As the Major League Soccer season nears its halfway point, the playoff picture in both conferences is getting less clear rather than more defined. The No. 1 and No. 8 teams in the East are separated by 12 points, while first and seventh in the West are separated by 14. The quality gap between the top and bottom teams is also narrowing, with teams near the bottom (Philadelphia) able to beat teams near the top (Kansas City) on a weekly basis.
Last week: 19.
Paul Mariner’s stint as head coach has been relatively successful so far, as his team is 0-1-2 under his charge and is definitely creating chances to win games. If a couple more bounces go their way, the Reds could find a win or two soon.
This week: at Montreal, Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.; vs. New York, Saturday at 5 p.m.
Last week: 17.
New England fought for its 2-2 tie in Toronto, scoring two goals in the last 20 minutes to equalize a game that Toronto dominated on its home field up until that point. However, the Revs were playing against the worst team in the league this season — surely, they should have done more than barely tie the game.
This week: vs. Seattle, Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Last week: 16.
Even though it was a man up for an hour, the Crew couldn’t get a result in Chicago. Being down 2-0 before the Fire went down to 10 men didn’t help, but it doesn’t provide an excuse for why Columbus couldn’t salvage something with that much time to work with.
This week: vs. Salt Lake, Saturday at 6 p.m. (CW 30/ESPN 700).
Last week: 18.
In its lone game of the week, the Union smothered a travel-weary Kansas City 4-0 on Saturday. As the team that had scored the least amount of goals in the league, Philadelphia put four past the team that came into the game having conceded the least amount of goals.
This week: at Houston, Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
Last week: 15.
Staring down a 2-2 tie at halftime in Houston, Montreal came out like a team on fire last weekend, gutting out a 4-2 win at the final whistle. The Impact outshot the Dynamo 8-0 in the second 45 minutes.
This week: vs. Toronto, Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.; at D.C., Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Last week: 11.
In two disappointing games against the Eastern Conference Canadian MLS teams, Houston tied lowly Toronto and lost to Montreal. The Dynamo may be getting a little tired, having played four games in two weeks and not rotating the lineup too much.
This week: vs. Philadelphia, Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
Last week: 12.
Dallas hasn’t won in 11 games, a franchise record. However, the one bright spot from last weekend was that it managed to get its first shutout in that time period, tying Chivas 0-0 at home.
This week: No games.
Last week: 14.
The hype surrounding the Cascadia derby is unlike any other in the league, and coach John Spencer was under some pressure to produce a result against Seattle at home. His team delivered, taking an early 2-0 lead thanks to its strong play in the air inside the box, and Portland locked down on the defensive end to seal the win.
This week: at Colorado, Saturday at 7 p.m.
Last week: 9.
The Rapids played well for 80 minutes against San Jose, but then they gave up two very late goals to lose it all. For the second game in a row, Colorado lost a game in the last 10 minutes.
This week: vs. Portland, Saturday at 7 p.m.
Last week: 13.
For the second time this season, Los Angeles looks like it’s making a comeback. Landon Donovan rightly won MLS Player of the Week for two strong performances in Salt Lake and Vancouver, where the Galaxy knocked off two of this season’s better-performing teams.
This week: at San Jose, Saturday at 8 p.m. (ESPN2).
Last week: 10.
Chivas continues to beat the teams it should and get good results in tough situations. After a 2-1 win against Montreal, Chivas did well to hold Dallas scoreless and escape the Frisco pressure cooker with a point.
This week: No games.
Last week: 7.
The Sounders continue to struggle, at home, on the road and everywhere in between. The latest chapter in Seattle’s midseason woes was an embarrassing 2-1 loss in Portland.
This week: at New England, Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Last week: 6.
If it hopes to be taken seriously as a contender in the West in its second season, Vancouver needs to get results at home. One point out of two games, like last week, isn’t good enough.
This week: No games.
Last week: 8.
Quietly, Chicago is having a good season after a slow start. Even down a man for 61 minutes against Columbus, the Fire made a 2-0 lead hold up for a win.
This week: at Kansas City, Friday at 6 p.m. (NBC Sports Network).
Last week: 4.
Kansas City got a good result on the road in Seattle while resting a couple key players, so a game in Philadelphia later in the week should have seemed easier. It wasn’t; Kansas City got dominated in a 4-0 loss.
This week: vs. Chicago, Friday at 6 p.m. (NBC Sports Network).
Last week: 5.
D.C. started brightly enough against the Red Bulls on Sunday, scoring in the first minute, but then it all went to waste. Against a New York team tired from cross-continental travel, D.C. needed at least a point from that game.
This week: vs. Montreal, Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Last week: 1.
Sure, it was against Los Angeles and San Jose, but losing twice at home in one week is unacceptable. Against the Earthquakes, Salt Lake was wasteful with its offensive opportunities and gave up two late goals to lose.
This week: at Columbus, Saturday at 6 p.m. (CW 30/ESPN 700).
Last week: 3.
Brandon Barklage provided two goals from right back against his old club as New York downed D.C. 3-2 on Sunday. For the first time in a long time, the star-studded Red Bulls look like contenders in the East.
This week: at Toronto, Saturday at 5 p.m.
Last week: 2.
A couple of good road results have catapulted the Earthquakes into the top spot in the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield races. The California Clasico comes after a tough Open Cup test against Seattle this week.
This week: vs. Los Angeles, Saturday at 8 p.m. MDT (ESPN2).