By Ridge Mahoney
New York retained top spot in the final edition of the Power Rankings yet shared the best recent record with a team that fell short of the playoffs.
By blasting Chicago, 5-2, in their final game to win the Supporters’ Shield with the best overall record, the Red Bulls also upped their point total in the last 10 games to 21, the same as San Jose.
Despite edging FC Dallas, 2-1, in its finale to match New York’s 21-point haul in the last 10 games and move up to ninth in the Power Rankings, the Quakes lost out on the second standings tiebreaker, goals scored, against a Colorado team it matched in points (51) and wins (14). They still placed ahead of two playoff teams, Montreal and Seattle, in the final Power Rankings.
Needing wins to bolster their playoff hopes, the Fire and Philly stumbled in their final games to miss the postseason and drop into the Power Rankings’ bottom tier. Late-season fizzles by Vancouver and Columbus were too much to overcome.
Week 35 Soccer America MLS Power Rankings
RANK TEAM (W-L-T) LAST WEEK
1. NEW YORK (17-9-8) 1. Five different players -- stars and role players alike -- scored and part-time starter Peguy Luyindula chalked up three assists in a 5-2 rout of Chicago; might he be the Red Bulls’ secret weapon in the playoffs? The acid test of Coach Mike Petke’s tactical acumen and game-management skills is nigh, but there’s no question of this team’s talent and tenacity.
2. REAL SALT LAKE (16-10-8) 2. A 5-0 thrashing of Chivas USA last Wednesday and a 10-day break heading into the playoffs should present an RSL team that will be tough to beat.
3. PORTLAND (14-5-25) 3. Diego Valeri shook off some minor injury concerns by scoring twice and setting up a goal as the Timbers blasted Chivas USA, 5-0, to win the Western Conference. He finished as team leader in goals (10) and assists (13), yet also netting were the Johnson non-twins, Ryan and Will, who placed right behind him with nine goals apiece. Donovan Ricketts and his back line posted their 14th shutout. In the playoff race this is one of the strongest entrants.
4. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (17-10-7) 5. Making just his ninth start of the season, Lawrence Olum registered his first goal and assist of 2013 as SKC downed Philadelphia, 2-1. After setting up Graham Zusi for the opening goal, Olum won the match in stoppage time by lashing home a Teal Bunbury feed for the winner. Playoff disappointments the past two seasons cloud the picture of the league’s best team defensively (30 goals allowed) and on the road (8-5-4).
5. COLORADO (14-11-9) 4. The Rapids could have moved up the Western Conference in the season finale at Vancouver; instead, they were overrun by a Camilo hat trick in a 3-0 loss that left them fifth. Still it’s been a season of revival for a team that won 11 games and lost 19 in 2012. Maybe that thumping north of the border is just what’s needed for Colorado’s newcomers and youngsters who are in the MLS playoffs for the first time.
6. LOS ANGELES (15-11-8) 6. Robbie Keane’s 16th goal of the season earned the Galaxy a 1-1 tie in Seattle as well as the team lead in that department. He and Landon Donovan and several teammates are playoff-proven, though Donovan’s only goal in the last eight games came against lowly Chivas USA in a 5-0 blowout. These playoffs are crucial tests for youngsters like Gyasi Zardes and goalie Jaime Penedo as well as the stars.
7. NEW ENGLAND (14-11-9) 7. A 1-0 win in Columbus punched the Revs’ playoff ticket and was also their third consecutive win, a feat no other team managed to close out the season. Juan Agudelo worked a clever one-two with Lee Nguyen to score the goal; they and 13-goal sensation Diego Fagundez will be counted upon with striker Saer Sene sidelined by injury. New England registered its 14th shutout by blanking the Crew and needs more stout defending in the playoffs.
8. HOUSTON (14-11-9) 10. Inconsistent play by Oscar Boniek Garcia and Giles Barnes has plagued the Dynamo this season, yet both scored in a 2-1 defeat of D.C. United that secured fourth place. Barnes has flourished with a move to forward after coming to MLS last year as a midfielder; he headed Boniek Garcia’s cross for his ninth goal of the season. The attack may have woken up at just the right time; prior to the D.C. game, Houston had scored only two goals in four games.
9. SAN JOSE (14-11-9) 11. The Quakes gave the last remaining player from the inaugural MLS season, Ramiro Corrales, a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas in the 307th appearance of his league career. Interim head coach Mark Watson’s 11-5-3 record after replacing Frank Yallop has earned him the job going forward.
10. MONTREAL (14-13-7) 8. A 1-0 loss in Toronto could have cost the Impact a playoff spot but other results went in its favor. As goes Marco Di Vaio, so goes the Impact. His last goal in the last five games came in a 2-1 defeat of Philly; he was blanked in the other four, and so was the Impact by the same 1-0 scoreline.
11.CHICAGO (14-13-7) 9. Mike Magee’s 21st goal of the season should have provided the impetus at Red Bull Arena for a determined effort in a game the Fire had to win; instead, five goals hit the net before Quincy Amarikwa netted a late consolation goal. So what happens now? It’s all well and good that young defenders Austin Berry and Jalil Anibaba played every minute of every game, but they are thus partly culpable for a defense that conceded 52 goals. Only two teams conceded more.
12. SEATTLE (15-12-7) 12. At least Clint Dempsey got off the schneid by flicking home his first goal for the Sounders in a 1-1 tie with Los Angeles, but they couldn’t hold the lead and instead closed the season with a seven-game winless streak during which they have scored just five goals. Are there too many talented pieces for this puzzle to fit together in the playoffs?
13. VANCOUVER (13-12-9) 15. Coach Martin Rennie took the fall for a late-season collapse even though a Camilo hat trick in the final game, a 3-0 drubbing of Colorado, netted the 22-goal scorer the Golden Boot. President Bob Lenarduzzi announced Tuesday Rennie would not be retained after a tepid 3-4-3 finish dragged Vancouver out of the playoff tier. The late-season emergence of Kekuta Manneh bodes well for the future, yet there’s deadwood to be cleared on this roster.
14. PHILADELPHIA (12-12-10) 13. Jack McInerney’s second goal in as many games and 12th of the season provided the only bright spot of a 2-1 loss at Kansas City that extinguished the Union’s playoff hopes. A late-season fizzle -- two wins in the last 10 games -- places Coach John Hackworth’s job into some jeopardy. Philly lost all three games to SKC and was 7-5-5 at home. Not good enough.
15. FC DALLAS (11-12-11) 14. The former conference leader closed out its disappointing season below .500 after losing, 2-1, at San Jose, thus missing the playoffs for the third time in the five-year tenure of dismissed Coach Schellas Hyndman. His replacement must address frictions between teammates and a talented roster that just didn’t jell into a consistent unit.
16. TORONTO FC (6-17-11) 17. A 1-0 defeat of Montreal featured Robbie Earnshaw’s team-high eighth goal of the season. He’s headed elsewhere. Coach Ryan Nelsen lauded the midfield play of youngsters Jonathan Osorio and Kyle Bekker in beating Montreal, and president Tim Leiweke has announced plans to shell out money for a pair of Designated Players. What does it all mean? A crowd of 13,211 for the season finale at BMO Field indicates the current mindset of a fiercely loyal fan base.
17. COLUMBUS (12-17-5) 16. The 1-0 home loss to New England dropped the record of interim head coach Brian Bliss to 4-4. He’s been deemed a “finalist” by owner Anthony Precourt for the full-time gig along with a half-dozen others. There are many questions to answer on the roster, which took a severe dent when defender Glauber and attacker Eddie Gaven were lost to season-ending injuries.
18. CHIVAS USA (6-20-8) 18. A 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake and 5-0 thumping by Portland at home left Chivas USA with five straight losses to end the season. The squad wasn’t strong enough to compete consistently in MLS and unless owner Jorge Vergara changes his “farm team for the parent club” mentality, it never will. If top scorer Erick “Cubo” Torres (seven goals) graduates to the big club the start-over process starts anew.
19. D.C. UNITED (3-24-7) 19. The worst season in league history wasn’t enough, apparently, for Coach Ben Olsen and general manager Dave Kasper to be fired. Kyle Porter’s third goal of the season in a 2-1 defeat to SKC tied him for the team lead as well as United’s win total. But, hey, there’s new ownership in place and progress on a stadium. Always look on the bright side of life!