10. Columbus Crew – A 1-0 loss at D.C. United didn’t seem like such a big deal when news came the next morning of rookie Kirk Urso’s death. A home match this week against Toronto will be a real test; who could blame the Crew for not being fully focused on a soccer game?
9. Angeles Galaxy – OK, getting on the wrong end of a 5-1 thumping at home by one of the world’s best sides (Real Madrid) is one thing. But then to go get clobbered by Seattle on the same week (4-0) …? That’s the kind of week that deserves a very strong response, lest things begin sliding the wrong way. And the Galaxy’s poor start in 2012 won’t permit much of that.
8. Seattle Sounders – Eddie Johnson went into double digits in scoring and his chemistry on the field with Fredy Montero continues to improve. Meanwhile, German playmaker Christian Tiffert got on the field for the first time in the big win over L.A. Good timing, too, considering the Sounders’ busy schedule, starting with tonight’s U.S. Open Cup final in Kansas City.
7. Sporting Kansas City – Peter Vermes’ team will be without center back Aurelien Collin at Livestrong Sporting Park tonight as the year’s first trophy is on the line. Roger Espinoza is back from Honduras’ stirring run in Olympic soccer, but his status is reportedly in doubt. Either way, Livestrong Sporting Park is the focus of American soccer for the evening.
6. Chicago Fire – Marco Pappa gave away, and Marco Pappa took back. The Fire midfielder’s dreadful pass gave Toronto hope and an early lead as the teams met at Toyota Park. But Pappa finished wonderfully from a tough angle and rookie Austin Berry supplied the game-winner as Chicago held serve in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
5. D.C. United – Say this for the new day under Ben Olsen: these guys are tough as a battleship at home. They’ve won seven in a row (following last week’s 1-0 result over Columbus) at RFK and are 8-1-2 with plus-15 goal difference there. Nick DeLeon’s reemergence (assuming it continues) and Andy Najar’s return from a successful Olympic stint can only help.
4. New York Red Bulls – We can talk all day about Tim Cahill and Thierry Henry, but the Red Bulls man who seemed missed the most last week was Dax McCarty (pictured). There’s still some sifting and sorting to do in the midfield, as the 2-0 loss in Houston showed. Up again this week: Houston. Go figure.
3. Real Salt Lake – Last week was a clear demonstration of “Be careful what you ask for” in MLS. Yes, CONCACAF Champions League creates juicy opportunities for MLS teams. On the other hand, RSL looked pooped upon return from Costa Rica and lost at rival Colorado as a result. Meanwhile, Jamison Olave continues to deal with a frustrating series of injuries, which isn’t helping a bit.
2. Houston Dynamo – Quirky scheduling remains an MLS bugaboo. Case in point: The Dynamo will meet New York for the second consecutive Friday. Groundhog Day, eh? This week’s contest in Harrison, N.J., doesn’t figure to be as comfortable as last week’s 2-0 win in Houston, when the Red Bulls rarely threatened. Ricardo Clark is in place, ready to contribute, but awaits finalization of the Geoff Cameron transfer.
1. San Jose Earthquakes – The Earthquakes had a weekend off following a mid-week friendly against Swansea City (a 2-2 tie). The schedule is favorable this week as Seattle visits the Bay off a busy week, following Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup final in Kansas City.