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).

4. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (8-3-3, 27 points), LW: 4
Week 13:
Yorba Linda's Steven Lenhart strikes at the finish to lead San Jose past the Minnesota Stars (NASL), 1-0, and into the Open Cup quarterfinals.
Latest: Anthony Ampaipitakwong moves to Thai Premier League champs Buriram United.
2011 friendlies: July 31 vs. Swansea City (Welsh club in EPL).
Next: Wednesday, June 20, at Colorado, 6:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

5. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (7-3-3, 24 points), LW: 5
Week 13:
Osvaldo Alonso and Fredy Montero score two goals each in 5-0 rout of Thousand Oaks-based amateurs Cal FC in the Open Cup.
Latest: Steve Zakuani close after Reserve League appearance, but Austrian goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who has missed six MLS games with a hip injury that wasn't supposed to be serious, is in California for a second opinion.
2011 friendlies: July 18 vs. Chelsea.
Next: Saturday, June 16, at Montreal, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

6. D.C. UNITED (8-4-3, 27 points), LW: 6
Week 13:
Josh Wolff quickly answers Brian Carroll, but D.C. falls, 2-1, in overtime to Philly in the Open Cup.
Latest: Might Baltimore talks lead to an honest-to-God stadium deal? Deal for a $157 million facility is headed in the right direction.
2011 friendlies: July 28 vs. Juventus (Italy).
Next: Saturday, June 16, at Philadelphia, 4 p.m. (Galavision).

7. HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-3-4, 16 points), LW: 7
Week 13:
Calen Carr's goal can't match Aritz Aduriz's pair in a 2-1 loss to Spain's Valencia in a friendly.
Latest: Honduran midfielder Oscar Boniek Garcia, first rumored several months ago, appears headed for Houston.
2011 friendlies: Last week's game vs. Valencia (Spain) is the only one currently on the schedule.
Next: Sunday at Vancouver, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

8. COLUMBUS CREW (5-4-3, 18 points), LW: 8
Week 13:
Idle.
Latest: Ben Speas back from sports-hernia surgery, ready for his first game -- Sunday's Reserve League meeting vs. New England -- since leading North Carolina in the NCAA title game last December.
2011 friendlies: July 24 vs. Stoke City (England).
Next: Saturday, June 16, at New England, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

9. COLORADO RAPIDS (6-6-1, 19 points), LW: 9
Week 13:
Rapids can't hold off Sporting Kansas City in 2-0 Open Cup loss.
Latest: No home love for Colorado in the Open Cup. Rapids have played 26 of 30 Open Cup qualifiers and matches on the road.
2011 friendlies: July 24 vs. Swansea City (Welsh club in the EPL).
Next: Saturday, June 16, at Vancouver, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

10. CHIVAS USA (4-6-3, 15 points), LW: 10
Week 13:
Juan Agudelo scores a superb early goal, Juan Pablo Angel converts a stoppage-time penalty to beat the Carolina RailHawks (USL Pro), 2-1, in the U.S. Open Cup.
Latest: Goats to play their first Open Cup home game at Home Depot Center, June 26 vs. USL Pro side Charlotte Eagles. San Jose or Seattle, we're sure, will await in the semifinals.
2011 friendlies: None.
Next: Saturday, June 16, vs. Real Salt Lake at Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket and KWHY/Channel 22).

11. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (5-3-4, 19 points), LW: 12
Week 13:
Idle.
Latest: Eric Hassli opts for a Vegas wedding, which pleases his teammates. Says Joe Cannon: “A happy Eric is a great-playing Eric. And a great-playing Eric helps the Vancouver Whitecaps.”
2011 friendlies: None.
Next: Sunday vs. Houston, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

12. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (5-7-1, 16 points), LW: 13
Week 13:
Benny Feilhaber and Kelyn Rowe feed each other's goals in 2-0 triumph over Chicago.
Latest: Recurring calf injury keeps midfielder Ryan Guy on the sidelines.
2011 friendlies: None.
Next: Saturday, June 16, vs. Columbus, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

13. CHICAGO FIRE (5-5-3, 18 points), LW: 11
Week 13:
Fire lose for the fourth time in five games, falling, 2-0, at New England.
Latest: Red Star Belgrade captain Nikola Mikic could be bound for Chi-town, Serbian report claims.
2011 friendlies: July 21 vs. Aston Villa (England).
Next: Sunday, June 17 vs. New York, 2 p.m. (NBC Sports Network).

14. MONTREAL IMPACT (3-7-3, 12 points), LW: 14
Week 13:
Idle.
Latest: Reconfigured Stade Saputo on target for June 16 opener after Impact plays its first six games at Stade Olimpique.
2011 friendlies: None.
Next: Saturday, June 16, vs. Seattle, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

15. PORTLAND TIMBERS (3-5-4, 13 points), LW: 15
Week 13:
Idle.
Latest: Young DP Jose Adolfo Valencia way ahead of the clock in rehab from odd knee injury that might've sidelined him a full year.
2011 friendlies: Lost on May 23 to Valencia (Spain). Also July vs. Aston Villa (England).
Next: Saturday, June 17, vs. Galaxy at Home Depot Center, 4 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22).

16. GALAXY (3-8-2, 11 points), LW: 16
Week 13:
Idle.
Latest: L.A.'s losing streak ends with two medical exams: Hector Jimenez and Leonardo come out much better than expected after scary knee injuries. If so, how do Edson Buddle's and Dan Keat's knee surgeries fit into the equation?
2011 friendlies: July 24 vs. Tottenham (England), Aug. 2 vs. Real Madrid (Spain), both at Home Depot Center.
Next: Saturday, June 17, vs. Portland at Home Depot Center, 4 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22).

17. FC DALLAS (3-8-4, 13 points), LW: 17
Week 13:
Idle.
Latest: Do the match: FC Dallas needs at least eight wins in its final 19 games to reach the postseason, it appears.
2011 friendlies: None.
Next: Saturday, June 16, at Houston, 2 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes).

18. PHILADELPHIA UNION (2-7-2, 8 points), LW: 18
Week 13:
Antoine Hoppenot's overtime goal lifts Philly to a 2-1 Open Cup victory at D.C. United.
Latest: Danny Mwanga, which Philly took with its first SuperDraft pick 2 years ago, joins the exodus: to Portland for Jorge Perlaza.
2011 friendlies: Aside from the games in the next week (see below), Union has July 18 vs. Aston Villa (England), and the MLS All-Star Game vs. Chelsea (England) is July 25 at PPL Park.
Next: Saturday in friendly at Reading United AC (PDL), 4 p.m.; Tuesday in a friendly at Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro), 4 p.m.; Saturday, June 16, vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m. (Galavision).

19. TORONTO FC (1-9-0, 3 points), LW: 19
Week
13: Idle.
Latest: Reds get a rematch with Mexico's Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League. This time it means they probably won't get to the knockout stage, nor to the semifinals, where Santos prevailed last time.
2011 friendlies: None.
Next: Saturday, June 16, vs. Toronto FC, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

All times Pacific

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