Wednesday July 11th, 2007

AP Photo/The Chronicle, Kevin Fujii
Midterm grades
With the majority of MLS teams having reached the midway point of their schedule, it's time to review how they've fared in our first-half report cards, which I based on overall play as well as expectations heading into the season. Let's hand out the grades ...

CHICAGO: Chris Rolfe's injury really crippled the Fire. Only one league win since April ... D+
CHIVAS USA: MLS' Jekyll and Hyde: Great at home (5-0-1). Puzzling on road (1-5-2) ... C+
COLORADO: Rapids haven't won since May 26. Time is running short on the Clavijo era ... D
COLUMBUS: Just 11 points shy of last year's total already. Only Revs have lost fewer ... B+
D.C. UNITED: Started 0-3 after CCC hangover, but DCU looks like East team to beat ... B+
FC DALLAS: Big overhaul gamble paid off. And Hoops have got little from Carlos Ruiz ... B+
HOUSTON: First eight games: 2-5-1; Next eight: 7-0-1. Champs are back in fine form ... A-
LOS ANGELES: They'll feel slow start when schedule gets real tricky (11 left on road) ... C-
KANSAS CITY: Wizards attack non-stop -- but, boy, have they wasted great chances ... B
NEW ENGLAND: Stumbled a bit in June, especially at home, without its complete roster ... B
NEW YORK: Great start, ugly lull. They're in first, but the Bulls have problems to solve ... B-
REAL SALT LAKE: One win in 14. Jason Kreis has a lot of work to do to get it on track ... F
TORONTO FC: Forgettable first month, but TFC remade itself into a playoff contender ... C+
Notes from around the league
A-League and USL-2 sides gave MLS teams all they could handle in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. Not only were defending MLS champ Houston (by Charleston 1-0 in two OTs) and Los Angeles (by Richmond 1-0) eliminated, but New England also needed two stoppage-time goals to beat Rochester and FC Dallas escaped against Atlanta in penality kicks. Three more MLS teams (Chicago, Chivas USA and D.C. United) play Wednesday night. ... New England's Steve Ralston matched ex-Mutiny teammate Carlos Valderrama's all-time MLS assist record of 114. ... Could the Joseph Ngwenya-Alejandro Moreno swap have worked out any better for both teams? Ngwenya has five goals since arriving in Houston, while Moreno has three for Columbus. Neither player had scored this season before the deal. ... The Dynamo have been even more impressive on defense: They have not allowed a goal in 515 minutes, the third-longest shutout streak in MLS history. Kansas City (2000) holds the league record at 680 minutes. The '06 Galaxy (521 minutes) are in second. ... First impressions of the Galaxy's new look: Uniforms are sharp, but I'm not a big fan of that new shield. ... Here are some early artist renderings of D.C. United's proposed new stadium.
RankLW Team
Houston Dynamo (9-5-2)
Have outscored opponents 10-1 in three Thurs. matches
D.C. United (7-5-2)
That match in Houston had look and feel of a Cup final
New England Revolution (6-3-5)
Andy Dorman's six goals already have tied a career best
FC Dallas (9-6-2)
Now 6-2-1 against Western Conference sides this season
New York Red Bulls (7-5-3)
Colorado win was just the fourth in past 25 road matches
Chivas USA (6-5-3)
Preston Burpo made some huge stops in draw with Revs
Kansas City Wizards (6-5-4)
Time to make a move -- EJ's back, 5 of next 6 at home
Columbus Crew (5-4-7)
Only two of 16 matches decided by more than one goal
Toronto FC (5-7-3)
TFC already has used a league-high 29 players
Los Angeles Galaxy (3-5-4)
At $141,500, Carlos Pavón the 8th-highest Galaxy player
Chicago Fire (4-7-4)
Forward Calen Carr has scored once in 715 mins. in 2007
Colorado Rapids (4-8-5)
Have not scored a goal in the final 15 minutes all season
Real Salt Lake (1-7-6)
Esky's late-match red just the latest sign of frustration

1. That smothering D,
Houston Dynamo

2. Steve Ralston
New England Revs

3. Cobi Jones
Los Angeles Galaxy
Thursday, July 12
Houston 2, Chicago 0 (ESPN2) -- The Fire are having a hard enough time scoring as it is
Saturday, July 14
DC United 1, FC Dallas 0 -- Good news, Hoops: Only four road games left after the break
New England 2, New York 1 (FSC) -- N.Y. is 2-9-5 vs. Revs in past four regular seasons
Kansas City 3, Real Salt Lake 1 -- Can E.J. record his third straight MLS hat trick?
Chivas USA 2, Columbus 1 (HDNet) -- Goats have conceded 1 goal in 540 home minutes
Sunday, July 15
Houston 2, Toronto FC 0 -- Dynamo break MLS shutout streak record in the 76th minute
It's a nice gesture to send Cobi Jones and Eddie Pope to the All-Star Game, but it's a shame Columbus' Guillermo Barros Schelotto, the league's leading assist man, was left off the roster. To me, he was the biggest snub.

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