By Ridge Mahoney
Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake swept their league games last weekend to retain their places atop the Power Rankings heading into their meeting Saturday at Livestrong Sporting Park.
Another loss by the defending champion Galaxy tumbles it another notch toward the bottom of the standings, while San Jose and New York each won a third straight game to move into the top tier.
Expansion Montreal got its first MLS win by toppling troubled Canadian rival Toronto FC, which thus retained its place at the bottom of the rankings. Last year’s expansion darlings, the Portland Timbers, collapsed at home for the second straight game and have lost three in a row.
Here are the Week 5 rankings, team by team, with games played ranging from three (Chicago, Houston) to six (RSL). What's that all about?
1. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (5-0-0). For the second straight game, SKC held an opponent to zero shots on goal. The Galaxy generated just four total shots while losing, 1-0, to a Kei Kamara goal set up by Bobby Convey’s chip from the right wing. SKC is the stingiest team in the league with just one goal conceded. It drew a standing-room only crowd of 20,323 and could match that this week when the second-ranked team comes to Rio Tinto Stadium. Last week: 1.
2. REAL SALT LAKE (5-1-0). A labored 1-0 win midweek over expansion Montreal couldn’t have been more different than the dominant display that downed Colorado, 2-0, on Saturday. Fabian Espindola’s clincher against the Rapids resulted from his handling of the ball, but Alvaro Saborio’s classy strike in the 20th minute that opened the scoring and a strong defensive performance have RSL atop the Western Conference. Last week: 2.
3. SAN JOSE (4-1-0). A three-goal burst in 10 minutes after the Quakes had fallen behind propelled them past Vancouver, 3-1. Chris Wondolowski’s two goals upped his season’s tally to six of San Jose’s eight, yet just as impressive is a “2” in the goals-allowed column. The entry of subs Alan Gordon and Khari Stephenson enabled San Jose to open up Vancouver’s previously unbreached defense. Last week: 6.
4. HOUSTON (2-1-0). The Dynamo sat out the second straight weekend of league play, so it should be rested and rusty for Sunday’s game in Chicago. Last week: 4.
5. SEATTLE (2-1-1). The Sounders came out of RFK Stadium with a point in their first road contest of 2012 by tying D.C. United, 0-0. Marc Burch nearly stole three points in stoppage time against his former club when his header came back off the crossbar. Last week: 7.
6. NEW YORK (3-2-0). New York’s attack erupted again, with Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry both scoring twice in a 4-1 pummeling of the Crew in Columbus. Cooper connected twice in the first 13 minutes as he, Henry, and Mehdi Ballouchy had their way with the Crew. The quartet upped New York’s take to 13 goals in the last three games, and Rafael Marquez earned an assist with a fine pass that sent Henry clear to score the third goal. Last week: 9.
7. VANCOUVER (2-1-2). A league-record shutout streak of 427 minutes to open a season crumbled at San Jose, which romped, 3-1, by scoring all its goals in a 10-minute span. A shrewd throw-in yielded an Eric Hassli pass that Sebastien Le Toux banged into the net, but an error by Jay DeMerit opened up space for Chris Wondolowski to tie the game and the ‘Caps couldn’t contain the home team down the stretch. Last week: 3.
8. COLORADO (3-2-0). Coach Oscar Pareja’s move of defender Drew Moor to midfield against RSL didn’t bring the desired stability as the Rapids tumbled to a 2-0 defeat. Moor just missed scoring with a header, and a Martin Rivero free kick off the crossbar summed up a tough night for the Colorado attack. Last week: 5.
9. CHICAGO (1-1-1). Another bye week, its second of the season, has given the Fire a look of a mystery team. Answers will be forthcoming Sunday when it hosts Houston, which also sat out Week 5. Last week: 10.
10. COLUMBUS (2-2-0). A powerful New York attack had little trouble carving up the Crew back line in a 4-1 thrashing. Eric Gehrig got knocked off the ball by Kenny Cooper, who scored. Then several tackles were missed before centerback Chad Marshall lost the mark as a deflected cross looped for Cooper, who scored again. Thierry Henry then got his pair of goals as a two-game Crew winning streak ended abruptly. Last week: 8.
11. FC DALLAS (2-2-1). Defender Ugo Ihemelu connected with a Zach Loyd free kick five minutes into stoppage time to power home a header by which FCD stung the Revs, 1-0. An earlier goal by rookie defender Matt Hedges was disallowed by a pushing foul as he battled to reach a Fabian Castillo corner kick. Kevin Hartman made five saves as FCD posted its first shutout. Last week: 13.
12. NEW ENGLAND (2-3-0). Keeper Matt Reis did his best to fend off FCD in the final minutes, yet the Revs were beaten, 1-0, by a stoppage-time header. Reis tipped away a shot from Brek Shea in the 87th minute, then charged out to snag Shea’s cross to Fabian Castillo as stoppage time began. Rookie Kelyn Rowe put all three of his shots on frame in a game that seemed destined to finish 0-0 before the Revs faltered in the final seconds. Last week: 11.
13. D.C. UNITED (1-2-2). After losing its first two games of the season, United is unbeaten in the last three. It registered its second 0-0 tie of the season against Seattle at home. Defender Dejan Jakovic replaced the suspended Brandon McDonald and helped limit the Sounders to just two shots on goal. DP Hamid Salihi hit the crossbar with a shot from a Nick De Leon feed. Last week: 12.
14. CHIVAS USA (2-3-0). Sub Ryan Smith set up two goals with swerving crosses from the left flank in a 2-1 comeback victory against the Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field. Alejandro Moreno and Nick LaBrocca got their heads to Smith’s serves to overturn a 1-0 deficit resulting from keeper Dan Kennedy’s fumble of a cross inflicted by a collision with teammate James Riley. Aside from that hiccup, Kennedy needed to make only two saves. Last week: 16.
15. LOS ANGELES (1-3-0). A lackluster Galaxy succumbed to Sporting Kansas City, 1-0, in its first away match of the league season. David Beckham stayed behind in LA with back spasms and a feeble attack generated just four shots, none of which hit the frame. Coach Bruce Arena credited SKC’s ability to win second balls as a key factor in the result. Last week: 14.
16. MONTREAL (1-4-1). The Impact topped Toronto FC, 2-1, to post its first MLS victory in front of 23,120 fans at Olympic Stadium. There were other firsts: Sinisa Ubiparipovic scored in his debut for the club, and No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wenger collected his first professional goal. Beating its longtime rival in several sports for the first time in an MLS game had to feel pretty good, too. Last week: 17.
17. PORTLAND (1-3-1). Another lead squandered and another home game lost by Portland, which fell to Chivas USA, 2-1, after Kris Boyd capitalized on a mistake to give it the lead. The Timbers could not contain their opponents in midfield nor on the flanks, from whence came final balls that set up the Chivas USA goals. Cameroonian Franck Songo’o played 62 minutes in his first MLS start. Last week: 15.
18. PHILADELPHIA (0-3-1). The Union resumed a normal schedule Monday following a weekend off from league play. After its last game, a 0-0 tie with Vancouver March 31, Coach Peter Nowak gave his team three days off. The Crew comes calling at PPL Park Saturday as the NBC Sports Network’s featured match. Last week: 18.
19. TORONTO FC (0-4-0). Losing to their Eastern Canada rival in their first MLS meeting won’t sit well with TFC management and fans; only a Danny Koevermans goal avoided a shutout defeat, but a 2-1 loss in Montreal is galling enough. He snapped home a header for his first goal of the season in the 88th minute, about 23 minutes after a red card to Logan Emory left TFC with 10 men. The Reds return to BMO Field this weekend to host Chivas USA. Last week: 19.