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Wednesday, May 23, 2012
MLS Power Rankings: Open horizon

By Scott French

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:
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).

4. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (7-2-3, 24 points), LW: 4
Week 11:
Alan Gordon again comes up big at the end, gives Quakes a 1-1 draw over Columbus.
Latest: San Jose suddenly struggling on attack, and now Chris Wondolowski is away.
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Tuesday vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) at Stanford University, 7:30 p.m.
Next: Wednesday vs. Galaxy at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22); Sunday at Sporting Kansas City, 1:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network).

5. D.C. UNITED (7-4-3, 24 points), LW: 8
Week 11:
Dwayne De Rosario starts United on 2-0 win over Colorado, scores twice in 3-1 romp over Toronto FC.
Latest: De Rosario, in MVP form, wins MLS Player of the Week for the 10th time. Four more and he'll catch Jeff Cunningham.
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Tuesday at Richmond Kickers (USL Pro), 4 p.m.
Next: Saturday vs. New England, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

6. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (7-3-1, 22 points), LW: 6
Week 11:
K.C. ends three-game losing streak, but two-goal lead -- on a pair of Teal Bunbury goals in the first 14 minutes -- disappears in a 2-2 draw at Colorado.
Latest: Bobby Convey addresses his not-always-positive public image: “When you turn pro at 16 and you think the world is wonderful and rosy and no one’s going to try to take advantage of you, and you act like a teenager, you learn the hard way sometimes. That’s basically why I’ve always been so guarded, because you don’t know who you can trust. You don’t know who’s going to try to take advantage of you.”
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Tuesday vs. Orlando City SC (USL Pro), 5:30 p.m.
Next: Sunday vs. San Jose, 1:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network).

7. CHICAGO FIRE (4-3-3, 15 points), LW: 5
Week 11:
Logan Pause's own goal decisive in a 2-1 loss at Portland, the Fire's third loss in three meetings with the Timbers.
Latest: Up-and-down Fire need to make a statement vs. slipping Brimstone Cup rival FC Dallas.
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Tuesday at Michigan Bucks (PDL), 4:30 p.m.
Next: Wednesday vs. FC Dallas, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday at Columbus, 4 p.m. (Galavision).

8. HOUSTON DYNAMO (3-3-4, 13 points), LW: 7
Week 11:
Dynamo head back on the road, rally at the finish to tie New England, 2-2, in rematch of 2006 and 2007 MLS Cup finals.
Latest: BBVA Compass can handle a larger field, but Dominic Kinnear keeps the same tight dimensions (115 by 70 yards) the Dynamo were given -- and adapted to -- at Robertson.
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Tuesday at San Antonio Scorpions (NASL), 5:30 p.m.
Next: Saturday vs. Galaxy, 11:30 a.m. (NBC Sports Network).

9. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-6-1, 13 points), LW: 10
Week 11:
Sar Sene twice supplies leads the Revs can't hold onto in 2-2 tie with Houston.
Latest: How does Jay Heaps feel about giving up set-piece goals, something his Revs have done too often? “It’s one of those things where you go over it and over it and over it and over it and over it and over it and over it, and it’s disappointing. I’m flipping mad, if you want to know the truth. Flipping mad.”
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Tuesday at Harrisburg City Islanders (USL Pro), 4 p.m.
Next: Saturday at D.C. United, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

10. COLORADO RAPIDS (5-6-1, 16 points), LW: 9
Week 11:
Rapids fall, 2-0, at D.C. United; defenders Tyrone Marshall and Kosuke Kimura strike in the second-half rally for 2-2 draw with Sporting Kansas City.
Latest: Rapids make amends for a horrid start against K.C., but Oscar Pareja isn't satisfied: “What happened in the first 15 minutes is unacceptable for us as professionals. We know that. Our fans deserve [more], it's not fair for them.”
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Tuesday at Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL), 4:30 p.m.
Next: Saturday vs. Montreal, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

11. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (5-3-3, 18 points), LW: 11
Week 11:
Magnificent Eric Hassli goal give 'Caps a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC in the first leg of the Canadian Championship final; Alain Rochat and Camilo goals can't hold up in 2-2 Cascadia Cup loss to Seattle.
Latest: Hassli's goal should be seen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_NISUPx4BY
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Playing in the Canadian Championship final.
Next: Wednesday in a Canadian Championship final second leg at Toronto FC, 5 p.m.; Saturday at Portland, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

12. CHIVAS USA (4-6-1, 13 points), LW: 16
Week 11:
Jose Erik Correa wins and converts a penalty and Chivas ends four years of frustration in the SuperClasico with 1-0 win over the Galaxy.
Latest: Can one move serve as a makeover for a club's image? Juan Agudelo's arrival is doing that for the Goats.
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Tuesday vs. Ventura County Fusion (PDL) at Ventura College, 7 p.m.
Next: Wednesday at New York, 4 p.m. (Univision Deportes); Saturday vs. Seattle at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. (Fox Sports West and KWHY/Channel 22).

13. COLUMBUS CREW (3-4-3, 12 points), LW: 14
Week 11:
Justin Meram's goal was worth a win, but San Jose rallies at the end for 1-1 tie.
Latest: Emerging Meram tones down celebration for goal number two. “[The second goal] was more of a confidence shot,” he said. “You could tell in goal No. 1, it was my first one. I celebrated pretty crazy, and now, once I’ve scored, it’s like, 'You know what? I like this, this feels good and I want to keep doing this.' ”
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Tuesday vs. Dayton Dutch Lions (USL Pro), 4:30 p.m.
Next: Wednesday at Seattle, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday vs. Chicago, 4 p.m. (Galavision).

14. GALAXY (3-6-2, 11 points), LW: 12
Week 11:
Twelve-game unbeaten streak in the SuperClasico dies in 1-0 loss to Chivas USA.
Latest: Is Bill Gaudette L.A.'s best goalkeeper? Could be, but with Josh Saunders still out, Brian Perk gets the call because he's the future.
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Tuesday vs. the Carolina RailHawks in Cary, N.C., 4:07 p.m.
Next: Wednesday vs. San Jose at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22); Saturday at Houston, 11:30 a.m. (NBC Sports Network).

15. MONTREAL IMPACT (3-6-3, 12 points), LW: 13
Week 11:
Bernardo Corradi converts from the spot, but Impact can't hold off New York in a 2-1 loss, their first defeat at Stade Olympique.
Latest: Former Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts prepares for Jamaica's qualifiers, wants to get back to the World Cup: “This is my last push to be in the World Cup again, so that’s the only pressure I have. I just want to make sure we get through the qualifiers for this World Cup because it's my last.”
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Eliminated in the Canadian Championship semifinals.
Next: Saturday at Colorado, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

16. PORTLAND TIMBERS (3-5-3, 12 points), LW: 18
Week 11:
Eric Brunner ends 448-minute goalless streak, and own goal beats Chicago, 2-1.
Latest: Timbers' sellout streak reaches 22 games.
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Wednesday, May 30, vs. Thousand Oaks' Cal FC (USASA), 7:30 p.m.
Next: Wednesday in a friendly vs. Valencia (Spain), 7:30 p.m.; Saturday vs. Vancouver, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

17. FC DALLAS (3-6-4, 13 points), LW: 15
Week 11:
Hoops' winless streak reaches seven after Philly answers Blas Perez's ealy goal in a 1-1 tie.
Latest: Bad times for Brek Shea: a three-game suspension for booting the ball at a linesman, no call-up for the U.S. camp.
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Tuesday vs. Charlotte Eagles (USL Pro), 5:30 p.m.
Next: Wednesday at Chicago, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday at Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)..

18. PHILADELPHIA UNION (2-6-2, 8 points), LW: 17
Week 11:
Gabriel Gomez's goal is worth a point in 1-1 draw at FC Dallas.
Latest: Peter Nowak quickly built the Union into a winner with great promise. Why would he tear that apart? Might he be insane?
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Tuesday vs. Rochester Rhinos, 4:30 p.m.
Next: Saturday at Toronto FC, 1:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

19. TORONTO FC (0-9-0, 0 points), LW: 19
Week 11:
Ryan Johnson's goal gives Reds an advantage in the Canadian Championship final, scoring the first goal in a 1-1 draw at Vancouver in the first leg; MLS losing streak is nine (and winless streak 13) after 3-1 loss at D.C. United.
Latest: Danny Koevermans calls TFC the worst team in the world. “There's not one team in thw world who's lost nine times in a row. It is true. You can't say I'm wrong.”
U.S. Open Cup assignment: Playing in the Canadian Championship final.
Next: Wednesday in a Canadian Championship final second leg vs. Vancouver, 5 p.m.; Saturday vs. Philadelphia, 1:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

All times Pacific