ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS Panic Quotient

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ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS Panic Quotient (®) takes the temperature of stress and distress in the streets of Major League Soccer.

Philadelphia Union players: Perhaps manager Peter Nowak is some mad scientist-type genius. We see the stark flashes, but he sees the plan – that kind of thing. Maybe. But who could blame Philadelphia players for not feeling great about the ground beneath their feet? Because the quirky personnel choices keep rolling out of Nowak’s office, this trade of popular team captain Danny Califf being the latest sharp crack of the bosses’ erratic whip. Let’s face it: If Nowak will ship Califf away, anybody’s locker is in danger of being suddenly emptied.

Panic quotient: “Hi, sweetie. What’s that? Oh … uh, sure I remember what day it is … ”

Sporting Kansas City: Whoa! What are you guys doing here? Three weeks ago Peter Vermes’ men were preening around like the bell of the MLS ball. Then a loss at Portland blotted that perfect record – but no worries there, really. Then a loss at home to Montreal raised a concerned brow – but it could still be written off as a glitch in the Matrix. But the way SKC came unraveled in last week’s loss at Chicago just cannot be dismissed. You know what they say: One might be a mistake, two is starting to look like a trend, but three is definitely a problem. It’s not that Sporting is bad, it’s just that they had such a big head start on the Supporters Shield and those up-anted playoff stakes that go with it. Well, that’s all blown out of the Midwest water.

Panic quotient: Long night. Head hurts. Now it’s morning and you can’t find your wallet … which might not be so bad if you could just remember where you were the night before.

FC Dallas: These guys do want to play, right? They are getting tossed out of games like trouble makers out of the Double Duece. (Road House!) Previously FC Dallas was hanging in there, negotiating injuries adequately and picking up points here and there. But habitually going down to 10 men (or 9 men with the match two weeks ago) is too much.  Now Dallas has collected just two of a possible 15 points in its last five, and connection with the top teams in the West is getting seriously stretched.

Panic quotient: Your beautiful, wonderful, let’s-you-watch-sports girlfriend calls. “We need to talk.”