MLS Power Rankings: Sounders flounder

Real Salt Lake stayed atop the rankings by beating Chivas USA as MLS league action returned following a very light schedule during the FIFA fixture dates.

Nine games last weekend, six more on Wednesday, and another full slate this weekend has plunged MLS teams into a heavy schedule following the break from league play.

The crowded list of games will take the league through the halfway point of this 34-game season. Here are the rankings as the league resumes its regular play:

1. REAL SALT LAKE (10-3-2).
Coach Jason Kreis wasn’t impressed with his team’s performance in a U.S. Open Cup loss to Minnesota Stars FC on May 29, so he used the FIFA interval for some intense re-training of ideals. RSL returned to league play by bashing Chivas USA, 3-0, at Home Depot Center to win its third straight MLS game. Fabian Espindola’s two goals moved him into a tie with Alvaro Saborio for the team lead with six. Last week: 1.

2. SAN JOSE (8-3-3). The Quakes’ long layoff from league play -- since May 27 --  included U.S. Open Cup wins over Ft. Lauderdale and Minnesota, and a six-day break from training. They jump back into action with four games in the next 11 days, starting with road league dates at Colorado Wednesday and RSL Saturday. Last week: 3.

3. D.C. UNITED (9-4-3). Chris Pontius knocked home Branko Boskovic’s free kick in the 78th minute to quiet the crowd at PPL Park and power United to its fourth straight victory. The 1-0 defeat of Philly also evened United’s road mark at 3-3-1. Bill Hamid made four saves as D.C. posted its fifth shutout of the season to retain first place in the Eastern  Conference, though it has played three more games than Sporting KC. Last week: 4.

. Julio Cesar’s sublime, close-range volley off a corner kick finished off a 2-0 defeat of Toronto FC as SKC won its second straight game. In his first start of the season, Jacob Peterson – replacing Kei Kamara, who was on international duty with Sierra Leone – delivered the cross that C.J. Sapong (fifth goal) converted. SKC can define itself this week with games at Seattle and Philadelphia. Last week: 5.

5. NEW YORK (8-4-2). A six-game run without a loss slammed to a halt in Chicago, where Dax McCarty’s equalizer evaporated in a 3-1 defeat. Centerbacks Wilman Conde and Markus Holgersson looked particularly rusty, though Conde saved a goal with a  desperation clearance of a ball Fire players were certain had crossed the goal line. Coach Hans Backe will miss the match in Vancouver Wednesday because of personal matters; Conde will be rested, and injured Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez will not travel. Last week: 2.

6. COLUMBUS (5-4-4).
A 0-0 tie at New England extended the Crew’s unbeaten streak to six games and its unbeaten run at Gillette Stadium to seven. Keeper Andy Gruenebaum came up with several sharp saves in a lively first half to frustrate the Revs and though the Crew squandered a couple of second-half chances, it still came away with the tie, its third in seven road games this season (2-2-3). Last week: 7.

7. VANCOUVER (7-3-4).
The ‘Caps went down to 10 men when rookie Darren Mattocks received a second caution with half an hour to play, yet eked out a 1-0 win in the 80th minute when Davide Chiumiento’s delicate chip over the Rapids’ back line sent Sebastian Le Toux clear to score. They survived two shots off the woodwork in the final minutes to win a second straight game following a 3-1 defeat of Houston In the only league match played June 10. Last week: 10.

8. CHICAGO (6-5-3). Patrick Nyarko scored the first goal and set up the third in a 3-1 roasting of New York that ended the Fire’s three-game losing streak. A great chip by Sebastien Grazzini set up Nyarko to score the opener in the fourth minute, and a wrongly disallowed goal by Dominic Oduro spurred the Fire to score two more goals, by Gonzalo Segares and Chris Rolfe, that counted. Marco Pappa and Rolfe, a second-half sub, carved open the Red Bulls on numerous occasions. Last week: 8.

9. HOUSTON (5-4-4). Adam Moffat’s goal slammed into the roof of the net provided the Dynamo’s winner in a 2-1 defeat of in-state rival FC Dallas. Despite playing a man up for much of the second half, Houston needed good saves by keeper Tally Hall along with Will Bruin’s opening goal to improve its mark at BBVA Compass Stadium to 3-0-1. Visa processing is delaying the registration of Designated Player Oscar Boniek Garcia, whose debut may be pushed back until the end of the month. Last week: 9.

10. SEATTLE (7-4-3).
The Sounders’ winless streak increased to five games with a feeble 4-1 loss in Montreal. Eddie Johnson’s fourth goal of the season came after Seattle conceded goals early in each half and lost defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado to a red card in the 56th minute. Fredy Montero set up Johnson’s goal with a nice through ball before ex-Sounder Lamar Neagle scored Montreal’s fourth. Corrections need to be made: Seattle hosts Sporting KC and plays at Portland this week. Last week: 6.

11. COLORADO (6-7-1). The Rapids were unable to exploit a man-advantage in the last half-hour against Vancouver in a 1-0 defeat. They needed some stellar work from keeper Matt Pickens to stay even at 0-0, then after falling behind generated three good chances -- Edu was denied from close range, Martin Rivero and Hunter Freeman hit the woodwork – without reward. The defeat dropped their road mark to 2-6-0, so having the next three games – San Jose, Portland, and Vancouver – at home against conference foes is a valuable opportunity to move up the standings.  Last week: 11.

12. NEW ENGLAND (5-7-2). A 0-0 tie with Columbus Saturday kicked off a stretch of 11 games during which the Revs will play Eastern Conference teams 10 times. Matt Reis recorded his second consecutive shutout and extended his clean-sheet streak to 209 minutes; at the other end, Jose Moreno, Saer Sene and Fernando Cardenas were all thwarted on good opportunities in the first half. A trip to Toronto for a Saturday match is the Revs’ only away date in a span of seven games. Last week: 12.

13. MONTREAL (4-7-3).
The opening of renovated Stade Saputo also served as a coming-out party for midfielder Patrice Bernier, whose three assists in a 4-1 thrashing of Seattle earned him MLS Player of the Week honors. He set up goals for Felipe, Justin Mapp, and Andrew Wenger to take over the team lead in assists with four. In just his eighth appearance he may have cemented a regular spot in the starting lineup. Last week: 14.

14. PORTLAND (3-6-4).
The Timbers rolled out recent acquisition Danny Mwanga but generated just eight shots while losing, 1-0, to the Galaxy at Home Depot Center. On the season, Portland has scored just 10 goals (there have also been two own goals). The defeat was the first for Portland in the past five games but three of those games ended in ties, and the team’s record away from home is 0-4-2. Last week: 13.

15. LOS ANGELES (4-8-2). Milestones, of a sort, were attained Sunday by the Galaxy beating Portland, 1-0, to snap a seven-game winless streak and post its first shutout of the season. Left back Todd Dunivant scored his first goal for more than two years by getting his head to a David Beckham corner kick, and keeper Josh Saunders played his first league match in more than two months after leaving the team for personal reasons related to stress. The defending champion can make a louder statement against RSL Wednesday on the road. Last week: 17.

16. CHIVAS USA (4-7-3). A poor throw by normally reliable keeper Dan Kennedy led to RSL’s opening goal, and forced Chivas USA to chase a game it eventually lost, 3-0, while generating just three shots on goal. The momentum from a six-game unbeaten streak in league play and two U.S. Open Cup victories seldom materialized as it started a stretch of 10 games in four days, with a Wednesday home game against surging Montreal up next. Last week: 15.

17. FC DALLAS (3-9-4). The winless streak is 10 games following a 2-1 loss in Houston that featured an inspirational display, including the goal, by Jackson and another outburst by Jair Benitez, whose elbowing of Colin Clark left FCD a man down for the final 27 minutes. A flurry of shots in the final minutes failed to produce an equalizer. FCD has hope against another struggling team, Chivas USA, on Saturday, yet that game marks the halfway point of its disappointing season. Last week: 16.

18. TORONTO FC (1-10-0).
 After losing, 2-0, at Sporting Kansas City in Paul Mariner’s debut as head coach, TFC flew to Houston for its game against the Dynamo Wednesday. Three players -- Miguel Aceval, Luis Silva and Nick Soolsma -- –were arrested for their involvement in an altercation outside a bar early Monday morning. The players were charged with public intoxication. Their status for the Houston game hasn’t been announced. What next? Last week: 18.

19. PHILADELPHIA (2-8-2).
A few nice setups by Freddy Adu went squandered as the Union played with some spirit in its first game under new head coach John Hackworth that it lost, 1-0, at home to D.C. United. The coach objected to a call fouled on defender Carlos Valdes that yielded the free kick from which United scored. Philly outshot United, 15-6, which is a good sign, but another tough one is on tap this weekend: at Sporting KC. Last week: 19.

1 comment about "MLS Power Rankings: Sounders flounder".
  1. Dan Nelson, June 19, 2012 at 9:08 a.m.

    Wait, so the loss to the Fire is enough to drop New York from #2 to #5, but the win isn't enough to elevate the Fire any?

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