DC United v New York Red Bulls

The Top Ten in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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(Nos. 11-19 in the weekly quality rearrangement is here.)

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.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)