(Nos. 1-10 are on deck …so check back)
19. Chivas USA – What, in the name of Gerd Muller, must Chivas USA do to please the soccer gods and find a doggone goal? Six matches in September brought a grand total of one. One! At this point, who knows what in the world will happen in the offseason with this little lost sheep of a soccer club.
18. Toronto FC – Two of three matches remaining are against teams with playoff ambition (Columbus and D.C. United). And there’s a match against Canadian rival Montreal. So, there’s still a little something to play for around BMO – assuming spoiler rolls and rivalries are worth something to you. They certainly are to passionate manager Paul Mariner.
17. Colorado Rapids – Conor Casey had a nice match in holding up play and brining others into the game during a 1-1 draw at home against Los Angeles. So, that’s progress. But Casey needs to begin finishing. Because two goals in 18 matches is not what a starting center forward wants to hang his hat on.
16. Portland Timbers – The Timbers need to quickly shake the frustration of last week’s controversial draw with D.C. United. Yes, Mr. Paulson, it was a silly call. There’s one thing left for which to play in 2012, the cherished Cascadia Cup, and that bad boy is at stake this week in Seattle. What a chance for Portland, too; the Timbers can send 66,000-plus home in rave green disappointment by rising to the nationally televised moment Sunday.
15. Philadelphia Union – Two critical calls appeared to have been blown (both affecting the playoff race). One of them had Philly on the bad side, as an offside decision that went uncalled provided Columbus the game-winning goal in a 3-2 result over the Union. Meanwhile, looks like center back Bakary Soumare is done for 2012.
14. New England Revolution – Jay Heaps’ men went to Houston and made things very difficult on the Dynamo, a playoff aspirant that was desperate for the home win. You could argue that New England even created the better chances, which isn’t bad considering top midfield creator Lee Nguyen is done for the year.
13. Montréal Impact – For anyone remaining out there who still believes Montreal can somehow defy gravity and make the playoffs (bless your optimistic soul), consider this: The Impact visit Houston this week toting that awful 2-12-1 road record. Meanwhile, the Dynamo has not lost this year at spanking new BBVA Compass Stadium. So …
12. Vancouver Whitecaps – Every time I see Vancouver, I want to see a little more offensive “want-to,” a little less sitting back and hoping for the best. They may yet sneak into the 2012 playoffs; the odds remain with them as pursuing Dallas simply dug down too deeply over the season’s first half. Still, winless in seven matches now following last week’s scoreless draw with Seattle? Not. Good. And now livewire striker Darren Mattocks (pictured above) is injured. Not. Good. At. All.
11. Columbus Crew – Jairo Arrieta hit a vital pair of goals before the break, and the Crew found wonderful fortune in a late strike that really wasn’t. Regardless, a 3-2 win over Philadelphia keeps hope alive in Ohio. Arrieta has a goal or an assist in four consecutive matches, reminding us all what a great summer signing he was – even if journos like me keep writing about Federico Higuain.