Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things to take away from Week 7:
Truth is these things are cyclical. Goalkeeping will once again be a strong position. But there can be no question that the men in the sticks have struggled in 2010. When
Keller seem baffled by Jovan Kirovski's 22nd-minute shot in Seattle, moving the wrong way on what would usually be a routine moment for the former U.S. international.
So add Keller to the occasionally naughty list. And it's a long list.
The form of Red Bull's
And then there's
Seattle burst upon the MLS scene last year with surprising results through spring and early summer. The Sounders went meek in home form through the late going of 2009, but they had built a bit of a cushion and everyone was willing to give the expansions darlings a pass.
But the raw numbers don't lie. The Sounders are 3-3-4 in their last 10 MLS matches at Qwest, going back to last August and including a scoreless draw in the playoffs. Even more stunning is that Schmid's team has been shut out in six of those 10, striking just six times in that window.
Saturday, they were on the business end of a 4-0 lashing, and radical shuffling surely is ahead. "I gave some guys a long leash," Schmid said afterward. "That leash just broke."
Even the fabulous fans there are losing patience. At one point they began singing Saturday, "All we are saying ... is give us a goal."
But a closer inspection reveals cracks in the foundation, probably related to the economy but also to the ongoing struggles in places like Colorado, Columbus, Dallas and New England. Chicago is barely keeping pace, and the signs abound that United's form on the field is tamping down enthusiasm in the nation's capital. (Just 12,089 at RFK for an MLS-WPS doubleheader last week, followed by 10,038 for a midweek win over Kansas City.)
Bottom line: 10 of 16 clubs are below the league average in attendance, a number still being propped up by brawny totals in Seattle, Toronto and Los Angeles.
Chivas USA spanks New England on the road ... but then flat-lined at home against Houston in Round 7. And speaking of Dominic Kinnear's team, the Orange started the extended round of matches by losing to Dallas at home. No matter, they shuffled the lineup and went on the road to upend Chivas USA.
Kansas City couldn't be stopped earlier this year, but now Peter Vermes' side can't score.
Such is life in MLS, where form can come and go as fast as spring storms.
Hope has sprung, at least, for D.C. United, which had a good week despite the 1-0 loss in Dallas. A good night in goal for Hartman, who also had some help from a friendly post and cross bar, partially obscured a much more organized performance from United.
"I thought we had a really disciplined game plan, I thought we executed it well and we were unlucky on the finishing end," United manager Curt Onalfo said afterward.
Dallas, on the other hand, may have played its worst game of 2010.
Chicago found a formation that seemed to work briefly and looked pretty good for a couple of outings. But neither
Even within matches, the winds can shift considerably. Columbus and Real Salt Lake looked meek for a half Saturday but took control after the break to record wins at home.
Beyond L.A. -- Landon Donovan had a goal and three assists in a dazzling au revoir before World Cup duty -- there is one other team that's been quite consistent since opening day.
San Jose has won four of five since March. Big thanks go to two characters who took their share of public beatings last year:
"Bobby is playing some of the best soccer of his career right now," Earthquakes coach