FOX Soccer Exclusive
San Jose, DC prove MLS credentials
Both the San Jose Earthquakes and D.C. United went into last weekend with some question marks about just how legitimate their recent unbeaten runs were. Both came away with convincing victories that removed any doubt that they really are two of the best teams in the league.
|Saturday, April 28|
|New York||1-0||New England||Recap|
|R. Salt Lake||3-2||Toronto||Recap|
|LA Galaxy||1-1||FC Dallas||Recap|
|More: MLS| Standings|Stats|
D.C. United’s attack is playing like the league's best, while San Jose has overcome key injuries to keep on rolling, pulling off a late-game rally to beat the Philadelphia Union and maintain their hold on first place in the West.
While San Jose and D.C. kept on impressing, the Portland Timbers kept on disappointing. Their 2-0 loss to Montreal served as the latest late-game collapse in a worrying trend.
The Impact were hardly the first team to score multiple late goals to beat the Timbers, but the victory helped boost the expansion side away from the bottom of the latest FOX Soccer MLS Power Rankings. Jesse Marsch’s side is improving defensively while the offense shows more signs of life.
Here is how the FOX Soccer MLS Power Rankings shook out after Week 8:
1- SPORTING KANSAS CITY
A bye week came at the right time for KC, which was beginning to feel the strain of the heavy minutes played by their starters. Montreal should pose a good challenge, but Sporting has been untouchable at home this season.
2- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Another impressive win for Frank Yallop’s side, with Steven Lenhart and Marvin Chavez playing the hero roles. More impressive than the team’s attacking depth has been the way the defense has kept rolling despite losing Victor Bernardez to injury.
3- SEATTLE SOUNDERS
The Sounders welcomed back Mauro Rosales, and Eddie Johnson impressed as a starter in the win vs. Chicago. Promising signs for a team that has managed to post results despite Fredy Montero registering no goals or assists yet. A tough week awaits with games vs. LA and Philadelphia.
4- D.C. UNITED
Posted consecutive victories for the first time since 2009 and pushed their unbeaten streak to seven matches (4-0-3) by beating a tough Houston side. The offense is really clicking, and the defense is doing well, but a mid-week trip to San Jose will be their toughest test in a month.
5- REAL SALT LAKE
Four points from two matches makes for a solid week, but RSL showed some vulnerability against Dallas and Toronto FC. Jason Kreis was ably to finally field a full-strength squad against TFC, but it might take a while for that group to find a rhythm. Facing a struggling New England side should help.
6- VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
The Whitecaps have scored just seven goals in eight matches, but their defense has managed to become one of the better units in the league, not only halting attacks, but also scoring big goals like Lee Young-Pyo game-winning free kick.
Will Bruin #12 celebrates with Brian Ching #25 of the Houston Dynamo after scoring a goal against the D.C. United. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
7- HOUSTON DYNAMO
Starting the season off with an XX-match road trip was always going to be tough, and losing Brad Davis to injury didn’t help, but there are concerns about the Dynamo defense after a second multi-goal game. The bright side from the D.C. United loss was the play of Will Bruin, who is really becoming a force.
8- NEW YORK RED BULLS
Earned a surprising victory with a patchwork defense, but it came at a very high price after losing Thierry to a torn hamstring. With eight players set to miss the upcoming game against the LA Galaxy, the Red Bulls will need some more outstanding games from rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara to avoid a slide.
9- LA GALAXY
Another lethargic home performance is cause for concern, and things will only get tougher with Seattle up next on Wednesday. News of Josh Saunders going into a drug treatment program has to be unsettling, but the Galaxy will need their veterans to keep the squad focused in order to close the gap on the West leaders.
10- FC DALLAS
Two draws from two matches against the tough duo of RSL and LA isn’t that bad of a week, but Dallas will feel let down after looking like the better team for much of their match against the Galaxy. The offense is still struggling for consistency, though the defense is playing better than it was a month ago.
11- CHICAGO FIRE
Weather conditions at Toyota Park weren’t exactly ideal, but the Fire can’t blame the weather on a lethargic home effort in Saturday’s loss to Seattle. Marco Pappa’s wonder goal was the lone bright spot for an offense that just couldn’t do much against Seattle’s defense.
12- COLORADO RAPIDS
We finally got a glimpse of the high-powered offense we thought Oscar Pareja might help the Rapids deploy. Conor Casey’s came was a positive sign, but seeing Omar Cummings and Tony Cascio play so well is the biggest thing to take away for a Rapids attack that has sputtered more than it has flourished this season.
13- PHILADELPHIA UNION
The Union defense had put together a very commanding stretch of shutouts, but some pretty atrocious marking did them in late in the loss to San Jose. The concern for Philly continues to be an offense that just doesn’t generate many chances, whether at home or on the road.
14- CHIVAS USA
So much for the ‘Road Warriors’ label. The Goats’ perfect road record came crashing down in a three-goal blitz late in their 4-0 loss to Colorado, but to be fair Chivas USA might have pulled a result from Colorado if Matt Pickens hadn’t shut them down before the late blitz. Now it’s time to see what Juan Pablo Angel has left in the tank.
15- MONTREAL IMPACT
A strong defensive effort and a solid game from forward Bernardo Corradi have to leave Jesse Marsch feeling bullish following the team’s 2-0 win against Portland. The back-line had its problems at the start of the season, but looks to be clicking just in time for the Canadian Championships.
16- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Jay Heaps knows his team let some points get away from them at Red Bull Arena. A patch-work defense and an offense left toothless by Thierry Henry’s injury should have helped the Revs post a road win, but New England could do little with their possession. Jose Moreno was invisible, but Saer Sene continues to impress.
17- PORTLAND TIMBERS
Jon Spencer must be punching the walls as he tries to figure out why his team keeps giving up late goals and dropping points. It’s boiling down to the defense not being good enough, and newly-acquired left back Steven Smith didn’t exactly look like an upgrade after playing a hand in both goals allowed to Montreal.
18- COLUMBUS CREW
Some questionable calls went against the Crew in their 1-0 loss to Vancouver, but there remain questions about whether their offense is good enough for Columbus to win consistently. The Crew can take heart in having delivered a better defensive effort, but that alone won’t be enough to turn around the team's current four-match winless streak.
19- TORONTO FC
Another heartbreaking loss has TFC on the ropes and Aron Winter in real jeopardy of being fired. Toronto was missing key players against Real Salt Lake, but an 0-7 start makes any excuses ring hollow. The team needs new defenders, but help isn’t on the way. Things may only get worse.
Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the US National Team.