Soccer America Power Rankings

[MLS: Week 6] By rounding out a superfecta of ties, Real Salt Lake stayed atop the leaderboard even as several rivals tightened up the Soccer America Power Rankings.

After recording ties of 0-0, 1-1, and 3-3 already this season, RSL coughed up a last-minute equalizer five minutes after taking the lead and wound up tied, 2-2, in Philadelphia. RSL (2-0-4) is one of eight teams to have tied at least one-half of the games played so far this season and though it is snared in a four-way tie for overall points, it is the only team still unbeaten.

Previous No. 2 FC Dallas, which had been unbeaten, squandered a 2-1 lead at home and lost to Seattle, 3-2. Colorado and Los Angeles posted 1-0 victories to edge up the ladder right behind Sporting Kansas City, which jumped a notch into FCD’s previous spot during its bye week.

MLS WEEK 6, Results:
Sunday, April 13 (Report)
San Jose 1 Columbus 1.
Saturday, April 12 (Report)
LA Galaxy 1 Vancouver 0.
Portland 1 Chivas USA 1.
D.C. United 1 New York 0.
FC Dallas 2 Seattle 3.
Toronto FC 0 Colorado 1.
Montreal 1 Chicago 1.
New England 2 Houston 0.
Philadelphia 2 Real Salt Lake 2.

1. REAL SALT LAKE (2-0-4), 1. A 90th-minute header by Maurice Edu off a corner kick stripped away what would have been RSL’s second road win of the season; instead, it tied Philadelphia, 2-2. Luke Mulholland pounced on a saved penalty kick to open the scoring in the sixth minute; RSL couldn’t hold that lead, nor the one it took in the 85th minute when Kyle Beckerman finished off some nice work by Javier Morales and Sebastian Velasquez. The Jeff Cassar era has certainly started well yet things like squandered PKs and blown leads -- it gave up a 3-1 advantage at San Jose in Week 2 -- are causes for concern.

2. SPORTING KC (2-1-2), 3. Defender Ike Opara underwent surgery to repair extensive damage to his ankle suffered in a 3-2 defeat of Colorado two weeks ago. He’s out for the season. Head coach Peter Vermes used the bye week to work on alternatives. Lawrence Olum has played center back as well as defensive mid, and is first choice to back up regulars Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler. Teenager Erik Palmer-Brown (currently with the U.S. U-20s at the Dallas Cup) has yet to suit up for the first team. SKC probably needs to pick up a player as cover when Matt Besler goes to the World Cup.

3. COLORADO (3-1-1), 6. The primary goal watch is that on Landon Donovan, who when he next scores will break Jeff Cunningham’s all-time record of 134, yet Edson Buddle is also on the brink of a milestone. His 99th MLS goal in Toronto provided the Rapids with a 1-0 victory and their first defeat ever of TFC at BMO Field after six defeats. Buddle will be one of eight in the century club with his next goal. Colorado survived two TFC shots off the woodwork to record its second shutout and scored when Dillon Serna kept a ball alive that Dillon Powers collected and relayed to Buddle. It’s very early days yet Coach Pablo Mastroeni seems to be pushing the right buttons.

4. COLUMBUS (3-1-1), 5. The Crew rebounded from a disappointing home loss to TFC last weekend to pick up its fifth point in three road games by tying, 1-1, at San Jose. Federico Higuain punctuated an excellent performance by scoring his fourth goal just before halftime, steering home a low centering ball from Waylon Francis, and Dominic Oduro nearly marked his own solid showing with a late winner but instead rattled the crossbar.

5. SEATTLE (3-2-1), 10. Clint Dempsey, who grew up a few hours from Big D in Nacogdoches, took over the MLS scoring lead with his fifth and sixth goals of the season and missed a hat trick by the width of the crossbar in the Sounders’ comeback win. Dempsey smacked an equalizer off the crossbar on a free kick, hit the bar with another attempt, drove a low cross that wound up in the net off a defender, and worked a one-two with Chad Barrett to bag a late winner. Keeper Stefan Frei atoned for a misjudged bounce that led to FCD’s first goal with a few timely saves, though there are defensive issues that need refining.

6. FC DALLAS (4-1-1), 2. A strong start to the season had clouded somewhat the team’s tendency to tire late, and after surrendering a 2-1 halftime lead to the Sounders Dallas has conceded six goals in the final half-hour of its games. Stephen Keel’s awkward clearance attempt instead knocked a low cross into his own net to tie the game, 2-2; David Texeira had opened the scoring and then won a penalty kick that Michel converted. Outshot 11-5 in the second half, FCD conceded another goal after Keel’s miscue when it lost track of Dempsey. (FYI, FCD started off 2013 at 4-1-1 and wound up out of the playoffs.)

7. LOS ANGELES (2-1-1), 8. Stefan Ishizaki is strengthening a deficiency in consistent flank play; by motoring up the right side and squaring a ball he created the chance Robbie Keane put away in a 1-0 defeat of Vancouver. The Whitecaps failed to score in the first half despite testing keeper Jaime Penedo several times, and a tighter defensive Galaxy effort in the second half rode out the victory.

8. TORONTO FC (3-2-1), 4. No Michael Bradley and no Jermain Defoe added up to no goals and no points for TFC, for which Kyle Bekker – taking Bradley’s spot in central midfield -- hit the woodwork twice in a 1-0 home loss to Colorado. Bekker curled a low free kick against the post in the first half and struck the top corner in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Three other starters were missing as TFC generated 12 shots but succumbed in the 77th minute when several players were outhustled during a goalmouth scramble.

9. VANCOUVER (2-2-2), 7. A spirited first half against the Galaxy produced chances but no goals and changes made in the second half didn’t amount to much. Still, Russell Teibert looked lively in central midfield and Coach Carl Robinson is finding more ways to utilize the speed of Darren Mattocks, Kekuta Manneh and Erik Hurtado, and the playmaking skills of Pedro Morales. The Kenny Miller experiment continues; he came on as a sub and directed a header on frame. A rematch with the Galaxy this weekend at BC Place is a quick opportunity to apply lessons learned.

10. PHILADELPHIA (1-1-4), 9. Andrew Wenger got his first Union goal 10 minutes into the second half of the 2-2 tie with RSL, and Edu’s late equalizer was his second goal in as many games. Zac MacMath’s penalty kick save was also his second in as many games but RSL scored on the rebound. Victor Nogueira is doing the No. 10 thing well; he sprayed many accurate passes and set up Wenger’s goal with a masterful chip. How the pieces will ultimately fit together is evolving yet the talent level appears greater than last year.

11. D.C UNITED (2-2-1), 12. Dempsey wasn’t the only native Texan to come up big; Davy Arnaud, the pride of Nederland and West Texas A&M, scored his first United goal in the fourth minute of a 1-0 victory over the Red Bulls. Andy Dykstra made four saves to post his second shutout in as many games. Eddie Johnson's energy and workrate are earning plaudits that offset his scoreless streak. A three-game homestand that  produced seven points -- nearly one-half of the 16 it registered all of last season -- provides a platform for a tough trip to Columbus this weekend.

12. NEW ENGLAND (2-3-1), 17. The Revs’ de facto representative of Boston Strong, outside back Kevin Alston, scored his first MLS goal in his first home game since being diagnosed with leukemia nearly a year ago to help down Houston, 2-0. The goal came in his 123th regular-season appearance. Alston also led a resilient defensive effort that denied the Dynamo a shot on goal. Jerry Bengston got his first goal of 2014 in stoppage time as the Revs atoned for an embarrassing 4-0 loss at Houston in the season opener.

13. HOUSTON (2-3-0), 11. After starting the season with shutout victories against New England and Montreal, the Dynamo has conceded eight goals and lost three straight. It didn’t put a shot on goal in a rematch with the Revs last Saturday, and in the buildup to the winning goal scuffed two clearances that could have snuffed the danger. A cross misjudged by keeper Tally Hall yielded a second goal in stoppage time though by that time head coach Dominic Kinnear had to be already thinking of ways to fix things up heading into road games with Philly and New York.

14. CHIVAS USA (1-2-3), 13. Ex-Timber Andrew Jean-Baptiste made his second consecutive start at left back and during a solid 90-minute stint buzzed the goal of former teammate Donovan Ricketts with a shot as Chivas USA came back to earn a 1-1 tie at Providence Park. Leandro Barrera served up a cross that Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres converted for his fifth goal of the season. The goal capped off more than an hour of sustained effort after Chivas USA had fallen behind early.

15. CHICAGO (0-1-5), 14. The hiring of Frank Yallop has been a boon for Quincy Amarikwa -- he scored his third goal since the offseason coaching change in a 1-1 tie with Montreal -- but the Fire is still winless. It fell behind by conceding again in the last 15 minutes of the first half, and leads the league with four goals allowed during the interval. Mike Magee corralled a rebound off the post and sent it to Amarikwa for the tying goal. The Magee-Amarikwa partnership up front is taking hold yet the Fire needs to break out of its rut as a team potent in the attacking end but porous in the back.

16. MONTREAL (0-3-3), 16. Jack McInerney racked up a goal in his Impact debut but rather than control the proceedings at home, Montreal instead gave up an equalizer to Chicago and needed big saves near the end from keeper Troy Perkins to salvage a 1-1 tie. Marco Di Vaio picked up his first assist of the season by sending McInerney clear with a clever through ball, yet the attack sputtered for most of the game. After losing its first three, the Impact has tied three in a row, but two of those were at home and next up is a trip to the defending league champion, Sporting KC.

17. NEW YORK (0-2-4), 15. A Peguy Luyindula shot off the past encapsulated another frustrating effort for the Red Bulls, who didn’t play badly yet were unable to come back after conceding a goal in the fourth minute at RFK Stadium. It was the first time New York has been shut out this season and though a few of its chances fell to the right players -- Thierry Henry, Lloyd Sam, Luyindula -- the finishing edge wasn’t there. Tim Cahill is still nursing a hamstring injury and his status for the Wednesday match against Philly is unknown.

18. PORTLAND (0-2-4), 18. It’s not panic mode at Providence Park, at least not yet, but the befuddlement is palpable. The Timbers took a 1-0 lead against Chivas USA in the seventh minute and squandered a few opportunities to increase it prior to conceding the equalizer. Maybe last year the stoppage-time free kick by Will Johnson, who had sharply finished Darlington Nagbe’s setup to open the scoring, swerves inside the post rather than hitting it. Yet there’s an unease present; defender Norberto Paparatto was benched in favor of ‘Futty’ Danso as the Timbers again were unable to record a shutout in 2014.

19. SAN JOSE (0-2-2), 19. Chris Wondolowski headed home a Shea Salinas corner kick early in a second half sparked by the halftime entry of Portuguese attacker Yannick Djalo, and despite the comeback Quakes had to settle for a tie at home against Columbus. Djalo clipped a shot off the post less than two minutes after entering the match and appears to be a significant addition to the attacking corps. The movement and interplay of Higuain and several Crew teammates caused the Quakes' a few problems; central mids Sam Cronin and newcomer Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi are still sorting out their responsibilities.


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