By Ridge Mahoney
More by default than anything else, Portland tops the Power Rankings this week after previous leader Sporting Kansas City was beaten at home by New York in a matchup of the Eastern Conference’s top two teams, and Montreal stumbled to a dismal defeat against bottom-ranked D.C. United.
SKC still sports one of the league’s best records but has lost two straight crucial conference games, having been beaten, 1-0, by Montreal prior to losing at home to NYRB. And the Impact’s shocking 3-1 defeat by D.C. United further tarnishes those records compared to New York, which has amassed 10 points in its last four games and beaten SKC and RSL in consecutive games.
Western leaders Real Salt Lake and Colorado also met, and the 2-2 tie further juggled the teams at the top. Portland snagged the No. 1 ranking though its 1-1 tie at home against Vancouver was just its second point in the last three games. The surging Red Bulls (three wins in the last four games) and Rapids (four victories and three ties in the last seven) fell in line behind the tall-standing Timbers.
Group play in the Concacaf Champions League starts this week and there’s also the U.S. Open Cup semifinals to be played. Teams in CCL action are Montreal, San Jose, and Sporting Kansas City; the Open Cup semi pairings are Chicago-D.C. United and RSL-Portland.
Week 23 Soccer America MLS Power Rankings
RANK TEAM (W-L-T) LAST WEEK
1. Portland (8-3-11) 2.
2. New York (11-7-5) 7.
3. Colorado (9-7-8) 6.
4. Sporting Kansas City (10-7-6) 1.
5. Real Salt Lake (11-7-5) 4.
6. Montreal (10-6-5) 3.
7. Vancouver (9-7-6) 8.
8. Philadelphia (9-7-7) 5.
9. Houston (9-6-6) 9.
10. New England (8-8-6) 10.
11. Los Angeles* (10-9-3) 12.
12. Chicago (8-9-4) 13.
13. Seattle (9-7-4) 14.
14. San Jose (8-9-6) 15.
15. FC Dallas (8-6-8) 11.
16. Toronto FC (4-10-8) 17.
17. D.C. United (3-15-4) 19.
18. Columbus (6-11-5) 18.
19. Chivas USA (4-13-5) 16.
*did not play.
THE BEST. The Timbers took a 1-0 lead at home early in the second half when Ryan Johnson headed home a typically precise serve from Diego Valeri, but 20 minutes later conceded the equalizer from a corner kick. Lloyd Sam set up New York’s second goal for Fabian Espindola and scored the winner himself to earn the Red Bulls’ their fourth win of the season. Johnny Steele assisted on Sam's winner after netting the game’s first goal in the 27th minute.
Kei Kamara’s first-half goal and stoppage-time assist weren’t enough. Maybe the All-Star Game glow obscured what followed it three days later, but SKC’s loss dropped its record at Sporting Park to 5-4-3, which is hardly the stuff that cauldrons forge.
The Rapids and RSL endured a lightning-storm delay of more than an hour before concluding their 2-2 tie at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Equalizers by Deshorn Brown and Jaime Castrillon matched goals by RSL’s Ned Grabavoy and Alvaro Saborio, who waited out the weather delay to take a penalty kick awarded by referee Fotis Bazakos just before he suspended play. Unofficially, the delay of 62 minutes set a record for the longest period between a penalty kick awarded and actual taking of said kick. Nick Rimando's sharp goalkeeping in the final minutes retained the point for RSL, which earned its first point following back-to-back defeats.
Jeb Brovsky equalized for Montreal, which proceeded to concede twice and tumble to a 3-1 loss that leaves it with just one win in the last seven games.
THE MIDDLE. Camilo was unable to mark his return from All-Star play with a goal, but his corner kick traveled to Jordan Harvey for the goal by which the Whitecaps took a 1-1 tie in Portland. The blanking of Camilo enabled Mike Magee to regain the league scoring goal with his 14th goal in a 2-1 Fire triumph at Philadelphia. Patrick Nyarko scored the first Fire goal, then played a through ball to set up Magee for the winner after Sheanon Williams had equalized for Philly.
Since being traded by the Galaxy Magee has scored eight goals in 10 games. He’d scored six in the same amount of games for L.A. Stuff of MVP caliber? Uh, yeah.
Houston dumped crumbling Columbus, 3-1, to run its unbeaten streak to four games, three of which are victories. Brad Davis, Will Bruin and Cam Weaver scored for the Dynamo, and Kofi Sarkodie steered one into his own net for the Crew. Numerous first-half chances were squandered by the Revs after they fell behind Toronto FC in the second minute, and they threatened less often before the final whistle blew on a 1-0 home defeat.
Electrified by the pre-game unveiling of the newest Sounder, Clint Dempsey, the CenturyLink Field faithful roared in triumph at a 3-0 dismantling of FC Dallas. Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson scored in the first half and in second-half stoppage time Brad Evans converted a penalty kick to up his career record from the spot to a perfect six-for-six. FCD, which led the conference as late as June 22, has not won in its last nine games.
Nailing six goals in three consecutive games for the USA, including five Gold Cup strikes, shrouded the fact Chris Wondolowski hadn’t netted for San Jose since May 8. He ended that drought by bagging both goals in a 2-0 defeat of that other USA (Chivas), which lost its second straight game and has returned to the bottom slot.
THE REST. Aided by goalmouth clearances by Ashtone Morgan and Richard Eckersley TFC clung to a lead for 88 minutes (plus stoppage time) to beat New England, 1-0. Matias Laba looked every inch a DP by slicing through the Revs’ defense from midfield to notch his first MLS goal. Two wins in a row for TFC. Huzzah!
By stumbling in Houston and netting only an own goal the Crew has lost three straight and six of the last seven games. Those results are not why new owner Anthony Precourt spent a reported $68 million to buy the team and its stadium, but they certainly make a good case for a makeover.
As grim as this season has been for D.C. United, its young players give hope for the future. Luis Silva (24) is turning out to be a Mike Magee-esque trade acquisition. He scored in his third straight game, and Jared Jeffrey (23) and Conor Doyle (21) registered their first MLS goals as United stunned Montreal, 3-1.