Tuesday, June 21, 2011
MLS Power Rankings: Worth watching II
By Scott French
It's been a feast of great goals in Major League Soccer the last couple of weeks, even with so many stars away at the CONCACAF Gold Cup and for other international duty, and here's a few from last week that have to be seen.
Galaxy midfielder Juninho celebrated his return from Brazil, where he was married the previous weekend, with a rocket to the upper-left corner from about 35 yards. That's three goals this season by the rising star, all from distance.
Some of MLS's biggest names might be elsewhere, but the biggest name in the league -- the biggest name ever to play in the league -- is New York Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry, who has a knack for making really classy, difficult goals look easy. Like this one in the 3-3 draw at Portland. The Frenchman was red-carded about 20 minutes later.
Nice strike by Seattle's Fredy Montero, in the 90th minute, to beat Toronto FC.
MLS's Goal of the Week is still being determined in an online ballot, and we had to vote for this masterpiece by Vancouver's Alain Rochat, which beat Philadelphia to end the Whitecaps' league-record winless streak.
Best of the week might have come from the CONCACAF Gold Cup, with Mexico's Andres Guardado serving up a really tasty dish in a group-stage romp over Costa Rica.
Guardado's second goal against Costa Rica was pretty sweet, too.
This week's rankings:
1. GALAXY (9-2-7, 34 points), Last week: 1
Week 14: Juninho scores on a long-range blast, starts sequence leading to Chad Barrett's goal as Beckham-less L.A. topples Rapids, 3-1
Remark: Denver media shames Galaxy for David Beckham's absence, but back spasms could keep him home again this weekend
Best to wear the shirt: All respect to Cobi Jones, Mauricio Cienfuegos, David Beckham and Robin Fraser. But it's Landon Donovan
Next: Saturday at San Jose, 3:30 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel); Tuesday in third round of the U.S. Open Cup vs. L.A. Blues at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Stadium, 7 p.m.
2. FC DALLAS (8-4-4, 28 points), Last week: 2
Week 14: Brek Shea scores another beauty, Jackson Goncalves nets the late winner in 2-1 win at Chivas USA
Remark: Hoops are third MLS team, after Galaxy and D.C. United, to reach 200 victories
Best to wear the shirt: Hard to argue against David Ferreira. But Colombian midfielder Leonel Alvarez, from the early years, might trump MLS's reigning MVP
Next: Saturday vs. Portland, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Tuesday in third round of the U.S. Open Cup vs. Orlando City FC, 6 p.m.
3. NEW YORK RED BULLS (5-2-8, 23 points), Last week: 5
Week 14: Dwayne De Rosario's 96th-minute penalty kick splits the points in a wild 3-3 draw at Portland
Remark: Henry's red card deep into stoppage was “inexplicable,” Sporting Director Erik Soler says in a statement, a product of a “completely unacceptable” level of refereeing. His expectation is that the red card “will be rescinded”
Best to wear the shirt: Henry is the best, Juan Pablo Angel the most accomplished in an N.Y. jersey
Next: Thursday at Seattle, 7 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes); Sunday at Chicago, 11 a.m. (ESPN); Tuesday in third round of the U.S. Open Cup vs. FC New York, 5 p.m.
4. REAL SALT LAKE (6-3-4, 22 points), Last week: 3
Week 14: Fabian Espindola scores from the spot after an iffy PK call, but D.C. gets payback in 1-1 draw when Charlie Davies' dive draws a foul
Remark: Lions want more, need more from Collen Warner in injured playmaker Javier Morales' place
Best to wear the shirt: It's got to be Morales
Next: Wednesday at Chicago, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday vs. Toronto FC, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Tuesday in third round of the U.S. Open Cup vs. Wilmington Hammerheads, 6 p.m.
5. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (6-4-7, 25 points), Last week: 6
Week 14: Montero's last-minute free kick lifts 10-man Sounders to 1-0 win over Toronto FC
Remark: MLS's most populous stadium gets a new name. Surprise! It's corporate (CenturyLink Field)
Best to wear the shirt: Former Sounders include Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Jimmy Greaves and Harry Redknapp. And Peter Hattrup served the club well for many years. But we like injured winger Steve Zakuani best
Next: Thursday vs. New York, 7 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes); Sunday vs. New England, 1 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)
6. PHILADELPHIA UNION (6-4-4, 22 points), Last week: 4
Week 14: Rochat's beauty sinks Philly's five-game unbeaten streak in 1-0 decision in Vancouver
Remark: Union have taken fewest shots in MLS -- just 135, 95 fewer than Seattle's league-leading shooters
Best to wear the shirt: French forward Sebastien Le Toux, especially if he heats up this summer
Next: Wednesday vs. Sporting Kansas City, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday vs. Chivas USA, 4:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket)
7. COLORADO RAPIDS (5-4-7, 22 points), Last week: 7
Week 14: Omar Cummings electric in return, but it's not enough to stop Galaxy in 3-1 defeat
Remark: MLS Cup champs head to the White House on Monday, plan clinic for military children on the South Lawn
Best to wear the shirt: Paul Bravo? Marcelo Balboa? Pablo Mastroeni? Conor Casey? Here's a vote for Portland Timbers head coach John Spencer
Next: Sunday at Columbus, 5 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)
8. COLUMBUS CREW (5-4-6, 21 points), Last week: 12
Week 14: Rookie Bernardo Anor is MLS's Player of the Week after scoring, assisting goals in 2-0 victory at Houston
Remark: Canaries have been ahead just 160 of 1,350 minutes, had first halftime lead of 2010 in Houston
Best to wear the shirt: We'll take 2008 MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto, barely, over Brian McBride and Stern John
Next: Sunday vs. Colorado, 5 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Tuesday in third round of the U.S. Open Cup vs. Richmond Kickers, 4:30 p.m.
9. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (5-5-4, 19 points), Last week: 8
Week 14: Quakes are K.C.'s first Livestrong victim as 1-0 loss ends six-game unbeaten streak
Remark: Sporting K.C. demonstrates the dangers of Quakes' reliance on a direct approach to set up Yorba Linda's Steven Lenhart
Best to wear the shirt: In the MLS years, it's Donovan. Before that, George Best
Next: Saturday vs. Galaxy, 3:30 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)
10. D.C. UNITED (4-5-5, 17 points), Last week: 11
Week 14: Davies takes a dive, wins D.C. a share of the points in 1-1 draw with RSL
Remark: That's twice Davies' dives have turned losses to ties -- when will MLS step in?
Best to wear the shirt: Tossup among Jaime Moreno, Marco Etcheverry and Eddie Pope
Next: Saturday vs. Houston, 3 p.m. (TeleFutura-KFTR/Channel 46)
11. CHIVAS USA (4-6-5, 17 points), Last week: 10
Week 14: Miscommunication leads to late FC Dallas goal in 2-1 loss
Remark: The numbers that don't matter: 73 percent possession, 85 percent passing efficiency. The game's about finishing
Best to wear the shirt: We'll go with forward Ante Razov, who has never actually retired ...
Next: Saturday at Philadelphia, 4:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket)
12. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (3-6-4, 13 points), Last week: 14
Week 14: Rookie C.J. Sapong gets horizontal to volley home first winner at Livestrong Sporting Park, a 1-0 triumph over San Jose
Remark: Homesick Ryan Smith asks out, heads back to England
Best to wear the shirt: It's Preki, Chivas USA's former boss
Next: Wednesday at Philadelphia, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday vs. Vancouver, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Tuesday in third round of the U.S. Open Cup vs. Madison 56ers or Chicago Fire Premier, 6 p.m.
13. HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-6-6, 18 points), Last week: 9
Week 14: Ten-man Dynamo can't stop Columbus, with triple-digit heat index coloring 2-0 defeat
Remark: Lovel Palmer picks up two yellow cards, says: "I was a step or two late, and I got the guy and none of the ball. I think the ref made good calls"
Best to wear the shirt: Dwayne De Rosario made the greatest impact
Next: Saturday at D.C. United, 3 p.m. (TeleFutura-KFTR/Channel 46)
14. PORTLAND TIMBERS (5-6-3, 18 points), Last week: 13
Week 14: Jack Jewsbury scores and sets up goals, but two-goal advantage disappears in 3-3 draw with New York
Remark: Timbers deserve better than late collapse, but can't argue with hand-ball call against Rodney Wallace
Best to wear the shirt: John Bain, Clyde Best and Dale Mitchell poured in the goals during the NASL years, but Clive Charles was true Portland royalty
Next: Saturday at FC Dallas, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)
15. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-6-8, 14 points), Last week: 18
Week 14: Rochat's stunning shot, to follow Eric Hassli's last week, delivers 1-0 win over Philly
Remark: Switch to posssesion-oriented game plan pays off with first win under Tom Soehn, end of MLS-record 14-game winless streak
Best to wear the shirt: Bobby Lenarduzzi, who else? (And now he's club president)
Next: Saturday at Sporting Kansas City, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)
16. TORONTO FC (2-6-9, 15 points), Last week: 15
Week 14: Reds just moments from successive 0-0 draws with New England, Seattle when Montero lifts Sounders at the finish
Remark: Aron Winter waits anxiously for transfer window to open. "We will have to get some players because we need them," says the Reds coach. "We don’t have enough quality." One rumor: Torsten Frings
Best to wear the shirt: De Rosario, clearly
Next: Saturday at Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)
17. CHICAGO FIRE (2-4-9, 15 points), Last week: 16
Week 14: Dominic Oduro scores as unbeaten streak hits five with 1-1 draw at New England
Remark: Fire's shutout streak ends at 324 minutes
Best to wear the shirt: Philadelphia Union head coach Peter Nowak's imprint on MLS's only expansion champion was immeasurable
Next: Wednesday vs. Real Salt Lake, 5:40 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Sunday vs. New York, 11 a.m. (ESPN); Tuesday in third round of the U.S. Open Cup at Rochester Rhinos, 4:35 p.m.
18. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (3-7-6, 15 points), Last week: 17
Week 14: Revs held to draws twice at home, 0-0 vs. Toronto FC and 1-1 vs. Chicago
Remark: Supporters group's vulgar free-kick chant -- not nearly as clever as the vulgar free-kick chant practiced in the Southwest -- leads to expulsion from Gillette Stadium
Best to wear the shirt: Midfield general Shalrie Joseph, who would have started in two World Cups had he waited for a U.S. call-up
Next: Sunday at Seattle, 1 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)