the rules are what they are till they’re changed).
...Jim Brennan’s free-kick for Toronto was one of those: one gets to wondering how that got past the ‘keeper even after it did. I’m guessing Crew ‘keeper Andy Gruenebaum just didn’t see the ball till it was too late. Great shot from range, though.
...Toronto has managed to become interesting. Not too shabby. sign of Eddie Gaven out there for Columbus; good to see Sigi bench a player for underperforming.

Colorado Rapids 1 - 0 Los Angeles Galaxy
(Quick Kicks)
...once LA went down to ten men, the highlights give a strong impression of one-way traffic. Speaking of the ejection, it’s hard to figure what Kyle Martino was thinking when he lashed out like he did.
...some profligate finishing from Colorado spared LA from a worse loss. Herculez Gomez, who scored the winner, missed several chances before converting - and a few of those were golden.

Chivas USA 2 - 0 FC Dallas
(Start to finish...though my mind wandered plenty by the end)
...neither team looked part of the league “elite.” Not so surprising from Chivas’ perspective, but Dallas didn’t show much.
...Ramon Nunez, especially, doesn’t seem the force he expected to be in the Dallas attack. In general, Dallas lacked a sense of coordination in their offensive approach.
...that said, Chivas’ performance shouldn’t have blown anyone away either. If it weren’t for the fight Maykel Galindo put in to score the first goal, this game had goalless draw written all over it. Chivas certainly wouldn’t have scored their easy second goal, because Dallas ‘keeper Dario Sala wouldn’t have wandered. say it again, Galindo was the difference in this game. When people get to reviewing the top finds of the ’06-’07 off-season, expect him to be in the mix.
...Dallas’ defense has improved - and that’s pretty big. Again, this loss grew from the offense failing to get started.

Real Salt Lake 0 - 0 Chicago Fire
(highlights and not bad ones at that) and up-for-grabs, as this game appeared, neither team can draw much happiness from the final result - not with both needing genuine positives so badly.
...if I had to pick a “winner,” though, it would be Chicago. After four straight losses, any kind of result has to feel better.
...though given the fact the Fire only managed to draw Real Salt Lake, the unquestioned worst in the league, this kind of feeling better likely passes in the time it takes to say, “Oh yeah...”
...on the other hand, Chicago at least shows decent aggression in the attack and with Cuauhtemoc Blanco coming from Mexico in, give or take, a month, they may yet get better.
...still without a win, it’s tempting to think Real Salt Lake might question the ability of new-coach/neophyte Jason Kreis to lead this team forward.
...on a related note, both teams might be well-advised to just suck up what look to be awful years ahead. Chicago has basically bet the house on Blanco; Real Salt Lake, for their part, has some flexibility, but...well, they’re still Real Salt Lake. Both teams should clean MAJOR house in the ’07-’08 off-season.

All for now. I’m off to do some reading to see if any of it changes my mind (trust me; it will).

Late, Outomiass* Week 8 Picks

I had grand plans for this post, truly grand. But life and work got to humping my leg some time yesterday and distracted me from seeing to this business. With only 45 minutes or so separating me from the kick-off of the weekend's action, however, I'm just going to lay down my outomiass (*mean "out of my ass") picks for Week 8 and call it good.

Here, quick as can be, is what I'm seeing in this weekend's games.

New England Revolution beats Kansas City Wizards (my guess, 1-0)
Columbus Crew loses to Toronto FC (another 1-0, or rather, 0-1 to TFC)
DC United loses to the Houston Dynamo (another one-goal game)
Colorado Rapids make The Richard feel like home over the LA Galaxy (2-1)
Chivas USA continues to suck while FC Dallas guts out another cheap-y (0-2)

And, on Sunday, I'm thinking that even the Chicago Fire can't lose to Real Salt Lake; the Fire posts a nearly unwatchable 1-0 win.


US Open Cup: Progress Report

Courtesy of the Colorado Rapids win over Real Salt Lake*, the Major League Soccer (MLS) side of the U.S. Open Cup equation is mostly plugged in.

(* How do RSL fans get out of bed in the morning...seriously?)

So, this seemed like as good a time as any to see how things are shaping up in America's oldest soccer tournament. I won't lie to you: I thought this one would be to the draw stage already. Turns out I was wrong, as was proved by the state of The Big Table, which lays out the tournament bracket, but has yet to plug names into the pairings. Still, there's the sidebar to it that tells who has made it so far. Also, the U.S. Open Cup site is pretty good about keeping readers current about where things are for, say, the United Soccer League's Division 2 as well as this weekend's big qualifying blowout in USASA Region III (or at least that's what I think it is).

So, this year's tournament is definitely coming together...just not quickly as I expected. If nothing else, there are resources out there to help keep interested parties current.


USMNT Tangentials (Though One Is Interesting)

Just a couple quick items on the U.S. Men's National Team to pass on:

1) It looks like the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF), conscious of persistent fan demand for games against European opposition, lined up a pair of October friendlies: one against Switzerland, which is a country, and another against Catalonia, which, unless I'm very much mistaken, is not. Curiously, I find even the game against Calalonia - listed in the press release's headline as a "Spanish regional team" - more exciting than next weekend's China friendly.

2) A really, really intriguing item appeared in ESPN's report about Toronto FC midfielder Ronnie O'Brien declining a chance to suit up for the Republic of Ireland. Here's that:

"O'Brien's name has been bandied about as a potential international on both sides of the Atlantic since he emerged as one of MLS' top performers while playing with FC Dallas. (O'Brien holds a Green Card and could potentially apply for U.S. citizenship). The three-time All-Star was a Best XI selection in 2004 and 2005 and seemed in line for a look-see during Ireland's failed World Cup qualifying campaign, but the chance never came."

With the commentary surrounding the recent call-up of Steve Ralston to the Gold Cup team, and the related discussion about a lack of better options on the right side of midfield, I can only assume the good folks at the USSF are mailing O'Brien citizenship applications on a daily basis. I can't believe I'm the only person who would love to have O'Brien suit up for the U.S.


Why the Fire Doesn't Fire Sarachan

This is pure gut reaction, but I still thought I'd throw it out there.

In spite of the now four consecutive losses - with the latest coming last night against Red Bull New York - and in spite of being outscored over that period by (and I'm going by memory here) 11-3, firing Chicago Fire head coach Dave Sarachan only makes sense in terms of economics - e.g. having a good enough team that, when Blanco shows up, people won't be so turned-off that they'll come out for something other than the one-time novelty factor.

In terms of on-field performance, I'd say the Fire are better off letting Sarachan continue through the end of the year - the main reason being the team. Check out the line-up against Red Bull:

Chicago Fire -- Matt Pickens, C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin (Thiago 70), Gonzalo Segares, Logan Pause, Chris Armas, Justin Mapp (William DeOlivera 80), Brian Plotkin (Pascal Bedrossian 63), Ivan Guerrero, Calen Carr, Chad Barrett.

Substitutes Not Used: Jon Busch, Jerson Monteiro, Bakary Soumare, Daniel Woolard

There's not much left over on the full roster either.

As much as I like many of the players - Mapp, Pickens, Ivan Guerrero, even Jim Curtin - that's about it in terms of names that impress (me, anyway). Armas is a good player, but, I'm taken with an argument by Biz Mark of US Soccer Snob on Chicago's problems:

"This match [Fire v. FC Dallas] revealed that the FIRE can no longer afford to play converted defenders such as Gonzalo Segares, Ivan Guererro and Robinson as midfielders and expect them to cover for an aging central defensive tandem of CJ Brown and Chris Armas. Armas in particular looks like he aged ten years in the off season."

In blunt terms, the Fire is simply too old up the middle; on one level, I'm a little surprised they're not the team "taking a run" at Shalrie Joseph. Top that off with an offense both relying on one man so far (Chris Rolfe, on whom I'm a bit lukewarm) and waiting on a savior (Blanco), this team has too many holes to fill on the fly and with the resources on hand. Also, if they did make the major - and I'd argue required - changes they'd surrender points during the process of getting everyone on the same page. Under that admittedly shy-of-air-tight logic, I'd say the Fire leaves Sarachan to make the most of what he can with this season and look to the overhaul on the off-season. Best-case, he pulls off another late-season run like he did last year and the Fire still make the playoffs - and, yes, he'd still get canned for anything short of MLS Cup.

The only question, in my mind, is the economic piece. Even if the results don't come, it's possible (even if unlikely) that replacing the coach will a few people back to see what happens. And, as noted above, the Fire sure as hell don't want to suffer an attendance/revenue slump knowing they threw all that money at Blanco. But that, to my mind, is only the counter-argument: if I ran the Fire, I'd take the short-term hit and return to building the franchise later.


Ah! Late Pick* for RBNY v. Fire

(* I swear on a case of Budweiser I haven't peaked)

Not that it matters with the game now underway, but Jeff Carlisle set up this match nicely in his preview.

Seeing as this is at New York, I'll have to call this a Red Bull win. Brave, I know...


Gold Cup Roster + Analysis; Watching China

I'll start with the last bit of the title first: by selecting China for this friendly, U.S. Soccer has left me totally uninterested in a U.S. Mens game; I can only call this impressive and move on.

Bob Bradley announced the roster for the Gold Cup today and here's what we're looking at:

"Goalkeepers: Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach).

Defenders: Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liege).

Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Benny Feilhaber (Hamburg SV), Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Steve Ralston (New England Revolution).

Forwards: Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Eddie Johnson (Kansas City Wizards), Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)

So, I'm seeing this and the first question that comes to me is this: Why the hell do we always play this damn tournament (the Gold Cup, that is) in the States? C'mon, CONCACAF, let's dish this thing around. It'll help us - that is the Yanquis - in the end and, seeing as no one shows up, I'm thinking the Central American stadiums that are good enough for World Cup qualifying are good enough for this. Sorry, early digression....

As, I believe, every last person who blogs on soccer has pointed out by now, the names above are about as surprising as the continued rotation of the earth. Put another way, any tuned in at this point knows most of these players down, perhaps, to their shoe size and breakfast preferences. Since I'll be picking at these below, I think I'll just dump out the key source material and reference it as needed. Here goes:

ESPN Jeff Carlisle
Soccer by Ives Ives Galarcep Marc Connolly Kyle McCarthy

That's the good, general stuff and, as you'll find in reading, it's not accurate to say the roster met with total silence. Two, um, "older gents" made the cut - Frankie Hejduk and Steve Ralston - as did one (and I think he's the only one) uncapped player: Michael Parkhurst. Most the sticking up that needed doing surrounded the inclusion of Hejduk and Ralston - more on that below - but Galarcep lauds Parkhurst's inclusion, while Carlisle implies his inclusion might be a manuever to fend off Irish interest. The only doubter I've seen on Parkhurst's inclusion came from Mike H of My Soccer Blog, who thinks the Revs' defender hasn't had the best of seasons so far. I'll only say I disagree - he stuffed Landon to bursting like a Thanksgiving turkey - and leave it at that.

To praise another bit of Mike H's post, though, he's the only person I've seen who broke down players missing time with their MLS clubs by team. Who hurts the most? As Dan Loney points out, the Revolution. And I don't have to tell anyone it's not just a numbers thing, but it's positional as well. For instance, Chivas may be missing two guys - Jonathan Bornstein and Brad Guzan - but that's not gonna hurt nearly as bad as Houston missing Brian Ching (wait...he has played this season?) and (in all sincerity) Ricardo Clark; chuck a missing Dwayne DeRosario in the fire (regardless of form) and you get to thinking Houston actually might never score again.

Turning to the seemingly weightier debate, I tilt toward the "Why Ralston, Why Hejduk?" column - and for the obvious reason: they're old, Ralston especially, and they won't be around much longer. The most comprehensive rebuttal to that appears in Connolly's piece and, I'd say his point - basically, that Bradley's priorities run through the Confederations Cup when both players can certainly still contribute - holds so long as you're talking Gold Cup and not Copa. Come Copa time, we really need to get younger players in those positions. For me, however, I think we can win the Gold Cup without them, so....well, I just don't get their inclusion. Ralston's doing great and this year I'm thrilled, both personally and as a Revs fan, but I'd rather see Bradley really scouting alternatives....though, to be honest, as I look over the list of all current MLS players no one is really jumping out. But here are a few: Arturo Alvarez (I owe Ian Plenderleith for that one), Kyle Martino or Eddie Gaven (I know, I know), or even the more obvious choices like Brian Mullan. Maybe he's holding out for the Copa on that bunch...anyway, I'm just sayin' the Yanquis wold probably do just fine with someone like Alvarez and Bradley would be be blooding someone for the future.

Speaking of the Copa America, Sideline Views' Andrea Canales picked up something I hadn't seen elsewhere: a stray comment from Bradley about 8-12 players being in the mix for both the Gold Cup and Copa. While I had seen a musing or two about Landon signing on for both, Canales' post is the only place a figure of that sort came out. As noted there, that figure includes both MLS and Euro-based players - I have to think between-projects guys like Oguchi Onyewu and DaMarcus Beasley are shoo-ins for two spots, maybe even Kasey Keller.

Anyway, that's plenty on this I should think. There's plenty of good stuff in the things I've linked to that I haven't mentioned. For instance, Marc Connolly takes an engaging look back at U.S. rosters past; he makes a good point using them, but I found the look interesting by itself. The article has the best stuff on reporting dates - which impacts MLS, of course - as well as mention of Pablo Mastroeni's two-game suspension (surprise, surprise).

Whoops, almost forgot this: Marc Connolly and Ian Plenderleith, in a roundtable for two, revive the great debate about combining the Gold Cup with the Copa America to, y'know, make our tournament worth a damn...that should tell you where I fall on that debate (if not, get on the phone to Brazil, Jack Warner...earn your friggin' bought seat).


Week 7: Power Rankings by The Collective

As promised, below are the Major League Soccer (MLS) power rankings one arrives at by averaging the eight separate power rankings I came across this week. Call it the combined, reduced wisdom of The Semi-Detached Pundit Collective that kind of, sort of floats around Soccer Blogs. Here’s a list of the source material:

It's a Simple Game (LINK - me, of course)
ESPN (their collective)
Soccer by Ives (Ives Galarcep)
Sports Illustrated (Ryan Hunt)
The Other Football (Orlando Sentinel; Brant Parsons)
Sideline Views (Luis Bueno...where's Canales?)
My Soccer Blog (Mike H)
MLS Underground

I can now say with some certainty the combined totals are not simply a rehash of ESPN’s rankings - see, LA or Houston for proof of that. It also occurs to me that parsing these numbers out to the tenths (e.g. 0.1) preserves some subtle differences - for instance, this tells you that Chicago is a weak #7 and Toronto FC is generally perceived as marginally better than #11. Against that, the numbers say the Columbus Crew is a strong #12 - a situation that relies heavily on Luis Bueno’s very generous #7 ranking for the Crew. Perhaps it’s the defense?

In any case, we’re not talking about enormous differences - especially through the first six - but there are some differences worth noting in The Collective’s sense of where these teams stack up. At any rate, here’s the rankings round up:

1. New England Revolution - 1.1 (My spiteful #2 ranking breaks the pattern)
2. Red Bull New York - 2.3 (I rated ‘em high, Bueno low, but solid at #2)
3. FC Dallas - 2.8 (most folks seem pretty high on Dallas right now)
4. Kansas City Wizards - 4.4 (yep...a weak #4, but it’s incontrovertible)
5. Colorado Rapids - 4.9 (right on KC’s tail; Mike H is the outlier here)
6. DC United - 6.0 (an almost universal #6; the other two balanced)
7. Chicago Fire - 7.5 (things get interesting here; I happen to match the average)
8. Los Angeles Galaxy - 8.5 (ESPN’s was the low ranking here)
9. Houston Dynamo - 8.8 (pegged as high as #6 and low as #12 - weird)
10. Chivas USA - 10.0 (pretty precise, so it must be right....right?)
11. Toronto FC - 10.8 (solid #10s and #11s)
12. Columbus Crew - 11.1 (Pay Bueno; it’s all #11s and #12’s after him)
13. Real Salt Lake - 13.0 (as they say, #13 with a bullet; a universal pick)

All for now. We’ll see how The Semi-Detached Pundit Collective sense of things plays out from here.

Week 7: Power Rankings & Standings

As usual, last week’s ranking appears in parentheses immediately after this week’s ranking. So as to not misrepresent my judgment as entirely first-hand, the following key shows the distance of my observations: “@” means I watched a given team’s most recent performance in its entirety; “$” means I caught it through Quick Kicks, which provides extended highlights; “&” means I watched only the rump highlights available through Later today, I’ll compare what I’ve got below with everyone else’s rankings by combining them in a formula that, 1) may or may not be totally bogus, and, 2) could very well be nothing more than a rehash of ESPN’s results and methodology. Still, I won’t even peek anyone else’s picks till after I’ve written and posted mine.

A current shot of the standings appear at the bottom and, having reviewed Week 6’s rankings, I can honestly say I don’t know what the hell I was thinking on a few of them. With regard to this week’s rankings, I’ll be honest: after the first two, 3-5 felt basically interchangeable and I have no freakin’ clue what to order the bottom half of the table - very plausible reasons exist for dumping the lot of them below the #11 spot; for the record, however, I’m pretty comfortable with my #6.

Here goes...and after the rankings, you’ll find a current listing of the standings for the permanent record.

1. (3) Red Bull New York ($)
Though far from perfect lately, scoring four goals against the typically tough Crew - not to mention scoring them steadily throughout the game - speaks well of a team. People tell me Angel is online; I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled there.

2. (1) New England Revolution (@)
Call this the echo to the raspberry Steve Nicol spat out when asked to judge his team’s performance against the Dynamo. Here’s the deal: the Revs have played badly more often than well; a handy symbol for the extent to which they’re riding their luck came in the win over LA, when Taylor Twellman’s header pinged off the crossbar directly into his run; that happens once in every 100 instances.

3. (7) FC Dallas (@)
If it were possible to convince myself Dallas was better than New England, the latter would have slipped further. They climb high as they did because two wins are two wins - even if they came against one team miles-off form (the Fire) and another outright bad one (RSL).

4. (4) Colorado Rapids (&)
Uninspiring as a home draw may be, I read good things about Colorado’s performance. And KC is tough enough to make a draw sound good.

5. (6) Kansas City Wizards (&)
Um, what I said above, but switch the “home” to “away.” Also, it’s good to see Eddie Johnson’s name in the mix.

6. (9) DC United ($)
Slowly, it’s starting to happen...even if they rely on the ref’s generosity to seal the deal. Say what you will, but DC did what neither Houston nor Chicago could - they beat Toronto at home.

7. (10) Chicago Fire (@ - 1/2 hour anyway)
I won’t pretend that three straight losses don’t matter, but at least they’re scoring. But they also had Dallas on their heels for the final thirty; moreover, if Thiago bangs that header a couple inches to the right, that changes the conversation about both Chicago and FC Dallas.

8. (5) Los Angeles Galaxy (&)
If it weren’t for the incredible crap turned in by the rest of the field, I’d ding the Galaxy harder for drawing the lowly Goats. As everyone noted, Landon scored - so what do these guys do when there is no Landon?

9. (2) Houston Dynamo ($ + @)
It took the undistilled bitterness at the Dynamo’s part in their awful, awful game against the Revs to justify this 7-place drop. As with Dallas, albeit staring into a cracked mirror, two losses are two losses. And I don’t know if these guys are ever going to score again. It wasn’t till I actually sat down to think about it that I realized Houston has scored in ONLY two of their seven games this season. To be clear, that really, really sucks.

10. (11) Toronto FC ($)
The loss to DC should drag these guys back down to earth. But TFC is also becoming worth a look - and not just for a laugh. This weekend’s game on the road against the Crew positively screams “statement.”

11. (13) Chivas USA (&)
If it weren’t for Maykel Galindo, these cats would be RSL-bad. Recent acquisitions (Paolo Nagamura; Shavar Thomas) should make them more solid, so I expect them to climb a bit. Not a minute too soon, though.

12. (8) Columbus Crew ($)
The offense sucks bad enough; add in the already proved capacity for defensive collapses (Red Bull and the draw against New England) and you’re looking at a top-to-bottom bad team.

13. (12) Real Salt Lake (@)
They suck. It’s not much more complicated than that.

Moving on to the standings (official ones here):

Eastern Conference:
1. New England Revs: 17 pts. (5-1-2: 15 GF, 7 GA, +8; home, 2-0-0; away, 3-1-2)
2. Red Bull New York: 14 pts. (4-1-2: 8 GF, 4 GA, +8; home, 3-1-0; away, 1-0-2)
3. Kansas City Wiz: 13 pts. (4-2-1: 12 GF, 7 GA, +5; home, 2-1-0; away, 2-1-1)
4. Chicago Fire: 10 pts. (3-3-1: 8 GF, 10 GA, -2; home, 2-1-0; away, 1-1-1)
5. DC United: 7 pts. (2-3-1: 8 GF, 10 GA, -2; home, 1-1-1; away, 1-2-0)
6. Columbus Crew: 7 pts. (1-2-4: 4 GF, 8 GA, -4; home, 1-0-3; away, 0-2-1)
7. Toronto FC: 6 pts. (2-5-0: 5 GF, 13 GA, -8; home, 2-2-0; away, 0-3-0)

Western Conference
1. FC Dallas: 16 pts. (5-3-1: 13 GF, 12 GA, +1; home, 2-2-0; away, 3-1-1)
2. Colorado Rapids: 12 pts. (3-2-3: 10 GF, 10 GA, 0; home 1-1-3; away, 2-1-0)
3. Chivas USA: 8 pts. (2-3-2: 10 GF, 8 GA; +2; home, 2-0-1; away, 0-3-1)
4. Houston Dynamo: 7 pts. (2-4-1: 4 GF, 5 GA, -1; home, 1-2-1; away, 1-2-0)
5. Los Angeles Galaxy: 5 pts. (1-2-2: 7 GF, 7 GA, 0; home, 1-2-0; away, 0-0-2)
6. Real Salt Lake: 4 pts. (0-3-4: 7 GF, 14 GA, -7; home, 0-1-3; away, 0-2-1)

MLS to PDX: Scuttled?

I've sat on the announcement that Merritt Paulson, the son of U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, bought the USL-Division 1 Portland Timbers (along with, as I understand it, a team that plays something called "baseball"), mainly to see if anyone would ask the right people the crucial question: what does this sale mean to the potential attempt to bring a Major League Soccer team to Portland?

I thought perhaps that reporters from two local news organizations would tackle that, but have been so far disappointed with most reports from The Oregonian and the Portland Business Journal. Most of what I'm seeing there are details on how the deal together.

Fortunately, one small corner of The Oregonian, the ever-useful Timbers Blog at least asked the durned question:

"The timing of all this is what I find most intriguing. Abe Alizadeh is unloading his teams just a few weeks after a potential Portland MLS owner surfaced. Would a new owner buy the teams knowing full well that MLS might be coming to put the soccer team out of business? Or is he positioning to get bought out (at least the name) by MLS? Or does he simply want to keep both teams?"

Sadly, no one knows the answer to this one yet; I'm just hopeful at this point that one of The O's reporters thought to ask at the very least.

Still, operating on the assumption - and I think it's a safe one - that the sports-dodging Portland, Oregon market can't support two professional soccer teams, a worrying hint (worrying for me, a confirmed MLS whore, anyway) as to what Paulson has in mind appeared in another, seemingly fluffier, report in the Oregonian:

[Paulson] also intends to meet with Portland officials to discuss extending a lease for the Beavers and Timbers to play at the city-owned PGE Park beyond 2010."


Am I really concerned about what division the local team plays in? Not really, no. I'd go regardless, provided money and scheduling - and it's not like MLS pricing will help with affordability. But I'd also be lying if I didn't confess that I'd rather see Red Bull New York come to town instead of the California Victory.

As such, I'm hoping for option #2 in the Timbers' blog list: that Paulson bought the Timbers looking for an MLS buyout.


USOC: Rapids v. RSL: The Final Play-In

Lord knows the major media doesn't do much - or, more accurately, nearly enough - to promote the U.S. Open Cup, so I thought I'd do my bit here. Because this is a West Coast affair, I'm not even behind yet....whew.

Anyway, pulled together a nice plug. Given the rivalry between the two teams, one might think they'd work that a little more, but the focus instead goes on the Rapids semi-mysterious loss of home form (getting used to the field, they say). The local media in both markets typed out a couple Open-Cup-focused pieces as well: the Rocky Mountain News writes about the likelihood of Conor Casey and Jose Cancela picking up rare starts while the Salt Lake Tribune notes the injury to Carey Talley (ouch!) and trade of Jeff Cunningham - though Talley only merits mention in the headline.

I'm not knocking any of that: beats the hell out of nothing, right?

In other spaces, a general feature on how Colorado is covering the gimpy holes in their backline makes for educational reading, as does a heart-warming look back at the Rapids' history in Open Cup play - thanks Colorado Rapids' Offside!

I'll close by laying down my marker: I say Colorado wins this one. Not exactly bold, I know, but I would have gone with Real Salt Lake had Talley not been injured.


DC v. Chivas: This Time It's Personal

Like another person or two...presumably, anyway...I got a little excited with Monday's news that DC United would compete in the Copa Sudamerica. The guys at The DCenters got excited enough to list the field, which allowed for dreams of a DC v. River Plate to wax in the mind. Failing that, I was pulling for a tie against Bolivia's Jorge Wilstermann (poor guy....1 v. 11...).

Then, of course, came word that DC would drew CD Chivas de Guadalajara, a tie that would reprise the two clubs' CONCACAF Champions' Cup thriller(ish experience...sorry, I was a neutral). The rematch angle prevented this from being a total anticlimax - and we'll definitely learn a bit more about how Major League Soccer (MLS) stacks up against the Mexican Primera.

So, while this tie lacks the sense of the exotic, it's doing its bit to build up the U.S. v. Mexico rivalry. Good enough. Now, what are the odds on this being televised?


Cunningham to Toronto: Sure Looks Official

I can't link to it, but if you go to any time soon, you'll see that the Alecko Eskandarian thing involved shipping Jeff Cunningham the other way. I'm guessing there will be a full article before too long...maybe I'll pick at that tomorrow morning...

(Whoops, never mind; an article popped up while I was gabbing.)

Now, I wonder if and how LA enters into this one.

Here's another question: if you could be either player, which would it be? Hmmm...a city with a buttload of buzz, crazy seat-cushion throwing fans, a couple recent wins to brag about, and field turf? Or a place with fans slumping to morbid depression thanks to a total lack of wins, either real or prospective, a new, untried coach, a management team widely regarded as incompetent, and, again, field turf?

I'm feeling like we should all do a whip-around to get Alecko a care package.


Kreis, Jeff, & Esky: Desperation, Indifference, Rage

Just as I was about to mull over how a man like Jason Kreis, so recently elevated to coach, would go about acquiring the three new players he says he needs (hat-tip, du Nord), I start tripping over trades, rumored and actual.

A good one-stop glimpse at the key threads in play showed up a couple places - I happened to stumble across MLS Underground's first (LINK) - and, after picking through those, an early answer to the question of how Kreis would go about acquiring players comes back as not very well.

To lift the basics from MLS Underground's post, here's what we seem to be looking at:

"* The trade of Jeff Cunningham to Los Angeles for Nate Jaqua and an unknown player
* Alecko Eskandarian from Toronto to Salt Lake City."

Based on what I'm seeing so far, the confirmed piece of this involves Eskandarian heading to Salt Lake City (Semi-interesting side-note: I shared my opinions on media in the comments to a post by D from The DCenters about a jab (friendly? otherwise?) Washington Post Steve Goff directed at that site; I meant what I said about scoops (e.g. I don't put much stock in getting news first), but I will add this: when Goff reports something, his position means, or should mean, he's taking pains to be accurate; in other words, I rarely trust rumors till I see them in the MSM; back to it). Follow the link and you'll read the words of a player unhappy about a second relocation tips. More significantly, even as Esky has looked like one of Toronto's chief threats thus far (though this appears to be shifting), I'm not seeing him as the answer to RSL's considerable problems.

The same goes for Nate Jaqua, if that rumor ever pans out. In other words, unless that "unknown players" is just the shit - and it's hard to see a player of stature plus Jaqua - I'm second-guessing the bejesus out of Kreis' moves so far.

Then again, I could be wrong; wouldn't be the first time (as anyone who has seen my stabs at predictions would know). With at least one fan out Salt Lake Way sounding not too bothered by the whole thing...well, that just ups my chances.


MLS Magazine: Um...Why?

Because the way my Bloglines account lines up (alphabetically...I know, so weird), I came across word of an official MLS Magazine in a post on Climbing the Ladder. That referred back to what looks like the original mention over on Sideline Views, which isn't surprising seeing as it sounds like Luis Bueno will be a contributor.

Given the title above, one can probably guess where I'm going with this, but here goes: Why? How will an "official" MLS magazine be any better or different than Now, I respect Luis Bueno as much as any writer/pundit out there (seriously; seems like a great guy), but one source of honeyed, in-house pap seems like enough for one league.

Maybe it's a personal problem; I can accept that. And I'm 99.99% certain any writer would vigorously deny altering content they send to MLS - I'm not saying I'd buy it, but I am saying they'd deny it. But, Lord, it's just so dull, That's not to say it isn't OK for what it is - Lord knows I live and die by the raw data - but I'm not seeing the need for a hard-copy.


First, A Confession

My brain is seriously fucking scrambled lately. I'm still catching up and, in a sign of how hard it's been, I can't say for sure what caused me to fall behind. All I know is that the serious trade cluster-fuck I'm seeing isn't helping with that (all on that in a subsequent post).

I'm trying to rediscover the rhythm and assume it will be apparent when it returns. In what I'm hoping will help with that, I'm looking to make this space something of a "late edition." I'll run behind everyone else, but hope to throw in more angles to make the reading worth while. We'll see how that goes.

In totally unrelated news, I regret that it didn't occur to me to name this site Coach's Son.

Now, back to the normal content.


Week 7 Wrap: More Than You Should Want to Read

Well, I've read all I've got time for - espeically on a day when I abandoned my position over on the Columbus Crew Offside (an decision that still prompts deep, deep feelings of guilt). Below you'll find links to articles and posts about all of Week 7's games (unless I forgot one or two...I do this sometimes) that either caught something I didn't mention earlier (plenty, by the way) or missed entirely.

To start with a couple general points:

1) Did anyone else catch Dwayne DeRosario chatting with Shalrie Joseph after the game? Think they talked contract negotiations? (I sure do.)

2) If you're looking for one-stop reading, Steve Davis' big Week 7 Wrap for contains plenty of good stuff, notably: his comments on FC Dallas' Juan Toja (which I wholly endorsed earlier today), as well as the "bigger picture" section on FC Dallas; Ricardo Clark standing above his peers in Houston's loss to New England; Andy Williams' impact on RSL in their loss to FC Dallas.

Moving on to the rest, I'll assuage my guilt at dropping the Columbus beat by starting with the Crew's meltdown against Red Bull New York...not that they'll thank me for this...

Red Bull New York 4 - 0 Columbus Crew
The perspective from the Crew camp is pretty damned harsh: for instance, the Columbus Dispatch's bullet-point write-up includes this handy mental footnote:

"Turning point: Crew midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi's mis-hit of an attempted clearance in the 13th minute caromed off the crossbar of his own goal. It set the tone for an evening in which the Crew bumbled and stumbled its way to a demoralizing loss."

Curiously, an absence of due enthusiasm appears in some Red Bull fan spaces; for instance, Grant from Injury Time dubbed the Bulls' performance "a bit off." Against that, Red Bull Rising put the game in useful context by first noting where Red Bull sits in the standings and then noting who isn't suiting up for them due to injury. Good point.

Finally, I engaged in a little pop-psychology in what I believe will be my final post (sniff!) for the Crew Offside

Chivas USA 1 - 1 Los Angeles Galaxy
I didn't get much on this, though that could have been a function of the fact this wasn't the most exciting game - at least that's the impression I get from the LA Times' report. No disrespect to Grahame Jones (the LAT's guy), but Luis Bueno's report for LA Soccer News not only made for a better read, but it seemed to provide a clearer picture of the game.

Even so, it seems the less we all see of this one, the better.

Toronto FC 1 - 2 DC United
Not only can one not beat The DCenters' debriefing for providing links to reports (saves me the work, if nothing else), they also chucked in some top-notch analysis, not least some commenably non-homer comments on the PK DC used to win the game (for the record, I think he got it right; that looked like a PK to me). Toronto's Globe and Mail digs a little deeper into the penalty controversy by running the call past TFC players, who, not surprisingly, didn't see the call the same way. Finally, the Washington Post's write-up catches something most observers did: the tactical switches DC made to get back into the game - something to watch for on a number of levels.

Colorado Rapids 1 - 1 Kansas City Wizards
With the reports coming out about this one, I'm somewhat sad I missed it. Both the Denver Post and Kansas City Star liked what they saw, even if their emphases differed a bit. For instance, the Post noted the missing persons in Colorado's backline (Greg Vanney, Brandon Prideaux, and, till the 60th minute, Ugo Ihemelu); count me among those who see those absences as a big deal. Meanwhile, the Star noted the Wizards' preparations for The Richard's big, open field, as well as deconstructing the goal - by the way, check out who got the assist and keep praying for more.

The FC Rocky blog, which I believe is part of the Rocky Mountain News (and somewhat excuses that paper's otherwise thin coverage), turned in an interesting post about the Rapids disappointing the respectable crowd that showed up by tying a game they could have won.

FC Dallas 2 - 1 Real Salt Lake
I commented earlier about how much better Dallas' defense appeared yesterday, but neglected to mention something else: good gravy, does Dario Sala look fantastic in goal or who? This actually came to me before the Salt Lake Tribune's report reminded me of the save he made off a screened shot by Freddy Adu (though given the totality of that situation, I'd also argue that straight at Sala was Adu's only option).

Sticking to the Dallas side of things, they've got to be feeling a bit jiggy these days. It's easy, for instance, to forget they've won three in a row - thankfully, the Dallas Soccer News reminds one of this; it's not all sunshine, though, as the same piece looks at Carlos Ruiz's ongoing struggles. The Dallas Morning News covers similar ground, not least with regard to form, but they also turn in some good copy on Arturo Alvarez and that purty goal he added to the proceedings.

On the Salt Lake side of things, it's not so surprising that things look less hot: the Real Salt Lake Offside turned in a glum post that dubbed the loss what is was: well-deserved. On a personal level, I continue to be fascinated by the Jason Kreis Experiment and, with quotes like the one that follows (from the Deseret News) it's a no wonder:

"'I'm just going to keep looking around the room and find the guys who believe in it as much as I do,' said Kreis. 'If any of them look me in the eye, they will see that I believe. I guess I'm going to have to look around and see who else believes.'"

Gets one wondering whether he's building a team or a cult; I'm pulling for the latter...

Chicago Fire 1 - 2 FC Dallas
Turning the clock back a ways now, I'm still catching up on Thursday's game (did I even post on it? Nope). On one level, what I'm reading confirms my suspicion that Chicago had the better of the game generally (especially Windy City Soccer's report, though the theme holds well enough). The Chicago Tribune's report adds an interesting twist on this by quoting Fire midfielder Chris Armas as hinting that the "Brimstone" rivalry ain't what it used to be. Rounding out the Chicago media angle, Chicagoland Soccer puts the Fire's three-game slide in context against the Eastern Conference standings (long story short: it's not panic time, but they're certainly making their job harder) and the Chicago Fire Offside shows how much better local fans can cover the game by posting some photos from the evening.

As for the Dallas media's contribution (as much as I read anyway), I'm only going to try to keep a straight face against the temptation to giggle at this sentence from Dallas Soccer News' report:

"The Fire was a threat all evening because of the shifty, smooth penetrations by Justin Mapp."

And now, a word from our sponsors, KY Jelly...(OK, there's good stuff in there on the "Kenneth" Cooper/Abe Thompson pairing as well; and, to the reporter, sorry, parts of my brain are still 12.)

Houston Dynamo 0 - 1 New England Revolution
Finally, what I'm doing to this game in this space, I'm trying to mimic in my conscious mind: bury it, bury it deep and pray to God it gets forgotten. Fortunately, I'm not the only one who rightly turned up his nose: a fan blog run by the Houston Chronicle begs New England to do the right thing and give the three points they won to a more deserving team - though not, it should be stressed, the Dynamo. And, as reported in the Boston Herald Revolution Steve Nicol didn't think much of his team's performance either. Moving onto the blogoverse, Blue Blooded Journo asked a question very much on my mind: how long can New England keep up their streak turning in stinkers?

Boston's "high-brow" paper picked up on something that had my undies in a bunch as I watched the game: Eddie Robinson is a dirty, dirty son-of-a-bitch. Worse, the man doesn't get called on it. A quote in one article tells me that, if no one else, Shalrie Joseph concurs with my opinion, while another piece records gripes from the Revs players about Dynamo fans throwing crap at them and, again, Robinson - who really, really needs to pick up some cards 'cause he's got no motivation to straighten up otherwise.

Regarding the Houston fans, though, I'll only say this: can you blame someone for throwing crap at a team cursing them with such awful, awful play?

Week 7: Quick Hits

Here are some quick, undiluted first impressions left by Week 7’s action, talking team by team as they come to me - I’ll fill ‘em in later with some reading. Anything with an asterisk means I caught at least one of a given team’s game in full.

Toronto FC - I don’t know what I would have written had Toronto managed to knock off DC United over the weekend; three straight wins, no matter the circumstances, makes more an impressive streak. They didn’t win that third game, of course, but, judging by the highlights, Toronto both looks and seems like a real team all of a sudden. That could be function of having two more wins than Real Salt Lake...

DC United - Still not sold. Sure, in beating Toronto on the road, they succeeded where two teams once perceived as competent - the Chicago Fire and the Houston Dynamo - failed. Moreno looks older than dirt. I like the guy plenty, but, my word....

New England Revolution* - Yeah, they won, but I hate them for making me watch that pile of shit. Awful, ugly performance the quality of which was best described by the exasperated raspberry coach Steve Nicol blew when asked to assess his team’s performance in a sideline interview. A performance that distasteful warrants dropping the Revs in my power rankings on aesthetic grounds at the very least.

Red Bull New York - The match report (which I cheated and read) showed an even game, statistically speaking. The highlights, however, showed Dane Richards rip past Rusty Pierce like a rusty gate, a defense that contained the Crew’s “attack”* fairly well and an offense that punished mistakes. Given the Crew’s defense over the past few weeks, the four goals scored might say something; but this could also be an aberration, a la the Crew’s performance against New England a ways back. So, good game, but count Red Bull another team on which I’m reserving judgment.

Houston Dynamo* - Wow. That’s all I’ve got, really. Wow. Why the hell can’t these guys score? I’ll confess to nodding off/finding the hairs on my stomach more interesting than the action on the field, but dubbing the Houston attack anemic does a disservice to the adjective.

Columbus Crew - *I’ve got a theory on the Crew’s offense: they’re not pulling the same direction. Put another way, different players have different ideas about the way to get their team scoring goals and that plays out on the field with errant passing, mistimed runs - just a general grabasstic mess with too many generals freelancing it. Mmmm....”generals” doesn’t correctly communicate the level: let’ go with corporals.

FC Dallas* - Maybe it was RSL, maybe it was the late night and serial Pabst-swilling, but I liked what I saw last night out of FC Dallas. Most impressive were signs the defense might be gelling and maturing, as well as how quickly this team turns around and transitions from defense to offense; they literally get the ball and - POW! - the team as a whole faces forward with their heads up. Two wins in as many games also tell a happy story. A couple other random observations: as the commentator said after Chris Gbandi scored, that’s the goal of the week - see if you don't agree (thanks, as always, to Climbing the Ladder)...

...continuing, tough-ish call on the PK, though I see how it happened, but that’s the only significant blemish I caught in an otherwise composed performance; between his awareness and ability to ride tackles and play out of trouble, Juan Toja looks like the real deal. In spite of years of bitter, bitter experience and the bias that grows therefrom, I like what I see in Dallas...again.

Real Salt Lake* - Worst team in the league, no question in my mind. They’re USL Division 1 material at this point. As such, I really want them to play the Portland Timbers in the U.S. Open Cup...

Chicago Fire - While I didn’t see all of Thursday’s game between Chicago and Dallas, the last 20 minutes showed a Fire team ALL OVER the visitors from Dallas. Mapp, especially looked dangerous. Still, they didn’t win, never mind draw this game and that’s just got to feel like a shot to the pills. Put another way, whatever is wrong with these guys, it’s sort of fer reals. If I had to name the problem, I’d say they’re missing a blunt-instrument kind of player like Nate Jaqua, e.g. someone who can make good on goal-mouth scrums.

Colorado Rapids - Didn’t watch them play, but they do seem to be settling into the erratic profile so familiar from seasons past.

Kansas City Wizards - This is the team I forget about most often this year; used to be Colorado, but they became interesting starting in 2006. I think we’re still a few weeks from having the data to make a decision on this bunch.

LA Galaxy - Didn’t see it, but I’m definitely surprised by this past weekend’s draw with Chivas, who I rate about as highly as “Oh Boy” Alberto Gonzales.

Chivas USA - Honestly, between these guys, RSL, and even Houston, the West looks no better than half-good right now.

All righty. I’m off to see what else I can learn about all this stuff; if all goes according to plan, I’ll wrap up that by the end of the day.

Week 6 Power-Rankings Round-Up (check my math)

As I was about to explain in long-hand form the collection of 9+ power rankings I pulled together to study, it occurred to me that a mathematical method of some sort could make sense of it all more efficiently. It turns out all those math teachers who swore I'd use what they taught me were right...though it's also likely they didn't entertain the possibility I would misapply the tools they provided.

Call that my caveat for this post: I'm not totally sure that what I've done is mathematically valid, but it seems good enough - and that's why I'm posting.

By way of source material, I found power rankings posted on nine different sites - the "+" that appears above came about because, due to the format - which splits Eastern and Western Conferences - I can't use the rankings from Who Ate All the Cupcakes; but I like the author's stuff well enough to give him a shout-out regardless.

The other nine, however, appear below. After listing them, I'll redo the power rankings by placing all 13 MLS teams in the order of the average ranking they received across all nine outlets/blogs. Here's a list of the source material:

It's a Simple Game (mine obviously - LINK)
Sports Illustrated (Ryan Hunt) LINK
WVHooligan LINK
Soccer by Ives LINK
Sideline Views (Luis Bueno) LINK
Orlando Sentinel LINK (bonus for great format)
My Soccer Blog LINK
MLS Underground LINK
Finally, ESPN, the grand-daddy of them all: LINK

And now, here's how MLS's 13 teams stack up when you average the scores awarded to each of the teams by all nine outlets; for poops and giggles, I listed the high and low figure for each MLS club.

1. New England Revolution: 1.0 (Yep, they were the universal #1)
2. Red Bull New York: 2.7 (best, 2; worst, 4)
3. Kansas City Wizards: 3.9 (best, 2; worst, 6 - big spread on them)
4. Colorado Rapids: 3.9 (best, 2; worst, 7 - still bigger spread)
5. Houston Dynamo: 4.7 (best, 2; worst, 7 - ditto)
6. FC Dallas: 5.3 (best, 4; worst, 7 - 5 heavy; I gave the 7)
7. Chicago Fire: 7.6 (best, 6; worst, 10 - 7 heavy; I gave the 10)
8. Los Angeles Galaxy: 8.2 (best, 5; worst, 10 - pretty random; I gave the 5)
9. DC United: 9.7 (best, 8; worst, 11 - small range, wide variety)
10. Columbus Crew: 10.6 (best, 6; worst, 11)
11. Chivas USA: 10.8 (best, 8; worst, 13 - 10, 11 heavy)
12. Toronto FC: 11.9 (best, 10; worst, 13 - 12, 13 heavy)
13. Real Salt Lake: 12.6 (best, 12; worst, 13 - pretty conclusive)

So, there you have it. That may or may not give a handy snapshot of the conventional wisdom. I suspect it does, even if the ranges on some teams is a worry.

Talk at y'all tomorrow.


TFC v. Dynamo: for the record...

I'm still catching up; for example, it took three hours of (highly) sporadic effort to clean out my bloglines inbox.

So, all future posting will come tomorrow. Till then, though, I'm calling the Toronto FC v. Houston game - of which I have not seen even the current score - at a 1-0 win to Houston. Call it a replay of the home loss to Kansas City.

Well, I'm off now to see whether that has already fallen apart...


Week 6: Power Rankings + Standings

I won’t lie: my week has been so thoroughly fucked up it makes a $20 whore look positively chaste (sorry, horrible analogy). But I’m soldiering on with power rankings and, later, I’ll compare those with everyone else’s to give an approximation of how observers see teams stacking up. I won’t even peek at those, however, till after I’ve written and posted what appears below.

As usual, last week’s ranking appears in parentheses immediately after this week’s ranking. So’s as to not misrepresent my judgment as entirely first-hand, the following key shows the distance of my observations: “@” means I watched a given team’s most recent performance in its entirety; “$” means I caught it through Quick Kicks, which provides extended highlights; “&” means I watched only the rump highlights available through

Here goes...and after the rankings, you’ll find a current listing of the standings for the permanent record.

1. (2) New England Revolution (@)
I’ll have something up elsewhere stating my belief that New England showed itself to be the first “good” team in the 2007 season. The logic here is pretty simple: they’re the only team doing fairly well on both sides of the ball and taking care of business both home and away. The question is whether they can keep it up - I mean, how often to forwards have the rebound fall perfectly?

2. (3) Houston Dynamo (idle)
As much as inching an idle team up the table seems a little silly, the other teams did it to themselves. I’m not sold on this bunch yet; having only one rock-star offensive game makes this a highly precarious #2 ranking.

3. (1) Red Bull New York (&)
It’s not losing to the Rapids so much as it’s, y’know, everything: the draw to RSL, the Open Cup thing, a key player (Claudio Reyna) who seems too fragile to last, etc. Clint Mathis says they’re slipping; the question is can they turn it around?

4. (6) Colorado Rapids (& + &)
During their two-game Week 6, Colorado showed two things: a kind of resilience and proof that they have not grown out of their penchant for erratic play. They do have the weapons, though, even if Dan Gargan isn’t one of them.

5. (5) Los Angeles Galaxy (@)
Call me crazy - and I’m sure Frank Yallop would - but I liked a lot of what I saw out of these guys against New England. I’d go so far as to say they’d beat - let’s do a quick count - seven, even eight teams in this league playing like that. Cannon is still a force and signs of life from Martino mean plenty for this group.

6. (4) Kansas City Wizards ($)
This isn’t bad as it looks. To begin, I still think this is a playoff team. And from the sounds of it, they outplayed Dallas. But they DID lose.

7. (8) FC Dallas ($)
Based on what I read and saw, Dario Sala hauled their butts through this one - then again, a ‘keeper like that counts for something. Nice to see Cooper score again, while Abe Thompson’s performance shows they have a little depth. Also noted: even the Kansas City paper had nice things to say about their defense. They do ride their luck a little, but they’re also looking good do what? Well...

8. (10) Columbus Crew (@)
The Crew may owe me the two hours of my life I spent watching this, but there’s no denying this team can defend. But - damn! - do they have a toothless attack, even with the new editions. Still, one-half competent puts them ahead of the teams below.

9. (9) DC United (idle)
Seems appropriate to let their ranking idle as they did. They looked better in Week 5, but have to show a bit more in coming games to get back into the Land of Playoff Contention.

10. (7) Chicago Fire (@)
The Fire gets hit with the Big Drop this week, not because they were Toronto’s first victims, but in the way they’ve lost over the past two weekends. Take away Chris Rolfe and they go from a one-man to a no-man offense. That’s bad enough, but it’s nothing next to the ever-fraying defensive displays; the way this team positively WILTS against counter-attacks renders them almost incapable of chasing a game.

11. (13) Toronto FC (@)
Well, that was fun. I think I wrote this before, but I could have sworn these teams swapped jerseys at the half. Still, I’ll note as everyone did the nice atmosphere on the day and all that. We’ll see tonight (well, and in the future) whether or not Toronto has figured out playing in MLS.

12. (12) Real Salt Lake (&)
As much as I’m hearing decent things about the changes introduced by new coach Jason Kreis (two forwards?? - gasp), these guys still don’t have a W to call their own. Till they get one....well, maybe I’m being more generous to them than I am to the guys below. Still, one doesn’t need the -8 goal differential to know TFC remains a struggling team.

13. (11) Chivas USA (@)
Is it Preki’s fault? Hell, I dunno. What I do know is, the (hungover, Sunday park club) mistakes that defense made would have been ruthlessly punished by any team other than Houston. And with their attack essentially drying up, these guys don’t have much going for them.

Moving on to the standings (official ones here):

Eastern Conference:
1. New England Revs: 14 pts. (4-1-2: 14 GF, 7 GA, +7; home, 2-0-0; away, 2-1-2)
2. Kansas City Wiz: 12 pts. (4-2-0: 11 GF, 6 GA, +5; home, 2-1-0; away, 2-1-0)
3. Red Bull New York: 11 pts. (3-1-2: 8 GF, 4 GA, +4; home, 2-1-0; away, 1-0-2)
4. Chicago Fire: 10 pts. (3-2-1: 7 GF, 8 GA, -1; home, 2-0-0; away, 1-1-1)
5. Columbus Crew: 7 pts. (1-1-4: 4 GF, 4 GA, 0; home, 1-0-3; away, 0-1-1)
6. DC United: 4 pts. (1-3-1: 6 GF, 9 GA, -3; home, 1-1-1; away, 0-2-0)
7. Toronto FC: 0 pts. (1-4-0: 3 GF, 11 GA, -8; home, 1-1-0; away, 0-3-0)

Western Conference
1. Colorado Rapids: 11 pts. (3-2-2: 9 GF, 9 GA, 0; home 1-1-2; away, 2-1-0)
2. FC Dallas: 10 pts. (3-3-1: 9 GF, 10 GA, -1; home, 1-2-0; away, 1-1-1)
3. Chivas USA: 7 pts. (2-3-1: 9 GF, 7 GA; +2; home, 2-0-0; away, 0-3-1)
4. Houston Dynamo: 7 pts. (2-2-1: 4 GF, 3 GA, +1; home, 1-1-1; away, 1-1-0)
5. Los Angeles Galaxy: 4 pts. (1-2-1: 6 GF, 6 GA, 0; home, 1-2-0; away, 0-0-1)
6. Real Salt Lake: 3 pts. (0-3-3: 6 GF, 12 GA, -6; home, 0-1-3; away, 0-1-0)