Los Angeles Soccer: MLS Power Rankings

MLS Power Rankings: San Jose on top

July, 17, 2012
7/17/12
4:19
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In this week's MLS power rankings, ESPN.com's Jeff Carlisle has the San Jose Earthquakes on top, changing spots with D.C. United from the week before.

After their wild 5-3 win at Portland over the weekend, the Galaxy moved up a spot to No. 10.

Chivas USA, meanwhile, dropped a spot to No. 13 as the Goats prepare to host the Galaxy on Saturday in the latest edition of the SuperClasico.

Both teams also play mid-week games Wednesday, Chivas hosting Portland and the Galaxy playing at Vancouver.

Click this link to see the complete rankings.

MLS Power Rankings: Technology time

June, 20, 2012
6/20/12
2:31
PM PT

Dominic Oduro, Wilman CondeJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Red Bull's Wilman Conde clearing of the Fire's Dominic Oduro's shot was the biggest play of the week in MLS.


In just a matter of days, the argument over goal-line technology has been settled. They'll still argue, but after Ukraine was denied a legitimate goal in Tuesday's 1-0 loss to England at Euro 2012, the discussion is moot.

“After last night's match,” FIFA President Sepp Blatter tweeted Wednesday, “GLT is no longer an alternative but a necessity.”

MLS Commissioner Don Garber has been vocal in his support of goal-line technology, and the week's better argument in favor of implementation occurred in Chicago's 3-1 victory Saturday over visiting New York.

A shot by Fire forward Dominic Oduro, slowed by a deflection off Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara, was cleared as it entered the net by Wilman Conde. The linesman was a little behind the play and screened by a sliding Conde and could not see that the ball had, indeed, crossed fully into the goal. Referee Baldomero Toledo waved play on and cautioned Oduro for protesting.

The incident incensed the Fire, who replied with another goal four minutes later and another 13 minutes after that to pull away.

Marko Devic's goal for Ukraine was just as clear, and John Terry's clearance after it had crossed the line should have been easier to spot. UEFA, led by legendary French midfielder (and anti-technology crusader) Michel Platini, is experimenting with goal judges in this European Championship. Their sole job is to decide if the ball has crossed the line. The goal judge in Donetsk was next to the net staring at the play, and he didn't get it right.

As Michael Ballack noted on ESPN's coverage of the Euros, it's not his fault. Everything's happening so fast, the eyes can't discern exactly where what is at any given moment. ESPN used stop-action video to prove Devic's goal should have counted.

FIFA on July 5 will decide if Platini's alternative or either of two systems, both using technology, at use in England and Denmark should be approved for widespread use. The past week calls for at least one of them to get the nod, and the UEFA boss' chances aren't good.

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. REAL SALT LAKE (10-3-2, 32 points), Last Week: 1
Week 15:
Fabian Espindola strikes twice in impressive 3-0 triumph at Chivas USA.
Latest: Javier Morales ready to return to the starting lineup.
Should-be All-Star: Espindola has been unstoppable.
Next: Wednesday vs. Galaxy, 6 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22); Saturday vs. San Jose, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

2. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (9-3-1, 28 points), LW: 3
Week 15:
C.J. Sapong, Julio Cesar hit the net in 2-0 win over Toronto FC.
Latest: Peter Vermes reveals K.C. has tried to acquire Giovani Dos Santos “a couple times, but there's always been little problems here or there,” mostly money talk with Tottenham. The Mexico star says he wants to stay in Europe.
Should-be All-Star: Aurelien Collin has been splendid at the back.
Next: Wednesday at Seattle, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday at Philadelphia, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Tuesday in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal vs. Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro), 5:30 p.m.

3. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (8-3-3, 27 points), LW: 4
Week 15:
Idle.
Latest: When will the Quakes' new stadium open? Could be 2013 or 2014 -- still lots of uncertainty.
Should-be All-Star: Chris Wondolowski, of course.
Next: Wednesday at Colorado, 6:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday at Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Tuesday in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal vs. Seattle, 7:30 p.m.

(Read full post)

MLS Power Rankings: Ch-ch-ch-changes

June, 13, 2012
6/13/12
8:59
PM PT

Piotr NowakMike Stobe/Getty Images/New York Red BullsPeter Nowak, who won an MLS Cup as a player in 1998, was fired as Philadelphia coach on Wednesday.


The first coaching changes of the Major League Soccer have come down, neither all that surprising, although one of them is disappointing.

Philadelphia on Wednesday cut ties with Peter Nowak, who took the Union to the playoffs in year two, then dismantled the team piece by piece, infuriating the club's supporters and puzzling the youngsters on the roster.

Nowak, a Polish star who captained Chicago to the 1998 MLS Cup title, coached D.C. to the 2004 crown, served as Bob Bradley's chief assistant with the U.S. national team and guided the U.S. men at the Beijing Olympics four years ago, had dumped fan favorites Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Califf, then last week traded Danny Mwanga -- which the club took with the first pick in its first collegiate draft -- to Portland for Jorge Perlaza, a deal that made a lot of sense tactically.

The other moves, not so much, but the furor had become deafening. Assistant coach John Hackworth steps in as interim coach.

Toronto FC last week made the first change of the year, dismissing former Dutch superstar Aron Winter and giving the reins to director of player development Paul Mariner, the former English star and New England assistant coach. Mariner's first move was to simplify things, dumping Winter's 4-3-3 formation for a traditional 4-4-2.

Winter was ousted after the Reds lost their first nine league games, a mystifying run given the quality in the team. TFC has never been close to a success, but Winter in the past year had brought it to respectability, and many observers -- here, too -- predicted playoffs, especially after the CONCACAF Champions League triumph over the Galaxy. He delivered in the Canadian Championship, guiding the Reds to their fourth straight title and another Champions League berth.

Winter was the victim of circumstances and a management group that has repeatedly made poor decisions, at least until hiring Winter. We would have given him the rest of the season. Nowak? The right move.

Who's next to go? Chivas USA fans were out for Robin Fraser's head earlier this season, but he's going nowhere -- and Goats supporters should be very happy about that. Chivas is going to be very, very good soon.

Toronto had the worst record (1-9-0) in MLS, and Philly's (2-7-2) was No. 2. After that, it's the Galaxy (3-8-2). Should Bruce Arena be worried? We don't believe so, but L.A. has made five of its six head-coaching dismissals (or, in the parlance, agreed mutually to part ways) in midseason. Only two off those fired (Lothar Osiander in 1997 and Steve Sampson in 2006) had worse records than the Galaxy's current mark.

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. REAL SALT LAKE (9-3-2, 29 points), Last Week: 1
Week 14:
Idle.
Latest: Alvaro Saborio's hat trick for Costa Rica has him brimming with confidence for Chivas USA clash.
On the All-Star ballot: G Nick Rimando, D Nat Borchers, D Jamison Olave, M Kyle Beckerman, F Alvaro Saborio, F Fabian Espindola.
Next: Saturday vs. Chivas USA at Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket and KWHY/Channel 22); Wednesday, June 20, vs. Galaxy, 6 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22).

2. NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-3-2, 26 points), LW: 2
Week 14:
Idle.
Latest: Thierry Henry back on the mend, missing training with a calf injury. Joel Lindpere and Rafa Marquez return from international duty with knocks.
On the All-Star ballot: G Ryan Meara, D Heath Pearce, M Joel Lindpere, M Dane Richards, F Thierry Henry, F Kenny Cooper.
Next: Sunday at Chicago, 2 p.m. (NBC Sports Network); Wednesday, June 20, at Vancouver, 8 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

3. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (8-3-1, 25 points), LW: 3
Week 14:
Idle.
Latest: Emergency appendectomy sidelines defender Matt Besler.
On the All-Star ballot: G Jimmy Nielsen, D Aurelien Collin, M Roger Espinoza, M Graham Zusi, F Kei Kamara, F C.J. Sapong.
Next: Saturday vs. Toronto FC, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, June 20, at Seattle, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

(Read full post)

MLS Power Rankings: No upset here

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
3:40
PM PT
Upsets are good for the U.S. Open Cup, so Major League Soccer's difficulties this year parsing through the competition has made for a more exciting and substantial tournament. More steps toward that should be taken.

Soccer by its nature often rewards underdogs: Cal FC's victory over Portland, given the disparity in possession and number of chances, would be impossible in any other major sport (and perhaps any “minor” sport, too), but who didn't enjoy the Thousand Oaks' club's inspirational run to the fourth round -- the Timbers and their fans aside?

Andy Rose, Jesus Gonzalez
Steven Bisig/US PresswireSeattle's Andy Rose, left, battles against Cal FC midfielder Jesus Gonzalez during Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup game.

Nine MLS clubs, of 16 in the Open Cup, lost to teams from lower divisions, with the Chicago Fire also falling to an amateur team (the Premier Development League's Michigan Bucks). That's what makes the event work. If MLS could sweep aside teams from the second division (North American Soccer League), third division (USL Pro), fourth division (PDL) and lower (U.S. Adult Soccer Association, from which Cal FC came), there's no point to the Cup. Just hold an MLS League Cup.

It would be nice to see a truly blind draw (the pairings are regionalized), and that includes the third-round games, which are tournament openers for MLS clubs. Why can't MLS teams be drawn to play other MLS teams right off the bat? The format favors the big league in that if there were no upsets, all 16 fourth-round teams would be from MLS. How is this a plus?

The best stories in this tournament, the ones we'll remember when it's done, are Cal FC's and the Harrisburg City Islanders'. The USL Pro side's miraculous three-goal comeback in overtime to oust New England in the third round was the game of the Cup. Tuesday night's fourth-round win over New York, also in overtime, had everything going for it: drama, controversy, a stunning end included.

Five MLS teams survived to the June 26 quarterfinals -- Chivas USA, San Jose, Seattle (winner of the last three Open Cups), Sporting Kansas City and Philadelphia -- and it's set up so only one (the Earthquakes-Sounders victor) is guaranteed a semifinal spot. That's about perfect, even if there are no further upsets. And it's likely there won't be. Only once since MLS's 1996 arrival has the tournament winner not been an MLS club. Only three times have both finalists not been from MLS.

The quarterfinal slate:

Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro) at Chivas USA (MLS)
Seattle Sounders (MLS) at San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro) at Sporting Kansas City (MLS)
Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro) at Philadelphia Union (MLS)

Our bet for the semis: Chivas vs. Seattle (a rematch of the 2010 semifinals) and Sporting-Harrisburg. Yes, we're going to go with another upset by the City Islanders, who have an official affiliation with Philly.

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. REAL SALT LAKE (9-3-2, 29 points), Last Week: 1
Week 13:
Idle.
Latest: Garden Grove's Gil out four weeks with an MCL sprain picked up with the U.S. U-20s.
2011 friendlies: None.
Next: Saturday, June 16, vs. Chivas USA at Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket and KWHY/Channel 22).

2. NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-3-2, 26 points), LW: 2
Week 13:
Red Bulls fall in overtime to the Harrisburg City Islanders, their second Open Cup loss in three years against the USL Pro club.
Latest: New York treats the Open Cup like a serious competition, unlike last year. Fails to reach the quarterfinals, unlike last year. (Dropped second game in the tournament, just like last year.)
2011 friendlies: July 31 vs. Tottenham (England).
Next: Sunday, June 17 at Chicago, 2 p.m. (NBC Sports Network).

3. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (8-3-1, 25 points), LW: 3
Week 13:
Teal Bunbury wraps a a 2-0 Open Cup fourth-round win over Colorado.
Latest: Aurelien Collin's opener in the Open Cup win taken away, changed to a Matt Pickens own goal.
2011 friendlies: Aug. 1 vs. Stoke City (England).
Next: Saturday, June 16, vs. Toronto FC, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

(Read full post)

MLS Power Rankings: A little break

May, 31, 2012
5/31/12
3:47
PM PT

Marcelo, Landon DonovanNicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty ImagesGalaxy captain Landon Donovan, right, is on duty with the U.S. national team.


Major League Soccer is taking a couple of weeks off, for the most part. Yes, there are more U.S. Open Cup matches next week, one league game this weekend and another next weekend, plus the usual amount of MLS Reserve League action, but this is the league's version of spring break, and there's good reason for it.

It's the first big international dates of the year, with the start of semifinal-round qualifying in CONCACAF for the 2014 World Cup, more qualifiers in Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania, and next week's kickoff to Euro 2012 -- the biggest event on the calendar before 2013.

Clubs have long complained about MLS's inability to follow an international calendar -- largely dictated by its spring (or late winter, nowadays)-to-late fall schedule and the harsh winters in much of the country -- and the loss of prime talent when national teams get priority to players.

This was MLS's response: a couple of weekends off in June, a light weekend in early September, a weekend without games in mid-October, all in service of the international game and the hardships call-ups can mean for the clubs.

This is also why we have a 34-game schedule rather than a balanced 36-game slate. There's just no space for two more games in a calendar, Commissioner Don Garber says, that's already full from the March 10 MLS openers until Dec. 1, when MLS Cup will be played at the higher-seeded finalist's home.

We don't buy that and don't have a ton of sympathy for the clubs. Rosters can be 30 players. They should be larger and one day might be, but with some revision of roster rules -- enabling short-term signings, a la the NBA, when manpower shortages exist -- clubs could play through the international dates with little trouble. Maybe the big names and a few not so big will go missing, but everyone is affected -- and everyone has a full squad.

The choice is a balanced schedule or the ability, within reason, for clubs to field their best sides at all times. Our vote would be for the former.

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. REAL SALT LAKE (9-3-2, 29 points), Last Week: 1
Week 12:
Alvaro Saborio tallies twice, Nat Borchers in stoppage to beat FC Dallas, 3-2; brilliant Luis Gil blast not enough in 3-1 U.S. Open Cup third-round loss to NASL's Minnesota Stars.
Latest: RSL pays huge cost for Open Cup loss after buying the match from the Stars and paying their expenses. Jason Kreis apologizes to the club's owners, says, “I would not want to be a player under me right now.”
International duty: Kyle Beckerman (U.S.), Luis Gil (U.S. U-20), Will Johnson (Canada), Nick Rimando (U.S.), Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica).
Next: Saturday, June 16, vs. Chivas USA at Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket and KWHY/Channel 22).

2. NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-3-2, 26 points), LW: 3
Week 12:
Kenny Cooper scores for the third straight game for 1-1 draw with visiting Chivas USA; Heath Pearce finds the net in 3-0 U.S. Open Cup romp at USL Pro's Charleston Battery.
Latest: Thierry Henry's return could spark something special, but the Bulls didn't fare so poorly without him.
International duty: Joel Lindpere (Estonia), Rafa Marquez (Mexico), Roy Miller (Costa Rica), Victor Palsson (Iceland), Dane Richards (Jamaica).
Next: Tuesday in a U.S. Open Cup fourth-round match at Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro), 4 p.m.; Sunday, June 17 at Chicago, 2 p.m. (NBC Sports Network).

3. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (8-3-1, 25 points), LW: 6
Week 12:
Lawndale's Kei Kamara sets up C.J. Sapong, scores his own as Sporting ends four-game winless skid with 2-1 victory over San Jose; Soony Saad nets a pair in 3-2 U.S. Open Cup win over USL Pro's Orlando City SC.
Latest: Sapong ends seven-game drought with an extra assist from Kamara: his boots, after leaving his own at home. “He wouldn't have scored that goal if he didn't have my shoes on,” kids Kamara.
International duty: Roger Espinoza (Honduras), Kei Kamara (Sierra Leone).
Next: Tuesday in a U.S. Open Cup fourth-round match vs. Colorado, 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, June 16, vs. Toronto FC, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

(Read full post)

MLS Power Rankings: Open horizon

May, 23, 2012
5/23/12
4:02
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Major League Soccer has a heavy slate this week before heading into a two-week break to accommodate FIFA's international schedule and the start of summer qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

MLS clubs won't be off. The 16 U.S. teams in the league enter the U.S. Open Cup with next week's third-round games, and those that win will play again on June 5.

The importance of America's oldest soccer tournament depends on the club. It's a priority for the Seattle Sounders, who have won the last three titles. Chicago Fire, a finalist last year, needs one more triumph to match the record, five. The New York Red Bulls couldn't care less: Hans Backe sent a reserve team, with an assistant coach, to play the Chicago Fire in last year's quarterfinals.

The Galaxy have won the tournament twice, in 2001 and 2005, lost in two finals and fallen at Seattle in the quarterfinals the past two years. Chivas USA, which could meet the Galaxy in a fourth-round game June 5, has lost its Open Cup opener every year except 2010, when it dropped a semifinal game at Seattle.

The Open Cup dates to 1913, but the modern era began with MLS's arrival in 1996. Since then, only one non-MLS club has won the title -- the Rochester Raging Rhinos in 1999 -- and all but three finals have pitted MLS clubs.

Eight MLS clubs have won the trophy:
  • D.C. United: 1996, 2008
  • FC Dallas: 1997 (as the Dallas Burn)
  • Chicago Fire: 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006
  • Galaxy: 2001, 2005
  • Columbus Crew: 2002
  • Sporting Kansas City: 2004 (as the Kansas City Wizards)
  • New England Revolution: 2007
  • Seattle Sounders: 2009, 2010, 2011

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. REAL SALT LAKE (8-3-2, 26 points), Last Week: 1
Week 11:
Idle.
Latest: RSL uses respite to get healthy, gets more time off after taking on Jason Kreis' original club.
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Tuesday vs. Minnesota Stars (NASL), 6 p.m.
Next: Saturday vs. FC Dallas, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

2. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (7-2-2, 23 points), LW: 2
Week 11:
Fredy Montero's last-minute strike leaves absorbing Cascadia Cup clash at Vancouver tied at 2-2.
Latest: Vancouver playmaker Davide Chiumiento's take on the Sounders? “They are a good team, but, really, players on [Seattle], they think they are better than everybody and, personally, I think they have a couple of good guys, but nothing special. They play like they already won the league, or like they've played I don't know where. They are good, but not better than we are.”
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Tuesday vs. Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL) at Tukwila, Wash., 7 p.m.
Next: Wednesday vs. Columbus, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday vs. Chivas USA at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. (Fox Sports West and KWHY/Channel 22).

3. NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-3-1, 25 points), LW: 3
Week 11:
Dane Richards provides the winner as Red Bulls win fifth in a row and become first MLS club to beat Impact in Montreal.
Latest: Wilman Conde ready to return from groin injury, looking to get past arrest for allegedly assaulting a police officer.
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Tuesday at Charleston Battery (USL Pro), 4:30 p.m.
Next: Wednesday vs. Chivas USA, 4 p.m. (Univision Deportes).

(Read full post)

MLS Power Rankings: Playoff-bound?

May, 15, 2012
5/15/12
5:12
PM PT

The jockeying among Major League Soccer's hopefuls is already fierce, especially in the Western Conference, in which the new, unbalanced schedule has made absolutely every game vital.


We're only about a third into the regular season -- the playoffs are 5½ months away -- but we're already seeing separation between the contenders and pretenders, although determining which is which can be difficult, especially come playoff time.

Teams go through the ebbs and flows of the season in different rhythms, so just because a team is hot now (witness Sporting Kansas City's start) doesn't mean they'll be so dangerous in a few weeks (K.C. has lost three in a row).

The San Jose Earthquakes looked unbeatable until Vancouver beat them, and Chivas USA were moments away from saddling them with another defeat.

New York's beat-up lineup has won four in a row, all by one goal. Will the Red Bulls go in the tank once they're healthy? Could be, but right now they're one of the rising clubs, up to third in our power rankings.

Also on the rise: The Chicago Fire, who have so much talent and are starting to show it. New England, too -- the Revs just needed a little time to form under new manager Jay Heaps.

The Galaxy and Chivas USA are more difficult to gauge. Both are better than their records, certainly, and if they can solve their problems (L.A.'s primarily at the back, Chivas' mostly up front), watch out.

It's too early to predict who's going to make the playoffs, but that won't stop us. Here's a guess at the top five in each conference:

Western: 1. Real Salt Lake; 2. Seattle; 3. San Jose; 4. Galaxy; 5. Colorado.

Eastern: 1. New York; 2. Chicago; 3. Sporting Kansas City; 4. D.C. United; 5. Houston.

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. REAL SALT LAKE (8-3-2, 26 points), Last Week: 2
Week 10:
Few chances for either side in a 0-0 draw at Chicago; Fabian Espindola strikes again to beat the Sounders, 1-0, in a Seattle showdown.
Latest: Weekend off means U.S. call-ups come early: Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman off with the national team for the next (they hope) four weeks.
All-time MLS mark: 80-90-61 (.478) in the regular season, averaging 1.3030 points per game.
Next: Saturday, May 26, vs. FC Dallas, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

2. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (7-2-1, 22 points), LW: 1
Week 10:
Fredy Montero heating up, scores twice in 2-0 win at FC Dallas; Sounders battle gamely in 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake.
Latest: Sigi Schmid, on loss to RSL: “When top teams meet, there's sometimes not a lot that separates the two.”
All-time MLS mark: 51-26-27 (.620), averaging 1.7308 points per game.
Next: Saturday at Vancouver, 2 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, May 23, vs. Columbus, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

3. NEW YORK RED BULLS (7-3-1, 22 points), LW: 6
Week 10:
Kenny Cooper scores two more winners, in 1-0 victory over Houston and a 3-2 triumph at Philadelphia, as streak reaches four.
Latest: Word is Alessandro Nesta spurned Toronto FC to join the Red Bulls.
All-time MLS mark: 193-218-92 (.486), averaging 1.2903 points per game.
Next: Saturday at Montreal, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, May 23, vs. Chivas USA, 4 p.m. (Univision Deportes).

(Read full post)

MLS Power Rankings: 1 vs. 2, again

May, 9, 2012
5/09/12
3:57
PM PT

Mauro Rosales
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesMauro Rosales has returned from injury to spark Seattle.

Sporting Kansas City beat Real Salt Lake a few weeks ago in a battle between No. 1 and No. 2, according to most of the Major League Soccer “Power Rankings” scattered around the blogosphere.

Now we're at it again.

This time it's the Seattle Sounders and RSL, in the first of three meetings that could determine the Western Conference title, Supporters' Shield and home field for the Dec. 1 MLS Cup. It's Saturday night at 7 and can be seen on the MLS Direct Kick cable/satellite package and online MLS LIVE service.

The Sounders (6-1-1), who were No. 1 in our rankings following each of the the first three weeks, vaulted back into the top spot as Mauro Rosales returned from injury to instigate the attack in impressive shutout victories over the Galaxy and Philadelphia. Previous No. 1 San Jose lost on a last-second goal in Vancouver, and No. 2 Sporting Kansas City were upset at home by expansion Montreal.

Real Salt Lake (7-3-1) has won back-to-back games after a three-game winless streak and moved up from No. 3 to No. 2.

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (6-1-1, 19 points), Last Week: 4
Week 9:
Healthy Mauro Rosales sparks Sounders to victories over the Galaxy (2-0) and Philadelphia (1-0), setting up Eddie Johnson's winner midweek and scoring the lone goal at the weekend.
Latest: Sounders haven't conceded from the run of play since opening day, a span of 658 minutes.
Most MLS victories: 18, last year, just one fewer than the Galaxy.
Next: Wednesday at FC Dallas, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday vs. Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

2. REAL SALT LAKE (7-3-1, 22 points), LW: 3
Week 9:
Alvaro Saborio nets a pair to beat New England, 2-1, despite being down a man most of the second half.
Latest: Montclair's Nick Rimando up for Save of the Week for two stops vs. New England, and he's won the award three times in the first eight weeks. Shoulder injury will send Valencia's Kyle Reynish between the pipes.
Most MLS victories: 15, each of the last two years.
Next: Wednesday at Chicago, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday at Seattle, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

3. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (7-2-1, 22 points), LW: 1
Week 9:
Chris Wondolowski is MLS's Player of the Week after scoring three goals -- a pair in a 5-3 victory over D.C. United and another in a 2-1 loss at Vancouver.
Latest: Hamstring strain could keep catalyst Marvin Chavez away for nearly a month.
Most MLS victories: 19, in 1999 -- 10 of them in shootouts. The 2005 Supporters' Shield winners won 18.
Next: Sunday vs. Chivas USA, 4 p.m. (Galavision).

(Read full post)

MLS Power Rankings: Cali's other club

May, 2, 2012
5/02/12
3:53
PM PT

San Jose EarthquakesRich Schultz/Getty ImagesSteven Lenhart, right, scored two goals, including a late winner, in San Jose's victory last weekend.


The best team in Major League Soccer at the moment that isn't Sporting Kansas City -- and maybe you can include it, too -- could be considered local, sort of, for neutrals at this end of the state.

The San Jose Earthquakes are off to a 6-1-1 start, are playing with fantastic verve and grit, pulling out tough games at the finish -- witness last week's triumph at Philadelphia, or the week before against Real Salt Lake, or two weeks before that against Vancouver -- and doing so with contributions from a few players we know well down here.

Their only loss: a 1-0 decision in week two against Houston, on a bitterly contested penalty kick. They're atop our Power Rankings for a second straight week.

Here's a quick guide to San Jose's So Cal boys:

F Steven Lenhart: Gnatty striker from Yorba Linda (Esperanza HS/Azusa Pacific University) who's not above taking a fall to win a free kick or penalty. He's hated by everyone except teammates and home fans, and is reigning MLS Player of the Week for a reason.

M Rafael Baca: Intelligent Mexican midfielder from Lawndale (Animo Leadership HS/Loyola Marymount) whose MLS career was delayed by immigration paperwork, but he's been a force since finding the field.

F Cesar Diaz Pizarro: Skilled Peruvian forward from Chino Hills (Ayala HS/UC Riverside) is a rookie with promise. Hasn't yet featured for the first team.

Others: Head coach Frank Yallop was the Galaxy's head coach in 2006-07. Assistant coach Ian Russell played for the Galaxy in 2007. Forward Alan Gordon played many years for the Galaxy and a short span with Chivas USA. Defender Jason Hernandez played for Chivas. Rookie midfielder Sam Garza, a Texan, was a first-round draft pick out of UC Santa Barbara. Defender Josh Suggs, who has been loaned to the NASL's Tampa Bay Rowdies, played last year for the L.A. Blues.

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (6-1-1, 19 points), Last Week: 1
Week 8:
Yorba Linda's Steven Lenhart is MLS Player of the Week after scoring twice, including a gutty stoppage-time winner, for a 2-1 decision at Philadelphia.
Latest: Chris Wondolowski is MLS's Player of the Month for April after scoring four goals with two assists (for season totals of eight and two) in four games as the Quakes took the top spot in the West.
Trophy case: MLS Cup 2001, 2003, Supporters' Shield 2005, Western Conference 2003.
Next: Wednesday vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday at Vancouver, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

2. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (7-1-0, 21 points), LW: 2
Week 8:
Idle.
Latest: Seth Sinovic undergoes hand surgery, Michael Harrington ready to return to starting XI.
Trophy case: MLS Cup 2000, Supporters' Shield 2000, Western Conference 2004, U.S. Open Cup 2004.
Next: Saturday vs. Montreal, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

3. REAL SALT LAKE (6-3-1, 19 points), LW: 3
Week 8:
Rookie Emiliano Bonfigli answers iffy penalty in 1-1 draw at FC Dallas; Jonny Steele's stoppage-time strike beats Toronto FC, 3-2.
Latest: Steele, supersub? That's two late goals (one to tie, one to win) off the bench.
Trophy case: MLS Cup 2009, Eastern Conference 2009.
Next: Saturday vs. New England, 5 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, May 9, at Chicago, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

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MLS Power Rankings: Who's really No. 1?

April, 18, 2012
4/18/12
3:40
PM PT

Sporting KCJamie Squire/Getty ImagesSporting Kansas City is 6-0-0 so far and looking like MLS's best team in the early going.


Sporting Kansas City won the big showdown last weekend, beating Real Salt Lake in a battle of conference leaders to improve to 6-0-0 -- just the third Major League Soccer team ever to win its first six -- and vault back into the top spot in the Supporters' Shield standings.

It could be 7-0-0 by the end of the night Wednesday following the first stop on a two-game Pacific Northwest trek.

“Are they the best team in the league?” pondered Vancouver Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie, whose team takes on Sporting at 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick). “Kansas City are the form team at the moment. We find out who the best team is in quite a few months.”

That's a pretty decent take on things. This time last year, Real Salt Lake unquestionably was MLS's standard-bearer, perhaps unbeatable, certain to push on to the Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup titles. Then the Lions lost to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League final, confidence dipped, Javier Morales was lost to an ugly tackle, and the Galaxy's defense-first approach started gobbling up points.

Who is this year's Galaxy? Maybe San Jose, which is playing the league's best soccer at the moment and did a nice job schooling New York in a 2-2 draw in last week's other showdown. Or RSL, which is already thinking rematch.

“They do such a tremendous job of battling and fighting, all of the players out there,” RSL coach Jason Kreis said about K.C. “We have to figure out solutions to that. I still think that there’s ways to play against them, rather than just trying to get behind them all the time. So the next time we play them, which I guess isn’t until next year, we’ll have to improve upon that.”

No MLS Cup reunion?

“That’s you guys. That’s all you guys,” RSL captain Kyle Beckerman told reporters. “We didn’t say anything about any MLS Cup.”

MLS Cups are about who's hot in November. In this league, that could be anybody. Like, maybe, the Galaxy? Why not. They took a step forward last weekend against Portland, and although they still have issues to work out, who's gonna count them out?

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (6-0-0, 18 points), Last Week: 1
Week 6:
Aurelien Collin heads home a CK -- Graham Zusi's league-best sixth assist -- K.C. limits Real Salt Lake to no shots on goal until second-half stoppage, and the big showdown at Livestrong goes to the hosts, 1-0.
Latest: Hamstring strain sidelines holding midfielder Julio Cesar for game in Vancouver. Hope is he can play in Portland on the weekend.
All-time goals leader (MLS regular season): Former Chivas USA head coach Preki, a two-time MLS MVP and scoring champion, fired home 71.
Next: Wednesday at Vancouver, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday at Portland, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

2. REAL SALT LAKE (5-2-0, 15 points), LW: 2
Week 6:
Shutout streak reaches 267 minutes before failed mark on a corner kick gives K.C. a 1-0 lead.
Latest: Two defensive errors between Utahns and a perfect record. Up next: streaking San Jose and an away game against Dallas, where RSL has never won.
All-time goals leader: Fabian Espindola's trio this season gives him a share of the top spot, with Robbie Findley, with 29.
Next: Saturday at San Jose, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, April 25, at FC Dallas, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

3. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-1-1, 13 points), LW: 4
Week 6:
Lawndale's Rafael Baca scores his first MLS goal, Chris Wondolowski nets his seventh this season as Quakes twice rally for 2-2 draw at New York. Should-be PK would have provided all three points.
Latest: San Jose impresses in New Jersey. “I don’t think a lot of teams are going to come here and play like they did in the second half,” Red Bulls star Thierry Henry says. “We didn’t touch the ball, simple as that.” http://www.bigapplesoccer.com/teams/redbulls2.php?article_id=30150
All-time goals leader: Ronald Cerritos' 61 is just 17 ahead of Chris Wondolowski's rising total.
Next: Saturday vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

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MLS Power Rankings: Game of the year?

April, 12, 2012
4/12/12
6:41
AM PT

It's barely a month into a long season, but Major League Soccer's “Game Of The Year” -- regular-season edition -- is already upon us. Perhaps.

Real Salt Lake (5-1-0) and Sporting Kansas City (5-0-0), the two best teams in the league after five weeks, face off Saturday at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. It pits MLS's lone unbeaten team against its Supporters' Shield standings leader (with RSL's 15 goals trumping SKC's eight for that honor).

Might it be be a preview of the Dec. 1 MLS Cup final? Why not? Vibrant Sporting is the consensus favorite in the Eastern Conference, and RSL might be the most talented of the three big Western powers. The unbalanced schedule, because MLS somehow couldn't fit two extra games into an eight-month calendar, means these sides won't meet again unless it's in the MLS Cup. (Well, they could face off in the U.S. Open Cup, but would either field its first team?)

A game like this is really worth seeing, and you can -- if you get MLS's Direct Kick package on cable or satellite, subscribe to the “MLS LIVE” online streams, or head into the markets for local TV coverage. Tickets will be scare, but there are always scalpers.

NBC Sports Network has a game Saturday, several hours earlier. Columbus (2-2-0) vs. Philadelphia (0-3-1). We've got them Nos. 16 and 17 in our Power Rankings. SKC-RSL are Nos. 1-2.

Talk of MLS Cup previews are premature, of course. The way MLS works usually gives the advantage to the hottest teams at the finish, not necessarily the best teams in the league, so nearly any game could be such a thing. And there's another Saturday that, just maybe, could be the preview: moneyed New York Red Bulls against the surprising San Jose Earthquakes. That's No. 3 against No. 4.

Here are this week's power rankings:

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MLS Power Rankings: The East rises

April, 4, 2012
4/04/12
3:58
PM PT
There has been lots of talk, some of it by people who actually matter (Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, Real Salt Lake GM Garth Lagerwey), about how the Supporters' Shield means so much less with this year's format change to an unbalanced schedule.

All nine Western Conference teams are from decent to really good. Four of them won't make the playoffs. One of them will finish last. The East? Not nearly so much talent. With all teams playing three games against conference rivals and just once against clubs from the other division, the East's beasts won't play nearly as difficult a slate as the best in the West.

What Sporting Kansas City is doing could render such logic faulty. Peter Vermes' side is 4-0-0, atop the overall standings and -- for the first time -- atop our Major League Soccer Power Rankings.

It's the first time an Eastern team has been in the top spot. Real Salt Lake was No. 1 the first nine weeks last year, and the Galaxy was in the primary slot the rest of the way and in this year's preseason rankings. Seattle was No. 1 the past three weeks.

What's more, Eastern clubs take three of the top five slots, with the New York Red Bulls up to fourth (and they might be No. 1 at some point) and the Houston Dynamo still fifth.

The Galaxy? They're down to No. 9, lowest ever but on Saturday likely will present K.C. its stiffest test yet this season. Chivas USA is still No. 15.

The regular season isn't over until the end of October, so the order will change again and again. No surprise if the top team at the end is from the East.

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-0-0, 12 points), LW: 2
Week 4:
Graham Zusi does all the work, C.J. Sapong gets the goal in 1-0 victory at Chivas USA.
Latest: Only one team in MLS has a perfect record. “It's good to be 4-0, better than being 0-4 -- that's for sure,” says Peter Vermes. “For us, it's really just maintaining the idea that we have another 30 games left.”
Mascot: Dynamo Dragon, a sort-of-Barney in green, was killed when the Wizards rebranded as Sporting. No replacement.
Next: Sunday vs. Galaxy, 1 p.m. (ESPN and ESPN Deportes).

2. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (2-1-0, 6 points), Last Week: 1
Week 4:
Chris Wondolowski's contested penalty all San Jose needs for a 1-0 win.
Latest: Rookie Babayele Sodade is done -- ACL tear. But Steve Zakuani sees action in Sounders' reserves game against Gonzaga University, says he has “found my first passion again.”
Mascot: Not a one, but there's a fan from the Gorilla FC supporters group who dresses as a gorilla.
Next: Saturday at D.C. United, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

3. REAL SALT LAKE (3-1-0, 9 points), LW: 3
Week 4:
Late goals by Jonny Steele and Kyle Beckerman vault RSL to a 3-2 triumph at Portland.
Latest: Javier Morales, Alvaro Saborio and Nat Borchers return to starting XI, Will Johnson comes off the bench.
Mascot: Leo the Lion is a regal feline dressed in the club's “Claret and Cobalt,” or, as we like to say, red and blue.
Next: Wednesday vs. Montreal, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday vs. Colorado, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

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MLS Power Rankings: Summer stock?

March, 28, 2012
3/28/12
4:22
PM PT

FC Dallas/Kansas CityEd Zurga/Getty ImagesKei Kamara of Sporting Kansas City heads a ball against two Dallas defenders during last weekend's game.


We're starting to find out, conclusively, which club giants are coming to America this summer. Expect the usual suspects -- Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan, Chelsea, etc. -- and a few not so common for the three dozen or so preseason friendlies that will make up one of North America's most-watched annual rituals.

Announcements are just starting to be made amid rumors of so much more. We know Tottenham is coming to America -- they'll face the Galaxy on July 24 at Home Depot Center -- and Aston Villa on Wednesday announced games against Philadelphia's, Chicago's and Portland's Major League Soccer Clubs. And AC Milan is set to face Chelsea in Maryland.

That's it, officially, but the last half of July and start of August will see plenty more, including the July 25 MLS All-Star Game in Chester, Pa. Man United has been the All-Stars' foes the past two years.

Lots of whispers about this and that, including one game in L.A.: Manchester City vs. Real Madrid. The soon-to-be Spanish champion (and maybe of Europe, too) has spent the past two summers preparing at UCLA, so another So Cal trip is possible -- more than that if Angelenophile Jose Mourinho is still in charge. Until announcements are made, of course, nothing is official.

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (2-0-0, 6 points), Last Week: 1
Week 3:
Former UCLA star David Estrada nets his league-best fourth of the season in 2-0 win over Houston in a battle of 2-0s.
Latest: Sounders buy out O'Brian White's contract; Canadian attacker has undergone two blood-clot surgeries in his left leg in the past year and is doubtful to return in 2012.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: Canadian forward Babayele Sodade might have the best chance, if he can get the time.
Next: Saturday vs. San Jose, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

2. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (3-0-0, 9 points), LW: 3
Week 3:
Kei Kamara's 88th-minute strike, from Graham Zusi's MLS-leading fourth assist, completes 2-1 comeback over FC Dallas.
Latest: Recipe for lasting success? “What we have now is a core of very good players and that can be around for a long time,” says Peter Vermes.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: English forward Dom Dwyer wants to make it two in a row for K.C., after C.J. Sapong's win last year.
Next: Sunday at Chivas USA, 6 p.m. (Prime Ticket and KWHY/Channel 22).

3. REAL SALT LAKE (2-1-0, 6 points), LW: 2
Week 3:
Possession and chances galore can't solve Chivas USA in 1-0 defeat.
Latest: Jason Kreis has used the same starting XI in all three games. Last time he had the same group three times in succession: 2009.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: JC product Sebastian Velasquez has been a revelation.
Next: Saturday at Portland, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

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MLS Power Rankings: Bridge to London

March, 21, 2012
3/21/12
10:50
PM PT
CARSON -- Attention this week turns to CONCACAF's qualifiers for this summer's Olympics, with Group A -- featuring the U.S. -- opening Thursday in Nashville, and Group B starting Friday at Home Depot Center.

The local games include Mexico and Honduras, which figure to battle the U.S. for the region's two berths in England. Plenty of Major League Soccer players will take part, including Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens and Chivas USA left back Jorge Villafaña, who are on Caleb Porter's U.S. roster.

In all, some 24 players on MLS books and one more whose rights are held by an MLS club, are set for the tournament, which wraps up in Kansas City, Kan., with the March 31 semifinals determining the London-bound teams and the title game on April 2.

Fourteen on the U.S.'s 20-man roster are from the league, and six more (plus one) play for Canada, which will battle the U.S. in Group A. Honduras and fellow Group B sides Panama and Trinidad & Tobago also draw from MLS.

Here is the list of MLS players:

United States: Goalkeepers Bill Hamid (D.C. United ) and Sean Johnson (Chicago), defenders Perry Kitchen (D.C. United), Ike Opara (San Jose), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston), Zarek Valentin (Montreal), Jorge Villafaña (Chivas USA) and Sheanon Williams (Philadelphia), midfielders Freddy Adu (Philadelphia), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia) and Michael Stephens (Galaxy), and forwards Juan Agudelo (New York), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City) and Brek Shea (FC Dallas).

Canada: Defenders Nana Attakora (rights held by San Jose), Doneil Henry (Toronto FC) and Matt Stinson (Toronto FC), midfielders Russell Teibert (Vancouver), Bryce Alderson (Vancouver) and Evan James (Montreal), and forward Babayele Sodade (Seattle).

Honduras: Midfielder Andy Najar (D.C. United).

Panama: Defender Carlos Rodriguez (FC Dallas).

Trinidad & Tobago: Midfielder Kevan George (Columbus) and forward Cordell Cato (Seattle).

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (1-0-0, 3 points), Last Week: 1
Last week:
First-leg win in the CONCACAF Champions League counts for nothing after Mexico's Santos Laguna romps, 6-1, in the quarterfinal second leg; UCLA product David Estrada wins MLS Player of the Week honors after his hat trick beats Toronto FC, 3-1.
We say: Sprained knee puts Mauro Rosales out for “a couple of weeks … could be a little more,” Sigi Schmid says.
Pivotal player: At least three: forward Fredy Montero and midfielders Osvaldo Alonso and Mauro Rosales.
Next: Friday vs. Houston, 7 p.m. (NBC Sports).

2. REAL SALT LAKE (2-0-0, 6 points), LW: 2
Last week:
Fabian Espindola and Garden Grove's Luis Gil tally as RSL tops early Supporters' Shield standings following 2-0 win over New York.
We say: Espindola's next goal, his 29th, will tie Robbie Findley's club record.
Pivotal player: Playmaker Javier Morales makes things flow.
Next: Saturday vs. Chivas USA, 6 p.m. (Prime Ticket and KWHY/Channel 22).

3. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (2-0-0, 6 points), LW: 4
Last week:
Kei Kamara and Graham Zusi each contribute a goal and assist in 3-0 rout of New England.
We say: Sporting up for Sports Team of the Year, Livestrong Sporting Park a finalist for Sports Facility of the Year in Sports Business Awards.
Pivotal player: It's increasingly becoming Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong.
Next: Sunday vs. FC Dallas, 4 p.m. (Galavision).

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Power Rankings: Bruins everywhere

March, 14, 2012
3/14/12
1:20
PM PT

UCLA's presence in Major League Soccer is somewhat staggering. There are 20 Bruins on opening-day rosters, at least one for 11 different clubs. Several others were in camps during preseason and could crop up again.

Westwood has long produced top players -- at least three in every U.S. World Cup team back to 1990, usually in important roles; on the last seven men's Olympic rosters; and 61 Bruins have played in MLS since the league's 1996 debut.

The 20 this year includes Galaxy forward Chad Barrett, midfielders Kyle Nakazawa and Michael Stephens, and goalkeeper Brian Perk, and Chivas USA midfielder Peter Vagenas.

The others, by club:

Colorado Rapids: Defender Marvell Wynne.
FC Dallas: Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.
New England Revolution: Midfielders Benny Feilhaber and Kelyn Rowe, and goalkeeper Matt Reis.
Philadelphia Union: Forward Chandler Hoffman and midfielder Amobi Okugo.
Portland Timbers: Midfielder Sal Zizzo.
Real Salt Lake: Defender Tony Beltran and goalkeeper Matt Reis.
Seattle Sounders: Forward David Estrada, midfielder Andy Rose and defender Patrick Ianni.
Sporting Kansas City: Defender Chance Myers.
Vancouver Whitecaps: Defender Jordan Harvey.

That's not all. Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid played at UCLA, then guided the Bruins to three NCAA titles before winning MLS Cup titles with the Galaxy and Columbus Crew. Chivas USA assistant coach Greg Vanney played at Westwood. Sounders technical director Chris Henderson, part of the 1990 World Cup side, is a member of the fraternity.

Former Chivas USA captain Jonathan Bornstein, now in Mexico, is a Bruin. So are Jimmy Conrad, who moved into Chivas USA technical department after retiring last year; Frankie Hejduk and Sean Alvarado, who were with the Galaxy last year, and Maxwell Griffin, a second-division forward who spent time last season with San Jose.

UCLA's former MLS standouts also include National Soccer Hall of Famers Cobi Jones and Paul Caligiuri, slam-dunk future inductee Brad Friedel (with Tottenham in England) and U.S. national team captain Carlos Bocanegra, a two-time MLS Defender of the Year toiling for Rangers FC in Scotland.

Here's this week's power rankings:

1. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (0-0-0, 0 points), Last Week: 2
Last week:
Idle after David Estrada and Brad Evans fueled 2-1 win over Santos Laguna in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
We say: UC Irvine-produced national-team pool midfielder Brad Evans says Santos is “the best team we're going to face all year.” He's probably right.
So Cal hero: Lots to choose from. We're rooting for Riverside's Sammy Ochoa, who landed in Seattle after playing in Mexico.
Next: Wednesday in a Champions League quarterfinal second leg at Santos Laguna (Mexico), 5 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel and Telefutura); Saturday vs. Toronto FC, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

2. REAL SALT LAKE (1-0-0, 3 points), LW: 3
Last week:
Javier Morales and Fabian Espindola add to an own goal as RSL scores three in the last 18 minutes to beat the Galaxy, 3-1.
We say: Kyle Beckerman huffs after beating Galaxy: “When have they been the better team? … They never possess the ball. They sit in. It's a matter of if we score or not. We're always going to have the possession.”
So Cal hero: Montclair's Nick Rimando might be MLS's best netminder.
Next: Saturday vs. New York, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

3. GALAXY (0-1-0, 0 points), LW: 1
Last week:
The Galaxy rally for a 2-2 Champions League draw at Toronto FC, then concede a late lead in a 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake, ending a 25-game HDC unbeaten streak.
We say: Goals-against average after two games: 2.5. In preseason: 1.89. Last year: 0.79.
So Cal hero: Bell Gardens' Hector Jimenez is a winger ready to contribute.
Next: Wednesday in a Champions League quarterfinal second leg vs. Toronto FC at Home Depot Center, 7 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel and Telefutura); Sunday vs. D.C. United at Home Depot Center, 4 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and Galavision).

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