1. Portland Timbers - Forget last week's 0-0 draw at home against Atlanta and that they lost their previous game. The fact is that they're the best team in the league right now. Every other team fears Timber Jim. And now they fear the Rooster Matt Taylor, who looked pretty good against Atlanta. Should be a fun game on Wednesday when they travel to Seattle. Maybe Shoe will find some time to make it over.
2. Seattle Sounders - They've got a firm grip on 2nd place, and they didn't give up and pulled out a draw in Vancouver on Friday. An interesting note: They've only got 2 road games left, one at California and one at Minnesota, while they have 7 left at home. They'll be in the playoffs.
3. Puerto Rico Islanders - It's about time they woke up. 4 wins and 2 draws made for an undefeated July and has them right back in the playoff race. The real test comes now, with 4 straight road games, at Vancouver, Seattle, Atlanta and Rochester. But in case you didn't notice, they're in 4th now, and they've only lost 4 times this season. I smell a return to the playoffs, probably between the 6th and 8th positions.
4. Miami FC - The other team that's made a big move lately, with 4 wins and a draw in their last 5. They've moved back into the playoff race and hold 7th place right now. Their problem is that they've only got 7 games left, and their 10 losses so far could have them saying "What if?" at the end of the season.
5. Montreal Impact - They were busy in their off-week, as they added 2005's leading scorer Joey Gjertsen and David Testo. Although I think Atlanta got the best of the Antoniuk/Salles for Dawkins/McLaughlin trade, I think the Impact got the better of their latest deal. Their new boys get 3 straight home games to introduce themselves to the Quebecers, including Wednesday's game against a struggling Carolina.
6. Rochester Raging Rhinos - The W-League Finals push them out of PAETEC Park this weekend, so they'll head up to Montreal on Monday. Maybe last Saturday's game is what they needed to get back on the right track, coming behind from an early 2-0 deficit to beat Minnesota 4-2.
7. Atlanta Silverbacks - All positives aside from the Cruz Azul game, it's time to look at the standings, where they've been passed by Puerto Rico and Miami, and are only 3 points up on the 9th place team. That means 3 points out of the playoffs. It's time to put the excuses aside and start getting points. Machel Millwood and Omar Jarun should be back VERY soon, and Ryan McIntosh has been a revelation in goal this season. Now if they could just sign a right back instead of a 50th forward.
8. California Victory - The same week Josh Hansen is named Player of the Week, he's sold to Vancouver. Things look bleak for the Victory, on and off the field. They did manage to pick up a 2-1 win at Minnesota, but dropped a 1-0 decision to Puerto Rico at home. Now that Hansen's gone, who's going to pick up the scoring slack? Backup keeper Dominik Jakubek, who's been making substitute appearances at forward?
9. Charleston Battery - So they caught Portland in the last game of a 3-game trip, and got lucky on one of the worst calls I've ever seen. But I'm not going to be sold unless they turn it into a run that puts them in the playoffs.
10. Minnesota Thunder - A 2-1 loss to California at home, followed by a 4-2 loss at Rochester in which they led 2-0 early. These are games and points they can't afford to lose. Although the return of Tony Sanneh should help, but I still don't see this team cracking the Top 8 when all is said and done.
11. Vancouver Whitecaps - It's official. The defending champions are panicking. They've made three moves, picking up defender Sola Abolaji from Carolina for forward Joel Bailey, buying forward Josh Hansen from California, and getting Alen Marcina and Ze Roberto from Montreal for Joey Gjertsen and David Testo. 8 straight games without a win will do that for you. But without a quality keeper, none of this matters. The two guys they have are hideous. Although they are scoring more goals, as evidenced by their 2 in the FSC draw against Seattle on Friday.
12. Carolina RailHawks - 7 games without a win, and now Scott Schweitzer is throwing his team under the bus. They still have a shot at the playoffs, a great chance at winning the Southern Derby, but they're expecting more, even if it's an expansion team. Not mentioning that they should have done better against Cruz Azul last week, were it not for a couple of bad calls.