MLS Power Rankings: Quakes tops, Philly hot

The showdown of the top two teams in the Western Conference turned into a blowout when overall No. 1 San Jose inflicted a 5-0 defeat on Real Salt Lake, which lost captain Kyle Beckerman to a red card early in the second half.

The top 10 in the Power Rankings is evenly split between Eastern and Western teams, but the East has greater representation in the higher slots.

Those 10 teams currently occupy the playoff slots as the All-Star Game, to be played next week in Philadelphia against Champions League winner Chelsea, draws near. A busy Wednesday also marks the start of the international club schedule with Seattle hosting the European winner in addition to seven league games being played. Toronto gets into the act Saturday when it hosts Liverpool.

International exhibitions will dot the calendar for the next month, during which the beginning of Concacaf Champions League play will also disrupt the schedules of those teams. Many rosters will be in flux as well before the secondary transfer window closes.

Philly is the hottest team in the league with four wins in its last five games. The top-ranked Quakes and Chicago have picked up 10 points out of a possible 15 during the same span. The Galaxy’s 5-3 thrashing of Portland, fueled by goals from all three of its DPs.

At the other end, Montreal’s four losses in five games dropped it to the bottom below Toronto FC, which won its second game in a row in Coach Paul Mariner’s first return to New England as the man in charge.

1. SAN JOSE (12-4-4). A 5-0 blasting of RSL Saturday opened up a four-point lead in the overall standings and inflated its goal differential to a plus 17, more than twice that of any other team. Chris Wondolowski’s hat trick boosted his league-high goal total to 17 – nice coincidence, that – as the Quakes exploited a man advantage in the final 32 minutes to score four times. Alan Gordon tallied his eighth goal for San Jose since arriving in a trade exactly one year prior. Last week: 1.

2. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (11-5-3). Peterson Joseph, in just his second MLS start, set up namesake Jacob Peterson to score in the sixth minute, and SKC held off Columbus before and after Teal Bunbury added a late goal to win, 2-0, on the road. Bunbury’s goal came exactly two years after his first MLS goal, which he also scored at Columbus. Jimmy Nielsen made four saves to record his eighth shutout as SKC won its second game in the last three and reached 11 victories for the season (it won only 13 of 34 games last year). SKC leads the league in goals allowed per game at 0.89. Roger Espinoza left Sunday to join the Honduran Olympic team.  Last week: 5.

3. D.C. UNITED (10-6-3). After keeper Bill Hamid was sent off for a penalty-area foul in the 18th minute, United succumbed to a 4-0 defeat in Houston. It had started well enough, generating three shots in the first 15 minutes by Chris Pontius, but seldom threatened after falling behind. It gave away a second penalty kick when Danny Cruz fouled Calen Carr and thus gave up four goals in a game to Houston for the second year in a row. Hamid will miss an important league match at Columbus Saturday. Last week: 2.

4. REAL SALT LAKE (11-7-3). RSL lost to the Quakes, 5-0, for the third time this season, surrendering four goals after captain Kyle Beckerman was sent off early in the second half. Kenny Mansally struggled at left back, Kwame Watson-Siriboe and centerback partner Jamison Olave were out of sync, and Luis Gil provided virtually nothing in the attack. RSL hosts Colorado Saturday with just one win in its last five games and severe questions about its depth. Last week: 3.

5. CHICAGO (9-6-4). Pavel Pardo did a nice David Beckham impression by bending a free kick over Vancouver’s defensive wall and into the top corner for the only goal the Fire needed to down the ‘Caps, 1-0.  The Fire held on for its fifth shutout of the season despite losing defender Arne Freidrich to a second caution in the 69th minute. Brazilian attacker Alex marked his first league start with several sharp, incisive efforts that created chances for himself or teammates. The Fire trails third-place New York by just a point and could overtake the Red Bulls as well as D.C. United by winning at Red Bull Arena Wednesday afternoon (1 p.m. Eastern kickoff.) Last week: 6.

6. NEW YORK (9-5-5). "Goal for LeToux in his Debut!" would have made a nice headline, but the Red Bulls couldn’t parlay Sebastien Le Toux’s first goal for the club into a victory. After Le Toux equalized (1-1) against Seattle, Joel Linpere snuck a shot inside the near post for a 2-1 lead in the 61st minute but six minutes later Seattle replied with the goal that cemented a 2-2 tie. Keeper Bill Gaudette, acquired Friday from the Galaxy, pulled off a few nifty saves, including a flying denial of a rising blast from Eddie Johnson. In third place, a point behind D.C. United and a point ahead of the Fire, NYRB hosts Chicago in a crucial match Wednesday. Last week: 4.

7. HOUSTON (7-5-7). The Dynamo took advantage of a red card administered to United keeper Bill Hamid for fouling Mac Kandji and extended its unbeaten streak to four games (two wins, two ties) by battering D.C., 4-0. After Brad Davis put away the PK, Will Bruin, Oscar Boniek Garcia and Brian Ching scored against replacement Joe Willis. Luiz Camargo set up Bruin’s goal with a slick move along the byline and Ching’s goal also came from the penalty spot after Calen Carr had drawn a foul from former Dynamo Danny Cruz. Last week: 11.

8. LOS ANGELES (8-10-2). David Beckham and Robbie Keane each had a pair -- of goals that -- as L.A. thumped the Timbers, 5-3, in Portland. Beckham's free kick goal was even better than his memorable strike two weeks ago in a 4-3 loss to San Jose. The Galaxy's third DP, Landon Donovan, scored the other goal. L.A. scored four goals in 10 minutes after falling behind in the third minute to win its second straight and sports identical 4-5-1 records at home and on the road. Last week: 9.

9. SEATTLE (8-5-7). Fredy Montero kept his comments neutral after coming off the bench to score a 67th-minute equalizer in a 2-2 tie away to the Red Bulls. Alvaro Fernandez opened the scoring with a crisp volley from a great crossfield ball hit by defender Adam Johansson, and Montero scored his fifth goal of the season five minutes after coming on as a sub. Coach Sigi Schmid cited U.S. Open Cup duty as the reason for Montero’s status. New York’s second goal came on a tepid shot that rolled past keeper Bryan Meredith inside the near post. Last week: 10.

10. VANCOUVER (8-6-6). The ‘Caps are adrift, losers of two straight and three of their last five after being melted by the Fire, 1-0. A foul by Jun Marques Davidson near the edge of the penalty gave Chicago the free kick by which it scored.  They lost a crusher Wednesday in Toronto, 3-2, by conceding the winner four minutes into stoppage time just minutes after Darren Mattocks second goal of the game had seemingly earned a point. DP Kenny Miller attended his first training session Monday as Vancouver prepared to host the Galaxy in a return home after playing five straight on the road. Last week: 7.

11. COLUMBUS (6-7-4). The Crew dipped back below .500 by losing at home to SKC, 2-0, its second defeat in a row and third in the last four games.  Former midfielder Bernardo Anor finished the game, his second league appearance at left back, with sharp pain in his knee following a collision with Kei Kamara. Josh Williams made his debut at right back and the disjointed defense surrendered a goal in the sixth minute. This week Columbus does not play a midweek game but Saturday hosts D.C. United, which will also be rested. Last week: 8.

12. NEW ENGLAND (6-8-4). The Revs fell at home, 1-0, to former assistant coach Paul Mariner, now in charge of Toronto FC. Stephen McCarthy’s departure in the sixth minute because of concussion symptoms forced Shalrie Joseph into the back line, and despite long periods of possession and 15 shots the Revs couldn’t reply after falling behind in the eighth minute. The loss snapped a five-game unbeaten streak heading into a Wednesday match at Montreal. French striker Dimitry Imbongo has been signed as a free agent. Last week: 12.

13. PHILADELPHIA (6-9-2). The Union is the hottest team in the league? Strewth! A stoppage-time Carlos Valdes goal earned its fourth win in the last five games, 2-1, at home against Montreal. His goal cancelled out a bad error by keeper Zac MacMath, who let an equalizing corner kick slip past him in the final minute of regulation. All the goals came late; not until the 82nd minute did Lionard Pajoy open the scoring as the Union evened its home record at 4-4-1. Last week: 15.

14. CHIVAS USA (5-7-5).  A weekend off from league play gave Coach Robin Fraser and his players some time to reflect on their good U.S. Open Cup run that ended against Seattle in the semifinals. Western Conference matches against Portland and the Galaxy this week offer opportunities to make up ground, and Chivas USA also has games in hand over all of its conference rivals. Last week: 16.

15. COLORADO (7-11-1). By losing their third game in a row and fourth in the last five, the Rapids have dropped to sixth place in the Western Conference. They were the antidote for FC Dallas’ long winless streak in losing, 2-1, at home after taking the lead with an Omar Cummings goal five minutes into the second half. Midfielder Harrison Henao was waived after playing just one league match, and veteran Pablo Mastroeni, suffering from post-concussion symptoms, has been moved to the Disabled List. Last week: 14.

16. PORTLAND (5-9-4). Gavin Hamilton debuted as head coach in relief of the dismissed John Spencer in a 5-3 home loss to Los Angeles. Kris Boyd put Portland on the board in the third minute but a defensive collapse opened the gates for the Galaxy to score the next four. Boyd did get a second goal that takes his seasonal tally to a team-high seven. Portland takes its 0-6-2 road mark to Chivas USA Wednesday and FC Dallas Saturday. Last week: 13.

17.  FC DALLAS (4-9-7). Fabian Castillo set up one goal and scored the winner as FCD halted its team-record 13-match winless streak by beating the Rapids, 2-1, on the road. Castillo assisted on Carlos Rodriguez’s equalizer on the hour and hit the winner with nine minutes left. David Ferreira played his third game since a long injury layoff and lasted 80 minutes as FCD won for th first time in 92 days. Last week: 18.

18. TORONTO FC (4-11-4). Rookie Luis Silva’s first MLS goal was all TFC needed to down New England, 1-0, as head coach Paul Mariner returned to the club that as an assistant coach he helped reach four MLS Cup finals. Silva polished off a feed from Danny Koevermans as TFC won its second straight match, but after his assist Koevermans suffered an ACL tear in his left knee that will eliminate him for the rest of the season. He leads the team with nine goals. Last week: 19.

19. MONTREAL (6-12-3). The Impact equalized in the final minute of regulation at Philly with a Patrice Bernier corner that turned into an own goal, then quickly surrendered the goal that inflicted a 2-1 defeat, its fourth in the last five games. DP Marco di Viao started his fourth game and got off a few good shots, one of which required a sharp save. Swiss defender Dennis Iapichino, whose signing was announced last week, debuted for the club in the 85th minute.  Last week: 17.

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