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MLS Power Rankings: Eastern shuffle continues
by Ridge Mahoney, August 14th, 2012 1:50AM
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TAGS:  mls


Just three points separate the top three teams in the Eastern Conference, which claimed the second, third and fourth spots in the power rankings after another intense weekend of play.

No. 1 San Jose pulled off another amazing last-minute victory, downing luckless Seattle, 2-1, with a Steven Lenhart goal in the 93rd minute. New York beat Eastern rival Houston to take over the No. 2 slot, and Sporting Kansas City moved up to fourth by downing pursuer D.C. United. As another busy week looms, with international friendlies on Wednesday as well as league games leading into the weekend, here are the rankings based on current form as well as overall record.

1. SAN JOSE (14-5-5). Ho hum, another last-second winning goal -- this time by Steven Lenhart, who headed the winner from a corner kick in the 93rd minute -- pushed the Quakes four points ahead of their nearest pursuer in the race for best overall record, and five points ahead of Western runner-up Real Salt Lake. Lenhart's goal came less than a minute after Fredy Montero's strike had evened an opener by Simon Dawkins. Steven Beitashour, Chris Wondolowski and Alan Gordon joined the USA team for its friendly against Mexico and are expected to be available for a Saturday league match at Montreal. Last week: 1.

2. NEW YORK (12-7-5). Tim Cahill's knockdown of a Roy Miller corner kick set up Markus Holgersson for a tap-in by which the Red Bulls opened the scoring in a 2-0 defeat of Houston that pushed them past the Dynamo into second place of the Eastern Conference. Jan Gunnar Solli converted another tap-in during stoppage time. Last week: 5.

3. HOUSTON (11-6-7). A week after beating the Red Bulls at home, the Dynamo fell, 2-0, at Red Bull Arena in a rematch. Trailing, 1-0, Houston generated two good opportunties to equalize, but Mac Kandji -- facing one of his former teams -- rolled a shot past the far post and Corey Ashe's wicked attempt hit the crossbar. It hosts Columbus Sunday. Last week: 2.

4. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (13-7-4). SKC parlayed its Open Cup triumph against Seattle Wednesday into a 2-1 defeat of D.C. United that broke a four-game winless streak at home. USA callup Graham Zusi earned his 10th assist of the season with a corner kick that Teal Bunbury headed in and then nailed the winner himself from a Kei Kamara cross. Last week: 6.

5. REAL SALT LAKE (13-9-3). Rio Tinto Stadium is still a fortress, but on the road RSL is easy pickings. It lost its second straight game and fourth consecutive away match, 2-1, at Vancouver, and didn't get that goal until Nat Borchers cut the margin in half during stoppage time. Last week: 3.

6. D.C. UNITED (11-8-3). Nick DeLeon's equalizer midway through the first half proferred encouragement of getting a result at Kansas City but United conceded a second when it couldn't deal with a long cross into the box and never caught up. Last week: 4.

7. CHICAGO (11-7-5). The Fire spotted the Union a 1-0 lead courtesy of an own goal, then scorched Philly with two goals by Chris Rolfe and another by Arne Freidrich to win, 3-1. Freidrich bagged the winner in first-half stoppage time after Rolfe's first goal in the 43rd minute had tied the match. Last week: 8.

8. SEATTLE (10-6-7). The Sounders endured one of the more miserable weeks in their history: A penalty-kick loss in the Open Cup final after playing a 1-1 tie with Sporting Kansas City that ended its three-time dominance, followed by a stoppage-time stunner, 2-1, in San Jose. Seattle hit the Quakes' crossbar twice before Fredy Montero headed an equalizer in the 92nd minute, but a minute later Seattle surrendered the winner. Last week: 7.

9. LOS ANGELES (11-11-3). The Galaxy atoned, somewhat, for last week's 4-0 embarassment in Seattle by thrashing Chivas USA, 4-0, by the same score as Landon Donovan set a personal best by assisting on each goal. A classic blast from Juninho, one of his two goals, broke the game open at 2-0 after Robbie Keane had opened the scoring with his 10th goal. Defender Omar Gonzalez marked another milestone in his comeback from injury by netting the fourth. Last week: 9.

10. VANCOUVER (10-7-7). The 'Caps caught Northwest rival Seattle in the standings at 37 points by beating RSL, 2-1, behind a goal and assist by Camilo. He ended a 12-game scoring drought with a goal in the 58th minute and earned an assist on a wonderful, bending shot by Dane Richards six minutes later. Vancouver plays a monster Cascadia Cup match at Seattle on Saturday. Last week: 10.

11. COLUMBUS (8-8-4). A game with Toronto FC was rescheduled so Crew players, coaches, staff and fans could mourn the shocking death of midfielder Kirk Urso. Columbus plays the first of three consecutive Wednesday games against the Galaxy, and also plays at Houston Sunday. It has the fewest games played (20) in MLS, so the playoffs aren't a lost cause. Last week: 11.

12. FC DALLAS (6-11-8). A third win in the last six games has FCD in sixth place and not all that far, seven points, out of a playoff spot. Fabian Castillo, Jair Benitez, and David Ferreira (remember him?) scored in a 3-2 defeat of Colorado that took its take in those six games to 10 points. Not great, but a great improvement after a club-record 13-game winless streak. Last week: 14.

13. MONTREAL (10-13-3). Sanna Nyassi stole a ball from Benny Feilhaber, and then stole a 1-0 victory over New England by dodging two opponents and blasting a shot from outside the penalty area into the net. The Impact has won four of its last five. Last week: 15

14. CHIVAS USA (7-9-5). Whatever coach Robin Fraser tried to inject into its team during a bye week, it didn't take. The Galaxy drilled Chivas USA, 4-0, despite a few fantastic saves by keeper Dan Kennedy, who finished the game with eight. A Ben Zemanski giveaway opened the door for the Galaxy to take the lead in the 27th minute and despite six shots by Miller Bolanos and 13 total, only two required saves. Last week: 12.

15. PHILADELPHIA (7-12-2). Philly had the impetus of the PPL Park crowd and a 1-0 lead presented by a Fire own goal, but conceded three goals in less than 15 minutes of play and fell, 3-1. The team seems more unified under coach John Hackworth than it did under Peter Nowak but still the good showings are extremely sporadic. Last week: 13.

16. NEW ENGLAND (6-12-6). Tight games are often decided by a moment of brilliance, and so it was when Sanna Nyassi stole a ball from Benny Feilhaber to score a magnificent goal by which Montreal beat the Revs, 1-0. In their last 10 games, the Revs taken only seven of a possible 30 points, and this season have lost nine games by shutout. Last week: 16.

17. COLORADO (8-15-1). The Rapids reverted to their losing ways, 3-2, in Dallas and dropped their road record to 2-10-0 despite goals by Jamie Castrillon and Jeff Larentowicz. They are 1-7-0 in their last eight games. Last week: 17.

18. TORONTO FC (5-14-4). TFC sat out the league schedule and gets a very winnable home game Wednesday against Portland. A tougher test awaits Saturday at home against Sporting Kansas City as the rebuilding for next year heats up. Last week: 18.

19. PORTLAND (5-12-5). No game last week, so the Timbers meet an equally freshened TFC at BMO Field Wednesday, then travel on to Red Bull Arena Sunday. Last week: 19.

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