10. Vancouver Whitecaps – Was it really that broken at BC Place? Because they sure are doing a lot of “fixing.” The offensive makeover is complete (We think!) with this week’s arrival of Scottish striker Kenny Miller. In the back, holding a lead late against San Jose was massive for the ‘Caps, who had lost a late lead just days earlier in similar circumstances against the Galaxy.
9. Seattle Sounders – When does a 4-2 loss ring the bell of improvement? When the same game last year (an exhibition against Manchester United) devolved into a humiliating 7-0 loss. That was Seattle’s only action last week; they travel to Colorado this weekend. Six of a possible 15 points recently isn’t horrible, but it’s no recipe for playoff soccer, either. Oh, and Alvaro Fernandez’s status remains in question. So, a lot going on there.
8. Chicago Fire – A match at league-leading San Jose is not what any team wants when holding tenuously onto the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth. Last week’s loss in muggy New York didn’t help either. New midfielder Alex needs to get his playmaker feet beneath him, and fast.
7. D.C. United – We expect erratic defense out of D.C. United; the Black and Red still need personnel upgrades throughout the rear guard. But what happened to the offense, which is suddenly looks like it has punched itself out? This week’s friendly vs. newly moneyed PSG does look rather intriguing, punchless offense or not.
6. Sporting Kansas City – Funny thing about this team: They always look as if they should be scoring more. And teams just hate to play Kansas City, because they are going to be kicked and pressured and what-have-you. So why aren’t more results going their way? With just one win in their last five games, they take a substantial fall in the ratings this week.
5. Houston Dynamo – The winning streak stands at three and the unbeaten run at six games. Oscar Boniek Garcia is influencing matches and the switch to a 4-3-3 seems to working splendidly. It’s all taking some of the pain from losing Geoff Cameron, whose long-awaited move to Stoke City seems finally close to fruition. (No, seriously this time – it’s going to happen. Pretty sure, anyway.)
4. Los Angeles Galaxy – They’ve taken 10 of 12 possible points lately, with a draw in Vancouver the only nick in the foursome. Robbie Keane is scoring, and the club’s other DPs are in a good way, too. Keeping them around, on the other hand, is proving problematic. Landon Donovan will miss this week’s trip to Dallas due to yellow card accumulation. And David Beckham is … well, he’s Beckham, which means he’s popped over to London again and probably won’t be up for the match in Dallas, either.
3. New York Red Bulls – Are you kidding me? All this, and Tim Cahill (pictured above), too? News dropped like a ton of Aussie bricks on Monday that the longtime Everton man and Australian international would soon arrive, crazy tats and all, into Red Bull Arena. So New York would seem to have it all now, an EPL-worthy attack, abundant choices of quality in midfield and defense and a goalkeeper who seems wise beyond his years.
2. Real Salt Lake – What a stroke of luck as RSL braces for an important Western Conference match. Vancouver is one spot behind the men from Utah, who sit second in the West. They meet on Friday at Rio Tinto, and now it seems highly unlikely that Jay DeMerit, the rock of Vancouver’s defense, can start. This is truly a chance Jason Kreis’ RSL side simply cannot miss.
1. San Jose Earthquakes – Chris Wondolowski scores in league games, he scores in All-Star games, he’s chasing a long-standing mark and just might get there – what a success story this man is. Of course, he would probably require a multi-goal game here and there over the season’s back half; next chance for one comes Saturday at Buck Shaw, where the Quakes host Chicago. Meanwhile, lots of praise was falling from All-Star coach Ben Olsen on young wingbacks Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow.