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Friday, July 15, 2011
MLS Power Rankings, Week 18: Second choice

By Scott French

Major League Soccer is on the backburner for the next few weeks, thanks to all these high-powered European clubs that have arrived for preseason training, including what are, arguably, the three biggest: Barcelona, Manchester United and Real Madrid.

MLS has no problem giving up most, if not all, of the spotlight. The league and its marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing, are helping to produce the World Football Challenge series of friendlies and will share in the profits from the massive crowds that will attend.

More than 51,000 were on hand for the opener in the 14-game series, with Manchester United topping the New England Revolution, 4-1, in Foxborough, Mass. Five more matches involve MLS clubs, with the Galaxy taking on Real Madrid on Saturday at the Coliseum and Manchester City on July 24 at Home Depot Center. And there's the July 27 MLS All-Star Game against Man United, which isn't part of the Challenge.

The Galaxy-Real Madrid game is overshadowing MLS league play in a very real way. It's going head-to-head with Chivas USA's clash Saturday night with Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls, and the guesstimate here is that the Coliseum game, a dozen miles up the Harbor Freeway, will cost Chivas 6,000 to 8,000 in attendance.

Real Madrid's appearance next Wednesday in San Diego, against Guadalajara, also is having an impact -- on the Galaxy-Real Madrid crowd. Ticket sales last week, the most recent count organizers have provided, were around 30,000. Last year's meeting at the Rose Bowl drew nearly 90,000.

This week's rankings:

1. GALAXY (10-2-9, 39 points), Last week: 1
Week 17: David Beckham
scores directly from a CK, crosses for Landon Donovan goal in 2-1 win over Chicago; Adam Cristman tallies in 3-1 loss to Seattle in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals
Remark: Open Cup loss ends unbeaten streak at 13 games, but no losses in MLS in last dozen encounters
Should-be All-Star: Galaxy placed four on MLS First XI for July 27 game vs. Manchester United. No. 5 should be midfielder Juninho. And No. 6 should be left back Todd Dunivant
Saturday vs. Real Madrid in a friendly at the Coliseum (Los Angeles), 7 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes); Wednesday vs. Columbus at Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket)

2. FC DALLAS (10-5-4, 34 points), Last week: 2
Week 17:
Kevin Hartman error helps Real Salt Lake to a 2-0 victory, but the Hoops win the rematch at home, 2-0, in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal
Remark: Hoops celebrating Mexico's U-17 World Cup triumph -- FCD reserve goalkeeper Richard Sanchez, born in Mission Hills, was in the nets for El Tri
Should-be All-Star: Brek Shea's there already, and plenty of candidates to join him. We'll go with wing-defender Jackson Goncalves
Saturday at Houston, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

3. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (9-4-8, 35 points), Last week: 3
Week 17:
MLS Player of the Week Fredy Montero scores twice in 3-2 comeback win at archrival Portland; Nate Jaqua scores and assists goals in 3-1 win over the Galaxy in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal
Remark: MLS's biggest Women's World Cup fan? Gotta be Sounders rookie Servando Carrasco, Alex Morgan's longtime boyfriend
Should-be All-Star: Goalkeeper Kasey Keller is on the list; Osvaldo Alonso, maybe the league's premier midfield anchor, should be, too
Next: Saturday vs. Colorado, 1 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)

4. REAL SALT LAKE (8-3-6, 30 points), Last week: 4
Week 17: Andy Williams
, Fabian Espindola score in second half of 2-0 win over FC Dallas, but Lions lose, 2-0, in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal at Dallas
Remark: Alvaro Saborio's petulance after being subbed is cause for concern
Should-be All-Star: Center back Jamison Olave is better than last year's turn as MLS Defender of the Year
Next: Saturday at Vancouver, 1 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

5. PHILADELPHIA UNION (7-4-7, 28 points), Last week: 5
Week 17: Kyle Nakazawa
's free kick hits the post, and Philly settles for a scoreless draw at San Jose
Remark: Talk from Mexico is that Veracruz is willing to pay Guatemalan forward Carlos Ruiz's buyout clause
Should-be All-Star: Colombian newcomer Carlos Valdes has been superb in the back
Next: Sunday at New England, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

6. NEW YORK RED BULLS (6-4-10, 28 points), Last week: 6
Week 17: Thierry Henry
scores No. 9, Juan Agudelo tallies twice in 5-0 rout of Toronto FC; ex-Red Bull Dwayne De Rosario's goal leads to 1-0 loss to D.C. United; sub-reserve team doesn't put up a fight in 4-0 loss at Chicago in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals
Remark: DP money for a 38-year-old goalkeeper (German Frank Rost) doesn't make sense, and virtual forfeit in Open Cup speaks poorly of management
Should-be All-Star: Three are on the team, but right back Jan Gunnar Solli should be added to the group
Next: Saturday at Chivas USA, 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket and Galavision)

7. COLORADO RAPIDS (6-5-9, 27 points), Last week: 10
Week 17: Conor Casey
scores in 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City, 2-1 victory over Vancouver
Remark: Macoumba Kandji, who tore his ACL scoring (in all but name) the winning goal in November's MLS Cup final, plays in a scrimmage, aims for league return next week
Should-be All-Star: Let's honor captain Pablo Mastroeni in midfield
Next: Saturday at Seattle, 1 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)

8. COLUMBUS CREW (7-5-6, 27 points), Last week: 8
Week 17: Jeff Cunningham
's 90th-minute goal scores a 1-0 victory at Vancouver
Remark: Cunningham's 133rd ties Jaime Moreno's all-time mark is his 63rd for the Crew, one more than Brian McBride's total
Should-be All-Star: Riverside's Chad Marshall is among the best center backs in MLS
Next: Saturday vs. San Jose, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

9. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (5-6-7, 22 points), Last week: 7
Week 17:
Quakes can't score in 2-0 loss at Chivas USA, draw at home vs. Philadelphia; goalkeeper David Bingham scores from 90 yards in 2-1 win in a friendly against England's West Bromwich Albion
Remark: Trade with Toronto builds depth, with former Galaxy/Chivas USA forward Alan Gordon, midfielder Jacob Peterson and defender Nana Attakora arriving
Should-be All-Star: Chris Wondolowski made the XI, and we'd like to see Simon Dawkins make an appearance, too
Next: Saturday at Columbus, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

10. D.C. UNITED (5-5-7, 22 points), Last week: 11
Week 17:
De Rosario pays quick dividends, scores to beat former New York teammates, 1-0
Remark: Andy Najar in tug-of-war with D.C. over whether he'll be allowed to play in Honduras' Olympics qualifying campaign
Should-be All-Star: Forward Charlie Davies, dives and all, is the best story in the league
Next: Saturday at FC Dallas, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

11. HOUSTON DYNAMO (5-6-8, 23 points), Last week: 12
Week 17: Danny Cruz
, Geoff Cameron tally in 2-0 victory over Toronto FC
Remark: One-time Dynamo star Stuart Holden still on the sidelines as Bolton visits his former club
Should-be All-Star: Cameron stands out in midfield, can play on the backline, too
Next: Saturday vs. Sporting Kansas City, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

12. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (5-6-7, 22 points), Last week: 9
Week 17:
SKC rallies twice for 1-1 draws, on Graham Zusi's strike vs. Colorado and Omar Bravo's stoppage-time header vs. Chivas USA; USL Pro side Richmond Kickers pull off 2-0 stunner in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, scoring both goals after a 90-minute lightning delay
Remark: Third-tier side the first to beat Sporting in gleaming new stadium. Said Peter Vermes: “To give that away is absolutely embarrassing. An embarrassment. I’m totally ... I’m ticked.”
Should-be All-Star: Defender Matt Besler won the text vote for the 12th slot; Mexican forward Omar Bravo would be a reasonable addition
Next: Saturday at Houston, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

13. CHIVAS USA (5-7-7, 22 points), Last week: 13
Week 17: Nick LaBrocca
scores in 2-0 win over San Jose, 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City
Remark: Jimmy Conrad returns to Kansas City for Goats' first Livestrong visit, but is he any closer to getting on the field?
Should-be All-Star: LaBrocca or defender Heath Pearce would be a nice addition
Next: Saturday vs. New York at Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket and Galavision)

14. CHICAGO FIRE (2-5-12, 18 points), Last week: 14
Week 17:
Fire can't stop David Beckham in 2-1 loss; Woodland Hills' Orr Barouch scores twice in 4-0 rout of New York in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals
Remark: Well-traveled Argentine midfielder Sebastian Grazzini adds to the Fire attack
Should-be All-Star: Guatemala's Marco Pappa is one of MLS's most dynamic midfielders
Next: Saturday vs. Portland, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

15. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (3-8-7, 16 points), Last week: 16
Week 17:
Irvine's Benny Feilhaber creates a goal, but Revs fall to Manchester United, 4-1, to open World Football Challenge friendlies
Remark: Rookie defender A.J. Soares calls marking Wayne Rooney “the equivalent of getting on the mound to pitch to [Boston Red Sox star David] Ortiz at Fenway,” shuts out Man United star for 45 minutes
Should-be All-Star: Midfield general Shalrie Joseph is still atop the game
Next: Sunday vs. Philadelphia, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

16. PORTLAND TIMBERS (5-9-3, 18 points), Last week: 17
Week 17:
Timbers fall to Mexico's America, 1-0, in a friendly, then let two leads slip away in 3-2 loss to hated Seattle
Remark: Collapse on an emotional afternoon extends winless streak to seven games. Says defender Futty Danso: “This is the worst loss by far”
Should-be All-Star: Captain Jack -- Jewsbury -- made the team. That's enough for the Timbers
Next: Saturday at Chicago, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

17. TORONTO FC (3-9-9, 18 points), Last week: 15
Week 17:
Reds are drilled, 5-0, at New York, then fall at Houston, 2-0
Remark: Aron Winter makes big moves, trading for San Jose's Ryan Johnson, Vancouver's Terry Dunfield and -- this is key -- an international roster spot
Should-be All-Star: Goalkeeper Stefan Frei is expert in damage control
Next: Wednesday vs. FC Dallas, 5 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)

18. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-10-8, 14 points), Last week: 18
Week 17:
Last-minute goal gives Columbus a 1-0 victory; Camilo's strike too late in 2-1 loss at Colorado
Remark: Fading 'Caps make Gambian striker Mustapha Jarju their second Designated Player
Should-be All-Star: Forward Eric Hassli belongs in Harrison
Next: Saturday vs. Real Salt Lake, 1 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Monday vs. England's Manchester City, 7 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes)

All times Pacific