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Red Bulls on the rise
by Ridge Mahoney, May 10th, 2011 12:14AM
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TAGS:  mls


[MLS POWER RANKINGS] The Home Depot Showdown ended 1-1, and that was enough to push New York atop the rankings, with Real Salt Lake moving up a spot with a fortunate 1-0 defeat of Chivas USA in its return to league play. Houston lost twice to drop out of the top half, and with a win and a tie at home D.C. United continued its see-saw season to date. Here's how MLS's 18 teams rank from top to bottom ...

1. NEW YORK (4-1-3). The Red Bulls scored in the fourth minute at Home Depot Center but were denied a second goal as well as a vital victory in their 1-1 tie with the Galaxy. Mehdi Ballouchy filled in admirably for Teemu Tainio, both Joel Lindpere and Dane Richards were solid, and Thierry Henry played on strongly after scoring the early goal. Last week: 2.

2. REAL SALT LAKE (5-1-0)
. Sure, RSL should have punched through a nine-man Chivas USA to score well before Will Johnson got on the end of a driven ball to tuck it home in the 87th minute, but fighting through the images of Javier Morales getting crunched and stretchered off with a badly fractured ankle would test any team. Tough times lay ahead without one of the league’s gems. Last week: 3.

3. LOS ANGELES (4-2-4). In just its fourth home game of the season LA rallied to tie after conceding an early goal and traded punches with NYRB in a spirited and skillful display. Plenty of chances were generated during the run of play though Landon Donovan headed home a David Beckham corner kick. Is there the depth to handle a cross-country, double-dip this week: at Philly Wednesday, and home against Sporting Kansas City? Last week: 4.

4. PHILADELPHIA (4-2-1). The Union joined the list of victims in Portland by the same 1-0 scoreline featured in six of its seven games this season. Grinding out points is all well and good, but the attack is looking static despite the presence of Sebastien Le Toux and as yet there’s not much chemistry up top between Carlos Ruiz and Danny Mwanga. Keeper Fayrd Mondragon has faced only 15 shots on goal, a remarkable stat. Last week: 1.

5. COLORADO (4-2-3). The Rapids aren’t much for style points, but they took four points from two road matches. They rallied from a 1-0 deficit to beat Houston with a 40-yard goal by Jamie Smith and late winner during a scramble by Scott Palguta, and carved out a 0-0 tie at New England. The road swing concludes in D.C. this weekend. Conor Casey is scheduled to resume training after missing more than a month with a hamstring injury. Last week: 7.

6. COLUMBUS (3-1-4). A penalty kick by Emilio Renteria brought the Crew back from a 1-0 deficit to tie Seattle, 1-1, at home in yet another downpour. It is unbeaten in the last seven games, the longest such streak so far this season. Four of its eight goals have come on penalty kicks, though it piled on pressure in the second half, during which it took 13 of its 14 shots. Last week: 6.

7. SEATTLE. (3-3-4). One point from two road games resulted from a 1-1 tie with the Crew Saturday in which Fredy Montero scored the fifth Sounders’ goal from a header, the most in MLS by that method. Keeper Kasey Keller preserved the point with late stops against Eddie Gaven and Andres Mendoza to give Seattle a little momentum after losing to D.C. United, 2-1, on Wednesday. On tap is the first Northwest Clasico, the first of three straight at Qwest Field. Last week: 5.

8. PORTLAND (4-3-1). With a second straight shutout and headed goal by defender Mamadou Danso, the Timbers downed Philly, 1-0, and are a perfect 4-0-0 at Jeld-Wen Field. Jack Jewsbury got the assist on a corner kick and leads the team in scoring with two goals and three assists. Captain Jack is on track for his best MLS season. Last week: 9.

9. FC DALLAS (3-3-2). Kevin Hartman bailed out FCD with a few sharp saves a la his 2010 performances, and defender Ugo Ihemelu cleared a goalbound D.C. shot off to earn the Stripes a 0-0 tie at RFK. The increased tenacity shown since David Ferreira and Jair Benitez were sidelined must be maintained. Last week: 10.

10. HOUSTON (3-3-3). After throwing away a 1-0 lead against Colorado and losing on Wednesday, the Dynamo couldn’t match TFC’s effort at BMO Field and lost by the same 2-1 score. A 3-2 record at home and only three points from four road games means Houston’s makeover has brought moderate results. Last week: 8.

11. D.C. UNITED (3-4-2).
Andy Najar picked up assists on both goals in a 2-1 midweek defeat of Seattle and played some nice stuff as United outplayed Dallas but failed to score in a 0-0 tie. Josh Wolff and Charlie Davies set up each other for goals against the Sounders; Najar and Davies nearly scored against FCD but were thwarted. Last week: 13.

12. CHIVAS USA (2-3-3). The nine men showed a lot of tough in dueling RSL to the bitter end before going down, 1-0. Some props for keeper Dan Kennedy are overdue. He showed signs of surpassing veteran Zach Thornton last year but a rocky end to Martin Vasquez’s stint as head coach threw the organization into a tailspin. A stiff defense is giving him a lot of protection, but he’s done his part to record three shutouts in six games and post a 0.50 goals-allowed average. Last week: 11.

13. NEW ENGLAND (2-3-4). The Revs pitched their first shutout of 2011 against Colorado in a 0-0 tie with some changes: Matt Reis returned in goal, Chris Tierney and Ryan Cochrane replaced Didier Domi and Franco Coria, respectively, and Ousmane Dabo made his MLS debut. Shots by Cochrane and Benny Feilhaber hit the crossbar to leave them frustrated with the home point. Last week: 12.

14. CHICAGO (1-3-4). Diego Chaves hit the post and several teammates failed to finish solid chances in a 0-0 home tie with Vancouver that extended the Fire’s winless streak to six games. After a whiffed clearance that nearly cost the Fire a goal, keeper Jon Conway picked the ball off the feet of striker Eric Hassli to keep the game scoreless. Last week: 14.

15. VANCOUVER (1-4-4). The ‘Caps got their first road point by holding the Fire to a 0-0 tie despite generating only four shots to 12 for the host, but are winless since blasting TFC, 4-2, in their inaugural MLS appearance. Eric Hassli dawdled on the ball in acres of space after breaching the offside trap to fluff a chance no forward, let alone a DP, should squander. Last week: 16.

16. TORONTO FC (2-3-4). Some teams passed on Joao Plata (5-foot-3) in the SuperDraft because of his size, but when handed his first MLS start, he led TFC past Houston, 2-1, with a goal and an assist to placate the antsy BMO faithful. Further evidence of the sieve that is TFC’s team defending: keeper Stefan Frei leads MLS with 36 saves. None of his counterparts has more than 28. He’s faced 50 shots: the guys in second place are at 38. Last week: 18.

17. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (1-4-1). A week off from league duty merely means a longer interlude between road matches, starting Saturday against the Galaxy. Omar Bravo might be recovered from sports hernia surgery in time to make an appearance. Ryan Smith could get first start of the season; he’s played only twice as a sub because of knee inflammation. Last week: 17.

18. SAN JOSE (1-4-2). The Quakes were off last week but deserve the bottom spot, as they won their only game more than a month ago, and are winless in four home matches. Surgery for Simon Dawkins deprives them of a creative catalyst for at least a month. The good news is that defender Ike Opara, who scored an overtime goal to down the Timbers, 1-0, in an Open Cup game last week, says he’s almost fully recovered from hip and groin problems. Last week: 17.

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