MLS Power Rankings: KC back on track
Major League Soccer is taking a break in league play, making way for World Cup qualifying and also for US Open Cup competition, which has turned into a rough endeavor for MLS teams this year.
Five of the eight remaining teams in the US Open Cup are MLS sides, a respectable figure considering how rough MLS teams had it in the third round of the tournament. A total of eight MLS teams were eliminated by lower-level competition, while the New York Red Bulls were knocked out in the fourth round by the Harrisburg City Islanders.
MLS isn’t completely out of action. The New England Revolution posted a convincing victory against the Chicago Fire to help boost their standing in the East as Benny Feilhaber finally found the net, recording his first goal and assist of the season.
Here is a look at how the FOX Soccer MLS Power Rankings stack up heading into the international break:
Eliminated from the US Open Cup in surprising fashion by Minnesota Stars FC. The defeat had head coach Jason Kreis fuming, but RSL remains on top of the power rankings with a six-match unbeaten streak (and 4-0-2 mark during that run).
2- D.C. UNITED
Fell in extra time to the Philadelphia Union in the Open Cup fourth round, a bitter pill to swallow for a side that had been rolling in MLS play. Ben Olsen’s team is still in first place in the East, and will have a chance to exact some revenge on the Union when the sides meet after the break, on June 16.
3- NEW YORK RED BULLS
The Red Bulls fell in the Open Cup fourth round to the Harrisburg City Islanders, a defeat that will disappoint a team that was supposedly intent on making a deep run. That loss doesn’t take away from the fact New York is one point out of first place in the East, with Thierry Henry coming back from a hamstring injury.
The Sounders demolished US Open Cup cinderella story Cal FC, 5-0, on Tuesday night to move a step closer to a fourth consecutive Open Cup title. The blowout marked the second straight five-goal match put up by the Sounders in Cup play. That could provide a boost for a team that was mired in a four-match winless skid in league play before the MLS break.
The Earthquakes navigated their way to a US Open Cup quarterfinal date against Seattle by edging Minnesota Stars FC in the tournament’s fourth round. San Jose will now take a much-needed two-week break as they look to rebound after a stretch of five MLS matches with just one victory.
It is starting to look like Sporting KC is over the slump that caused the club’s massive lead atop the East to disappear. A win against San Jose followed by a pair of US Open Cup victories has to have Peter Vermes’ squad feeling good heading into the break. There are still questions about just what the team may do in terms of big-ticket additions this summer.
There may not be a hotter team in MLS play than the Crew. Columbus was another of the MLS teams to be knocked off by a lower division side in US Open Cup play. There was some good news for the Crew during the break. Costa Rican striker, Jairo Arrietta, joined the team, giving Robert Warzycha another attacking option.
The Whitecaps dropped points before the MLS break, and won’t soon forget losing the Canadian Championship Final to Toronto FC, but Martin Rennie’s side has reason for optimism heading toward the summer. With midfielder Barry Robson on the way, and with Eric Hassli showing signs of being a serious threat again, the Whitecaps are well positioned to make a run at the top three in the West.
With the grueling season-opening road trip behind them, and with a well-timed break to help them recover, the Dynamo are a team who could make a strong run when play resumes. The impending arrival of Honduran attacking standout Oscar Boniek Garcia should help an offense that continues to struggle to find consistency. It will also be interesting to see how teams fair at BBVA Compass Stadium once the temperatures begin to soar.
10- COLORADO RAPIDS
The Rapids saw their US Open Cup hopes dashed by Sporting Kansas City on Tuesday, but now Oscar Pareja can focus on his team’s quest for a playoff berth in the stacked Western Conference. Martin Rivero has been a quality addition for the club, while Conor Casey and Omar Cummings should be re-united as the team’s striker duo once the league returns to action.
The Revs did a good job of shaking off an absolutely stunning US Open Cup loss to Harrisburg (they squandered a three-goal lead in overtime before losing in penalty kicks) to beat the Chicago Fire and boost their place in the East. If Benny Feilhaber can start producing on a regular basis, the Revs will be a fun team to watch this summer.
12- CHICAGO FIRE
An absolute rough stretch for the Fire, who suffered a US Open Cup upset loss to the Mid-Michigan Bucks in the third round of tournament play, followed up with a 2-0 loss to New England. The Fire are still missing something in the attack, and Chicago may have little choice but to try and make a major summer acquisition to help an inconsistent offense. Getting Chris Rolfe back from injury should also help.
13- MONTREAL IMPACT
It’s rare when a team has a great week without actually playing, but the Impact certainly received a major boost with the arrival of Italian striker Marco Di Vaio. The highly-regarded goal scorer is being expected to boost an offense that hasn’t exactly lit up scoreboards early in the season.
14- CHIVAS USA
The Goats are one of the MLS teams still alive in the US Open Cup, needing a Juan Pablo Angel penalty kick in extra time to knock off the Carolina RailHawks on Tuesday night. With Angel back in action, and newly-acquired Juan Agudelo and Dan Califf settling in well, the Goats are very much a team that could climb into the playoff race once league play resumes.
15- PORTLAND TIMBERS
The team’s shocking US Open Cup loss to Cal FC clearly proved to be the last straw for a Timbers side already struggling in league play. The result, at least the first ramification of that loss was Portland traded striker Jorge Perlaza for Philadelphia Union striker Danny Mwanga. Portland has been after Mwanga for some time, and a change of scenery just might help him recapture his outstanding rookie form.
Hit rock bottom with a loss to Toronto FC (TFC’s first win of the season) but the club rebounded with a pair of US Open Cup victories, including an overtime win against D.C. United. Freddy Adu has been the star for the Union, and appears to have responded to Jurgen Klinsmann’s suggestion that he needs to produce more goals and assists.
17- LA GALAXY
The nightmare continues for Bruce Arena’s squad, which managed to lose a third-round US Open Cup match to a Carolina RailHawks side that hadn’t won a game in its own league this season. Sitting in dead last in the West, and eight points out of a playoff spot, the Galaxy’s season almost looks like a lost cause. How LA looks after the break will let us know if they still have a pulse come August.
18- FC DALLAS
How has a team that was in an MLS Cup Final just two years ago sunken this far? A nine-match winless streak in MLS play (0-6-3) followed by an embarrassing US Open Cup loss to USL-Pro side Charlotte Eagles has Dallas at rock bottom.
19- TORONTO FC
TFC won the Canadian Championship Final, then recorded their first MLS win of the season against Philadelphia. If there is a team that hates the MLS schedule break right now it might be TFC. Currently 15 points out of the playoffs, but with three games in hand, as crazy as it sounds Toronto FC can still make things interesting this season, only if Aron Winter’s team comes out firing after the break.