Thursday June 28th, 2007

Newman Lowrance/MLS/
My first-half Best XI
Now that MLS fans have had their shot to vote for this year's All-Star team (Houston's Dwayne De Rosario was the leading vote-getter), here are my selections for this year's Best XI of the first half. The MLS All-Stars will take on Celtic on July 19 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Colorado. (Ballot requirements: two forwards, five midfielders, three defenders and a goalkeeper.)

F: Juan Pablo Ángel, New York -- Nine goals in seven games. Early leader in MVP race.
F: Eddie Johnson, Kansas City -- Has erased the memory of nightmare '06 in a big way.
M: Juan Toja, FC Dallas -- The only thing more entertaining than his game is his hair.
M: Herculez Gomez, Colorado -- If MLS' All-Star ballot lists him as a midfielder, so will I.
M: Brad Davis, Houston -- Could be Clark or De Ro, too. I'll reward Davis' consistency.
M: Ronnie O'Brien, Toronto FC -- Little coincidence TFC turned it around upon his return.
M: Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Columbus -- His flair makes Columbus decidedly better.
D: Michael Parkhurst, New England -- Rhody native just tapping surface of his potential,
D: Jimmy Conrad, Kansas City -- Broken jaw hasn't slowed Conrad down at all this year.
D: Jim Brennan, Toronto FC -- First player signed by TFC has been a stalwart in the back.
G: Brad Guzan, Chivas USA -- Five clean sheets. 1.09 GAA. Just ekes out Reis, Coundoul.

Clearly, there are worthy players who aren't on my list. Who would you pick? Chime in here.
Trader Mo's
A early lesson learned for all Toronto FC fans: It probably isn't wise to get a personalized jersey just yet. Since opening day, Mo Johnston and TFC have been busy -- trading or releasing nine players, while adding 11. Kevin Goldthwaite was the latest player shipped out by Trader Mo; the defender was dealt to New York for Todd Dunivant this week. But the bottom line? Johnston has done a pretty nice job making over this expansion team. In addition to signing former European-based strikers Danny Dichio and newest arrival Collin Samuel, just look at how TFC has upgraded its roster on the trade market alone:

Who's Out: Goldthwaite, Alecko Eskandarian, Edson Buddle, Paulo Nagamura, Conor Casey, Richard Mulrooney, José Cancela.
Who's In: Jeff Cunningham, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Dunivant -- and they've acquired four additional first-round picks in '08.

The truly funny part? There are only four teams with which Toronto FC has yet to make a deal: Columbus, Chicago, Kansas City and New England. But the year is still young for Trader Mo.
Notes from around the league
Fire interim coach Denis Hamlett will make history when Chicago faces Colorado on Sunday, becoming the first black head coach in MLS history. Hamlett, an assistant coach for the Fire for 10 seasons, has never held a head-coaching position. ... One for the conspiracy theorists: On's newly redesigned Web site, the team links at the top of the page are no longer broken up by conference. Is this a sign for fans clamoring for a single-table format? ... In Los Angeles' 3-2 loss to Columbus, Gavin Glinton scored for the first time since May 17, 2003, the eighth-longest stretch between goals in league history.
RankLW Team
New England Revolution (6-2-4)
On top despite earning just five of 12 pts. in homestand
New York Red Bulls (6-3-3)
Is the Goldthwaite trade a sign of more moves to come?
Houston Dynamo (7-5-1)
Three goals in 20 mins. for Davis after 13-game drought
Kansas City Wizards (6-4-2)
Shut out for first time all season in 1-0 loss to Dynamo
D.C. United (5-4-2)
The RSL loss isn't a sign of regression back to early woes
FC Dallas (8-6-1)
Have played as many games on road (10) as L.A. overall
Chivas USA (5-4-2)
Two more Cuban defectors could be set to join Galindo
Toronto FC (4-7-1)
Have been outscored 14-2 in its five road games (0-4-1)
Columbus Crew (3-4-6)
Looking for first 3-game win streak since 8/20-9/3 of '05
Colorado Rapids (4-6-3)
Some angry Rapids fans have created
Chicago Fire (4-6-2)
Scored more than one goal in just two of their 12 games
Los Angeles Galaxy (2-5-3)
Will play only two league games between now and Aug. 5
Real Salt Lake (1-5-6)
The Robbie Findley trade paid big dividends in a hurry

1. Robbie Findley
Real Salt Lake

2. Brad Davis
Houston Dynamo

3. Andy Dorman
New England Revs
Thursday, June 28
D.C. United 2, Colorado 0 (ESPN2) -- Colorado hasn't won in D.C. since July 10, 1999
Saturday, June 30
FC Dallas 1, Houston 1 (FSC) -- Hoops only 1-4-1 against Lone Star rivals in past six
New York 2, Columbus 1 (HDNet) -- Ángel will match MLS record with goal in 7th straight
Chivas USA 2, New England 1 -- Chivas USA is only remaining team without a home loss
Sunday, July 1
Colorado 1, Chicago 1 -- Two teams that have fallen off the map after positive starts
Kansas City 2, Toronto FC 0 -- Wizards rolled 3-0 in TFC's last trip to Arrowhead

Last Week: 1-6; This season: a relegation-worthy 29-43

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