By Ridge Mahoney
Blowouts and barn-burners, and perhaps the Goal of the Year, highlighted a wild weekend of MLS play that preceded the October international break. The Rapids' 5-1 roasting of Seattle flipped those teams between the second and third slots. Top-ranked New York’s playoff-clinching tie with New England (2-2) was its second straight draw following four straight victories and among the best games played since the opening of Red Bull Arena in 2010. Another rivalry game, a Cascadia Cup clash between Vancouver and Portland, also produced a four-goal thriller and a spectacular strike by Camilo.
Landon Donovan tied Jeff Cunningham’s all-time league record for goals (134) in the Galaxy’s 5-0 pummeling of tenant Chivas USA but still the Galaxy is in fourth place and would need to play a wild-card game if it can’t move up.
Because of the international calendar many prominent players will be missing from important games this week, starting with San Jose-Colorado, Seattle-Vancouver and Houston-Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.
Week 32 Soccer America MLS Power Rankings
RANK TEAM (W-L-T) LAST WEEK
1. NEW YORK (15-9-8) 1. Yes, they needed a last-ditch Tim Cahill goal to tie the Revs 2-2 at home, but the Red Bulls showed some cojones by battling back from a ludicrous handball call against Jamison Olave to get the point that clinched a playoff spot.
2. COLORADO (13-9-9) 3. Deshorn Brown schooled DeAndre Yedlin in a memorable matchup of Rookie of the Year contenders to score one of his two goals in a 5-1 pounding of Seattle. Three wins in the last four games has the Rapids primed for a strong finish but they need at least a point at San Jose Wednesday to keep the postseason momentum going.
3. SEATTLE (15-9-6) 2. Coach Sigi Schmid, who knows a lot about these things, said his team will learn from the ass-kicking it suffered at Colorado. Yet the Rapids confirmed what some observers have noted; you can exploit certain Sounders by running at them with the ball. Seattle is also winless in its last three with Clint Dempsey sidelined.
4. REAL SALT LAKE (15-10-7) 4. RSL rode out 65 shorthanded minutes to scrape out a 1-1 tie at Dallas with an Alvaro Saborio goal. Centerback Chris Schuler, penciled in as a the replacement for Olave but sidelined since early May by a foot injury, got his first start in five months and greatly helped RSL’s resilience while a man down.
5. PORTLAND (12-5-14) 5. The Timbers twice succumbed to Camilo’s brilliance yet came home from Vancouver with a 2-2 tie on goals by Darlington Nagbe and Will Johnson, and some truly brilliant saves by Donovan Ricketts. Despite this scoreline, the defense has toughened: just three goals conceded in the last five games.
6. LOS ANGELES (14-11-6) 6. Landon Donovan tied Jeff Cunningham atop the all-time goalscoring list at 134 by netting twice as the Galaxy smashed Chivas USA, 5-0. Robbie Keane also nailed a pair. Now how will the Dynamic Duo, and Omar Gonzalez, react to another international break as the regular season winds down?
7. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (15-10-6). With a fourth victory in the last five games, a 1-0 win at Columbus, SKC pushed a dismal 1-4-0 record in its previous five games deeper into memory. Ike Opara headed home his third goal of the year from a Graham Zusi cross on a reset from a partially cleared corner kick.
8. HOUSTON (13-10-8) 10. During the last two seasons, Adam Moffat occasionally stung a goal from distance as Houston reached a pair of MLS Cups. Last weekend, midfield mainstay Ricardo Clark curled home a beauty to down Montreal, 1-0, and run the Dynamo’s record in the last four games to 3-0-1. Team November appears to be gathering steam.
9. NEW ENGLAND (11-11-9) 10. The Red Bulls’ desperate tally stripped the Revs of two precious points. Lee Nguyen converted the controversial penalty ruled against Olave in the 85th minute and that Diego Fagundez kid struck again in stoppage time after Andy Dorman was sent off, yet still the Revs didn’t win.
10. MONTREAL (13-10-7) 8. Few teams in the playoff picture are as flat as is the Impact after a 1-0 defeat in Houston. Montreal is 1-3-1 in the last five games and a dependence on Marco Di Vaio, who seldom broke free and drilled a free kick into the defensive wall, seems to be seeping in.
11. PHILADELPHIA (12-10-9) 12. It was Brazilian night, good and bad, at PPL Park. Fabinho was sent off in the 77th minute with the score 0-0, and fellow countryman Kleberson went hero in stoppage time by firing home a free kick to beat Toronto FC, 1-0. Did you know Zac MacMath leads all of MLS in shutouts with 12?
12. SAN JOSE (11-11-9) 11. The Quakes didn’t get any help from Seattle, so their Wednesday Buck Shaw showdown with Colorado is as must-win as it gets, though a tie does not eliminate them. On the plus side, if they sweep their last three games – Colorado, at Los Angeles, and home against FC Dallas – they’re in. But Victor Bernardez and Marvin Chavez will be with Honduras this week.
13. CHICAGO (12-12-7) 14. The Fire duly downed D.C. United, 3-0, with goals by Bakary Soumare, Jeff Larentowicz and Quincy Amarikwa to stay in
the playoff hunt. Sean Johnson’s monster game – nine saves, several of them superb – could portend a big playoff presence if Chicago can sneak in.
14. COLUMBUS (12-15-5) 13. Seth Sinovic’s headed clearance of Ryan Finley’s goalbound shot in the final minutes denied the Crew an equalizer, but it really needed to beat SKC at home. Instead, six wins in the last 10 games is mainly of statistical interest as Coach Brian Bliss and his players make their cases for next season.
15. VANCOUVER (11-11-9) 15. Camilo’s flying scissor-kick volley that pulled Vancouver into its 2-2 tie with Portland is Goal of the Year Stuff, moved him into a second-place tie for the Golden Boot, and may be MVP material as well. But the ‘Caps are inch-close to elimination and have only one win in their last eight matches.
16. FC DALLAS (10-10-11) 17. Kenny Cooper scored his first goal since mid-May and FCD broke a three-game losing streak by tying RSL, 1-1, on the road. However, FCD played a man up for the final 65 minutes and needed to rally after falling behind.
17. TORONTO (5-16-11) 16. TFC went a man up in the 77th minute but instead of scoring, conceded the winner in stoppage time. Robbie Earnshaw’s free kick off the crossbar preceded a goal by Kleberson, who had played 10 minutes in the previous 16 games. That’s how it goes when you’re going bad.
18. CHIVAS USA (6-17-9) 18. There was nothing classy about that Clasico.
19. D.C. UNITED (3-22-6) 19. United has tied the all-time record (post-shootout era) for losses (22) in the season, and has three chances to break it.