By Ridge Mahoney
Two test cases of teams vying to tie their way into the playoffs are underway in MLS.
The 2012 Supporters’ Shield winner, San Jose, is chafing under a sixth tie in 13 matches after rallying again to tie at home. A 1-1 deadlock with Colorado in front of a frustrated crowd at Buck Shaw Stadium keeps the Quakes (3-4-6, 12 points) in sixth place, just shy of the playoff tier. San Jose is already within three of its total of nine ties from last year when it topped the table at 19-6-9 (66 points).
A thousand miles to the north, give or take, the Portland Timbers boosted their postseason hopes another notch by rallying for their seventh tie in 12 games, a 2-2 Cascadia Cup clasico at Vancouver. Portland (4-1-7, 19 points) is riding a club-record 10-match unbeaten streak, and nobody in the 503 and 971 area codes are yet concerned about the ‘T’ column.
Other playoff aspirants have avoided the bite of the one-point bug. New York took beat the Galaxy in the final seconds and has tied FC Dallas for most wins with seven. The Sounders moved into the middle sector by outlasting FC Dallas, 4-2, with a third straight victory.
D.C. United fans didn’t rejoice over a 1-1 tie with Sporting Kansas City but it did represent the team’s first point in more than two months.
Week 12 Soccer America MLS Power Rankings
RANK TEAM (W-L-T) LAST WEEK
1. FC DALLAS (7-2-3) 1.
2. NEW YORK (7-4-3) 3.
3. MONTREAL (6-2-2) 2.
4. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (6-4-3) 4.
5. PORTLAND (4-1-7) 5.
6. HOUSTON (6-4-2) 6.
7. PHILADELPHIA (5-4-3) 8.
8. COLORADO (4-4-3) 9.
9. REAL SALT LAKE (6-5-2) 10.
10. LOS ANGELES (5-4-2) 7.
11. COLUMBUS (4-4-3) 12.
12. SEATTLE (4-3-3) 13.
13. VANCOUVER (3-4-4) 11.
14. NEW ENGLAND (3-4-4) 15.
15. SAN JOSE (3-4-6) 14.
16. CHICAGO (2-7-1) 16.
17. CHIVAS USA (3-6-2) 17.
18. TORONTO FC (1-5-5) 18.
19. D.C UNITED (1-8-2) 19.
THE BEST. FCD’s nine-game unbeaten run ended in Seattle after its push for a second equalizer fizzled out when a careless elbow raised by Blas Perez caught an opponent in the face and prompted a red card. Midfielder Michel scored directly from a corner kick with a swerving shot just inside the far post after his free kick dropped for Kenny Cooper to head home.
The Red Bulls may not be Red Hot, but they are winning, and a Tim Cahill goal in stoppage time stunned the Galaxy, 1-0, for a fifth win in the past six games. Jamison Olave dominated in the back. Stung by two home losses in the past month, SKC came away from RFK Stadium with a 1-1 tie and needed an own goal to get that much after it lost a legitimate tally to a bad offside call . SKC is 2-3-1 in the last six games though it is still second in the Eastern Conference.
Jose Valencia marked his comeback from 2012 knee surgery by scoring his first league goal to earn Portland a 2-2 tie that it secured minutes after defender Futty Danso was sent off. The goal was set up by Will Johnson, who had scored earlier with a penalty kick. Are the Timbers for real? Lookin’ that way.
THE MIDDLE. The good vibes at BBVA Compass Stadium have left the building. Houston fell in a second straight home game, 2-0, to New England. After being pummeled at home by the Galaxy, the Union doused the Fire, 1-0, with the eighth goal of the season from the leader in that department, Jack McInerney.
The injury-ravaged Rapids are getting points while getting healthy; Pablo Mastroeni got his first start in more than two months in a 1-1 tie at San Jose that extended their unbeaten streak to four games. Nathan Sturgis terrorized the Quakes on corner kicks: he scored following one and from another drilled a header off the crossbar.
Thumping Chivas USA, 4-1, at Home Depot Center is hardly noteworthy these days, yet RSL has won four of its last six to take over second place in the Western Conference. Ned Grabavoy got two of those goals.
Yes, the Galaxy trampled Philly, 4-1, and fell to New York in the final seconds – not a bad road haul – but three losses in the last four games suggests something is amiss. Landon Donovan followed up his “statement game” against the Union – one goal and two assists – with a couple of near-misses and some very sharp passes; keeper Carlo Cudicini’s failure to repel a free kick aimed at Cahill cost the Galaxy dearly.
Sigi Schmid’s former and current teams won in very different fashion. The Crew carved out a 1-0 defeat of Toronto FC; Federico Higuain’s ball opened up the TFC back line and Dominic Oduro did the rest. The Sounders blew a 2-0 lead against FC Dallas before salting away a 4-2 victory courtesy of Eddie Johnson’s two goals and an assist, a goal and assist for Lamar Neagle, and two assists by Brad Evans, who played several different positions because of injuries suffered by Osvaldo Alonso and Leo Gonzalez.
Camilo and Gerson Koffie scored to give the Whitecaps one-goal leads they couldn’t hold at home against Portland. New England came up with a spirited effort to knock off Houston, 2-0, on the second goal in as many games for Diego Fagundez and a late own goal. Juan Agudelo played 55 minutes in his Revs debut and it was his shot that caromed into the net off an opponent.
THE REST. The Quakes are slowly getting healthier even if the results aren’t. One of the recovered victims, Marvin Chavez, blasted a knuckling free kick that earned a 1-1 tie at home against Colorado. Five of the next six games are on the road. The Fire was blanked by Philly, 1-0, for the second straight week and has scored just two goals in the last five games.
Thirteen goals conceded in the last four games helps explain how Chivas USA has plummeted in the past month. New faces Jeremy Brockie, Steven Caldwell and Bobby Convey debuted for TFC in a 1-0 home loss to Columbus. TFC has not won in nine games nor at BMO Field this season. Rookie Kyle Porter’s first MLS goal canceled out an errant ball put into the United net by teammate Ethan White to end United’s seven-game losing streak.