By Ridge Mahoney
The Sounders climbed atop the Power Rankings as well as the Supporters' Shield listings by toppling previous leader Real Salt Lake, 2-0, Friday night at CenturyLink Field.
Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson were held out of the starting lineup by Coach Sigi Schmid after playing in the USA’s 2-0 defeat of Mexico Tuesday that clinched a place in the 2014 World Cup, yet still the Sounders won their eighth game in the last nine. Obafemi Martins scored in the third minute and Lamar Neagle netted in his third straight game.
Colorado and New York also won to move up the rankings at the expense of RSL, which dropped to third, and the Galaxy, knocked down a notch by tying 2-2 at D.C. United after being beaten at home last week by the Rapids.
Week 29 Soccer America MLS Power Rankings
RANK TEAM (W-L-T) LAST WEEK
1. SEATTLE (15-8-4) 2. Andy Rose doesn’t get a lot of publicity nor much playing time, but the central midfielder chased down a ball from Martins near the end line and knocked it back across the goalmouth for Martins to score his early goal. Seattle’s mix of stars and role players is getting stronger each week.
2. COLORADO (12-8-9) 3. Rapids PR man David Lindholm is doing a lot of translating for Vicente Sanchez; the Uruguayan is making news with performances like that of last weekend, when he scored a goal and produced an own goal with a cross in a 2-1 comeback defeat of FC Dallas.
3. REAL SALT LAKE (14-9-6) 1. Kyle Beckerman answered the bell after a stalwart showing against Mexico, but he couldn’t control the middle and if not for the heroics of U.S. teammate Nick Rimando RSL could have lost by four or five.
4. NEW YORK (14-9-6), 7. If not yet a fortress, Red Bull Arena is formidable. The Red Bulls are 9-2-3 at home after a 2-0 defeat of Toronto that featured a tap-in by Thierry Henry and Fabian Espindola’s looping header from an incredible angle.
5. LOS ANGELES (13-10-5) 4. An egregious giveaway by Omar Gonzalez that produced a D.C. United goal typified a 2-2 tie at RFK Stadium. Robbie Keane’s 13th goal along with his 11th assist, which set up Michael Stephens for his first league goal in three years, weren’t quite enough.
6. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (13-9-6) 6. After a week off from league play to stage the Flatlands Festival, Sporting Park hosts Real Esteli in the Concacaf Champions League Tuesday. SKC plays at Toronto FC Saturday. Argentine defender Federico Bessone has been signed.
7. MONTREAL (13-8-6) 5. Marco Di Vaio’s league-high 18th goal of the season staked the Impact to a 1-0 halftime lead at home against the Crew, but it conceded twice in a stagnant second half to snap a six-game home unbeaten streak.
8. PORTLAND (10-5-13) 8. The Timbers scraped out a 1-1 tie at Chivas USA with a Diego Valeri goal and were a little bit lucky when a Donovan Ricketts challenge that seemed to trip an opponent in the penalty area didn’t yield a spot kick.
9. CHICAGO (11-11-6) 11. While not as spectacular as that of a few other teams, the Fire’s 5-2-3 record in the past 10 games has pushed it into the playoff picture. It came back twice to beat the Revs, 3-2, with goals by Juan Luis Anangano, Mike Magee (of course), and substitute Alex, who scored the winner just three minutes after entering the match.
10. NEW ENGLAND (10-11-7) 9. Kelyn Rowe scored in a fifth straight game, but an offside call denied Saer Sene a legitimate goal as the Revs lost their second game in a row and fifth in the last 10.
11. HOUSTON (11-10-7), 13. A Brad Davis corner kick and Ricardo Clark header were enough for a 1-0 win in Philly that was the club’s seventh league shutout, the same number it had last season.
12. PHILADELPHIA (10-10-9) 10. After the 1-0 home defeat the Union attack has scored just one goal while going winless in the past five games. Keon Daniel lost a spectacular free-kick goal when an offside Amobi Okugo was judged to have impaired Houston keeper Tally Hall’s attempt to save the shot.
13. SAN JOSE (10-11-8) 12. Desperately needing a victory, the Quakes’ 0-0 tie with Vancouver ended a six-game home winning streak. Only two of their 22 shots reached the opposing goalkeeper.
14. FC DALLAS (10-8-10) 14. Yes, the winning goal bounced off defender Matt Hedges into his own net, but FCD had already conceded an equalizer eight minutes after David Ferreira’s strike produced a 1-0 lead. It was the third loss this season after scoring the first goal.
15. CHIVAS USA (6-15-8) 16. A superb header by Bryan de la Fuente into the top corner from a Carlos Borja cross typified the stylish play this team is capable of; defending poorly while conceding an equalizer demonstrated why it is a league-worst 2-2-4 after leading at halftime.
16. VANCOUVER (10-10-8) 15. A costly miss by Darren Mattocks in stoppage time left the ‘Caps 1-5-3 in their last nine games. Defender Jay DeMerit came on as an emergency sub for this first appearance of the season and colleague Caryle Mitchell snuffed two possible goals with vital blocks.
17. COLUMBUS (10-14-5) 18. Federico Higuain revived the Crew’s playoff hopes by setting up goals for Chad Marshall (header off a free kick) and Dominic Oduro (cool finish of a through ball) to beat Montreal.
18. TORONTO FC (4-14-11) 17. Recent acquisition Bright Dike forced a good save after making his second TFC appearance as a sub during a labored 2-0 loss at New York, its third game in the eight days.
19. D.C. UNITED (3-19-6) 19. There’s still some pride in play at RFK, at least when the club is inducting former great Jaime Moreno into its Hall of Tradition. Tying goals by Chris Pontius, in his first start since July, and Kyle Porter earned United a 2-2 tie against the Galaxy.