2011 MLS Power Rankings: Week 5

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IApril 18, 2011

2011 MLS Power Rankings: Week 5

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    FOXBORO, MA - APRIL 9:  Franco Coria #2 of the New England Revolution battles Nat Borchers #6 of Real Salt Lake at Gillette Stadium April 9, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Gail Oskin/Getty Images)
    Gail Oskin/Getty Images

    We are now five weeks into the 2011 Major League Soccer season, and we have been treated to some great action from across the country. At the top of the list once again is Real Salt Lake, who are primed for even bigger riches ahead with the CONCACAF Champions League Final looming in the distance.

    Also on the move are the Portland Timbers, who have finally hit their winning stride this week.

    Bleacher Report brings you this week's MLS Power Rankings.

18. Chicago Fire

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    BRIDGEVIEW, IL - APRIL 17: Omar Gonzalez #4 of the Los Angeles Galaxy and Josip Mikulic #23 of the Chicago Fire go for the ball in an MLS match on April 17, 2011 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Galaxy won 2-1. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Image
    David Banks/Getty Images

    Holding the rear this week are Carlos De Los Cobos's Chicago Fire, whose flame got doused by a couple of teams from the West Coast.

    On Thursday, April 14, they earned the dishonor of being the first MLS league opponent to fall to the Portland Timbers as they were ambushed 4-2 at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Oregon.

    Marco Pappa scored in the 81st minute for Chicago, and the Fire also earned an own goal from Portland's Eric Brunner. Ultimately, poor goalkeeping from Sean Johnson, leading to a 3-0 deficit 47 minutes, proved to be the difference.

    “We were down two goals, my message to the guys was we have time to recover," De Los Cobos told Chicago-Fire.com. "We gave up a very early goal in the second half, but even then I liked the personality of the team to try and recover but the four goals killed us.”

    Team captain Logan Pause could not hide the disappointment from making history for all the wrong reasong.

    “Obviously disappointing," Pause said. "we came here to get points and we dug ourselves a deep hole going down 3-0. We made a late push but it just wasn’t enough.”

    Of course, that was just a sign of what was to come next.

    The Fire proceeded to fall to an understrength Los Angeles Galaxy side 2-1 on Sunday at Toyota Park. Patrick Nyarko scored in the 89th of play, but it came too little, too late. To add insult to bad finishing, Corey Gibbs suffered a pulled hamstring and is listed as day-to-day.

    "This is soccer, we’ve faced similar situations in different games—creating good options to score, but failed to do so," De Los Cobos told Chicago-Fire.com. "Unfortunately, Los Angeles was able to take advantage of one mistake, but this is the game of soccer. 

    "Last season, I talked about how we had to learn from these situations, and it’s something we’re learning slowly. It was a difficult match for both teams."

    "Coming back from two loses out west, the result was pretty tough," Nyarko said. "we all wanted to come home and get back on track with this one today. I think we started off pretty well, but for some reason couldn’t finish, 

    "I don’t know what it is—maybe tightness but I don’t think so because we played better than they did creating some chances and just couldn’t finish. Unfortunately, they took advantage of a mistake got a chance and put it in, which made us play from behind. When we gave up the second goal, it became a tougher task."

    The Fire will look to get the flame burning again when they face the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, April 23, Kickoff at Toyota Park is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet.

17. Chivas USA

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    VANCOUVER, CANADA - APRIL 16: Blake Wagner #19 of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC tries to chase down Alejandro Moreno #15 of the Chivas USA during the first half in MLS action on April 16, 2011 at Empire Field in Vancouver, BC, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Get
    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    Robin Fraser's Chivas USA remain 17th in this week's power rankings after a scoreless draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday at Empire Field in Vancouver, British Columbia.

    “For a team that is young and building, we continue to see more and more positives,” Fraser told MLSSoccer.com's Adam Serrano. “In every game that we’ve played this year, we’ve had stretches of possession and we’ve dominated at times, but we struggle to turn possession into good chances.”
    Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy also put the draw in perspective.

    “On the road, you have to be happy with a point,” Kennedy said. “We had our chances, they had some dangerous moments and we dealt with it, and they dealt with us, so it was a pretty fair result.”

    “When you have a team on the ropes, you need to find a way to will one into the goal,” Fraser added. “Hopefully, as we continue to grow this season, we realize that these are critical moments in the game. Championship teams aren’t born over night.”

    And at this point, Chivas USA is far from being a championship team. If it wants to finally make its case, it begins on Saturday, April 23, against the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium on the campus of Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California.

    Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. PT/4:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Telefutura.

16. Toronto FC

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    TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 16:  Danleigh Borman #25 of the Toronto FC controls the ball against D.C. United on April 16, 2011 at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada. D.C. United defeated Toronto FC 3-0. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    It has been a subpar state of affairs for Aron Winter's Toronto FC, who earned a mere point out of a possible six this week to drop to 16th in the power rankings.

    On Wednesday, they entertained the Los Angeles Galaxy to a scoreless draw at BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei did most of the heavy lifting, making key stops, but TFC was saved by LA's failure to finish.

    "It was a game of two phases," said Winter to Asif Hossain of TorontoFC.ca. "We didn’t start too well, and LA had some good opportunities.  We tried to play our own game, and we had some opportunities as well.  Still, 0-0 was a good result...because this morning Alan Gordon had a lot of problems and couldn’t play.  In the afternoon Maicon also got the flu, and then at the last minute, he had to change his place on the roster, and that is why the result is very good."

    "I think the guys did an excellent job," said Toronto midfielder Julian de Guzman. "I can’t say it was one of our best games, but you could see that the guys showed a lot of unity, character and passion, and that’s why we came out with a positive point.  LA had moments to score, but I think the reason they weren’t able to score is because of the determination we had and the unity we showed on the pitch."

    "I thought at the beginning of the game we started a little cold, it wasn’t going that good, but after the 15-minute mark, we got things together going forward," said defender Adrian Cann. "I thought there was good combination between Jake, Julian, Gianluca and a couple other guys and got the ball out wide as well, so I thought we did alright. It was unfortunate we couldn’t pull away with the three points, but it’s a part of the game."

    The lack of production was set to be a warning sign for Toronto, and it culminated in a capitulation at the hands of D.C. United 3-0 on Saturday. In addition to the shutout, Ty Harden was sent off in the 49th minute of play.

    "We were losing all the second balls and looks like we weren’t sharp enough," Winter said. "It’s strange because last week we played quite well. Today was an off day. The way we lost, I didn’t like it. You can lose a game but I want to see the reaction from each player and that way we have failed. 

    "What I appreciated from this game, was the 12th man on the pitch. The supporters were good, even when we were losing 2-0, they were behind us. That was positive, I’m upset the way we lost, it was a shame."

    "The result is embarrassing," De Guzman said. "I didn’t expect to play a full 90 minutes, but I’m totally ready to do whatever is needed. To play a full 90 with no pain and no negative reaction in my knee is good, but at the end of the day, the result is not something to be proud of."

    "I don't think anyone can really look at themselves in the mirror and say 'I played well,'" said fullback Jacob Peterson "(D.C. United's Chris Pontius) is a good player, one of the best in the league. I think I should have been a bit tighter (on the play). I know how to play (right back), at this level everybody should be comfortable playing wherever on the field."

    The Reds remain winless this April and need to produce if they are to be a factor in the Eastern Conference. Up next for Toronto is a match with the Columbus Crew at BMO Field.

    Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, April 23 at 4:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by GOLTV Canada.

15. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

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    VANCOUVER, CANADA - APRIL 16: Mouloud Akloul #50 and Long Tan #23 of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC walk off the field after playing to a draw against the Chivas USA in MLS action on April 16, 2011 at Empire Field in Vancouver, BC, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam
    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    Teitur Thordarson's Vancouver Whitecaps lacked the finishing touch in their scoreless draw with Chivas USA on Saturday at Empire Field, with two of those chances hitting the woodwork.

    Despite the lack of finish, Thordarson and his players accentuated the positives that could be taken.
    “We had quite a good game," Thordarson told Simon Fudge of WhitecapsFC.com. "We created lots of chances, but didn’t manage to score. It was the same problem Chivas USA had.

    "We were very focused on the beginning of the game to not let them have the space to play and I think we managed that quite well. The game was quite even in the first half, but in the second half, we created some great chances and possibly should have had a couple of goals.”

    “A lot of [the lack of scoring today] rests on my shoulders,” said Vancouver winger Wes Knight to MLSSoccer.com's Brandon Timko. “I had three great opportunities today—one off the post, one off the line and a header that nine times out of 10, I should score. It’s the kind of thing where when it rains, it pours. Either you’re going to miss opportunities or when they go in, they’re going to come in bunches, but we’re happy to get our first shutout at home.”

    “It was a good performance,” goalkeeper Jay Nolly added. “We’ve been dying for a clean sheet to show that we’ve been working hard defensively and not letting in goals that we know we shouldn’t have. We put it together today, and we were unfortunate not to break through on their end.”

    Up next for the Caps is a match with FC Dallas at Empire Field. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, April 23 at 4:00 p.m. PT/7:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Rogers SportsNet Pacific.

14. Sporting Kansas City

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    COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 16:  Roger Espinoza #15 of Sporting Kansas City and Tom Heinemann #32 of the Columbus Crew battle for position as they run to a loose ball on April 16, 2011 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Peter Vermes's Sporting Kansas City took a tumble this week to 14th after getting shut out by the Columbus Crew 1-0 on Saturday at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Sporting were down to 10 men in the 72nd minute after Julio Cesar earned a second yellow.

    "I thought we had a good first half, and we created some very good chances in the first half," Vermes told SportingKC.com. "Coming in 0-0 at halftime was good being away from home. The goal they [Columbus] scored was a really good finish by Robbie [Rogers]. What he did well was he hit [the ball early]. 

    "Outside of that there was one other big save that our keeper made, and that was really it. I thought we had some really good chances, but I don’t think we ever really tested Hesmer. Credit goes to them [the Crew]. I thought they played a really good game and did a good job."

    "I thought we didn’t really give them any chances, and I thought we had two or three really good chances of our own," said Sporting captain Davy Arnaud. "It would’ve been nice to get the goal, but we still came in even at halftime. In the second half, we didn’t start out well, and they got the goal early on, and from that point, we were chasing the rest of the time. After we went down to 10 men, it was really tough."

    "We came in at halftime and we were pretty happy with the performance," added defender Matt Besler. "We wanted to come out in the second half and raise the level and keep playing the way we were, but we may have dropped just a little bit. They [the Crew] came out pressuring a little more in the second half. 

    "Then we gave up the goal, and after that, a red card, and it really made it tough on us. I think the wind picked up right after the goal, and it felt like it went 20 miles an hour which didn’t help. It was a disappointing second half."

    Next up for Sporting is a trip to Gillette Stadiun in Foxborough, Massachusetts to take on the New England Revolution. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT/7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by KSMO-TV.

13. San Jose Earthquakes

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    HARRISON, NJ - APRIL 16: Chris Leitch #3 and Ryan Johnson #19 of the San Jose Earthquakes collide hard after both going for a header against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on April 16, 2011 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Im
    Andy Marlin/Getty Images

    Frank Yallop's San Jose Earthquakes were given a rude welcome by the New York Red Bulls and were demolished 3-0 on the road at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.

    “It’s one kind of hiccup,” Quakes defender Chris Leitch told MLSsoccer.com's Geoff Lepper. “I think when we look at tape, we’re going to be pissed off at ourselves that we could (have done) a whole lot more.
    “Even though guys were mad and disappointed in the locker room, I know the spirit of this group. We’re going to rebound...We’ve just got to let this game go.”

    “The first two (goals) that killed the game off were basically our poor play,” Yallop added. “You’ve got to cut out the silly mistakes, especially in a game like this. I think that we’ll find out what we’re made of mentally, because we’ve got to now perform. We’ve got to win (next Saturday) against Chivas.

    “You try to put your finger on it, (but) it’s got to come from within. You’ve got to start the game like it’s the last game you’re going to play, every game. What it is is desire and fight and heart. It’s doing it from minute one to minute 90, and making sure that you are accountable.”

    Next for the Quakes is a match with Chivas USA at Buck Shaw Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, April 23 at 1:00 p.m. PT/4:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet Northern California and Telefutura.

12. New England Revolution

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 17:  Defender Kevin Alston #30 of the New England Revolution complains he was elbowed in the face by a Houston Dynamo player in the first half at Robertson Stadium on April 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Steve Nicol's New England Revolution fell late on the road against the Houston Dynamo, 1-0 at Robertson Stadium in Houston, Texas. It didn't help matters that they came in understrength, either.

    “Every team wants all their players available; unfortunately, we didn’t have that," Nicol told RevolutionSoccer.net. "In the first half, we tried to generate some stuff at the other end; in the second half, we couldn’t get anything going. I thought we defended really well. The real problem we had was set pieces. We challenged really well."

    “It was a tough match," said defender Kevin Alston. "Houston is a good team. I feel like we fought hard, and they fought hard. It was 50-50 for most of the match. I think we were a little unlucky to allow that goal the way it played out—it could have been a hand ball.”

    Former Dynamo defender Ryan Cochrane echoes the same sentiments.

    "There were a lot of chances on both sides," Cochrane said, "and unfortunately, it’s just a questionable decision that’s the result of the game. The ball just didn’t bounce our way tonight. I think we were a bit unlucky to not come out with a tie in the game.”

    With New England in search of their first win in April, they will look to do just that when they host Sporting Kansas City at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, April 23. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet.

11. FC Dallas

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    PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 17:  Daniel Hernandez #2 of FC Dallas steals the ball from Kenny Cooper #33 of the Portland Timbers during the first half of the game at Jeld-Wen Field on April 17, 2011 in Portland, Oregon. The Timbers won the game 3-2. (Photo by Ste
    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    While they were fortunate enough to not earn the reputation as the first team to fall to the Portland Timbers, Schellas Hyndman's FC Dallas didn't do themselves any favors in having to rally from a 3-0 deficit after the 55th minute. 

    David Ferreira scored in the 83rd minute, and Brek Shea added another in the 86th minute as the Hoops were chopped down by the Timbers 3-2 at Jeld-Wen Field.

    “It seemed like we weren’t ready at kickoff time,” head coach Schellas Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com's Greg Lalas. “Seemed like we were disjointed, out of sync. It was definitely frustrating because we want to be successful every time we play.

    “We gave up two goals off set pieces, which is really disappointing because we worked on that in training. Defensively, we didn’t put them under enough pressure.”

    Even with reshuffling the formation to a 4-4-2 and making lineup changes, it only exacerbated the problem with the Hoops' defending.

    “We knew we were a better team than that,” Hyndman said. “We were breaking down when we got into the attacking third. We weren’t getting into the attack enough from the fullback. [So] we got some fresh legs on. We got Brek out on the left flank to get some penetration there.”

    If FC Dallas are to regain the form that brought them to the MLS Cup Final last year, they must avoid falling into a hole early.

    The Hoops get a chances to plug that hole when they take on another expansion side, the Vancouver Whitecaps.

    Kickoff at Empire Field is scheduled for Saturday, April 23 at 6:00 p.m. CT/7:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Sports Southwest Plus.

10. Columbus Crew

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    COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 16:  Robbie Rogers #18 of the Columbus Crew leaps to make the kick to score the only goal during a 1-0 Columbus victory over Sporting Kansas City on April 16, 2011 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Robert Warzycha's Columbus Crew scored a 1-0 victory over the Kansas City Wizards at Crew Stadium. Robbie Rogers was the hero for the Massive, scoring a massive game winner in the 53rd minute of play. The victory marked the fourth straight shutout—a new club record.

    “It’s a team accomplishment,” Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer told Craig Merz of MLSSoccer.com. “Sometimes the goalkeeper’s name goes behind the shutout column, but really—from top to back—we’re doing an amazing job defending. We’re organized. We’re communicating, and for a goalkeeper this is a dream to sit in behind a group of guys like this.”

    “We have a lot of confidence in each other,” Warzycha added.

    “We’ve really been priding ourselves on keeping that zero," said Crew captain Chad Marshall. “It’s not like we’re getting lucky keeping it at zero. We’re limiting their chances.

    “No one wants to let anybody down. No one wants to be that one mistake that happens in the game. Maybe that was a problem in the past. We’d give up one mistake a game and get punished. When the mistake happens now, guys are busting to get over there and cover it. It’s fun to be a part of it."
    Can they keep the streak going?

    The first leg of Trillium Cup against Toronto FC will tell the story. Kickoff at BMO Field is scheduled for Saturday, April 23 at 4:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by GOLTV Canada.

9. Colorado Rapids

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    FRISCO, TX - APRIL 8: Goal keeper Matt Pickens #18 of the Colorado Rapids clears the ball from the defensive zone during the second half of a soccer game against FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park on April 8, 2011 in Frisco, Texas. FC Dallas won 3-0. (Photo by B
    Brandon Wade/Getty Images

    Gary Smith's Colorado Rapids take a slide down to ninth in this week's power rankings after falling 1-0 to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

    "I thought the big difference tonight, there was a helluva lot more spirit in our play, maybe to be expected, the local derby always brings that out in players," Smith told ColoradoRapids.com. "But I thought overall the game was extremely competitive, few opportunities either way. Both teams had to deal with some adverse conditions. But I thought our guys acquitted themselves incredibly well away from home again.

    "Somehow, someway they seem to scramble one in those final moments. If you look back now over the last two or three years, those goals have been quite vital to our successes and results that we have or haven't got, and tonight again is one of them."

    “I thought that we played very well," said goalkeeper Matt Pickens. "I thought that we came in to win the game, and we were playing that way all the way up until the end.  It kind of hurts right now. I think that what we are going to take out of it is a good road performance for us. I felt like we should have got something out of that game. We came here and we played, unlike last week [against Dallas].

    "We tried to come in and switch some things around come in with a better mentality than we did with Dallas. This is something to build on going home and playing against Seattle [Sounders FC]."

    Kickoff at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MT/9:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.

8. Houston Dynamo

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 17:  Houston Dynamo girls perform during pre-game ceremonies before the Houston Dynamo play the New England Revolution at Robertson Stadium on April 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Dominic Kinnear's Houston Dynamo left it late on Sunday against the New England Revolution, winning 1-0 at Robertson Stadium. Hunter Freeman scored the game winner in the 86th minute of play.

    “Obviously, the goal relieves all of the frustration, and the guys walk off the field happy," Kinnear told HoustonDynamo.com after the match. "It’s good to get another three points. It’s good to get two wins in a row, which we hadn’t done all year, and it leaves us with a good feeling going into next week."

    “The whole team, we played for 90 minutes," added Dynamo forward Cam Weaver. "We dominated the game and didn’t give them many chances. We created a ton of chances for us. On another night it could have been 5-0. It just seemed like it wasn’t our night. To keep pushing on all the way to the end and finally get that goal, it’s three points and we are really happy with that.”

    Up next for Houston is a match with the Chicago Fire on Saturday, April 23 at Toyota Park. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by KHOU 11.2 and on tape delay by TV Azteca-51 on Sunday, April 24 at 8:30 a.m. CT/9:30 a.m. ET.

7. Portland Timbers

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    PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 14: Portland Timbers fans stand in the pouring rain as they cheer before the start of the teams home opening game at Jeld-Wen Field on April 14, 2011 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Making the biggest jump in this week's power rankings are John Spencer's Portland Timbers, who have finally discovered their winning touch.

    Jorge Perlaza scored in the 29th and 47th minutes on Thursday, April 14, and Anthony Wallace added another in the 38th minute to give the Timbers their first-ever victory of the season—the first-ever victory in the history of the Timbers' existence in their current incarnation and their first-ever victory at Jeld-Wen Field: a 4-2 rout of the Chicago Fire.

    It also helped matters that Chicago Dasan Robinson scored an own goal in the 84th minute of play, long after the outcome had been decided.

    “I don’t think you’ll see an atmosphere like that in American soccer history," Spencer told PortlandTimbers.com. "I think it was tremendous. I thought it was electrifying when the first goal went in, it was pretty incredible.

    “I feel very happy for the great game that we all put together," Perlaza said through an interpreter. “[Scoring a brace is[ very motivating, I was always looking for that goal. I just need to continue like this, keep working hard and keep stacking up those wins.”

    Forward Kenny Cooper was all smiles regarding the atmosphere at Jeld-Wen.

    “It’s definitely up there with some of the best experiences I’ve ever had, just a magical atmosphere," Cooper said. "It was a great privilege to be on that field. I had a great time before in MLS and I just feel very blessed and privileged and lucky to have landed here in Portland. It’s just a magical atmosphere; these fans are something special. 

    "I think the league is certainly better now than it was when I left it.”

    “It’s a great win, it’s a historic win," Wallace added. "Being in the first year as an MLS club, it’s an amazing feeling to be in front of the fans that came out. We’re really happy to be in this situation, but we can’t dwell on it because we’ve got to look forward to Dallas on Sunday.”

    Once again, it was more of the same as the Timbers raced to a 3-0 lead and never looked back, defeating FC Dallas 3-2 on Sunday at Jeld-Wen.

    Jack Jewsbury opened the proceeding with a goal in the 13th minute. Cooper, a former FC Dallas standout, made it 2-0 Portland in the 35th minute of play, and Wallace put the game out of reach in spite of a late Dallas rally to make it 3-0 after 55 minutes.

    “I think we’ve played some nice football, and we know ourselves," Spencer told reporters, according to PortlandTimbers.com "We don’t want to concede goals, we want to make the game easy. We went 3-nil up, and the game was easy, but we let our guard down, and we got punished (by allowing two late FC Dallas goals).”

    "Our goal this week coming in was, with two home games, to get six points and get ourselves back in the [playoff] picture," Jewsbury said. "We did that, we’re scoring goals, but at the same time, we need to make sure we shore up the defense in the last few minutes. At the end of the day, it’s six points.”

    "This was a good team; we just faced, they were in the finals last year," Cooper added. "They have last year’s Coach of the Year, last year’s MVP and it definitely feels good to walk away with a win.”

    “We have to win our home games," said Timbers midfielder Jeremy Hall. "This is a tough place to play, and to get ourselves in a good position to make the playoffs, we’re going to have to win these home games because it’s so tough to win on the road.”

    One of those tough matches comes this Saturday, April 23, when they face the Los Angeles Galaxy. Kickoff at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. PT/11:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.

6. Red Bull New York

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    HARRISON, NJ - APRIL 16:  Dwayne De Rosario #11 of the New York Red Bulls looks on against San Jose Earthquakeson April 16, 2011 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. The Red Bulls defeated the Earthquakes 3-0. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for N
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Hans Backe's New York Red Bulls flexed their muscles at home, crushing the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 at Red Bull Arena on Saturday.

    Luke Rodgers scored a brace with goals in the second and 15th minutes, and Thierry Henry added a third in the 87th minute of play.

    “[The third goal] was more annoying than important, because it didn’t really have an effect on the game, but I tried everything I could do to score and I finally did,” Henry told MLSSoccer.com's Kristian Dyer. “But the more important thing is that we worked hard.

    “Luke Rodgers and I tried to put pressure on their defense. We played the same way against Philadelphia but we didn’t score. Hopefully in the future, we can do the same.”

    “You could see with Thierry today, he was different class today, his touch on the ball,” Backe added. “Every striker needs sometimes to score, but he set up today a lot of final passes, and he was very composed on the ball."

    “I just want to go out there and help my team, and sometimes I haven’t been able to do that because of the Achilles,” Henry added. “Today, I felt better, and hopefully, it can stay like this.”

    Henry will need to up his production when they face D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Thursday, April 21. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN2.

5. Seattle Sounders FC

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    CHESTER, PA- APRIL 16: Mauro Rosales #10 of the Seattle Sounders FC heads the ball during the game against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park on April 16, 2011 in Chester, Pennsylvania. The game ended 1-1 tie. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    Sigi Schmid's Seattle Sounders remain fifth in this week's power rankings after earning a 1-1 draw with MLS Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.

    Alvaro Fernandez broke the hearts of the Sons of Ben with the equalizer in the first minute of stoppage time.

    “We just approach home games and road games with the same mentality,” Schmid told Matt Gaschk of SoundersFC.com.  “We want to go out there and win.  We don’t go out on the road and hope we can keep it tight and hope we can sneak out a win and hope we can get out of here 1-0.

    “The team that’s at home, hopefully there is a little more pressure on them to carry the game and take the game to us. “From that standpoint, sometimes that opens up spaces to counter attack, and I think we are a pretty good counterattacking team when those opportunities present themselves.”

    “Usually, we have very good away support,” goalkeeper Kasey Keller added.  “We’re taking a couple hundred people who are extremely vocal for us on the road.  That makes a big difference.  Obviously, we have that pride that we want to go out and show for them as well.”

    Seattle will have a tough test on their hands as they hit the road to take on the Colorado Rapids on Friday, April 22. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.

4. D.C. United

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    TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 16:  Dax McCarty #10 of D.C. United chips the ball forward in a game against Toronto FC on April 16, 2011 at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada. D.C. United defeated Toronto FC 3-0. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    After holding the Los Angeles Galaxy to a 1-1 draw, Ben Olsen's D.C. United got right and cruised to a 3-0 victory over Toronto FC on Saturday at BMO Field. 

    Chris Pontius earned a brace with goals in the fifth and 73rd minutes of play, and Charlie Davies added another in the 10th.

    “Our mindset before the game was in the right place,” D.C. forward Josh Wolff told MLSSoccer.com's Travis Clark. “Guys were excited, they were lively in the locker room and we preached getting after them even though we’re on the road in a tough place to play, and we decided for us it was about us pressing and really getting after their back four.

    “Honestly, I think every guy in the locker room before the game was saying ‘let’s drive for the first one, sneak something early and make the game a little bit easier on ourselves.’ And it showed up right away.”

    Next up for D.C. is a match with the New York Red Bulls on Thursday, April 21 at RFK Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN2.

3. Philadelphia Union

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    CHESTER, PA- APRIL 16: Carlos Ruiz #20 of the Philadelphia Union shoots and scores on a free kick during the game against the Seattle Sounders FC at PPL Park on April 16, 2011 in Chester, Pennsylvania. The game ended 1-1 tie. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Gett
    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    Peter Nowak Philadelphia Union were unfortunate to let victory escape their grasp in a 1-1 draw with the Seattle Sounders on Saturday at PPL Park. Carlos Ruiz scored for the Union in the 32nd minute of play.

    “We were dropping deep at times, and we got a little unfortunate,” defender Jordan Harvey told Andy Jasner of philadelphiaunion.com. “[The late equalizer] was a scramble off a corner. We have given up two goals this year off set pieces. We need to clean that up, but other than that, we had a decent game. But we can’t give up a goal in the [91st] minute.”

    “The ball hasn’t come to me a lot, but that is because of a very good job of my defense," said Philadelphia goalkeeper and team captain Faryd Mondragon. "We need to be very concentrated from the first to last minute. Anything can happen and the ball can get through the defense.

    "Today was unfortunate. It was one of those things that can happen in soccer. It was a last-minute ball, and we just found ourselves in an unfortunate situation. That makes us feel bad as it’s a last-minute goal, but I think the team played a fantastic game despite the weather conditions. “We did a great job and had two or three good chances. We have to keep working—as we have a very young team—in order to protect the net for the last few minutes of the game as well.”

    “I think we are doing a good job,” said defender Danny Califf. “We would have liked to come away with three points instead of one, but we’re doing a good job. I think we can clean some things up. To have 10 points after five matches is good and steps ahead of last season. I think we have to be happy with that.”

    More consistency from the Union defense will need to be in order when they take on the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, April 30 at PPL Park. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by 6abc.

2. Los Angeles Galaxy

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    BRIDGEVIEW, IL - APRIL 17: Omar Gonzalez #4 of the Los Angeles Galaxy celebrates his goal against the  Chicago Fire in an MLS match on April 17, 2011 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Galaxy won 2-1. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
    David Banks/Getty Images

    A moderately successful road trip was the theme of the week for Bruce Arena Galaxy, who went on to take five out a possible nine points. On Wednesday, Toronto FC hosted the Galaxy, and it turned out to be another scoreless draw on tap at BMO Field.

    "We have got a long way to go," Arena told LAGalaxy.com. "Certainly when you walk off the field and you don’t have three points you know you have a lot of work ahead of you and we do."

    Beckham, who would be suspended for the match against the Chicago Fire due to yellow card accumulation, was unimpressed with the dubious officiating, and rightfully so.

    "To be honest, over the last few games, I’ve spoken too much about referees," Beckham said. "They are becoming the stars of the MLS, and that’s obviously not what teams want and clubs want.  You want the players to be playing out there; you want it to be fair.  I just don’t think the consistency is there.  

    "I think there are bad calls, and we’ve had the majority of bad calls over the last few games.  It’s ruining games, it’s ruining our preparation for games.  I’ll probably get in trouble, but it’s gone on too long now.  We want that consistency to be there, and we want to keep our players on the field."

    Chad Barrett, a former Toronto front man, had his chances to score but fell short.

    "Like I said before the game, there is a bunch of excitement, obviously I was ready to go," Barrett said. "I thought the team did very well today, we came out, we forced them out and we pressed the game.  We got a little open there at the end, but we have to try to push forward and score a goal.

    "I think that we were the better team and I think we deserved more than what we got here."

    On Sunday, against the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park, Los Angeles came in without the services of Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Juninho (who was suspended for one game after earning a red card late in stoppage time against the Reds) and Jovan Kirovski (whose suspension was extended to one more game thanks to this body we call the MLS Disciplinary Committee)...and won.

    Barrett finally got his scoring touch going in the 42nd minute of play and just like last year, Omar Gonzalez broke Fire hearts again with a header in the 72nd minute of play off a corner from a promising Argentinean by the name of Miguel Lopez.

    The result? A 2-1 victory. But it came with a price. In an act that is likely to be reviewed by the men of the Disciplinary Committee (barring an Act of God), the Fire's Dominic Oduro delivered a rough tackle on Leonardo, effectively ending his season in Bridgeview.

    “It was a good win," Arena told LAGalaxy.com. "I thought that they played very well for large portions of the game.  Obviously, the game got a little hectic during the last 10 minutes of the match, but it’s good to walk out of here with three points."

    Arena stressed the importance of getting those road points.

    “It’s important because we had five of our first seven goals on the road," Arena said. "Whenever you can get points on the road it’s important, and now for the season, I believe we have eight points on the road in four games, five games.  That’s pretty good.  Maybe it’s nine points, I don’t even know.  I think we played well on the road.  The three points were critically important.

    "At this stage in the season, with what we’ve dealt with with injuries and the road games and the situations we’ve have to deal with and to be in position where we have 12 points after seven games isn’t bad."

    Gonzalez attributed the victory to the depth of his players.

    “We’re missing a lot of players," Gonzalez said. "I think all the guys that came in did an amazing job and I think we’ve played some of the best soccer in a while.

    Barrett felt that there was room for improvement after the win.

    “We didn’t do a great job once [the Fire] went down to 10 guys," Barrett told reporters. "We didn’t pass it around.  I think a couple guys got envious and big eyes towards the goal.  I think we need to be smarter and learn how to defend them.  We were able to hold them off and get three points.”

    With Leonardo out for the year, A.J. DeLaGarza could be cast into a greater role in the back four. Up next for the Galaxy is a match with the high-flying Portland Timbers on Saturday, April 23.

    Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. PT/11:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.

1. Real Salt Lake

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    FOXBORO, MA - APRIL 9:  Paulo Araujo #23 of Real Salt Lake battles against Pat Phalen #28 of the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium April 9, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Gail Oskin/Getty Images)
    Gail Oskin/Getty Images

    Jason Kreis's Real Salt Lake have a few games in hand over the Los Angeles Galaxy and upped their league winning streak with a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids in the first leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup at Rio Tinto Stadium.

    Fabian Espindola broke through the deadlock in the third minute of stoppage time.

    “It’s remarkable how many games against Colorado are being decided in the last minutes of the matches," Kreis told realsaltlake.com. “I think it’s really important that we continue to find our confidence defensively.  I don’t remember Colorado having something that was really, really dangerous against us tonight, so I think we have to feel good about what went into things on that side of the ball.”

    “Not many people remember the effort that one puts into every play, only the goals that you score," Espindola said. "For a striker, it is always very frustrating when you can’t put the ball into the net, but when your efforts end in a goal, it gives you a huge satisfaction. Goals are a way of life for a striker.

    “The game was very well fought. [Colorado] came out playing very well, but we were home and we needed to push the whole game. They played very well, but the best chances on goal came from us.”
    Goalkeeper was pleased with the start for Real.

    “This is the way we wanted to start," Rimando said. "Jump out early and get points, especially with the CONCACAF tournament [ongoing].”

    “We pay attention to the little details and try to stay switched on," said captain Kyle Beckerman. "It seems that sometimes throw-ins or free-kicks will decide the outcome of a game, so we’ll keep doing that.”

    Up next for Real: the first leg of the 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League Final against Monterrey.
    Kickoff at the Estadio Tecnologico in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico is scheduled for Wednesday, April 23 at 8:00 p.m. MT/10:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel and Telefutura.

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