Thursday April 26th, 2007

J. Miranda/MLS/
Heroes And Goats
How good is Chivas USA? We're about to find out. Even with the offseason departures of Juan Pablo García and Paco Palencia, the Goats have been entertaining and impressive so far this season -- without a big contribution from Amado Guevara. Led by Maykel Galindo, Sacha Kljestan and new Century Club member Ante Razov, Chivas has scored six goals in its two victories, but they came against the league's two worst defenses. Now it's time for the SuperClásico and a Galaxy side against whom Chivas has struggled mightily in its two seasons (1-6-1 in MLS play), followed by back-to-back road matches in D.C. and Columbus. With the league's best goalkeeper -- Brad Guzan -- expect Preki's side to be a bona fide threat in the West all season long.
Herron vs. Heaps
Six days after one of the ugliest elbows you'll see on the soccer pitch, Columbus striker Andy Herron is still awaiting word on his punishment. The big questions: What on earth is taking MLS so long? And, how long will the Costa Rican be sidelined? Herron wasn't carded for the brutal and clearly intentional -- watch the clip here -- right elbow to the face of Jay Heaps, giving the Revs defender a concussion. And this isn't Herron's first run-in with the league: He served an eight-game ban after confronting a linesman in the 2005 playoffs.UPDATE: Herron was suspended four games and fined $3,000 on Wednesday afternoon. He's lucky the league wasn't more harsh.
Slow go for De Ro
Houston started off slow with just four points in its first three games. And the most disconcerting part of the Dynamo's woes has been the unimaginative start by star Dwayne De Rosario. Embroiled in a bitter contract dispute, the two-time MVP runner-up says he's not letting his off-the-pitch issues affect his play. But it definitely sounds as if it's weighing on his mind. "All I can do is continue focus on my job on the field, to score goals, create goals and help my teammates in any way, to be successful and to bring another championship to Houston," De Rosario told the Houston Chronicle last week, "and hopefully the league could decide to come up with the money that a player of my caliber deserves."
The Bulls' backbone
New York's hot start and the standout play of 17-year-old Jozy Altidore has been one of MLS' big early stories. But an overlooked reason for the Red Bulls' improvement is the play of their organized, stingy defense and new goalkeeper Ronald Waterreus. After all, the Red Bulls are the only team in the league yet to concede a goal. The high-profile DP signings receive the pub, but two under-the-radar moves by Bruce Arena have proven to be just as critical -- acquiring Todd Dunivant from L.A. last June for a partial allocation, then getting Hunter Freeman from Colorado for two low draft picks this offseason. Make no mistake: Arena knows how to build a winner.
RankLW Team
New York Red Bulls (2-0-1)
Completing a Texas triple (Dal, Hou, Dal) would be big.
Chicago Fire (2-0-1)
Impressive performance by Rolfe, Barrett vs. Wizards.
Houston Dynamo (1-1-1)
Hard to tell they were playing a man up in New York.
FC Dallas (2-1-1)
Not many questions about the offseason overhaul now.
New England Revolution (1-1-1)
Lack of focus late in Columbus cost the Revs two points.
Chivas USA (2-1-0)
4-0 rout was Chivas' biggest since 5-1 win vs. RSL in '05.
Colorado Rapids (1-1-1)
Set to play RSL in MLS' first-ever Monday night game.
Kansas City Wizards (1-1-0)
Loss of Scott Sealy to an ankle injury is a big setback.
D.C. United (0-2-0)
Do I think there are eight teams better than United? No.
Los Angeles Galaxy (0-1-1)
Lando and the gang need to give Jaqua better service.
Columbus Crew (0-0-3)
Yes, the Crew are one of the three remaining unbeatens.
Real Salt Lake (0-1-2)
A chance at three points vs. Chivas? Gone in 27 seconds.
Toronto FC (0-2-0)
Clearly, don't get too attached to any players in Toronto.
Three other random thoughts going into Week 4
1. -- Mighty Kasey -- Real Salt Lake GM Steve Pastorino told's Jonah Freedman that "it doesn't make sense" for his team to pursue Kasey Keller right now. At this point, neither does keeping Nick Rimando in goal. At least start Under-23 star Chris Seitz if you don't have the means -- or the foresight -- to get Keller. If RSL isn't an option for the American legend, perhaps Keller can look to Colorado, where Bouna Coundoul doesn't exactly look like a championship-worthy option.
2. -- Mr. Wizard -- Carlos Marinelli was impressive in his MLS debut with the Wizards. The Argentinean midfielder came on as a second-half sub, showing excellent vision and touch in his 45 minutes. But here's what really impressed me: After drawing a penalty in the closing minutes (although he went down a little too easy), Marinelli got up, grabbed the ball with force and coolly slotted home the PK. And this is a guy who's been with his team less than a month. I think Kansas City got a player in Marinelli.
3. -- Welcome to Toronto -- I'm eager to see the crowd's reaction at Saturday's home opener for Toronto FC. This will be the second meeting with the Wizards in the span of four days for Toronto, which is still looking for its first goal and win entering Wednesday night's game in K.C. After opening the season with three consecutive road games, Toronto has a golden opportunity to turn its slow start around. If TFC doesn't take advantage of this four-game homestand, it will be a long expansion season north of the border.

1. Ramón Núñez
FC Dallas

2. Maykel Galindo
Chivas USA

3. Frankie Hejduk
Columbus Crew
Wednesday, April 25
Kansas City 2, Toronto 0 -- That elusive first goal, first TFC victory will have to wait
Thursday, April 26
N.Y. 1, FC Dallas 1 (ESPN2) -- Longtime Dallas-burner Clint Mathis is suspended (red card)
Saturday, April 28
Toronto 1, Kansas City 0 (HDNet) -- Johnston's side sends the BMO faithful home happy
D.C. United 2, Columbus 0 -- You can bet D.C. won't start 0-3 for first time since 1996
Chivas USA 2, L.A. 2 (FSC) -- A match worth staying up late for (or TiVo-ing) in the East
Sunday, April 29
FC Dallas 2, N.E. 1 (TeleFutura) -- FCD's 2nd Thurs.-Sun. slate, but these are at home
Monday, April 30
Colorado 3, Salt Lake 1 -- John Ellinger's hot seat ratchets up a few more degrees

Last Week: 4-1; This season: 9-9
Beckham effect? Not yet. Through the season's first three weeks, MLS is averaging 15,760 announced fans per game -- just a little more than the 12-year average of 15,046.

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