Soccer America Power Rankings

[MLS: Week 4] Just in case anyone was getting too giddy about the reborn Toronto FC, the realists in Utah delivered a sobering reminder of how high the bar of consistent excellence really is. Real Salt Lake’s emphatic 3-0 victory restored it to the Soccer America Power Rankings’ top spot, from which predecessor Houston fell rather heavily by stumbling to Vancouver, 2-1, in the Dynamo’s first road test of 2014. The ‘Caps took over second place. FC Dallas edged out Columbus for third after both posted impressive victories.

MLS WEEK 4: Results
Sunday, March 30 (Report)
New York 1 Chivas 1.

Saturday, March 29
Seattle 1 Columbus 2.
San Jose 1 New England 2.
Real Salt Lake 3 Toronto FC 0.
FC Dallas 2 Portland 1.
Colorado 2 Sporting KC 3.
Vancouver 2 Houston 1.
Philadelphia 1 Montreal 1.
D.C. United 2 Chicago 2.

1. REAL SALT LAKE (2-0-2), 1. The RSL way without former head coach Jason Kreis is alive and well. A sharp, polished performance dispatched Toronto FC, 3-0. A pair of goals by Alvaro Saborio and one by Luis Gil punctuated long periods of control masterfully orchestrated by Javier Morales and Kyle Beckerman. Nick Rimando got some help from the goalpost when Michael Bradley’s long shot bounced off it, and with a few saves he recorded his 110th career shutout, just two behind all-time leader Kevin Hartman.

2.   VANCOUVER (2-0-2), 3. Pedro Morales is bringing to the ‘Caps a brand of creativity seldom seen since the days of Davide Chiumiento. Andy O'Brien nodded square a Morales free kick for left back Jordan Harvey to score the first goal in a 2-1 defeat of Houston, and Kenny Miller put away a penalty kick (at the second attempt) earned by a Darren Mattocks dribble. Keeper David Ousted, whose decisions can occasionally be questioned, tipped a searing shot onto the crossbar to enhance his shot-stopping reputation.

3.   FC DALLAS (3-0-1), 5. FCD owned the flanks for the first hour and Mauro Diaz ruled the middle in a 2-1 defeat of Portland that should have been a shutout, but an unfortunate intervention by Matt Hedges turned into an own goal that tied the game. Jair Benitez set up the first goal with one of his forays down the left wing, and Diaz struck a late winner from a headed lob into the penalty arc that wasn’t cleared. FCD started out last season superbly, too, yet this is an impressive run without injured regulars George John and Raul Fernandez.

4.   COLUMBUS (3-0-0), 11. The Crew climbed atop the Eastern Conference by winning, 2-1, in Seattle. Federico Higuain’s penalty kick erased a 1-0 deficit yet against 10 men Columbus struggled until the final seconds when a concerted set of attacks yielded a spectacular shot by Justin Meram into the top corner. This victory, more of battle than of beauty, suggests the team assembled by Coach Gregg Berhalter may be well-equipped with both.

5.   SPORTING KANSAS CITY (2-1-1), 9. Two assists apiece for Sal Zizzo and Graham Zusi (who also scored) and a stoppage-time rocket into the roof of the net by sub Dom Dwyer highlighted a 3-2 comeback triumph at Colorado. SKC prevailed despite being whistled for a pair of penalty kicks to post a second straight league win after that 5-1 Concacaf thumping by Cruz Azul, which should erase any notion the defending champion isn’t hungry for another title. Benny Feilhaber, passed over for the USA game against Mexico this week, got a gritty goal to tie the game a minute after Colorado had taken a 2-1 lead.

6.   HOUSTON (2-1-0), 1. A questionable penalty kick called when a loose ball hit a rolling Kofi Sarkodie on the shoulder didn’t aid the Dynamo’s cause in a 2-1 loss at Vancouver, yet it generated few serious threats and got its only goal on a corner kick. One of its rare opportunities from the run of play resulted when Will Bruin held the ball up in a one-v-three situation until teammates arrived in support. Next up is a Lone Star derby against FC Dallas.

7.   TORONTO FC (2-1-1), 4. There may be a new era dawning for TFC, but life against RSL is much the same; it lost for the fifth straight time in Utah, 3-0. Jermain Defoe and centerbacks Doniel Henry and Steven Caldwell all looked shaky and were cautioned, and only a couple of sparkling saves by Juiio Cesar kept TFC in the game. Jeremy Hall never solved the RSL midfield diamond and though Michael Bradley hit the post with a shot from long range and delivered several incisive through balls, TFC seldom looked capable of a rally.

8.   LOS ANGELES (0-1-1), 8. The Galaxy sat out another week, with several players turning out for the Galaxy II reserve team that tied USL PRO debutant Sacramento, 1-1. The sequence of home-and-away series that head coach Bruce Arena dislikes for whatever reason resumes Saturday at StubHub Center against Vancouver. The teams play again up north a week later.

9.   PHILADELPHIA (1-1-2), 7. Leading 1-0 and up a man, the Union unforgivably got caught on a counterattack and conceded an equalizer by which Montreal secured a 1-1 tie. The Union had scored on a counter of its own when Brian Carroll intercepted a ball in midfield and two quick passes set up Vincent Nogueira to smash a shot high into the net. Hesitant marking by Amobi Okugo gave the Impact its opening but his was just one of numerous errors on the sequence.

10. SEATTLE (2-2-0), 6. Kenny Cooper’s first goal for Seattle staked the Sounders to a 1-0 lead but a second goal never came, and Djimi Traore’s red card midway through the second half paved a path the Crew took for a 2-1 win. Seattle nearly broke through with the score tied while down to 10 men yet didn’t quite have the legs to hold on and conceded a winner in the 94th minute. This wasn’t a bad performance, just a bad result, yet seeing Coach Sigi Schmid remonstrating with defender Chad Marshall after the final whistle told a great deal about the pressure this team is feeling.

11. COLORADO (1-1-1), 10. The Rapids are four-for-five on penalty kicks this season after netting a pair against the defending champion yet coughed up a 2-1 lead at home to lose, 3-2. Vicente Sanchez tucked away his third and fourth spot kicks of the season, but in quick succession Colorado conceded an equalizer, went down to 10 men when Marvell Wynne took a second caution, and gave up the winner in stoppage time. With cross-border trips to Vancouver and Toronto looming, they really needed at least a point in this game.

12. CHIVAS USA (1-1-2), 13. In the aftermath of a long overdue ownership change, maybe Erick “Cubo” Torres and Dan Kennedy will dominate the headlines. At Red Bull Arena, Torres converted a penalty kick for his fourth goal of the season and 11th tally in 19 career appearances; Kennedy stoned Bradley Wright-Phillips on a breakaway and tipped over a dipping shot from Dax McCarty before Chivas USA’s defense faltered in the final seconds in what became a 1-1 tie. Yet there’s reason for a bit of confidence as it prepares to host the Galaxy Sunday.

13. NEW ENGLAND (1-2-1), 17. The Revs took advantage of lax refereeing -- they played a free kick with the ball still moving and took it right down the field to score the winner in stoppage time -- to post a 2-1 win at San Jose. They also took the lead with an own goal, their first goal of any sort this season, so the first victory of 2014 is notable for its quirks more than anything else. Still, the Revs launched several fruitful attacks, Saer Sene is getting his sharpness back, and for the winner Lee Nguyen ran onto a Scott Caldwell through ball to finish sharply. 

14. CHICAGO (0-1-3), 15. Quincy Amarikwa’s equalizer in the 82nd minute earned a 2-2 tie after twice D.C. United stung the Fire defense on set plays. Chicago tallied first from a corner kick when Jhon Kennedy Hurtado connected with Harry Shipp’s serve to score his first league goal since 2009. After falling behind, the Fire labored through heavy rain on a sodden RFK field to score again when sub Patrick Nyarko nutmegged Spanish left back Christian on the flank and centered a ball Amarikwa drove into the net. Three of its four games have been on the road so the Fire’s record under new head coach Frank Yallop isn’t all that bad.

15. NEW YORK (0-2-2), 14. The defending Eastern Conference champion is in the same state as Western counterpart Portland: winless after four games after a desperation goal from Peguy Luyindula in the last seconds earned a 1-1 tie with Chivas USA. Luyindula, getting his first start in midfield, headed home Eric Alexander’s corner kick in the fifth minute of stoppage time. There were some good moments from NYRB -- Lloyd Sam swung over a few inviting crosses from the right flank, a Thierry Henry header flashed narrowly over the crossbar –- but the record does not lie.

16. PORTLAND (0-3-1), 12. After losing just five of 34 games last year, the Timbers are scratching for points. They were riddled repeatedly by FC Dallas before and after each team lost a man to a red card in a 2-1 defeat. Poor defending on a free kick and a deflected shot contributed to both FCD goals and only through an own goal did Portland equalize. Kalif Alhassan provided a spark off the bench after an hour of mostly bleak play but there’s a malaise in this team: Diego Valeri isn’t seeing enough of the ball in good spots and players in the middle of the park are out of sync.

17. SAN JOSE (0-2-1), 16. This time, the Quakes got Goonied by the Revs and the refs, 2-1, in stoppage time after a Chris Wondolowski equalizer had seemingly set the stage for a dramatic victory. Victor Bernardez slipped while attempting to clear a ball, and he instead scuffed into his own net to give New England the lead. In the final minute, the Quakes reacted slowly to an improperly taken free kick and the resultant goal stood. Steven Lenhart left the match with a suspected MCL injury and Benfica loanee Yannick Djalo showed some zip off the bench in his MLS debut. The defeat ended a 21-game home unbeaten streak and gives coaches and players a few things to ponder during another off week.

18. MONTREAL (0-3-1), 18. Playing for the first time since incurring a three-game suspension in last year’s playoffs, Marco Di Vaio banged home one of his nine shots to pull the Impact even with Philly in a 1-1 tie. Justin Mapp set up the goal with a scything run through midfield, and Di Vaio’s goal also rewarded the work of keeper Troy Perkins, who several times thwarted the Union by saving superbly. Midfielder Andres Romero also came off a three-gamer to start his first game of 2014. After playing three of its first four on the road, the Impact hosts New York and Chicago in the next two games.

19. D.C. UNITED (0-2-1), 19. When you give up a late equalizer at home on a goal set up by the nut-megging of a veteran defender, you know fate is against you. United battled back from a 1-0 deficit with a low blast by Fabian Espindola and a Perry Kitchen strike during a furious scramble, only to end up at 2-2 when Cristian let the ball slip between his feet before it was served into the middle and put away. Eddie Johnson opened up lanes with some sharp runs but an ankle injury forced Luis Silva out of action late in the first half. 

1 comment about "Soccer America Power Rankings".
  1. beautiful game, March 31, 2014 at 11:14 p.m.

    Faltered? The Red Bulls faltered most of the game. The ref faltered with his derelictions to the rule book. Another pathetic performance by the RB squad. Sam and Wright-Phillips need to be off-loaded, useless, especially when it counts...yet, what can one expect from English lower division players.

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