By Ridge Mahoney
The makeover of Real Salt Lake has taken full effect.
Rebuilding after jettisoning several proven veterans during the offseason only temporarily set back RSL, which won its fourth straight match and jumped from fourth to second in the Power Rankings by beating Toronto FC, 1-0, at BMO Field.
Leader Portland along with Seattle and Chicago sat out the weekend, during which Montreal dropped from second place after losing at home, 4-3, to Colorado after it had twice taken the lead. There were goals aplenty in other games, as well: San Jose recaptured its Goonie magic to strike twice in stoppage time and upend the Galaxy, 3-2; Sporting Kansas City nipped Columbus by the same score, and FC Dallas worked its own stoppage-time magic to earn a 2-2 tie in Philadelphia.
MLS is not easing its schedule burden for the Gold Cup, which kicks off Sunday and runs for three weeks. The July 4 holiday has crammed 16 games into this week.
Later in the month some head coaches will have to deal with national teams altering their rosters after the group phase. Nations that advance to the quarterfinals can make as many as four changes to their rosters from the 23-man lists submitted.
Week 18 Soccer America MLS Power Rankings
1. PORTLAND* (7-1-9) 1.
2. REAL SALT LAKE (10-5-3) 3.
3. FC DALLAS (8-3-6) 4.
4. MONTREAL (9-4-2) 2.
5. NEW YORK (8-6-4) 5.
6. PHILADELPHIA (7-5-3) 6.
7. SEATTLE* (6-5-3) 7.
8. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (7-5-5) 8.
9. COLORADO (6-6-5) 10.
10. NEW ENGLAND (5-5-6) 11.
11. VANCOUVER (7-5-4) 12.
12. HOUSTON (6-6-5) 9.
13. CHICAGO* (5-7-3) 14.
14. LOS ANGELES (7-7-3) 13.
15. SAN JOSE (5-6-7) 17.
16. COLUMBUS (5-7-5) 15.
17. TORONTO FC (2-8-6) 16.
18. D.C. UNITED (2-12-3) 18.
19. CHIVAS USA (3-10-3) 19.
*Did not play.
THE BEST. Yordany Alvarez is one of the young RSL players taking on more of a role within a revamped squad, and it was he who drilled a Javier Morales feed into the Toronto FC net just before halftime. Some solid defending and Nick Rimando’s goalkeeping propelled RSL to its fourth straight victory and sixth consecutive league game without a defeat.
Blas Perez’s goal in stoppage time deprived the Union of a franchise-record third straight victory and gave FC Dallas its second straight tie. FCD came back twice to get the point; Walker Zimmerman’s second goal of the year matched an opening goal by Amobi Okugo, and Perez scored after Aaron Wheeler had restored the Union’s lead in the 87th minute. Philly is 2-0-2 in its last four games.
Daniele Paponi scored his first two MLS goals and Hassoun Camara nailed an incredible bicycle kick, and still the Montreal Impact faltered against the Rapids. For the first time this season, Marco Di Vaio failed to score at home, where the Impact is 6-1-1.
THE MIDDLE. Kei Kamara’s second goal of the game broke a 2-2 tie with Columbus to give Sporting Kansas City a 3-2 victory. Claudio Bieler scored with a classic side-volley and then assisted Kamara’s winner as SKC ended a four-game winless streak. Soony Saad, starting in place of suspended C.J. Sapong, set up Kamara’s first goal with a precise long ball.
Tony Cascio was the stoppage-time hero for Colorado. He scored the latest winner in its history, in the 96th minute, after Dillon Powers, Deshorn Brown and Atiba Harris had tallied in a wild game. Colorado’s victory ended a three-game losing streak.
Camilo’s penalty kick provided Vancouver with a 1-0 defeat of D.C. United. He has scored six goals in the last four matches and the ‘Caps have won three straight. Chad Barrett’s goal in the 88th minute salvaged a 1-1 tie for the stingy Revs, which conceded just their 14th goal in 16 games this season.
Houston’s goalscoring woes weren’t helped by the injury absences of Brad Davis and Oscar Boniek Garcia, and for the fourth straight game the Dynamo failed to score as it fell at Red Bull Arena, 2-0. The Galaxy took a 2-0 lead on goals by Marcelo Sarvas and Hector Jimenez, and still led, 2-1, when Quakes defender Victor Bernardez departed with a second yellow card, but two goals in stoppage time dumped L.A. into a 3-2 defeat.
THE REST. Ex-Galaxy forward Alan Gordon came on as a sub to score twice in San Jose’s amazing comeback victory before a sellout crowd of 50,028 at Stanford Stadium. He appeared to have shoved A.J. DeLaGarza in the back while scoring the first goal, but the goal stood. In added time Shea Salinas equalized after keeper Carlo Cuducini had failed to collect a deflection, and then Gordon rose at the back post to head home Sam Cronin’s cross.
United coach Ben Olsen excoriated referee Matthew Foerster for his officiating after the ‘Caps’ 1-0 win. A foul and PK whistled against keeper Bill Hamid and a PK not called after a header nicked the arm of Vancouver defender Brad Rusin triggered some juicy, and expensive, comments.
The Crew came back twice to tie at Sporting Park with goals by Jairo Arrieta and Dominic Oduro yet still fell to its third loss in the last four games. Chivas USA’s tie broke a seven-game losing streak; the goalscorer, Laurent Courtois, was one of four players released by the club before the contract guarantee date Monday.