Soccer America Power Rankings

[MLS: Week 21] The best teams moved around a little as the top tier separated itself a bit from the chasing back. The Galaxy, FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake, D.C. United and defending champion Sporting Kansas City look to be gathering steam for the final one-third of the season and a bunch of teams are scrambling for the spots behind them.

MLS Results
Aug. 3
Houston 1 D.C. United 0.
Chivas USA 0 FC Dallas 1
Aug. 2 (Report)
Los Angeles 3 Portland 1
Montreal 0 Toronto FC 2
New York 2 New England 1
Chicago 1 Columbus 1
Colorado 0 Real Salt Lake 1
Aug. 1
Sporting Kansas City 1 Philadelphia 1
July 30 (Report)
D.C. United 3 Toronto FC 0
New England 3 Colorado 0
Chicago 0 Vancouver 0
Real Salt Lake 1 New York 1

1. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (11-5-6), 3. A 1-1 tie at home against Philadelphia Friday night left a sense of frustration though it was the 20th point accrued by SKC in its last eight games. Missing were Matt Besler (suspended), Seth Sinovic (groin strain) and Lawrence Olum (with Kenya’s national team). Jorge Claros made his MLS debut in the defensive midfield. This was SKC’s 22nd different lineup and though Graham Zusi scored in a second straight game it couldn’t hold the lead.

2. D.C. UNITED (11-6-4), 2. A crushing last-second goal in Houston Sunday robbed United of a point, yet a 3-0 midweek defeat of Toronto FC added up to a pretty solid week’s work. Perry Kitchen’s cross that Eddie Johnson headed home for United’s first goal added a bit more luster to his reputation, and a Chris Rolfe goal clinched the victory. The Houston game kicked off a busy August of seven games in 29 days that includes its CCL opener and league games against Real Salt Lake, SKC, New York, and the Galaxy. If there’s depth in this squad it will be found.

3. LOS ANGELES (9-4-6), 3. A sharp, crisp performance outclassed the Timbers in a 3-1 comeback victory that marked the first time this season the Galaxy had won after falling behind. Robbie Keane scored the winner and a late clincher after Gyasi Zardes’ header had tied the game. Robbie Rogers is showing steady improvement at left back and the central pairing of Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza looks very solid, as does the midfield duo of Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas. Zardes has scored seven goals in his last eight games and has five gamewinners. With 15 games to play, the Galaxy can certainly make a run at the conference title yet on its current form won’t need homefield advantage to win.

4. SEATTLE (12-6-2), 1. The Sounders are used to playing in front of huge crowds, yet a gathering of nearly 50,000 inspired the Earthquakes to beat Seattle, 1-0, in the first game held at Levi’s Stadium. Defender Zach Scott was burned by a ball over the top for the goal. The attack was clicking; they launched 19 shots, seven by Clint Dempsey, and were denied a goal when Chad Barrett’s bullet header was headed off the goalline. That is their third loss in the last four games yet after they were due for a bumpy stretch after winning nine of their last 11.

5. FC DALLAS (9-7-6), 5. A team that looked lost in mid-May is unbeaten in its last seven games (4-0-3) after beating Chivas USA, 1-0. Fabian Castillo returned to the lineup after sitting out four games for making contact with a match official and set up Tesho Akindele to score his third goal in the last four games. During its streak, FCD hasn’t played any of the elite teams but points are points. Knee problems that have sidelined defender George John for the entire season necessitated surgery last week and he has been put on season-ending injured reserve

6. REAL SALT LAKE (9-4-9), 9. Veteran Nick Rimando finally joined Kevin Hartman atop the all-time shutout list by posting No. 112 in a 1-0 defeat of Colorado. A strong second-half effort that featured two remarkable saves held a lead provided by Javier Morales sixth goal of the season after a red card to Aaron Maund in the 46th minute left RSL a man short. Maund was sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity by tripping an opponent just outside the penalty area. RSL’s first victory in Colorado since 2007 made up somewhat for a 1-1 tie at home Wednesday in which New York rallied to match Joao Plata’s team-leading ninth goal.

7. TORONTO FC (8-7-5), 7. A 2-0 victory in Montreal got TFC back on track after four games without a victory, including a 3-0 loss to D.C. United on Wednesday. Two excellent passes from Michael Bradley set in motion the sequences from which TFC scored, with Gilberto and Luke Moore getting on the scoresheet, and keeper Joe Bendik posted his third shutout. Leading scorer Jermain Defoe (11 goals) sat out the Montreal game with a groin injury and will miss the All-Star Game as well, so the fitness of Gilberto – who’s been bothered by a hip injury for much of the season – is crucial.

8. VANCOUVER (6-4-11), 8. The team of ties, Part Deux, did its best to keep pace with leader Chicago (13) by tying the Fire, 0-0, on Wednesday. That’s four deadlocks in a row, which is better than what preceded it – a 3-1 home loss to Chivas USA, which hasn’t won since. At a meeting with season ticket holders Saturday vice president of soccer operations Greg Anderson addressed the topics of Camilo returning and the team signing a Designated Player: the replies boiled down to ‘no’ and ‘probably not.’ There are concerns that the current roster isn’t solid enough to grind out enough results down the stretch. To that end, head coach Carl Robinson on Monday didn’t deny the ‘Caps are interested in Costa Rican centerback Kendall Watson, who could step in for recently retired club icon Jay DeMerit.

9. COLORADO (8-8-6), 6. Great saves twice denied Deshorn Brown in a 1-0 home loss to RSL that clinched the Rocky Mountain Cup for the visitor. The loss was especially discouraging because the Rapids were 6-2-3 at home at kickoff and are barely clinging to fifth place. The week started poorly last Wednesday with a depleted lineup that fell, 3-0, at New England, which had lost eight straight. Is the Pablo Mastroeni magic wearing off, or can the rookie head coach find the solutions in time to hold onto the playoff spot his team has attained?

10. NEW YORK (6-6-10), 11. Will a comeback defeat of New England be cited as the turning point of the Red Bulls’ season? They were down a man and a goal at halftime following the dismissal of Matt Miazga yet less than two minutes into the second half tied the game with a nicely chipped goal by Dax McCarty. Top scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips put away a feed from Lloyd Sam 16 minutes later. This team’s history teems with false promises, so be wary, but they gutted out a tough win without Fabian Espindola (injured) and Jamison Olave (suspended).

11. COLUMBUS (6-7-9), 10. Its fifth tie in the last eight games, a 1-1 decision in Chicago, maintained the Crew’s hold on a playoff spot. Barely. Federico Higuain pounced on a defensive glitch to equalize 12 seconds into the second half and despite generating several good chances to take the lead, Columbus failed to do so. Ben Speas, starting in place of Bernardo Anor, rifled a low shot that required an excellent kick save and another good stop thwarted Ethan Finlay.

12. PHILADELPHIA (5-8-9), 13. Despite some paltry stats – 30 percent of possession, 67 percent of passes completed, only 259 passes total – the Union rallied from a 1-0 deficit to get a tie at Sporting Park. Two minutes into his second MLS appearance, substitute Brian Brown headed a Ray Gaddis cross into the net. Sheanon Williams nearly scored to steal a win in the final seconds, but still Philly is unbeaten in its last four games. Colombian defender Carlos Valdes has returned and Algerian keeper Rais Mbolhi is in the fold, so a real push for the playoffs is likely.

13. PORTLAND (6-7-9), 14. Needing some luck and a lot of good soccer to slow down the L.A. express train, the Timbers didn’t get enough of either in a 3-1 defeat. They led on a deflected Diego Valeri free kick with which he scored in a third straight game, but seldom threatened afterward as the Galaxy amassed a 19-4 edge in shots. A Diego Chara foul right on the edge of the penalty area yielded a clinching goal from the spot. The loss was Portland’s third in the last six games and first for head coach Caleb Porter against the Galaxy.

14. SAN JOSE (6-8-5), 15. The new home of the San Francisco 49ers suited the ‘Quakes, which scored just before halftime when Chris Wondolowski lofted a long ball that Yannick Djalo poked past keeper Stefan Frei. Eight saves by goalie Jon Busch and a goalline clearance by Wondo helped stymie the Sounders for San Jose’s second straight victory. With loanee Djalo (three goals, two assists) finding his feet in MLS and DP signing Matias Perez Garcia set to debut soon, the attack should perk up. Important note: The Quakes have played 19 games, fewer than any conference rival except the Galaxy.

15. CHICAGO (3-5-13), 17. Two more games, two more ties. Captain Jeff Larentowicz moved to the back line to  pair up with centerback Pat Ianni in a 0-0 game with Vancouver Wednesday, and he kept the spot in a 1-1 deadlock with ColumbusMike Magee’s penalty kick gave the Fire a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute but just nine seconds into the second half a bad error by Ianni gave the Crew its chance to equalize. Several saves by Sean Johnson kept the score intact and recent signing Razvan Cocis could have been the hero in his debut but couldn’t get off a shot from inside the goal area in stoppage time.

16. CHIVAS USA (6-10-5), 12. No question this team can pass the ball around and has a genuine game-winner in Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres, but against FCD he was shut out for the second straight match and thus it lost, 1-0, for the third straight time. A depleted back line – Carlos Bocanegra and Bobby Burling both sat out – contended reasonably well but a breakdown early in the second half produced the only goal. Mauro Rosales came off the bench in the 58th minute and drew two fouls but otherwise didn’t trouble FCD. Yes, Torres’ scoring is essential but without Rosales, there’s not enough creative spark.

17. HOUSTON (6-11-4), 18. A gloriously gifted goal that Will Bruin tucked away in stoppage time carried the Dynamo past D.C. United, 1-0. Substitute Omar Cummings exploited some hesitant defending to square the ball for Bruin to tap in and thus salvage the Dynamo debuts of DaMarcus Beasley and Luis Garrido. It hadn’t won a league game since May 17 -- and started quickly, outshooting its opponents 13-2 in the first half and 20-7 for the game, yet needed a comical defensive mixup to get the win. The revamped squad gets an extreme test Sunday when it plays at Seattle.

18. NEW ENGLAND (8-12-2), 16. The Revs may have hit rock-bottom in losing their ninth game in the last 10; they were up a goal (Charlie Davies) and a man against New York, and still came out on the short end, 2-1. The defeat kept the Revs winless at Red Bull Arena (0-5-1) since it opened and ended their perfect record (4-0-0) when scoring first. It also wiped away the encouragement generated by a 3-0 pasting of Colorado Wednesday in which Lee Nguyen dazzled with two goals and an assist.

19. MONTREAL (3-13-5), 19. A sixth straight loss (2-0 to Toronto FC) and there’s no end in sight. In dismissing sporting director Nick De Santis last week, owner Joey Saputo said the contract of head coach Frank Klopas, who is in the first year of a two-year deal, would be honored. Saputo’s track record of hiring a new coach just about every season would suggest otherwise but Klopas can’t be blamed for the players not pulling their weight. If Klopas does stay he won’t have all that much company.


2 comments about "Soccer America Power Rankings".
  1. Dennis in Vega$, August 5, 2014 at 11:12 a.m.

    Mr R . . . did you do a review of "Levi's Stadium" after watching the Sounders vs. Earthquake throw down? If so, what's the URL?

  2. Andrea Hana, August 5, 2014 at 2:50 p.m.

    Yes, the Quakes won the match with the Sounders, with 48,765 in attendance (not nearly 50k), some of those being Sounders fans. 8 saves by Busch and 1 by Wondo, the Sounders gave it a good go, but could not put it through. Although, I don't know why, if the Sounders are sitting with 38 points, just one behind SKC, they're ranked 4th, especially with only 20 games played, so far, and SKC has played 22. What's they exact criteria? Sounders are still at the top of the Western Division. They were THAT far ahead. Just now they were surpassed by SKC. So, what's the criteria?

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