Toronto FC coach Ryan Nelsen channeled the frustrations of several MLS colleagues when he lashed out at the Canadian Soccer Association this week. He lamented the loss of a quartet of players to CONCACAF Gold Cup duty ahead of matches against Montreal (3-3 draw on Wednesday) and Real Salt Lake and wondered why he couldn't keep one or two of them for the midweek tilt against the Impact. The absence of key players across the league over the next month will bolster the Gold Cup and leave MLS sides scrambling to find to find replacements. It is the cost of doing business in a league with scheduling difficulties, but that intractable fact will not quell the complaints of Nelsen and others as they attempt to compensate. 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 --Kyle McCarthy
Los Angeles Galaxy
Every time Bruce Arena watches his defense crumble in the late stages of a match, he must remind himself championships are not won in June. And they won't be won in December, either, if the Galaxy does not sort out the problems exposed by New England (four goals in the final 20 minutes) and San Jose (two goals in second half stoppage time to lose 3-2 at Stanford Stadium on Saturday). Next on the docket: Arena will stop excoriating his players long enough to allow them to host Columbus on Thursday and FC Dallas on Sunday.
The future of Kenny Miller has sparked incessant debate on both sides of the Atlantic over the past few months. Miller's continued influence with the Whitecaps – plus the transfer embargo facing Rangers until Sept. 1 – suggests he should remain in MLS for the remainder of the campaign. And perhaps longer, if Martin Rennie's side keeps churning out results. Next on the docket: Miller will hope to lead his side to victory against Seattle on Saturday.
Sporting Kansas City
Back in the days of empty seats at Arrowhead and rainbow-influenced uniforms on the players, this club would have struggled to convince a U.S. national team player to sign a second contract extension in as many years. Graham Zusi's recent pact shows the progress made by the club in recent years and underscores the potential for an even brighter future. Next on the docket: Zusi leads his teammates into a 1-1 draw against Vancouver on Wednesday and a trip to Chicago on Sunday.
New York Red Bulls
Instead of busting down doors in search of a third Designated Player, the Red Bulls adopted a measured approach for their usual summer transfer business. The play of this side – particularly with everyone fit and available – so far this season backs the more tempered approach. Next on the docket: Mike Petke's side will strive to build on Sunday's victory over Houston with another triumph at Colorado on Saturday.
Union manager John Hackworth bolstered his squad when he swapped the out-of-favor Freddy Adu with Kleberson earlier this year. The margin of victory, however, dwindles each time the injury-prone former Brazilian international fails to state his case for inclusion or misses out on yet another match due to a knock of some sort. Next on the docket: Hackworth coped being without his former Manchester United man on Wednesday's vs. Salt Lake (2-2 draw) and will also do so on Saturday's visit to Houston.
Mario Martinez departed for his Gold Cup duties with his future in the Pacific Northwest still undecided. Instead of exercising their contractual right to purchase Martinez's straight away from Honduran side Real España, the Sounders opted to extend the negotiations into July. Next on the docket: Martinez will definitely miss the visit to Vancouver as he embarks upon his journey with Honduras.
FCD could have succumbed when Je-Vaughn Watson procuring a suspect second yellow card for simulation or when Blas Pérez watched his apparent equalizer trickle over the goal line without receiving the corresponding goal. Instead of relenting, FCD finally claimed a 2-2 draw at Philadelphia after Pérez's stoppage-time intervention. Next on the docket: Perez departed for Gold Cup duty with Panama, but FCD will soldier onwards with a home date against Chivas USA on Thursday and a trip to LA Galaxy on Sunday.
Hassoun Camara does not score mundane goals. In fact, the Impact defender prefers the spectacular. His latest contribution to a growing highlight reel: a overhead kick from the ground in the 4-3 home defeat to Colorado on Saturday. Next on the docket: Camara will hope to repeat his heroics when Chivas USA (Sunday) visit Stade Saputo this week.
Real Salt Lake
RSL coach Jason Kreis altered his usual tactical alignment for the 1-0 victory at Toronto FC on Saturday and 2-2 victory against Philadelphia on Wednesday. Instead of opting for his usual 4-4-2 diamond formation, he deployed a 4-3-3 setup. The switch helped the Claret-and-Cobalt register its first victory at BMO Field. Next on the docket: Kreis will return to RSL's tried and tested approach for next week against FC Dallas.
Every team in MLS must adjust to the demands of the Gold Cup. Few teams, however, will attempt to muddle through without their captain. Portland must find a way to compensate for Will Johnson's industrious midfield work in order to maintain an unbeaten streak that currently stretches all the way back to March. Next on the docket: Newly appointed Canada captain Johnson will keep track of his Timbers as they visit Columbus on Sunday.