By Ridge Mahoney
A weekend curtailed of three games by Hurricane Irene jumbled the power rankings heading into the FIFA international week. Real Salt Lake moved up with a gutty win against Chivas USA, which by losing both of its games fell into the second tier.
1. LOS ANGELES (14-3-8). The postponement of last weekend’s trip to New York gives the Galaxy a valuable rest period prior to the final push, which starts Monday in Kansas City. In pole position for the Supporters’ Shield, the Galaxy has four more games at home, where it is the league’s only unbeaten team (8-0-5). Last week: 1.
2. SEATTLE (13-5-9). Lamar Neagle’s hat trick and a one-goal, two-assist performance by Mauro Rosales in a 6-2 dismantling of the Crew increased the storm warnings for those who encounter the Sounders, winners of three of their last four and second in points per game (1.78). Last week: 2.
3. FC DALLAS (13-7-7). The skill and polish displayed by this team the past two seasons sometimes overshadows its grit and resolve. Presented 14 minutes -- plus stoppage time -- of a man advantage while trailing 2-1 on the road, it struck in the 89th minute (Maicon Santos) and 92nd minute (Bobby Warshaw) on crosses from Brek Shea to upend SKC, 3-2. It also gets back George John, whose deal with Blackburn collapsed. Even without David Ferreira, FCD 2011 looks at last as good as the 2010 team that lost MLS Cup to an overtime own goal. Last week: 3.
4. REAL SALT LAKE (11-7-6). It has been a rough season for Alvaro Saborio, yet by running down an aimless back pass and dodging a desperation tackle to slot home the only goal of a 1-0 win at Chivas USA, he rekindled memories of how predatory he can be. RSL parlayed that goal into victory by staving off Chivas USA with 10 men for more than an hour. Both the goal and the rugged defensive display bode well for the final weeks of the season as RSL chases four Western Conference rivals all involved in Concacaf Champions League play. Last week: 6.
5. COLORADO (10-7-11). Playing its fifth game in 15 days, the Rapids lost at Chicago, 2-0, as an eight-game unbeaten streak in CCL and MLS play ended. It posted only one shutout in that run, and despite outscoring opponents, 18-12, in the last nine games, Coach Gary Smith is sure to tighten up defensively. The Rapids have only six games remaining; every team except Toronto has more. First up: a Sept. 9 game against the Galaxy at HDC. Last week: 5.
6. COLUMBUS (11-8-7). Coach Robert Warzycha has been rejiggering and revamping his defense this season mostly to good effect, but a few ugly demons returned in a 6-2 pummeling at Seattle. This result might not be indicative of anything; how many times does keeper Will Hesmer let a shot literally slip through his gloves? For all the hullabaloo about Jeff Cunningham’s 134th goal, it was just his second of the season, and more production from him down the stretch would certainly aid the cause. Last week: 4.
7. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (9-8-9). By blowing a 2-1 lead to FCD following the 76th-minute sending-off of Teal Bunbury, SKC upped its dubious totals of goals conceded in the last 15 minutes to 11, and in stoppage time to five. Yet the momentum had already turned when it conceded a goal two minutes after Omar Bravo scored to increase its lead to 2-0. SKC has the talent to be a viable playoff participant, but its mettle and finishing power are suspect. Last week: 7.
8. PHILADELPHIA (8-6-10). Rather than play the Revs last Sunday, that game will be made up next Wednesday, which makes for a very busy week. The Union plays at RSL Saturday in one of only two games during the FIFA break, and plays again next weekend at home against Portland. Winless in its last five league games, Philly has slid out of the top three in the Eastern Conference yet moves up here because other teams lost. Last week: 10.
9. HOUSTON (8-8-11). Winless on the road this season, the Dynamo outshot Vancouver 17-12 at Empire Field and probably deserved a point they didn’t get. A goal conceded in the 86th minute instead produced a 1-0 loss. Funny stat; a team formerly based in San Jose is 0-4-1 in its Pacific time zone matches. It fills the weekend date by playing a friendly against Monterrey. Last week: 9.
10. D.C. UNITED (7-7-10). A home game against Portland was scrubbed (make-up date: Oct. 19) by Hurricane Irene, and Coach Ben Olsen will wait out the FIFA dates anxiously, with five players -- including late U.S. replacement Chris Pontius – summoned for international duty. United gets back to league action Sept.10 with a critical match at Home Depot Center against Chivas USA. Last week: 11.
11. NEW YORK (6-6-14). The reeling Red Bulls were spared the possible embarrassment of being beaten at home by the Galaxy last weekend; they are 0-3-4 since they last won July 6. Six players are away on international duty and Coach Hans Backe scheduled only one training session this week. Next week is a winnable must-win: at home against Vancouver Sept. 10. Last week: 12.
12.PORTLAND (9-12-5). The Timbers won their second straight game and moved past Chivas USA in the standings with a 1-0 victory festooned on yet another set play. Eric Brunner headed home Mike Chabala’s corner kick and the defense posted its sixth shutout. Postponement of last weekend’s game against D.C. United means they will be off 17 days before playing Philly Sept. 10, so some minor injuries – such as the hamstring problems plaguing captain Jack Jewsbury – may have time to heal. Last week: 13.
13.CHIVAS USA (7-10-10). After ending a five-game road trip with a 1-0 loss in Portland, Chivas USA returned to Home Depot Center to face RSL. A terrible blunder by Ante Jazic and futile intervention by David Junior Lopes presented RSL with a goal, and for more than an hour Chivas USA played against 10 men and failed to score. The FIFA break comes at the right time for Coach Robin Fraser to refresh his troops. Last week: 8.
14. CHICAGO (4-7-15). The Fire took advantage of a fatigued opponent in defending champion Colorado, and with goals by Dominic Oduro and Cory Gibbs won its second straight game, 2-0. The playoffs may still be an illusion but with a spot in the Open Cup final secured Chicago won’t be an easy out down the stretch. Last week: 14.
15. NEW ENGLAND (4-11-11). Idled last weekend by Hurricane Irene, the Revs are in the midst of a 17-day break. Their postponed match last Sunday at Philadelphia will be played next Wednesday, Sept. 7, and they host FCD three days later. During the FIFA window, Kenny Mansally is away with Gambia, but since the nation has only one game he is expected back in time to face Philly. Last week: 15.
16. SAN JOSE (5-10-11). Chris Wondolowski got on the end of a flicked throw-in to crash home an equalizer in the final minutes by which the Quakes tied, 1-1, in Toronto. Ramiro Corrales played his second straight game in central midfield as Coach Frank Yallop moved his players around to shake it out of a team-record lethargy. Despite the point, San Jose’s winless streak is now 12 games. Last week: 17.
17. TORONTO FC (4-12-12). A botched offside call deprived Joao Plata of a goal that would have doubled its lead over San Jose, and in the final minutes came the seemingly inevitable equalizer and 1-1 tie. On the plus side, Eric Avila netted his first goal for TFC, and the whole squad rebounded well from having to play three halves Wednesday and Thursday in a storm-delayed CCL match with FCD. Last week: 16.
18. VANCOUVER (4-13-9). The rarely used central pairing of Alain Rochat and Jay DeMerit helped the Caps blank Houston, 1-0, for just their fourth shutout of the season. A sharp finish by Shea Salinas on a Long Tan feed earned a victory made possible by Joe Cannon’s excellent work in goal. Last week: 18.