New England Soccer Today

MLS Rankings: Week 4

Every week the New England Soccer Today crew will look beyond the standings to rank each of the 19 Major League Soccer (MLS) teams. This week Brian O’Connell, Sean Donahue, Julian Cardillo and Ryan Lanigan contributed rankings. Comments are followed by the ranker’s name and the rank they gave that team.

1. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-0-0, 12 points)
C.J. Sapong scores his third goal of the season as the polesitters keep their record unblemished with a 1-0 win on the road against the Goats. Look primed to make it five in a row against a reeling L.A. eleven. (Brian – 1) … Sure they had an easy opponent this week, but it was still a nice road win on a west coast trip. 4-0-0 with only one goal allowed? Hard to top that. (Sean – 1) … They’ve been rather formidable and their well-roundedness is showing. Though they’re taking on a battered Galaxy team next, LA is still good and it should be their toughest test yet. (Julian – 1) … They have started an impressive 4-0 and scoring hasn’t seemed like an issue for them. (Ryan – 1)

2. (+1) REAL SALT LAKE (3-1-0, 9 points)
Appeared all but dead until the 89th minute when Johnny Steele delivered the equalizer, which served as prelude for Kyle Beckerman’s game-winner in stoppage time. A win’s a win, and the claret and cobalt has claimed three out of four so far. (Brian – 2) … Proved last week’s shocking loss to Chivas was a fluke by grabbing a difficult road victory in Portland. (Sean – 2) … Showed lots of character in their comeback win against Portland. Another well-rounded team that’s scoring goals. (Julian – 2) … After a disastrous loss to Chivas, RSL bounced back with arguably the most impressive win of the season, topping Portland on the road in the final minutes. (Ryan – 2)

3. (+4) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (3-1-0, 9 points)
There weren’t many chances afforded to the ‘Quakes, but they capitalized on the big one – a 24th minute penalty. Don’t look now, but San Jose already has three wins on the season. (Brian – 3) It wasn’t the prettiest victory, but Jon Busch is in fine form and getting a win in Seattle is a fantastic result. The Earthquakes might be the real deal this season. (Sean – 3) … Have had somewhat of an easy schedule, though they’re last win against Seattle was anything but a walk in the park. Just one goal allowed and three wins out of four is promising. (Julian – 4) … Wondolowski has been superb so far but even more impressive is they have only conceded one goal against. (Ryan – 4)

T4. (+4) COLORADO RAPIDS (3-1-0, 9 points)
Omar Cummings and second half sub Kamani Hill lead the way while Matt Pickens and the D snuff out Dominic Oduro for the 2-0 win at home. Think it’s safe to say their 4-1 loss to NY is behind them. (Brian – 4) … With Larentowicz back in the midfield, the Rapids picked up where they left off with a 2-0 win over Chicago. (Sean – 4) … Made due without Pablo Mastroeni and grabbed a crucial three points out of Chicago’s season opener. The Rapids aren’t playing the best soccer but they’re earning points. (Julian – 5) … The return of Jeff Larentewicz was key in their win over Chicago. (Ryan – 7)

T4. (-2) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (2-1-0, 6 points)
For the second week in a row, a highly questionable call thwarts a strong team at home. Last week it was Chivas’ win at Rio Tinto. This week, it’s San Jose’s win at Seattle, where a curious penalty leads to Seattle’s first loss of the season. Extremely unlucky to lose against an upstart San Jose. (Brian – 6) … Injuries are hitting hard, but you’d expect a better result at home against the Earthquakes. (Sean – 5) … A loss against San Jose is disappointing and Fredy Montero has yet to turn on the goal scoring. Something tells me David Estrada’s fuel won’t last forever. (Julian – 6) … Despite the loss to SJ, they still played decent. (Ryan – 3)

T4. (+1) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-0-2, 8 points)
Stay unbeaten through its first four, but you can bet Sebastien LeToux wished he had finished on that 82nd minute chance that sailed high over the bar. Should’ve won, but the cold hard fact is that they’ve stayed out of the loss column. (Brian – 5) … Unbeaten through four games and still yet to give up a goal, but the Whitecaps still haven’t played a quality team and could only draw against a struggling Philly. (Sean – 7) … Still undefeated, still no goals allowed. The Whitecaps are a different team and have been in impressive form to start the season. (Julian – 3) … Still unbeaten and still haven’t given up a goal. (Ryan – 5)

7.  (-1) HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-1-0, 6 points)
Idle for two weeks, their next opponent is the Fire at Toyota Park as the Dynamo eagerly await the grand opening of BBVA Compass Stadium in May. (Brian – 8 ) … Idle two weeks in a row and you have to wonder if that will hurt the Dynamo. (Sean – 6) … Tough to be a team with so much time off. Will it allow for rest or rust? Time will tell. (Julian – 7) … A week off didn’t hurt or help them this time around. (Ryan – 6)

8. (+4) NEW YORK RED BULLS (2-2-0, 6 points)
The fans at Red Bull Arena chant Thierry Henry’s name after the former Gunner grabs three goals in a massive attacking effort that saw the Red Bulls secure a 5-2 win over the Impact. Still think this club’s the biggest enigma in MLS. (Brian – 7) … The Red Bulls confidence must be sky high after trouncing their last two opponents. They’ll face a legitimate challenge in the Crew on Saturday, can they keep it up? (Sean – 8 ) … Whether or not Hans Backe is on the hot seat is irrelevant. Thierry Henry looks like the only one who’s making things happen for the Red Bulls. That needs to change. (Julian – 10) … Thierry Henry…that is all. (Ryan – 8 )

9. (+5) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (2-2-0, 6 points)
Don’t look now, but the Revs have won two in a row against a pair of teams that made the playoffs last year. The latest: a 3-1 thumping of the defending champs, showing that Jay Heaps may be building a winner in Foxboro. (Brian – 9) … It may come as a surprise, but the Revolution have won two in a row against supposedly superior opposition without Benny Feilhaber. Can they continue to thrive in Dallas despite additional injuries? (Sean – 10) … So they beat the Galaxy and all of a sudden they’re kings of the world? Not quite. Team chemistry is still being created and it’s only one game. It does appear, however, that the Revs are on the rise. (Julian – 9) … They have looked impressive in their last two games, on both sides of the ball. Still need more consistency though. (Ryan – 10)

10. (+6) D.C. UNITED (1-2-1, 4 points)
Starting to show signs of life as Maicon Santos puts two exclamation points on a huge win at home over a Dallas squad that’s fallen on hard times. Meanwhile, Kevin Willis made key saves to keep the guests at bay. (Brian – 11) … I’ve been waiting for D.C.’s offense to show up. It did in a BIG way on Friday. (Sean – 12) … Got a big victory over Dallas which was huge, now can they keep up with the Sounders? (Julian – 11) … They might have gotten the steal of the draft with Nick DeLeon. (Ryan – 9)

11. (-7) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (1-2-0, 3 points)
What is going on with the defending champs? For the second time in three league games, L.A.’s defense gets shredded to the tune of 3 goals as the Revolution get a shock 3-1 win at the HDC. (Brian – 15) … Sure there was no Landon Donovan, but the Galaxy’s defense is in shambles in their shock defeat to New England. Things won’t get any easier with a trip to Kansas City this weekend. (Sean – 9) … Played terribly against the Revolution. They need to figure out their defense and start running the midfield like they did last season. Lucky for them, the season is still young. (Julian – 8 ) … I wonder if they have one of those counters counting down until Omar gets back? (Ryan – 12)

12. (+1) COLUMBUS CREW (2-1-0, 6 points)
The yellow and black get the win thanks to Bernardo Anort’s goal while Andy Gruenenbaum makes three saves to keep Toronto off the board for the second straight week. It may be early, but watch out for the Crew. (Brian – 10) … Back to back wins for the Crew, albeit against struggling foes. Saturday’s home match against New York is a big one. (Sean – 11) … Good job to beat Toronto, but that wasn’t much of a test. Finding out who’s going to score goals and provide service is a long-term question for the Crew. (Julian – 12) … Solid win over Toronto on the road. (Ryan – 14)

13. (-3) PORTLAND TIMBERS (1-2-1, 4 points)
Darlington Nagbe punches in with a pair beautiful goals, but Salt Lake surges ahead in the dying minutes to hand the Timbers – who wore their gorgeous throwback-inspired alternates – a devastating 3-2 loss at home. (Brian – 12) … Have the wheels fallen off in Portland? First the loss to the Revs, now blowing a late lead at home and the once mighty Timbers aren’t looking so strong anymore. (Sean – 13) … Ugh. They just had to finish off Salt Lake. Enough said. (Julian – 14) … An inexcusable loss for them really, looking like the Revolution of last season. (Ryan – 15)

14. (-5) CHICAGO FIRE (1-1-1, 4 points)
Paolo Tornaghi adds to his highlight reel, but the Fire attack is quieted by the Colorado defense. Somehow, Frank Klopas is going to have to find more firepower (pun intended) to take some of the weight off of Dominic Oduro. (Brian – 13) … The Fire suffered their first loss of the season and were outplayed in Colorado. Colorado’s never an easy place to play, but we’ve yet to see the Fire beat a quality opponent this season. (Sean – 14) … Oduro’s foot is cold and so is Nyarko’s service. Losing the home opener is a tough pill to swallow. (Julian – 18) … Tough loss to Colorado but are still searching for a game to define what kind of team they are. (Ryan – 11)

15. (-4) FC DALLAS (1-2-1, 4 points)
Just a wretched game in D.C. Give up four goals, and things go from bad to worse when Daniel Hernandez sees red late.  File it and forget it, fellas. (Brian – 16) … Sure they’ve got excuses and the news on David Ferreira’s injury is unfortunate, but after a two losses in a row, including getting crushed by D.C., Dallas needs to beat New England on Thursday. (Sean – 15) … Have only managed one win, but they may be able to take advantage of the Revs on Thursday. Still early in the season and have plenty of time to get their heads on straight. (Julian – 13) … Tough loss on the road to a DC United that just went off. (Ryan – 13)

16. (-2) CHIVAS USA (1-3-0, 3 points)
So much for riding the momentum of their 1-0 win at Rio Tinto.  Nick LaBrocca hit the post, but it was the closest the Goats came to leveling it as they drop 1-0 loss against the powerful Sporting K.C. side. (Brian – 14) … Chivas still can’t get a victory at home, though to be fair they were playing a great team in Kansas City. Desperate for Juan Pablo Angel’s return to finish some of the chances they create. (Sean – 16) … Have just been uninspirational this season. One win is great, but there seems to be no character. (Julian – 17) … Is losing to Sporting KC by only one an impressive thing? Maybe for this team. (Ryan – 16)

17. (+1) TORONTO FC (0-3-0, 0 points)
Milos Kocic stops a penalty, but the Reds’ pathetic attack stumbles toward another shutout at BMO Field. But the Reds keep insisting that tide will turn. Any day now… (Brian – 19) … Toronto FC gets a pass for now for a taxing CONCACAF Champions League campaign, but they’re starting to dig themselves a hole. (Sean – 17) … You have to wonder how they’re going to cope with injuries to Torsten Frings and Stefan Frei. Is an honorable performance in Champions League all Toronto will take away from this season? (Julian – 15) … Still no points for the reds north of the boarder. (Ryan – 18)

18. (+1) PHILADELPHIA UNION (0-3-1, 1 point)
Survive two late Vancouver advances, but for what? Despite a series of chances, Philly comes up short on the scoreboard and have to settle for a scoreless draw at home. (Brian – 17) … The defense showed up this weekend, but the Union really miss Sebastien Le Toux. It’s looking like an awful offseason for the Union. (Sean – 18) … Drama, drama, and more drama. Peter Nowak’s difficult personality is apparent and the Union are in bad form to start the season. Just two goals scored? Six goals allowed? Uh oh. (Julian – 19) … Based on the three winless teams, they have the best goal differential. (Ryan – 17)

19. (-2) MONTREAL IMPACT (0-3-1, 1 point)
Get a lead and go into the half 2-2 against New York on the road, but it’s all downhill in the second frame as the defense gets burned by Thierry Henry. (Brian – 18) … Rough night in New York. The Impact look ever bit like the expansion team that they are. (Sean – 19) … They’ve shown signs of life in every game so far. Getting beat up by a Thierry Henry hat trick isn’t fun, but two goals says they’ve got potential. (Julian – 16) … 10 goals given up in just 4 games. (Ryan – 19)

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