19. Portland Timbers – Look at it like this: at least the Timbers’ bye week came after a draw rather than a loss. In a year of figurative starvation, these little crumbs matter, I suppose. This week: a tough swing East, first into Toronto and then into New York.
18. Toronto FC – Ordinarily, Portland coming to visit would qualify as a juicy target of opportunity. But with so many of the Reds away for international duty, manager Paul Mariner will be pressed to get 11 quality starters on the field Wednesday.
17. Colorado Rapids – With as much empathy and understanding as I could add into my voice, I asked veteran midfielder Jeff Larentowicz on Saturday, following his team’s latest defeat, how the locker room was holding up? “The locker room is OK. Well, as OK as it can be for a team that’s lost 15 games,” he said from behind an exasperated scowl. That seems like a fair assessment for a team whose playoff hopes are just about extinguished at this point.
16. Philadelphia Union – A 3-1 loss at PPL Park to Chicago was probably the worst setback yet under manager John Hackworth. Goalkeeper Zac MacMath was at fault on one, and probably even two goals, and Freddy Adu was his usual, some-good, some-bad self. It’s a young team, so a certain amount of collective up-and-down cannot be much of a surprise. Bakary Soumare made his first start in defense. Verdict: certainly not world class, but not awful for his first time out.
15. New England Revolution – Any team worthy of playoff consideration simply cannot lose at home in August to an expansion team. Said Jay Heaps after falling to Montreal: “Heartbreaking. Disappointing. Not good enough. So we’re struggling to find the way the way a little bit and it’s a really bad loss at home.”
14. FC Dallas – A 3-2 win over Colorado (which was close in the end, even with Dallas a man up at home) did enough to keep the Texas side from tumbling over the playoff cliff. Los Angeles’ win kept the distance between Dallas and the final playoff spot static – but the gap will soon be too much to make up.
13. Chivas USA – Poor Dan Kennedy (pictured). The Goats’ standout in goal did everything humanly possible to keep the Home Depot Center derby close. Eventually even he couldn’t stand tall enough, and the Galaxy gobbled up the little Goats. Final, demoralizing score in this one: 4-0. Shalrie Joseph debuted in the Chivas USA kit, but it wasn’t really his night either.
12. Montréal Impact – Talk about a huge win. As deflating as the 1-0 result in New England was for the Revs, it was equally momentous for Jesse March’s men. What a tear this team is on lately, winning four of five, elbowing past the non-believers, right into the Eastern Conference playoff chase. This week: a visit from Suppoters Shield leaders San Jose. Stade Saputo is the place to be Saturday!
11. Vancouver Whitecaps – The Whitecaps were probably Major League Soccer’s most aggressive team in the recent summer transfer market, adding two veterans with starters’ chops. Good thing, too; they’ll need both Kenny Miller and Andy O’Brien for Wednesday’s home date with Dallas. The first priority at this point is retaining third place (or climbing higher, obviously) in the West. Because fourth and fifth place looks a lot worse under the new playoff format.
(Nos. 1-10 are on deck …so check back)