PBP: Depth Means Separation in Conferences

Not too many things separate one MLS team from
another, but you will notice that the stronger teams are also the deeper
teams.

Cases in point, both Columbus and Los Angeles
roll along their unbeaten ways by winning games with reduced rosters.

Minus Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Robbie Rogers
and Chad Marshall, the Crew came into Red Bull Arena on Thursday and
left with a 3-1 victory, giving them first place in the Eastern
Conference for the first time this season.

On Sunday, Schelotto returned from a one game
suspension, and assisted on the game winning goal by Emilo Renteria,
giving the Crew their second straight road victory, and a 5 point lead
in the east. Renteria had only played in one game this season, prior to
the New York game, coming in as a sub early in the season vs Dallas for
17 minutes. Given a bigger role in the two road games, the Venezuelan
responds with a big goal in each game, earning MLS Player of the Week
honors.

Out west, no Edson Buddle or Landon Donovan
for LA, but the rest of the group still managed a full 3 points on the
road, thanks to last Thursday’s win vs FC Dallas. While LA lacks an
offensive punch minus those two star attackers, one goal was all they
needed since they have the best defense seen in the 2010 MLS season.
 

Donovan Ricketts in goal has been even better
than he was a season ago, and the team in front of him makes sure he
doesn’t have an inordinate amount of work on most nights. In the
previous game, a 0-0 draw vs Toronto, Ricketts couldn’t go because of an
injury, and in stepped backup Josh Saunders to record a shutout. 
The
Galaxy (26 points) are ten points ahead of Real Salt Lake, San Jose, and
Houston, who are all next with 16 points.

So the top two teams in MLS are also the only
teams without a loss so far this season. That streak could end on
Saturday when the two meet up in Columbus in the marquee matchup of the
week.

Other questions for the weekend:

Losers of 3 straight, can the Red Bulls get back
to winning? They’ll need to jump start their offense which has produced
one goal in their last 3 games played.

Seattle can’t seem to score goals either, be it
home or away. Can they score at altitude vs Colorado?

San Jose has four consecutive shutouts going,
looking like the league’s most improved team from a season ago. They
host Toronto on Saturday. Can their shutout and/or winning ways
continue?

Finally, how does Philadelphia do at Houston,
coming off of a bye week? The Union played perhaps their best 90 minutes
in the 1-1 draw vs Dallas at the Linc.

I’ll be back later in the week with more on that
game, which will be carried on the Fox Soccer Channel.