By Ryan Hunt
May 24, 2007

Thomas B. Shea/MLS/
What's wrong with the champs?
Houston at D.C. United. Just seven weeks ago, it looked as if this would be a matchup of the league's powerhouses: two sides steamrolling into the MLS season following confidence-building performances in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. In reality, the opposite has happened. The defending MLS champion Dynamo are off to a 2-4-1 start, scoring just four goals in the process. D.C. started the season 0-3, caused largely by lackluster defending. But while United seems to have turns their season around, Houston's problems continue to mystify. Aside from a 13-minute, three-goal flurry in the second half against Colorado, Houston has scored just one goal in the other 617 minutes this season. "We've been concentrating on finishing all week long in practice," striker Brian Ching said Thursday, five days after Houston's loss to New England -- its fourth 1-0 setback of the season. "We have been doing just about everything right except putting the ball in the back of the net." And since this summer's international competitions will leave the Dynamo short-handed -- both Ching and teammate Ricardo Clark were named to the Gold Cup squad on Thursday, and Dwayne De Rosario will play for Canada -- the Dynamo will have to turn it around in a hurry. "The longer it goes, the more frustrating it gets," Ching says. "The next few games are big with the way we've been playing."
Nuggets from around the league
With all of the talk about designated player arrivals, two of the best signings of the offseason were under-the-radar moves by FC Dallas: Colombian Juan Toja ($100,008) and Argentine Pablo Richetti ($120K). ... Letdown factor: The Galaxy are 1-5-3 -- and winless in their past eight -- in the nine regular-season matches after playing Chivas USA. ... Ankle injuries have been an early nuisance for most of the Eastern Conference's top teams: Chicago (Chris Rolfe), New York (Hunter Freeman and Ronald Waterreus), Kansas City (Scott Sealy) and New England (Khano Smith) are all battling the effects. ... In its 2-1 victory over Toronto FC, D.C. United became just the third team to win this season after conceding the first goal. In all, teams that score first are 31-3-9 this season. ... Four minutes after coming on as a substitute, Sal Caccavale netted his first career MLS goal in the 92nd minute of the New York's 4-0 rout of Columbus. He is the second developmental player to score this season (Dallas' Dominic Oduro was the other), and Caccavale's strike, in fact, was the fourth fastest in a debut in MLS history.
Rank LW Team
1 1
New England Revolution (5-1-2)
Only one shot on target vs. Houston. All they needed
2 2
New York Red Bulls (4-1-2)
Altidore missed Crew match to attend his senior prom
3 4
FC Dallas (5-3-1)
Can go unbeaten in May for the first time since 1997
4 3
Kansas City Wizards (4-2-1)
Sealy hopes to be healthy for June 2 match vs. Red Bulls
5 5
Colorado Rapids (3-2-3)
Rapids have yet to trail at halftime so far this season
6 11
D.C. United (2-3-1)
Two straight league victories for first time since last July
7 7
Chicago Fire (3-3-1)
Woodwork unkind to Fire; hit it three times in loss to FCD
8 6
Houston Dynamo (2-4-1)
The silver ball curse? One goal in 360 minutes at home
9 8
Los Angeles Galaxy (1-2-2)
Goats' Guzan kept Galaxy from stealing all three points
10 10
Toronto FC (2-5-0)
Whistled for MLS-high average of 20.4 fouls per game
11 9
Columbus Crew (1-2-4)
Uncharacteristic sloppiness from Marcos González vs. NY
12 12
Chivas USA (2-3-2)
Haven't gotten a goal from midfield since season opener
13 13
Real Salt Lake (0-3-4)
Winless in league, sent out of U.S. Open Cup by Rapids
Three more random notes heading into Week 8
1. -- Don't let them score: FC Dallas improved to 13-0-2 when Kenny Cooper scores a goal in last Thursday's 2-1 victory over Chicago. New York, meanwhile, is an astouning 22-0-5 all time when Clint Mathis has found the net. Mathis is just one goal shy of matching Giovanni Savarese's franchise record for career goals (44).
2. -- Safe travels: Starting the season with six of its first eight on the road didn't hurt New England. The Revs already have won three games away from Gillette Stadium this season; they only won four all of last season. New England will only play one match away from home between now and July 13.
3. -- Fast impressions: Three of the league's fastest new arrivals all came via the second round of the MLS SuperDraft -- L.A.'s Robbie Findlay (the 16th pick), New York's Dane Richards (19th) and Houston's Corey Ashe (26th).

1. Chris Gbandi
FC Dallas

2. Juan Pablo Ángel
New York Red Bulls

3. Michael Parkhurst
New England Revs
Thursday, May 24
New York 2, Chicago 1 (ESPN2) -- With Rolfe still ailing, Fire's losing skid goes to four
Saturday, May 26
New England 2, Kansas City 1 -- Revs continue to roll against banged-up K.C. back line
Houston 2, D.C. United 2 (HDNet) -- Dynamo O wakes up, but not enough for three points
Columbus 1, Toronto FC 0 -- Can TFC carry its energetic home play on the road?
Los Angeles 3, Colorado 1 -- L.A.'s 23 victories vs. Colorado the most vs. any opponent
Chivas USA 3, FC Dallas 2 (FSC) -- Goats stay unbeaten at home in weekend's top match
Sunday, May 27
Chicago 1, Real Salt Lake 0 (TeleFutura) -- Cunningham out, Esky in, same RSL struggles

Last Week: 2-5; This season: 17-28
Red Bulls' Dema Kovalenko played the entire match against Columbus with a broken nose ... and no mask. Out of position at right back, no less.

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