Sounders, Crew move up, Quakes drop

[MLS POWER RANKINGS] The first MLS Northwest derby match in Portland served up a five-goal thriller that the Sounders used to pass FC Dallas in the standings and our power rankings. The Crew also won to move into the top six, while San Jose fell out of the top half by running its winless streak to five games.

1. LOS ANGELES (10-2-9). Regardless of how the Galaxy season finishes, this will go down as David Beckham’s best in MLS; he may be playing for a new contract, but he’s served up plenty of memorable moments like the gol olimpico and free kick headed into the net by Landon Donovan in a 2-1 dousing of the Fire. Backup keeper Josh Saunders played another solid game in the absence of injured starter Donovan Ricketts. But another bad tackle by Chris Birchall, though it escaped punishment, is emblematic of occasional defensive carelessness. Last week: 1.

2. SEATTLE (9-4-8). The hottest team in the league won its fourth of the last five and extended its unbeaten streak to eight matches by beating the Timbers, 3-2, in Portland after twice trailing by a goal. Fredy Montero, who hasn’t always shown up for the big games, earned Player of the Week honors with a pair of goals, including a wicked free kick, and Osvaldo Alonso sealed victory with a late PK. As now, the Sounders are still Emperors of the Northwest. Last week: 3.

3. FC DALLAS (10-5-4). Succumbed at Rio Tinto Stadium, 2-0, when RSL broke open the game on a rare goalkeeping gaffe by Kevin Hartman and Jackson somehow failed to put away a deflected ball from two yards that would have tied it at 1-1. The defeat ended a three-game losing streak and cost FCD second place in the conference, but it may be able to pick up points this month as many rivals indulge in international friendlies. Last week: 2.

4. PHILADELPHIA (7-4-7). Coach Peter Nowak left striker Carlos Ruiz, attacker Veljko Paunovic and defender Carlos Valdes at home and still the Union outplayed the Quakes while tying, 0-0. Danny Mwanga threatened a few times but failed to convert good opportunities. The Union’s 16 goals conceded is tied with the Galaxy for the league’s second-best mark; though Philly has played two fewer matches, its 0.89 goals-allowed per game is still a remarkable turnaround from the 49 goals and 1.63 average of last year. Last week: 4.

5. REAL SALT LAKE (8-3-6). Defender Chris Wingert cleared a possible Dallas equalizer off the goal line and Fabian Espindola scored a clinching goal in a 2-0 victory marred by Alvaro Saborio leaving the field in an apparent huff after being substituted. Maybe he should be reminded RSL is unbeaten in six matches and that “the team is the star.” It is also the stingiest in MLS with just 12 goals allowed (0.71 per game). Last week: 5.

6. COLUMBUS (7-5-6). Jeff Cunningham ended a wait of nearly four months to tie Jaime Moreno’s league mark of 133 goals; more importantly, his strike in the 90th minute also earned the Crew a 1-0 away victory over Vancouver. If Cunningham can get his touch back and Andres Mendoza (seven goals) doesn’t fall apart, the Crew can stay in the hunt for the conference title. Last week: 8.

7. NEW YORK (6-4-10).
Yes, the Red Bulls are tied with Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference but they are fifth in the overall standings and persist in following up impressive performances like a 5-0 drilling of Toronto last Wednesday with a 1-0 home defeat by D.C. United. Thumping bad teams and losing to mediocre ones is not a championship pedigree, nor is a run of five points in the last five games. Last week: 6.

8. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (5-6-7). Yet to lose in its new home (2-0-3), SKC is also finding it a bit tougher to win, as evidenced by 1-1 ties with Colorado and Chivas USA. Only a very late Omar Bravo goal enabled it to avoid a loss against Chivas USA, and it also needed to rally with a Graham Zusi put-away of a rebound to tie Colorado. SKC has scored the first goal in only six of its games and is 1-6-3 when it falls behind; both stats must improve as the home games add up. Last week: 7.

9. COLORADO (6-5-9). Even with four more regular-season games than last year, the Rapids will be hard-pressed to match their total of 12 wins though they beat Vancouver, 2-1, at home after tying 1-1 at Kansas City. Conor Casey scored the first goal against the Whitecaps – his sixth in the last seven games – and created the second with a saved header that Scott Palguta knocked into the net for only their second win in 11 games. Not good. Last week: 10.

10. D.C. UNITED (5-5-7). Dwayne De Rosario stuck it to his most recent team by juking fellow trade commodity Dax McCarty and taking a sweet return pass from Josh Wolff to rifle home the only goal of a 1-0 triumph at Red Bull Arena. How the trade works out long-term may dictate where D.C. United winds up in the standings, yet posting a fourth shutout should boost the confidence of young keeper Bill Hamid and his defensive mates. Last week: 11.

11. HOUSTON (5-6-8). Beating Toronto FC at home is pretty much standard this season, yet those three points acquired in a 2-0 win with goals by Danny Cruz and Geoff Cameron snapped a three-match winless streak. Cruz and Cameron are the two most likely prospects to take pressure off Dynamo playmaker Brad Davis, who is being targeted by opponents. Other interesting developments; Kofi Sarkodie played his third straight game at right back, and Brian Ching went the full 90 minutes, a rarity this season. Last week: 12.

12. CHIVAS USA (5-7-7). Held serve at home in midweek to beat the Quakes, 2-0, on Wednesday, then led, 1-0, for more than an hour at Kansas City on a Nick LaBrocca goal before conceding in stoppage time. LaBrocca might have netted a second had not teammate Marcos Mondaini got in the way of his shot, but without some stellar goalkeeping from Dan Kennedy, SKC would have scored much earlier. The defensive elements still need work. Last week: 13.

13. SAN JOSE (5-6-7). The Quakes momentum is fizzling out. They played miserably in a 2-0 loss at Chivas USA Wednesday, then needed some superb saves by keeper Jon Busch to claim a 0-0 home tie with Philadelphia during which Coach Frank Yallop was dismissed for a vituperative, obscenity-laden tirade at the officials. Quiet games from Simon Dawkins and Chris Wondolowski, plus a Ryan Johnson shot off the crossbar, can do that to you when the refereeing is suspect. Last week: 9.

14. CHICAGO (2-5-12). Fans who insist that Sean Johnson is the next great American goalkeeper should repeatedly view David Beckham’s goal directly from a corner kick in a 2-1 loss to the Galaxy. Johnson’s starting position left the door open. Another youngster did well: striker Cristian Nazarit got the Fire’s goal with a emphatic header from a Patrick Nyarko cross, so there’s hope for the future, as in 2012. Last week: 14.

15. PORTLAND (5-9-3). The bloom is off the team in the Rose City. It squandered 1-0 and 2-1 leads while losing to Northwest rival Seattle, 3-2, and is winless in the past seven games. Jorge Perlaza’s fourth goal of the season in the 69th minute evaporated when the Sounders struck twice in nine minutes, with the winner coming from a PK awarded for a foul in the box by defender Eric Brunner. The Timbers Army will march to Jeld-Wen Field regardless, but Coach John Spencer needs to find patches for a porous defense. Last week: 15.

16. NEW ENGLAND (3-8-7). The Revs took the week off. They kick off the Herbalife Football Challenge Wednesday against Manchester United and get back to league duty Sunday at home against Philadelphia. They have to move up here despite not playing, since TFC must be penalized. Last week: 17.

17. TORONTO FC (3-9-9). A 5-0 pasting in New York and 2-0 loss at Houston exacerbates the need for replacements. New players can certainly help, but there’s not a whole lot of evidence that head coach knows what he’s doing, either. Yet to be discovered is an able replacement for injured centerback Adrian Cann, not to mention that De Rosario guy the team was so anxious to get rid of. Last week: 16.

18. VANCOUVER (2-10-8). The ‘Caps have established a disquieting consistency; they screw up at home and on the road. They fell to Columbus, 1-0, at Empire Field on a last-minute goal after Terry Dunfield failed to convert a penalty kick and Shea Salinas was sent off, then lost, 2-1, at Colorado, which had won only one of its last 10. Camilo got his sixth goal in the 77th minute, when it was too late. Trade acquisition Jordan Harvey debuted against the Rapids and was cautioned. Last week: 18.

1 comment about "Sounders, Crew move up, Quakes drop".
  1. beautiful game, July 12, 2011 at 2:58 p.m.

    NYRB mediocrity can be attributed to them playing with 8-field players any time that Ballouchy and Miller are on the pitch...add to this mediocre-duo Dane Richards and the team liability factor increase...Richards gets constant kudos about 'speed' and more 'speed', yet he has no soccer brain.

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