By Ridge Mahoney
The intensifying playoff races in both conferences are reflected in this week's Power Rankings.
There’s a mad scramble of teams chasing leader Real Salt Lake, which sat out a weekend during which more than three dozen players missed league matches to represent their national teams. Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, predictably, complained about losing national team players for important league matches after Colorado cooled off the Galaxy, 1-0, at StubHub Center.
Every one of the other teams in the top nine won to keep up the pressure, and by winning its seventh game in the last eight, the Sounders slipped into second place. No team can match its recent form of three straight wins and 22 points in the past 10 games. They host No. 1 RSL Friday night.
Week 28 Soccer America MLS Power Rankings
RANK TEAM (W-L-T) LAST WEEK
1. REAL SALT LAKE (14-8-6) 1. A showdown in Seattle looms for RSL after it sat out the international break; Alvaro Saborio left the Costa Rican team after its 3-1 defeat of the USA, but Kyle Beckerman played the full 90 against Mexico Tuesday. Fun fact: RSL leads the league in shots on goal (149).
2. SEATTLE (14-8-4) 5. Teams on a roll get the bounces, and so it was when a Zach Scott cross caromed into the net off Fire defender Gonzalo Segares in the 89th minute to cap a 2-1 comeback victory. Lamar Neagle had tied the game, four days after netting the only goal of a 1-0 win over Chivas USA.
3. COLORADO (11-8-9) 4. Edson Buddle got some payback on a former team by drilling a superb shot into the top corner to down the Galaxy. Rapids are 6-1-4 in the past 11 games.
4. LOS ANGELES (13-10-4) 2. Missing Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, Omar Gonzalez andJaime Penedo, the Galaxy still came within a Marcelo Sarvas shot off the underside of the crossbar of getting a point.
5. MONTREAL (13-7-6) 3. Playing a man up for most of the game, the Impact knocked off New England, 4-2, with two Patrice Bernier penalty kicks and a pair of goals by the league leader, Marco Di Vaio (17). After a barren run of one victory in eight games, Montreal has won three of the last four.
6. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (13-9-6) 6. A tight defense limited the Crew to just one shot on goal in a 3-0 victory. Claudio Bieler logged a goal and an assist to further burnish his DP status.
7. NEW YORK (13-9-6) 7. New York won in Houston for the first time, dumping the Dynamo, 4-1, with Thierry Henry andJonny Steele each getting a goal and an assist.
8. PORTLAND (10-5-12) 8. Kalif Alhassan cleared a shot off the goalline in the opening minutes, then struck in first-half stoppage time to score the first goal in what became a 4-0 romp when Rodney Wallace, Will Johnson and Diego Valeri scored late.
9. NEW ENGLAND (10-10-7) 9. The Revs lost goalkeeper Matt Reis to a red card in the fifth minute and conceded two penalty kicks, yet still battled admirably in a 4-2 loss to Montreal. Diego Fagundez netted his team-high 10th goal of the season and Kelyn Rowe added to his ledger of sweet goals with a clever chip.
10. PHILADELPHIA (10-9-9) 11. A man advantage for more than half an hour wasn’t enough for the Union in a 1-0 loss at San Jose. Keon Daniel hit the post early in the second half as Philly’s winless streak increased to four games.
11. CHICAGO (10-11-5) 12. Mike Magee’s 15th goal of the season and a Sean Johnson penalty-kick save staked the Fire to a 1-0 lead in Seattle, but after the Fire conceded an equalizer Gonzalo Segares steered a cross into his own net.
12. SAN JOSE (10-11-7) 14. The Quakes are third-best in the league at home (9-1-4) after beating Philly, 1-0, on a Shea Salinas goal and typically heroic work by keeper Jon Busch. They prevailed despite losing Rafael Baca to a red card in the 58th minute.
13. HOUSTON (10-10-7) 10. A strong finisher the past two seasons, the Dynamo’s start to September isn’t one to remember. A 2-0 loss in Columbus and 4-1 home thrashing by New York gives it four losses in the past six games.
14. FC DALLAS (10-7-10) 15. FCD restored its reputation for the spectacular as it knocked off the Whitecaps, 3-1. Mauro Diaz volleyed home a Fabian Castillo cross in the 87th minute for the winner, and Jair Benitez drove a shot home from the center circle two minutes later to ice the victory.
15. VANCOUVER (10-10-7) 13. The ‘Caps fizzled in a playoff-like setting, conceding an equalizer to FC Dallas after Daigo Kobayashi scored an early goal and then succumbing twice more in the final minutes of a 3-1 defeat. They are 1-5-2 in the past eight games.
16. CHIVAS USA (6-15-7) 16. Seven goals in nine games since joining the team is the remarkable record of Erick Torres. He pounced on a fortunate bounce to score early in the second half, and D.C. United was beaten, 1-0, with some rugged defending by Carlos Bocanegra and stellar goalkeeping from Dan Kennedy.
17. TORONTO FC (4-13-10) 17. TFC was much better than the 4-0 scoreline inflicted upon it in Portland. The score was 1-0 until the 83rd minute.
18. COLUMBUS (9-14-5) 18. A 2-0 defeat of Houston (goals by Ryan Finley and Justin Meram) temporarily slowed its slide, but a 3-0 thumping at Sporting Kansas City re-started the downward express.
19. D.C. UNITED (3-19-5) 19. Sharp goalkeeping stoned Conor Doyle twice as United failed to score on the road for the 10th time this season in a 1-0 loss to Chivas USA.