Leave it to MLS to devise a clever way to retain its top players. Instead of tacking extra money onto the salary budget, the Board of Governors introduced a new mechanism during the winter to retain up to three players over the next three years players without classifying them as Designated Players. The extra pool of money targets spending into the right areas (top players) without crippling the rest of the squad. The results – including new contracts for the likes of Matt Besler, Juninho, Dax McCarty, Chris Pontius and Graham Zusi, per an ESPN report – suggest this latest wrinkle is already reaping dividends. Honorable mention 11. Colorado Rapids 12. New England Revolution 13. Chicago Fire 14. Houston Dynamo 15. Columbus Crew 16. San Jose Earthquakes 17. Toronto FC 18. D.C. United 19. Chivas USA
The overall signs over the past couple of matches – blown leads here, dropped points there – aren't particularly encouraging. But the Union can at least reflect on the positives of the midweek draw at Real Salt Lake as they attempt to recover from the 1-0 defeat at Houston on Sunday. Next on the docket: Chivas USA visits PPL Park on Friday night.
New York Red Bulls
Oh, Juninho. The arduous nature of MLS never quite made sense for your dotage. Nor did the prospect of playing under a first-year coach. But you came to America anyways. Your departure last week did not provide much of a surprise, though. Now the Red Bulls must muddle through with a more industrious option in the center of the park and Thierry Henry to take the free kicks instead. C'est la vie. Next on the docket: Mike Petke's side welcomes Montréal to Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
LA Galaxy compounded the increasing concerns in Frisco by registering a 2-0 victory in Carson, Calif. on Sunday. Schellas Hyndman's side has not won in six games as absences and injures have limited the available options. Throw in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup exit and FCD now has some concerns to ponder as the summer progresses. Next on the docket: FCD hosts Western Conference leaders Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Although the quick trek up the I-5 did not proceed as planned over the weekend, the Sounders did receive some good news upon their return. Influential midfielder Osvaldo Alonso is expected to return to the fold this week ahead of Saturday's trip to San Jose. Next on the docket: Alonso will hope to guide the Sounders to a second win in three attempts on this journey to Buck Shaw Stadium.
Galaxy boss Bruce Arena never leaves a stone unturned in his quest to upgrade the roster. The decision to send three reserves on trial to sister club Hammarby (Sweden) offers an opportunity to churn through the bottom half of the roster and supplement his current squad with more potential contributors. Next on the docket: Arena will make due with his current squad for the excursion to Portland on Saturday.
Every Cascadia match without a victory ramped up the pressure on the Whitecaps. Time and time again, they stumbled against their biggest rivals. It took 12 attempts and a stunning performance from goalkeeper Brad Knighton, but Martin Rennie's side finally broke its duck with a 2-0 victory over Seattle on Saturday. Next on the docket: Vancouver will search for a fifth win in six attempts against Chicago on Sunday.
From the moment Chivas USA passed on the opportunity to secure Benny Feilhaber's services a couple of years ago, the talented midfielder has struggled to find his footing in MLS. It isn't a matter of talent, though. Feilhaber issued a magnificent response to his recent spell out of the side with a rasping drive in Sporting's 2-1 victory at Chicago on Sunday. Next on the docket: Feilhaber will hope to add to his goal tally when Sporting hosts Toronto FC on Saturday.
The past three matches against D.C. United, Toronto FC and Chivas USA provided an opportunity for the Impact to create some distance from its pursuers at the top of the Eastern Conference. Instead of collecting the nine expected points, Montréal mustered just two. It is too early to examine whether it is a blip in form or the start of a worrisome trend, but the recent results reveal some fissures that must be addressed in short order. Next on the docket: The trip to New York on Saturday provides the perfect opportunity to end the current three-match winless streak.
Every great run comes to an end. And the Timbers' stellar 15-match unbeaten streak finally concluded in Columbus on Sunday. Blame a poor start – involving Bernardo Anor's goal and Pa Modou Kah's dismissal inside the opening quarter of an hour – for the club's first defeat since March 9. Next on the docket: The in-form side will try to slide back on track when LA Galaxy visits JELD-WEN Field on Saturday.
Real Salt Lake
Few teams paper over the cracks quite like RSL does. The absence of several key figures – including lynchpins Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and Álvaro Saborío – did not stop the 10-man Claret-and-Cobalt from securing a 2-2 home draw with Philadelphia on Wednesday. The result extended RSL's current unbeaten run to a league-best six matches. Next on the docket: RSL will attempt to extend that streak at FC Dallas on Saturday.