Congratulations to D.C. United’s Charlie Davies for winning this week’s Major League Soccer Best Actor Award. His 90th minute performance in the Los Angeles Galaxy box earned him the penalty kick that salvaged a 1-1 draw in RFK Stadium last Saturday night. To be clear, Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez did foul Davies, however the contact was minimal, and the referee could have chosen to let it pass. While MLS should definitely strive to become as successful as most of the leagues in Europe, the last thing MLS needs is for its players to copy Europe’s penchant for flopping.
Another piece of news that is escaping notice throughout the league is Chivas USA’s defensive transformation. New head coach Robin Fraser’s team looked awful in their 3-2 home loss to Sporting Kansas City in the season opener. Kansas City exploited the disorganized Chivas backline throughout the game, and it looked like it was going to be another poor defensive season for the Goats. However, since that match the Chivas backline has given up only two goals in three games, including a tough 1-0 loss to defending champion Colorado. Chivas isn’t going to win many games this season, but if the improvement in the first four games of the season is a sign, there is hope on the horizon.
Here is this week’s MLS Power Rankings:
Records are in parentheses (W-L-D)
1. Real Salt Lake (3-0-0) – Is there anyone out there that can stop Real Salt Lake? We may find out this Wednesday when Colorado travels to Rio Tinto for the season’s first matchup between the two Rocky Mountain rivals. Last week’s rank: 1
2. Philadelphia Union (3-1-0) – Coming off a hard loss on the road in Los Angeles, no one expected the Union to hold off the newly reinforced Red Bulls last Saturday. However, it’s time to start giving Coach Peter Nowak some credit for what he’s building in Philly. Despite being outplayed for most of the game, the Union hung tough and managed a 67th minute goal from Roger Torres that proved to be the game winner. Philadelphia has posted three shutouts already this season, and if they keep playing defense like they have been, they’ll challenge for the Eastern Conference crown. Last week’s rank: 5
3. Los Angeles Galaxy (2-1-2) – Los Angeles faces Toronto FC in a mid-week showdown at BMO Field just days after the debacle at RFK Stadium. Landon Donovan missed the match against D.C. United, and it’s unknown whether or not he’ll play Wednesday. The Galaxy should win in Toronto, but they need Donovan healthy if they are going to keep up with Real Salt Lake. Last week’s rank: 4
4. Colorado Rapids (3-1-0) – The Rapids were dominated in Dallas last Friday night, but their entire body of work so far this season earns them a break. If they perform poorly against arch-rival Real Salt Lake Wednesday night, expect a drop in the rankings. Last week’s rank: 2
5. New York Red Bulls (1-1-2) – The Red Bulls are the most talented team in the league, but for some reason they’ve yet to put it together. It’s mind-boggling that a team with Thierry Henry and young gun Juan Agudelo has scored only two goals in four games this season. Injuries and national team call-ups are a factor, but still this team should be performing better. Last week’s rank: 3
6. Chicago Fire (1-1-1) – Chicago played well in their loss in Seattle but were unable to put consistent pressure on the Sounders backline. They face an even better backline at home against Los Angeles on Sunday. Last week’s rank: 7
7. Sporting Kansas City (1-1-1) – Kansas City has had a week off to work on its struggling defense, but now has to concern itself with the absence of striker Omar Bravo for the next month with a sports hernia. Last week’s rank: 9
8. Houston Dynamo (1-1-2) – Houston’s offense finally got off the snide against the leaky Vancouver backline last Sunday. With each match, the Dynamo look better offensively, but it remains to be seen whether they’ll score enough to keep up in the Eastern Conference. Last week’s rank: not ranked (N/R)
9. Seattle Sounders FC (1-2-2) – So how does a team with a losing record get into the top ten? Well, they’re ranked for two reasons. First, the Sounders have played arguably the toughest schedule in the league so far. The second reason is that they’re better than the other three teams (Columbus, San Jose, and Toronto FC) with even records. Last week’s rank: N/R
10. FC Dallas (1-2-1) – So far this season Dallas has underperformed their talent level, but in the 3-0 demolition of Colorado at home last Friday night, they finally played up to their potential. They should earn their second win of the season this weekend against Portland. Last week’s rank: N/R