By Ridge Mahoney
A staggering load of 16 games significantly reshuffled the Power Rankings, as some teams increased momentum from encouraging results in previous weeks while other teams careened off the rails.
Real Salt Lake climbed atop the heap by gutting out a tie that extends its unbeaten run to seven games. Vancouver moved into the top tier with a win and a tie, which gives it 13 points in its last five matches.
The Galaxy posted a double-dip of victories, but both were at home, and it’s hard to believe the defending champion is back on the beam until it toughens up on the road. Still,Robbie Keane is playing like a man possessed.
Moving in the wrong direction are the Quakes. At Chicago and New England, they didn’t much resemble the gallant warriors that scored twice in stoppage time to capture the Cali Clasico just 10 days ago. In blanking San Jose, the Revs notched their 10th shutout of the season. The league record is 17 set by Kansas City in 2000 and tied by the Galaxy two years ago.
Week 19 Soccer America MLS Power Rankings
1. REAL SALT LAKE (10-5-4), 2.
2. PORTLAND (7-2-9), 1.
3. MONTREAL (9-4-4), 4.
4. SPORTING KC (8-5-6), 8.
5. FC DALLAS (8-4-7), 3.
6. VANCOUVER (8-5-6), 12.
7. SEATTLE (7-6-3), 9.
8. PHILADELPHIA (7-6-6), 6.
9. COLORADO (7-6-6), 9.
10. NEW ENGLAND (6-5-6), 10.
11. LOS ANGELES (9-7-3), 14.
12. NEW YORK (8-7-4), 5.
13. HOUSTON (7-6-3), 12.
14. CHICAGO (6-8-3), 13.
15. COLUMBUS (6-8-5), 16.
16. SAN JOSE (5-9-6), 15.
17. TORONTO FC (2-8-7), 17.
18. CHIVAS USA (3-10-5), 19.
19. D.C. UNITED (2-13-4), 18.
THE BEST.Unbeaten streaks in MLS can be misleading, as in the case of a team – such as Portland – having more ties than wins, either overall or during a streak. But RSL’s run of seven games without a loss following a last-ditch goal that earned a 2-2 deadlock in Philly on Wednesday contains five victories. Ergo, RSL goes top, after a goal by Luis Giland a 96th-minute penalty kick converted by Javier Moralescaught the Union.
Only RSL’s impressive run could have unseated the Timbers, for whom a 15-game unbeaten run ended via a 1-0 loss in Columbus during which they played 10-v-11 for 79 minutes. RSL and the Timbers are plus-11 in goal differential; no other team is better than a plus-7.
The Impact is paying a price for taking lowly teams lightly, but by scoring late goals it did pull out ties against Toronto (3-3) and Chivas USA (1-1). Hassoun Camara and Marco Di Vaio scored a minute apart at BMO Field to wipe out a 3-1 deficit, andPatrice Bernier converted a penalty kick to rescue Montreal at home against Chivas USA.
Sporting Kansas City is unbeaten in four games after getting a 1-1 tie with Vancouver with an Aurelien Collingoal and beating the Fire, 2-1, in Chicago on a goal by Benny Feilhaber and a Graham Zusi cross that floated inside the far post. FC Dallas struggled through a rough week, tying Chivas USA, 0-0 at home, and falling, 2-0, to the Galaxy at StubHub Center. It is winless in the last six games.
Vancouver edges into the top tier as the league’s hottest team. It has won four of the last five games following that 1-1 tie at Kansas City in which Camilo connected on a free kick, and a 2-0 defeat of Seattle courtesy of a spectacular game in the nets by Player of the Week Brad Knighton, plus goals from Kenny Miller and Darren Mattocks.
THE MIDDLE.The Sounders played twice last week – they beat D.C. United, 2-0, on a pair of goals by Designated Player Obafemi Martins -- before stumbling in Vancouver. They still trail in games played with 16; 10 teams have played at least three more. Philly did well to get a 2-2 tie at Real Salt Lake, though that late Morales PK deprived it of three points it should have accrued with goals by Conor Caseyand Sebastien Le Toux. It wound up the week by losing, 1-0, in brutal Houston heat.
The goal juggernaut that is Nathan Sturgis scored, and so did Deshorn Brown as the Rapids downed the Red Bulls, 2-0. Sturgis has tallied four of his five MLS career goals -- in 93 league games -- this season. New York is 1-3-1 in its last five games, and in the Power Rankings has fallen behind the Revs, who parlayed a pair of Lee Nguyen assists (goals by Saer Sene and Dimitri Imbongo) into a 2-0 defeat of San Jose.
MLS Cup finalists the past two years, Houston and the Galaxy are revving up for the second half of the season. Maybe. Ricardo Clark scored as the Dynamo downed Philly, 1-0, to end a seven-game winless streak. The Galaxy notched a pair of wins: Keane scored twice from the penalty spot to down Columbus, 2-0, and assisted on both goals in a 2-0 defeat of FC Dallas.
THE REST. The Fire split a pair of home games. Chris Rolfe scored the winner to beat San Jose, 3-2, from an assist by Mike Magee, who scored its only goal in a 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City that ended a six-game unbeaten streak. The Crew also split, returning home to end Portland’s remarkable run, 1-0, with aBernardo Anor goal after losing to the Galaxy, 2-1, after Anor had given it the lead.
The Quakes are back in the doldrums, burdened by two road losses in the wake of their incredible 3-2 comeback defeat of the Galaxy June 30. Against the Fire, Alan Gordon scored his third goal in his last two games but San Jose couldn’t hold on despite a Joel Lindpere own goal. In losing to New England, 2-0, the Quakes produced just two shots on goal.
The bottom three teams -- Toronto FC, Chivas USA, D.C. United, a.k.a. The Three Stooges -- have shown glimmers of life lately. But they are still feet and toes below their counterparts. TFC got goals from Jeremy Brockie, Steven Caldwell and Darren O’Dea against Montreal before coughing up a 3-1 lead. Chivas USA tied its third straight game 1-1 in Montreal with an Eric Avila goal. Seven saves by Joe Willis helped United claim a 0-0 tie in Colorado, after it had lost 2-0 in Seattle.