10. Columbus Crew – Tony Tchani is doing some good work lately for the men in yellow. Partnering with Danny O’Rourke, as he did in Saturday’s win over Real Salt Lake, seems especially becoming. Eddie Gaven continues to be one of Major League Soccer’s under-appreciated men.
9. Houston Dynamo – Geoff Cameron was back in the midfield once again as Dominic Kinnear, usually a 4-4-2 man through and through, hit the Philadelphia Union with a 4-3-3 alignment. It’s probably about getting the best from Oscar Boniek Garcia, who debuted to nice effect along the right in Saturday’s win over Philly. Longtime popular Dynamo striker Brian Ching got his first goal at BBVA Compass Stadium in the win.
8. Los Angeles Galaxy – The Galaxy will lament allowing four goals in another performance where the defense simply needed to be better. On the other hand, it was a crackerjack of a contest, one that won’t set L.A. back too far in the big picture. The Galaxy has a chance to put things right Wednesday at the Home Depot Center, where Philadelphia could be on the weary side after Saturday’s match in Texas and travel further west.
7. Chicago Fire – It was Marco Pappa to the rescue again in a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City. (Well, goalkeeper Sean Johnson did some rescuing too.) Pappa seems to have been energized by his meaningful strike in a World Cup qualifier against the United States. Or maybe it’s the transfer window and his desire to go abroad. Either way, it’s working for the Fire, which has won three in a row.
6. Vancouver Whitecaps – They’ve had more than a week to think about that whuppin they took last week in Los Angeles. Barry Robson is set to play this Wednesday when the Whitecaps travel into Colorado.
5. Sporting Kansas City – Remember how we all oohed and awed over Sporting Kansas City’s vast offensive resources, especially when deployed in that high-pressure 4-3-3 arrangement? Did we all get it wrong? Because Peter Vermes’ team has 20 goals this year, 12th best among 19 teams. Who can figure that one out?
4. Real Salt Lake – Jason Kreis says he still believes in this group, never mind a strikingly unfamiliar three-game losing streak; the latest was a 2-0 setback in Columbus. Wednesday’s match at Rio Tinto will be fascinating, two desperate teams looking for a way out of the box. Seattle, RSL’s opposition in the July 4 special, is winless in eight MLS contests.
3. New York Red Bulls – Anybody else wondering if Dax McCarty’s outstanding season for the Red Bulls is being noticed by a certain fun-loving German (the one who happens to manage the U.S. national team, that is)? McCarty was up the job once again as Hans Backe’s team took a draw out of a trip into Toronto (which is suddenly not such an easy stop.)
2. D.C. United – Anybody have Chris Pontius to lead MLS in scoring? He’s got a lot of work to do, but after another strike in Saturday’s convincing 3-0 win over Montreal, the fourth-year attacker is tied for third in MLS scoring with nine goals. The gang from RFK is idle for Round 18; next up is a July 15 visit to BBVA Compass Stadium, United’s second trip already to the new Houston Dynamo grounds.
1. San Jose Earthquakes – Well done, guys. You found a way to win – while keeping everyone entertained and enthralled along the way in one of Major League’s Soccer’s most eventful 2012 matches. Before more than 50,000 at Stanford Stadium, the Earthquakes fell being by a pair before rallying for the 4-3 win. The big dust-up afterward, with David Beckham front and center, just a bonus.