Isn't it a little ironic that in the MLS All-Star Game, Arsenal didn't even play its stars? It should have been called the Half-Star Game, or better yet the Our League is Insecure About Itself Game.
1. FC Dallas (Last Week: 1)
Dallas was all prepared to sell Fabian Castillo to a Turkish team, but the latest reports are that deal is now off. I, for one, am extremely happy that this is the case. Dallas is the best team in the league, and Castillo is its best player. If you're a regular reader of this blog, then you might remember a column I wrote about Cyle Larin that argued that Orlando shouldn't sell him and instead keep him (you may also remember that column for a half-baked title, which compared Larin to LeBron James). I feel the same way about Castillo. I want MLS to be a league that retains stars, not one that sells them to European leagues. If we're serious about making MLS into one of the top leagues in the world, we need to start thinking of it as a league of choice, not as a developmental league.
2. LA Galaxy (Last Week: 3)
A come-from-behind road tie at Seattle is good enough to bump LA up to second this week. LA is still the only team in the league with a double-digit goal differential.
3. New York City FC (Last Week: 5)
How about that for a statement? NYCFC beat Colorado 5-1 in one of the more shocking score lines of the season. For perspective, Colorado had not given up more than two goals in a match all season and hasn't given up five since a 6-0 defeat at the hands of the LA Galaxy in September of 2014. As much as it pains me to say, this Soccer Yankee team is for real.
4. Colorado Rapids (Last Week: 2)
Colorado is on the decline. I illustrated last week how this team went from winning games to drawing them, and now they've gone and given up the most goals a Colorado team has in almost two years. The Rapids should be postseason bound, but it seems to me that they'll do it by backing in.
5. Sporting Kansas City (Last Week: 7)
I've never been to Sporting Park (Children's Mercy Park just doesn't have that ring to it for me) for a game, but I understand that it is one of the nicest stadiums in the league, and it has held near-capacity crowds for just about every game since it opened. The last few weeks, though, it looks to me as if those crowds have been getting thinner and thinner. Is the KC fan honeymoon, over?
I never said I wouldn't jump to conclusions on just a little evidence.
6. New York Red Bulls (Last Week: 6)
For what it's worth, I really like those blue and yellow road unis the Red Bulls wear. In fact, I really wish my local team (Louisville City of the USL) would drop the Orlando City-inspired purple for a look just like the one New York wears.
7. Montreal Impact (Last Week: 4)
Didier Drogba was shown a red card this week. I was disappointed not to see the league create a "Didier Drogba Red Card" highlight video on YouTube.
8. Toronto FC (Last Week: 13)
The Atomic Ant scored once and supplied two other goals, though one of those assists was really a shot. Jozy Altidore also scored in the Reds' 3-0 walk in the park over C-Bus. This team is perhaps the most exciting one in MLS when its stars are playing up to their potential.
9. Vancouver Whitecaps (Last Week: 8)
Vancouver and New England are the only two teams currently in the playoff picture to have negative goal differentials, proving that MLS has at least two too many teams making the postseason. Seriously, when is 60% of the league making the playoffs not a stupid idea?
10. Real Salt Lake (Last Week: 12)
I often have thought that RSL was the San Antonio Spurs of MLS. The spine of that team has been Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales for 10 years now, so I guess that makes them the Big Three in that comparison. I'll give Beckerman the Tim Duncan label. Beckerman is certainly flashier than The Big Fundamental in personal style, but both are (were) the defensive anchors and leaders of their teams.
11. San Jose Earthquakes (Last Week: 11)
I was shocked Dominic Kinnear came out in a 4-3-3 for the All-Star Game. I didn't know he knew of a progressive, attacking formation.
12. Portland Timbers (Last Week: 9)
Portland has lost two straight on the heels of its unbeaten streak. Currently the champs are struggling to stay in the postseason picture, and Nat Borchers' departure for the medical table is only going to make the champs' title defense that much more difficult.
13. Philadelphia Union (Last Week: 10)
Philly has the third-lowest points-per-game ratio of any team currently over the red line, only ahead of New England and Vancouver.
14. Orlando City (Last Week: 15)
Orlando jumps up a spot after beating New England for the first win of the Jason Kreis era. It's funny to me how the narrative around Kreis has gone since he left RSL. When he was in Utah, he was the ex-player turned coach who was one of the bright young coaching stars in American soccer. Now it seems he's a bona fide coaching superstar in MLS. Funny what getting fired from a high profile job will do.
15. D.C. United (Last Week: 14)
Again, I've never seen a team try so hard to make me look smart. I've long been making fun of D.C. for taking teams' role players and giving them large roles, and what did they do? They went and acquired Kennedy Igboananike from Chicago. Have a middling career for another MLS team? Come to D.C.! We have a starring role for you right here.
16. New England Revolution (Last Week: 16)
I think New England's play-by-play announcer might be one of the worst in the league. The dude's voice is just annoying to me. Anyone disagree with me?
17. Seattle Sounders (Last Week: 18)
Seattle fired Sigi Schmid, which is something I predicted would happen this season should Seattle be anything less than title contenders. However, I'm not going to pat myself on the back for that one, because it's like predicting that MLS will eventually grant an expansion team to Cincinnati; it's low-hanging fruit.
18. Chicago Fire (Last Week: 19)
With regard to the Iggy trade with D.C.: Does anybody have any idea what Chicago is doing to turn itself into a winner again? I'm not one of those guys who keeps up with the minutia of a team's academy, but the Fire just don't seem to have any hope for the future to me.
19. Houston Dynamo (Last Week: 20)
Speaking of no hope for the future, Houston continues to field a team despite themselves. I had high hopes for the Dynamo coming into this year, and I feel really stupid about that.
20. Columbus Crew SC (Last Week: 17)
Columbus is one of two teams yet to crack the 20-point mark this season. If I were a Crew fan, I'd absolutely blame this team's lack of a traditional yellow uniform option as the reason. Don't go messing with unis, folks. You might go and start a curse.