Wednesday, March 28, 2012
MLS Power Rankings: Summer stock?
By Scott French
Kei 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).
4. GALAXY (1-1-0, 3 points), LW: 4
Week 3: Idle.
Latest: Consider this week's game the real opener.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: Center back Tommy Meyer is getting a shot in Omar Gonzalez's shoes.
Next: Saturday vs. New England at Home Depot Center (Carson), 8 p.m. (NBC Sports).
5. HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-1-0, 6 points), LW: 5
Week 3: Two goals in five minutes midway through the first half, and Dynamo succumbs, 2-0, at Seattle.
Latest: Colin Clark suspended three games, fined, assigned sensitivity/diversity training after TV cameras pick up his homophobic slur at a Sounders ball boy who wouldn't toss him the ball as he desired. “What I said doesn't represent me. It was out of character and out of line. I made a huge mistake by using those words, and I truly regret that,” he says.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: Midfielders Brian Ownby and Warren Creavalle might make some noise if they can crack a strong lineup.
Next: April 15 at Chicago, 4 p.m. (Galavision)
6. NEW YORK RED BULLS (1-2-0, 3 points), LW: 10
Week 3: MLS Player of the Week Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper score two goals each in 4-1 romp over Colorado in the home opener.
Latest: Rafa Marquez says he's “very motivated ... more committed … more embedded into the club.” If true, Red Bulls could be for real.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: Goalkeeper Ryan Meara has a chance.
Next: Saturday vs. Montreal, 1 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
7. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-0-1, 7 points), LW: 11
Week 3: Joe Cannon comes up big again (on Hamdi Salihi header), and 'Caps hold on for 0-0 draw vs. D.C. United.
Latest: Western Conference leaders are fifth MLS team to open with three shutouts.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: No. 2 overall pick Darren Mattocks could be there at the end.
Next: Saturday at Philadelphia, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
8. FC DALLAS (1-1-1, 4 points), LW: 6
Week 3: Hoops surrender early lead, give up late decider in 2-1 loss at Sporting Kansas City.
Latest: Ricardo Villar's injury costly vs. K.C., and Schellas Hyndman is unhappy with the physical attention foes are giving Villar and Blas Perez.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: We'll see what kind of time big defender Matt Hedges sees.
Next: Friday at D.C. United, 4:30 p.m. (NBC Sports).
9. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (2-1-0, 6 points), LW: 12
Week 3: Chris Wondolowski scores two more as Quakes romp, 3-0, at Toronto FC.
Latest: Central midfielder Sam Cronin evolving into a real force.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: UC Santa Barbara product Sam Garza could be a contender.
Next: Saturday at Seattle, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
10. COLORADO RAPIDS (2-1-0, 6 points), LW: 7
Week 3: Jeff Larentowicz suspension leaves no midfield resistence, cover for center backs, and Rapids crumble, 4-1, at New York.
Latest: Another Bruin in MLS! Rapids sign UCLA alum Kamani Hill, who spent nearly six years in Europe.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: Tony Cascio already has made a splash, with three starts and a goal.
Next: Sunday vs. Chicago, 4 p.m. (Galavision).
11. CHICAGO FIRE (1-0-1, 4 points), LW: 13
Week 3: Dominic Oduro's dynamite header buries Philadelphia, 1-0.
Latest: How Sean Johnson responds to his Olympian error could impact the Fire. Paolo Tornaghi is ready if needed after shutting out Union.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: Left back Hunter Jumper will contribute.
Next: Sunday at Colorado, 4 p.m. (Galavision).
12. PORTLAND TIMBERS (1-1-1, 4 points), LW: 8
Week 3: Early goal lifts depleted New England to 1-0 win at Foxborough.
Latest: Timbers have fallen behind in all three games, not a trend they hope to continue.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: Center back Andrew Jean-Baptiste figures to be among the primary contenders
Next: Saturday vs. Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
13. CHIVAS USA (1-2-0, 3 points), LW: 15
Week 3: Casey Townsend's finish, great backline work upsets Real Salt Lake, 1-0.
Latest: Rauwshan McKenzie breakout performance vs. RSL doesn't bode well for John Alexander Valencia.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: Townsend has some real qualities, will score more.
Next: Sunday vs. Sporting Kansas City, 6 p.m. (Prime Ticket and KWHY/Channel 22).
14. TORONTO FC (0-2-0, 0 points), LW: 9
Week 3: Torsten Frings' absence casts long shadow on 3-0 home loss to San Jose.
Latest: Reds are MLS's best team, according to Champions League advancement. They're MLS's worst team, according to the standings.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: L.A.'s Luis Silva started, scored in his first pro game.
Next: Wednesday in a Champions League semifinal first leg vs. Mexico's Santos Laguna, 5 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel and Telefutura); Saturday vs. Columbus, 11 a.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
15. COLUMBUS CREW (1-1-0, 3 points), LW: 16
Week 3: Olman Vargas' emphatic header wraps 2-0 win over Montreal in home opener.
Latest: Costa Rican Vargas' acclimation to MLS takes a big step forward.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: Kevan George or Kirk Urso, if they get decent minutes.
Next: Saturday at Toronto FC, 11 am.
16. PHILADELPHIA UNION (0-3-0, 0 points), LW: 14
Week 3: Shorthanded Philly can't overcome Chicago, 1-0.
Latest: Danny Califf and Peter Nowak make up, then Califf held out again with the knee injury he says he doesn't have.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: UCLA's Chandler Hoffman, if he can get first-team time.
Next: Saturday vs. Vancouver, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
17. D.C. UNITED (0-2-1, 1 point), LW: 17
Week 3: United makes its (needed) point with solid defense in 0-0 draw at Vancouver.
Latest: Would be Olympians' loss a victory for D.C.? Bill Hamid and Perry Kitchen's return can only help.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: Nick DeLeon's energy (and fine goal) 10 days ago against the Galaxy was impressive.
Next: Saturday at Vancouver, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
18. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (1-2-0, 3 points), LW: 19
Week 3: Säer Sene's header after 28 seconds -- eighth-fastest goal in league history -- stands up for Jay Heaps' first victory, 1-0 over Portland.
Latest: Revs missing four players, lose Kevin Alston to another broken nose, and still pull out the victory.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: UCLA All-American Kelyn Rowe might be the frontrunner.
Next: Saturday vs. Galaxy at Home Depot Center (Carson), 8 p.m. (NBC Sports).
19. MONTREAL IMPACT (0-2-1, 1 point), LW: 18
Week 3: First-half red card (to Jeb Brovsky), penalty kick doom first-year club in 2-0 loss at Columbus.
Latest: Expansion team's first MLS win comes in the Reserve League. Former Sounders Lamar Neagle and Miguel Montaņo score in 2-1 win at Columbus.
Rookie of the Year hopeful: Top pick Andrew Wenger certainly is versatile.
Next: Saturday at New York, 1 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).