MLS Power Rankings: Quakes on top

A packed week of 15 games provided many teams with opportunities to pick up points and rivals San Jose and Los Angeles did just that, each claiming six points heading into their Saturday showdown at Stanford Stadium.

Rivalry Week it was billed for last week, but fans in Montreal and San Jose will beg to differ. Sure, the Portland-Seattle and New York-D.C. United battles Sunday featured packed stadiums and riveting action, but there will be more fireworks --  literally -- this week as well.

The Impact, which is expected to unveil Designated Player Marco di Vaio, hosts Toronto FC Wednesday in the wake of a 4-2 pounding of Houston, and the NorCal-SoCal rivalry Saturday finds both teams in excellent form and the surging Quakes atop the heap.

After six midweek games last Wednesday, the Montreal-Toronto match is the only one this time around. But this weekend’s games will be followed by a busy schedule next Tuesday and Wednesday in conjunction with Independence Day.

1. SAN JOSE (10-3-3). Six points on the road moved the Quakes past Real Salt Lake into first place in the Western Conference and the overall points lead. In a 2-1 defeat of Colorado, Alan Gordon came off the bench and helped force an own goal that tied the game, then he tumbled in the penalty area under a challenge from keeper Matt Pickens and Chris Wondolowski converted the penalty kick. Three days later in Salt Lake City, Gordon and Wondo tallied in the final quarter of an hour for a win by the same score. This is the only team in the league that has more than twice as many points (33) as games played (16). Last week: 2.

2. D.C. UNITED (9-5-3). A run of four straight wins ended with a 3-2 loss to the Red Bulls on the road but still United collected more points (12) in its last five matches than any other team. Chris Pontius scored the fastest goal in team history, 31 seconds, and tallied again in the second half with D.C. trailing, 3-1. Last week: 3.

3. NEW YORK (9-4-3). Ex-United defender Brandon Barklage played a dream game against his former team, scoring twice in a 3-2 victory that made it a four-point week for the Red Bulls. They tied, 1-1, in Vancouver thanks to an 86th-minute Heath Pearce header from a Joel Lindpere cross, then parlayed Barklage’s pair and the first MLS goal by Jan Gunnar Solli to move alongside United atop the Eastern Conference. Last week: 5.

4. REAL SALT LAKE (10-5-2). Coach Jason Kreis said after a 2-1 home loss to San Jose Saturday that his team “gave the game away.” The same could be said of a 3-2 Rio Tinto defeat meted out Wednesday by the Galaxy, which pounced on giveaways by Tony Beltran and Jamison Olave to match earlier goals by Alvaro Saborio and Kyle Beckerman that were set up by Fabian Espindola. LA then scored the winner on a ball played over the top. Against the Quakes, after a Javier Morales free kick had tied the game, keeper Nick Rimando let a Chris Wondolowski header squirm under his body for the winner. Last week: 1.

5. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (9-4-2). Coach Peter Vermes didn’t have too many answers after Philadelphia thumped SKC, 4-0, at PPL Park. The week had begun with a 1-1 tie in Seattle that it led with a Jacob Peterson goal in the eighth minute but only until the Sounders equalized seven minutes later. Bobby Convey sat out his fourth straight game with a calf strain and Lawrence Olum made his third straight start in relief of Matt Besler after playing just 11 minutes previously. Besler may return in a U.S. Open Cup match Tuesday against Dayton. Last week: 4.

6. CHICAGO (7-5-3). The Fire played for an hour a man down to carve out a 2-1 home win over Columbus, its second win in a row. Marco Pappa (his fourth goal of the season) and Dominic Oduro (fifth) scored in the first 26 minutes, and three minutes later Gonzalo Segares was sent off. Eight saves by Sean Johnson helped the Fire hold out and Arne Freidrich played the last 18 minutes after sitting out five games with a strained hamstring. The team has expressed its interest in Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko as playmaker Sebastian Grazzini hints that contract extension talks may not work out. Last week: 8.

7. COLUMBUS (5-5-4).
Trailing the Fire, 2-0, the Crew got one goal by Tony Tchani playing with a man advantage but never scored a second despite piling up a 21-8 advantage in shots. Chris Birchall earned his first assist for the Crew on the goal. A subsequent shot by Tchani forced a good save as the Crew’s six-game unbeaten streak came to an end. Last week: 6.

8. VANCOUVER (7-3-4). The ‘Caps were blitzed by three Galaxy goals in the first half Saturday at Home Depot Center and fended off several more attacks in a 3-0 defeat.  A Jay DeMerit handball of a Robbie Keane shot provided LA with one of the goals and Martin Bonjour miscue gave Landon Donovan a chance he banged off the post. On Wednesday the ‘Caps conceded a late equalizer in a 1-1 tie with New York in which Bonjour scored on a through ball played to him by Davide Chiumiento and a Camilo goal was disallowed for offside. Last week: 7.

9. LOS ANGELES (6-8-2). Two goals by Landon Donovan and one by Mike Magee powered the Galaxy to a 3-2 defeat of RSL at Rio Tinto Stadium Wednesday, and it hit three more on the weekend to thump Vancouver, 3-0, at home. Donovan, Magee, and Robbie Keane scored in the first half against the ‘Caps and a confident defense led by keeper Josh Saunders blotted out all their attempts to reply. The Galaxy, riding a three-game winning streak, heads north for a revival of its rivalry with the Quakes Saturday in a must-see match to be televised nationally on ESPN2. Last week: 15.

10. HOUSTON (5-5-5).
The Dynamo defense was riddled in a 4-2 loss at Montreal. Goals by Brad Davis, with a free kick, and Will Bruin, on a feed from Brian Ching, brought Houston back from one-goal deficits but a listless defensive effort negated those offensive bursts. Unbeaten at home in its new stadium, the Dynamo’s road record (2-5-3) and goals conceded (23, fifth-worst in the league) explain why it is a .500 team. Midseason changes last year prompted a run all the way to MLS Cup; might it happen again?  Last week: 9.

11. NEW ENGLAND (5-7-3).
The Revs rallied with two late goals to gain a 2-2 tie at Toronto and run a modest unbeaten streak to three games. Chris Tierney headed the equalizer in the fourth minute of stoppage time from a Flo Lechner cross after a blast by Blake Brettschneider had cut a 2-0 deficit in half. The shrewd use of subs by Coach Jay Heaps and team spirit helped salvage what seemed to be a lost cause, but still the Revs are 1-6-1 away from home. Last week: 12.

12. SEATTLE (7-5-4). Winless in seven games, the Sounders have slid to fourth place in the Western Conference. They lost for the first time to Portland in MLS play, 2-1, after falling behind 2-0 in the first half. Eddie Johnson scored in the 58th minute to give some hope that evaporated in a late-game scuffle that resulted in Fredy Montero being sent off. He will miss the next game Saturday at New England that follows a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal Tuesday against the Quakes.  Last week: 10.

13. MONTREAL (5-8-3).
Not many expansion teams score four goals in one game during that first season, not to mention hitting a quartet twice in the same month, but that’s what the Impact has done the past two weeks.  Four different players scored as the Impact, which drilled the Sounders, 4-1, two weeks ago, belted Houston, 4-2. Sanna Nyassi, Davy Arnaud, Hassoun Camara and Patrice Bernier scored to subdue the Dynamo, which rallied twice before the Impact salted the game away. Felipe, who contributed on two of the goals, played another impressive match, and Bernier also picked up his fifth assist. Recent DP signing Marco di Vaio could make this MLS debut Wednesday against Toronto FC. Last week: 13.

14. PORTLAND (4-6-4). The Timbers rewarded one of the rowdiest Jeld-Wen Field crowds in its brief MLS existence with a 2-1 defeat of fierce rival Seattle. Kris Boyd tapped home a feed from Steven Smith and defender David Horst, handed a start in the absence of suspended Hanyer Mosquera, scored the winning goal after an earlier attempt had rattled the crossbar.  Portland is still well shy of a playoff spot but with eight points in the last four matches, there’s hope. Last week: 14.

15. COLORADO (6-8-1).
The Rapids blew a 1-0 lead in the final minutes and lost, 2-1, at home to San Jose. A wonderfully cushioned Brian Mullan header from a Hunter Freeman cross provided the lead that the Quakes wiped out when a scramble prompted an own goal that caromed into the net off Freeman. Then Pickens was adjudged, controversially, to have fouled Gordon in the penalty area and with the subsequent PK San Jose prevailed. That’s three losses and just four points (from a possible 15) in the last five games. Not good. Last week: 11.

16. CHIVAS USA (5-7-4).
Juan Pablo Angel scored his 71st MLS goal and Alejandro Moreno got the winner when a Juan Agudelo shot bounced into the net off his thigh in a 2-1 midweek defeat of Montreal. A trip to torrid Dallas Saturday earned a 0-0 tie forged on a resilient defense; the attack generated just two shots, one of which was on goal. Nick LaBrocca got on the field for 27 minutes after sitting out nearly a month with a hamstring injury. Chivas USA is doing a lot of the right things but an anemic attack (11 goals, fewest in MLS) and 2-6-1 home record are holding it back.  Last week: 16.

17. FC DALLAS (3-9-5). The 0-0 tie at home against Chivas USA extended its winless streak to 11 games, a team record, as it generated 13 shots without reward. Brek Shea was deployed as a lone striker in his first game for FCD in more than a month; he and Jackson got the best chances but were unable to put them away.  Dallas gets a welcome break from league play this weekend and next faces Toronto FC on July 4. Last week: 17.

18. PHILADELPHIA (3-8-2).
Two goals by Jack McInerney keyed a 4-0 thrashing of SKC as the Union ended a winless drought dating back more than two months. Lionel Pajoy and Antoine Hoppentot, with his first MLS goal, scored in the second half as Philly controlled most of the play following McInerney’s opening goal in the first minute. Keeper Zac MacMath posted his fourth shutout as the Union maintained one of the league’s best defensive records (15 goals allowed, tied for fewest in the league.) But despite the four goals it still lags well down the list with 12 goals scored. Last week: 19.

19. TORONTO (1-10-2). TFC scored five goals yet squandered a pair of two-goal leads while tying Houston, 3-3, on the road and New England, 2-2, at home. Danny Koevermans, stuck in a funk under the tenure of departed Coach Aron Winter, scored three of the goals as the wisdom of former forward Paul Mariner revived the TFC attack. But now what can he do about holding leads his suddenly potent offense has provided?  Last week: 18.

2 comments about "MLS Power Rankings: Quakes on top".
  1. Carl Walther, June 26, 2012 at 11:14 a.m.

    In the last couple of years, Freddy Montero has turned into a little p...k. In the last game....diving, dirty tackles,hiding behind the ref after a scuffle, a red card.

  2. Alan Goth, June 26, 2012 at 8:50 p.m.

    Ridge, the Rapids keeper is Matt Pickens, not Troy Perkins.

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