Posted: Monday July 2, 2012 11:57AM ; Updated: Monday July 2, 2012 12:17PM
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MLS Week 17 Power Rankings: Emotion get best of Beckham

Story Highlights

Galaxy could lose David Beckham because of Olympics, possible suspension

Oscar Boniek Garcia awareness, activity and skill were needed by Dynamo

A number of key forwards, midfielders are close to card-related suspensions

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David Beckham's role in instigating a disagreement between the Galaxy and Earthquakes may earn him a suspension.
David Beckham's role in instigating a disagreement between the Galaxy and Earthquakes may earn him a suspension.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

David Beckham's tumultuous week, the summer transfer window opens and more from MLS Week 17:

1. Beckham pushes his luck. The prevailing discussion about Saturday's California Clasico should be centered on the fact that for the second straight week, a pair of rivals went after each other in front of a sellout crowd on national television and put forth a Game-of-the-Year-caliber performance. The takeaway should have been about the San Jose Earthquakes' uncanny ability to battle back from spurts of poor play and deficits of any nature while maintaining pole position in the race for the Supporters' Shield. Instead, all is focused on the play and antics of David Beckham, who hit about every checkpoint on the performance spectrum at Stanford Stadium.

Taking the field just days after the disappointment of being snubbed for Great Britain's Olympic roster, Beckham's free kick to level the score at 1-1 in the first half and get the Galaxy going was textbook, trademark and sublime. His deep-lying distribution and overall hustle over the course of the match were both positive contributors toward the Galaxy's attack, which for a good portion of the 90 minutes was relentless and marked by precise ball movement.

With the Galaxy blowing a two-goal lead to the Earthquakes for the second time in a month, though, and perhaps the Olympic disappointment still lingering, Beckham's emotions bubbled over with the Galaxy chasing the game. Waiting to take a throw-in deep into second-half stoppage time, Beckham was perturbed at San Jose's Sam Cronin biding his time while injured on the ground. He drop-kicked the ball -- with his typical pinpoint accuracy mind you -- at Cronin and referee Hilario Grajeda, picking up a yellow card that rules him out of the Galaxy's next game. His actions after the match were of a man seemingly ready for an altercation with anybody, player or mascot. He sparked a full-on clash of the teams, though cooler heads prevailed before any real punches or handbags were thrown.

If there's one player who has gotten preferential treatment by referees and the league over the last few years, it's Beckham. His tackles from behind tend to be deemed a little less harsh, and his allowance for dissent is considerably larger than anyone else's in MLS. His latest actions, however, have forced the MLS Disciplinary Committee's hand to the point that he should unequivocally face a multi-game suspension.

New York's Rafa Marquez, FC Dallas' Brek Shea and Beckham's teammate Mike Magee have set the precedent in similar instances. Marquez chucked a ball at Landon Donovan after a playoff loss last season, sparking a brawl and earning himself a three-game ban in the process. Shea received a three-game ban for kicking a ball at a referee earlier this season, and Magee got a one-game suspension from the MLS DC for throwing a ball in the area of a referee. With Beckham's actions essentially a combination of the three, and his post-match tirade causing further drama, it will be extremely difficult for the league to turn a blind eye this time.

With those circumstances in mind, let's take a bit of a look ahead. The Galaxy have five games between now and the July 25 MLS All-Star Game, and Beckham is already suspended for Wednesday's match against Philadelphia because of card accumulation. Even though he was passed over for Team GB's Olympic roster in a surprising development, Beckham is still reportedly going to be offered a role in some capacity at the Olympics, whether just at the July 27 opening ceremony or something bigger. Assuming the Galaxy acquiesce and let Beckham, a London Olympics ambassador, take part, and taking into account a potential multi-game suspension between now and then, the club could potentially be looking at a mostly Beckham-less July right after seemingly finding its groove after a shaky start to its title defense.

2. Newcomers get settled. The league's summer transfer window opened last Wednesday, allowing the players who had already signed with MLS clubs take to the field for the first time and for teams to get more aggressive in their respective approaches for a mid-season roster boost.

Houston's Oscar Boniek Garcia made the quickest impact of the new class of players who had already signed, bringing a right-sided counterpart to left winger Brad Davis in the Dynamo's victory over Philadelphia. The Honduran international's activity, field awareness and quality were exactly what the Dynamo were hoping for when making him the second Designated Player in team history, and his debut was an encouraging performance, especially with Houston fans still weary of DP play following the Luis Angel Landin experiment.

Chicago Fire midfielder Alex and Montreal DP striker Marco Di Vaio also got their MLS feet wet, albeit in less-effective manners. Di Vaio's presence for Montreal is all the more important given Bernardo Corradi's season-ending ACL injury and rookie Andrew Wenger's current hamstring strain. Even though his first two performances for the Impact were those of a player who needs more time to be integrated into the squad, the club will need him to accelerate his learning curve to get out of its current mini-slump.

Three other newcomers, Philadelphia's Bakary Soumare, Columbus' Jairo Arrieta and Vancouver's Barry Robson, will be integrated in the coming days and weeks. Soumare, a former Best XI MLS defender, gives the Union potentially one of the top center back tandems in the league once he gains 90-minute fitness and can pair with Carlos Valdes in the back. Columbus continues its search for a quality foreign forward and hopes that Arrieta, a Costa Rican international, is at least part of the answer, while Robson assumes DP status with the Whitecaps and gives Martin Rennie a quality attacking option to station behind his stable of forwards.

With silly season fully underway, other big names are on the way as well. Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf, who trained with the Galaxy last week but signed with Brazilian club Botafogo over the weekend, won't be among them, but Italian media is reporting that veteran Italian defender Alessandro Nesta will join countrymen Di Vaio, Corradi and Matteo Ferrari in Montreal. The New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew are also reportedly narrowing down their DP searches. With conference races heating up, rivalries taking center stage, goals being scored at a high rate and big-name signings on the way, it's an exciting time to be an MLS fan.

3. Johnson, Hamid rediscovering top form. Goalkeepers Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid won't be going to London later this month with the United States Under-23 men's national team as they had planned earlier in the year. After both played a role in the U-23s' failure to qualify for the Olympics, both appear to returning to the form that made them Olympic hopefuls in the first place.

Johnson was at the top of his game for the Fire against Sporting Kansas City Friday night, making a handful of reaction saves and displaying his quick instincts and athleticism to keep Sporting KC off the board. It was his second straight top-notch performance, coming on the heels of his heroic play with Chicago down a man for the final 61 minutes against Columbus the previous weekend. With Italian backup Paolo Tornaghi playing so well in Johnson's place during Olympic qualifying, Fire manager Frank Klopas could have buried Johnson, who struggled upon his return, on the bench, but he placed a good deal of patience and trust in Johnson in hope that he would regain his confidence, something that has certainly happened.

Hamid, meanwhile, is quietly regaining his top form with D.C United. Perhaps having the national-team spotlight directed elsewhere is what Hamid needed to get back to the basics. With two clean sheets in his last three matches, Hamid appears to have regained his confidence and command of the box, which was an area where he uncharacteristically struggled during the futile qualifying campaign. D.C.'s relentless attack is getting the attention these days, and rightfully so, but behind that stands a better-than-expected defense and a rejuvenated Hamid.

4. Looming suspensions front and center. MLS is getting to the point of the season where card accumulation will take its toll, and for a number of key central midfielders and forwards, the margin for error is nonexistent.

As noted above, Beckham's foolish kick of the ball at Sam Cronin cost him the Galaxy's mid-week match against the Union. Seattle's engine, Osvaldo Alonso, and Portland Designated Player Diego Chara also picked up their fifth yellows over the weekend, meaning they'll each sit out a game. For Seattle, which just had Alonso serve a two-game suspension and is in the midst of a team-worst win drought, the timing could not be worse. Just ask RSL, which had Kyle Beckerman miss out on the club's loss to Columbus Saturday night when it was trying to snap out of a dip in form.

With one more card, integral central midfielders such as Montreal's Felipe, New York's Dax McCarty, Philadelphia's Gabriel Gomez and Real Salt Lake's Javier Morales will join them on the suspended list (although Gomez can earn a bit of leeway and a good behavior incentive with a card-less performance in his next match).

The card crisis is not limited to central midfielders, either. A number of important forwards are each a game away from spending more time on the sideline. RSL's Alvaro Saborio, San Jose's Alan Gordon, Vancouver's Eric Hassli and Darren Mattocks, and Seattle's Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero are each on the brink, with Montero fresh off serving a red card suspension as well.

With these suspensions coming at a time when multi-game weeks are becoming the norm to make up for lost time over the international break, a handful of managers are finding themselves looking deep down their benches for fill-in solutions. Sure, the MLS Disciplinary Committee has increased the number of games missed by key players this season with retroactive punishments, but players have to be accountable for their actions and will have to be increasingly wiser regarding the challenges they enter and even the goal celebrations they choose in order to avoid hampering their respective clubs.

5. Team of the Week

Goalkeeper: Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)

Defenders: Robbie Russell (D.C. United), Josh Williams (Columbus Crew), Ashtone Morgan (Toronto FC)

Midfielders: Chris Pontius (D.C. United), Brian Mullan (Colorado Rapids), Torsten Frings (Toronto FC), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Marvin Chavez Forwards: Danny Koevermans (Toronto FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Week 17 MLS Power Rankings
 
New Rank Previous Rank Team
1 1 San Jose Earthquakes (W/L/T: 11-3-3)
The MLS Comeback Kings did it again to the Galaxy, coming back from two down to their rivals for the second time this season to take three points and fortify their place atop the Supporters' Shield standings. Chris Wondolowski's back-heel finish and game-winning goal was the perfect cap for his first half of the season, as he leads the league with 14 goals and has 17 more matches remaining.
2 4 D.C. United (10-5-3)
D.C.'s 7-1-2 home record is something to behold, especially considering the club's dismal play there the last two years. With six straight home wins and no losses at home since the opening night of the season, the club's mission to "Take Back RFK" has been wildly successful. Even though Andy Najar has departed the team for Olympic duty for at least the next month, the club's balanced attack won't suffer in the least.
3 5 New York Red Bulls (9-4-4)
Set-piece defending has never been the Red Bulls' strong suit, and the team's kryptonite reared its ugly ahead again in Toronto. This time, it was Wilman Conde losing track of Danny Koevermans for a simple run and header off a direct corner just moments after an early opening goal could have shattered TFC's psyche. New York is still in a fine position despite not getting a goal from Kenny Cooper or Thierry Henry in its last four matches, with the likes of Brandon Barklage and Jan Gunnar Solli continuing to step up.
4 2 Real Salt Lake (10-6-2)
With three straight league losses for the first time in five years, RSL is in a bona fide funk. It did not help not having the services of Kyle Beckerman, Jamison Olave or Ned Grabavoy Saturday night, but for a team whose past success has been based on its capable depth, RSL's complementary pieces are not getting the job done. Expect this proud, veteran side to show its true colors in two upcoming home games this week against struggling Cascadia clubs Seattle and Portland.
5 7 Chicago Fire (8-5-3)
The Fire have been operating at a pretty high level in the backdrop of Sporting Kansas City, D.C. and New York, but with the club trailing first-place United by six points with two games in hand, the Fire are very much contenders in the East. Add that to two victories over Sporting KC, Marco Pappa's continued good form, Sebastian Grazzini's contract option being picked up and Chris Rolfe rediscovering his way in the attacking third, and there's reason to believe in the Windy City.
6 6 Vancouver Whitecaps (7-4-5)
The Whitecaps' bye week was rather painless, with the two teams ahead of them, Seattle and RSL, dropping points. Now with Barry Robson eligible to suit up and find a place in Martin Rennie's midfield, Vancouver will have yet another attacking option to deploy as it makes a charge for the postseason in Year 2.
7 5 Sporting KC (9-5-2)
The big question facing SKC after its 7-0-0 start was whether they could keep up their level of play over the duration of the summer, and the answer has been a resounding "No." Just 2-5-2 since that record start, SKC has lacked consistency and is proving to be susceptible on the counterattack. With three conference matches and a U.S. Open Cup semifinal over the course of a 10-day span starting Wednesday, there's little time for SKC to find a remedy.
8 8 Houston Dynamo (6-5-5)
A major week awaits for the Dynamo, who have a home game against the Fire Tuesday followed by a road match at SKC Saturday night -- the two teams directly ahead of them in the conference table. With each conference game bringing along with it a potential six-point swing, this week provides a chance for Houston to make a statement.
9 Columbus Crew (6-5-4)
Olman Vargas and Milovan Mirosevic were supposed to be the make-or-break players for the Crew this season, while Chad Marshall was supposed to be his usual self in the back. With the two foreign signings watching from the bench and Marshall still on the way back from a concussion, the Crew managed to pull together another result, with Tony Tchani stepping up yet again with a crucial goal.
10 9 Seattle Sounders (7-5-5)
The Sounders were seconds from ending their streak of futility, but a last-moment lapse at New England forced the club to settle for a road draw that extended its winless streak to eight matches. With Osvaldo Alonso suspended again and a match with at an equally desperate RSL on the docket, the Sounders will need to find their U.S. Open Cup form and translate it to league play to get out of this funk.
11 12 Los Angeles Galaxy (6-9-2)
The Galaxy's second blown two-goal lead to the Earthquakes probably stings more this time, considering the team had found its way in the last week and was cruising on the road with a chance to stake a true claim that it was back to being a serious contender. Instead, it's another bitter pill to swallow and a stout attacking effort wasted while allowing San Jose to build on its already steady confidence level.
12 13 Chivas USA (5-7-4)
The bye week for the Goats was pretty ideal. Not only did they qualify for the U.S. Open Cup semifinals, but they didn't lose any more ground on the Galaxy, Sounders, RSL or Vancouver either. The major development is whether young Colombian striker Jose Erick Correa's Open Cup heroics garner him more playing time at the expense of Juans Agudelo and Pablo Angel.
13 14 Colorado Rapids (7-8-1)
With Conor Casey and Omar Cummings spearheading the attack together, the Rapids turned the clocks back to 2010 while rolling over Portland. For Casey, though, Saturday marks a return to Seattle almost a year to the day since he tore his Achilles there last July. With that match being the club's third in a week's time, Oscar Pareja may elect to use extreme caution when considering how he deploys Casey against the Sounders.
14 15 New England Revolution (5-7-4)
The Revs deserve all the credit for coming up with a second straight last-minute equalizer, and this one put the cap on an unbeaten June (1-0-3). Even so, there's still something missing for New England, which keeps getting beaten on crosses into the area and finding itself facing deficits frequently.
15 10 Montreal Impact (5-10-3)
Consecutive 3-0 losses to Toronto FC and D.C. United in a four-day span are compounded by multi-week injuries to starting centerbacks Matteo Ferrari and Nelson Rivas and a season-ending injury to striker Bernardo Corradi. Marco Di Vaio is in the fold, but the road won't get any easier with the exhausted club facing Sporting Kansas City on short rest.
16 17 Philadelphia Union (3-9-2)
The Union likely should have garnered a point in their 2011 playoff rematch with the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium but succumbed on a late penalty instead. The club will need the return of the emerging Jack McInerney (sickness) and Freddy Adu to the starting lineup to combat Los Angeles' suddenly explosive attack for their July 4 matchup at the Home Depot Center.
17 16 Portland Timbers (4-7-4)
The Timbers looked lifeless against Colorado to the point that manager John Spencer made a tactical substitution in the 38th minute much to the chagrin of the yanked Franck Songo'o. With no road wins on the season and no more momentum after a brief lifeline, it's back to the drawing board for Portland. On the plus side, the Timbers return home Tuesday night. On the other hand, their opponent for that quick turnaround is San Jose.
18 18 FC Dallas (3-9-5)
FC Dallas had a profitable bye week, landing the club's first jersey sponsorship in its history. That won't alleviate any of the stresses on the team's on-field performance, but it's an important step toward a brighter future. So too is the word that injured 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira has returned to training to regain his fitness.
19 19 Toronto FC (2-10-3)
The Reds are unbeaten in four matches (1-0-3) and have gotten six goals in seven games from the in-form Koevermans, but the massive hole the club dug for itself earlier in the season means that tighter defending and three-point hauls are musts instead of clawing its way to single points at a time.
 

 
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