Soccer America Power Rankings

[MLS: Week 25]FC Dallas held the top spot despite its unbeaten streak ending at 10 games, but  the surging Galaxy moved up again after two more wins. A few upset results yielded crowded playoff races in both conferences, and Eastern leader D.C. United bounced back from a 4-1 thumping by the Galaxy to frustrate the Red Bulls, 2-0.

Aug. 31 (Report)
Chivas USA 0 LA Galaxy 3
D.C. United 2 New York 0

Aug. 30 (Report)
Seattle 1 Colorado 0
Chicago 1 FC Dallas 0
Toronto FC 0 New England 3
San Jose 1 Real Salt Lake 1
Vancouver 0 Portland 3
Montreal 2 Columbus 0

Aug. 29 (Report)
Sporting KC 1, Houston 3

1. FC DALLAS (12-8-6), 1. A dearth of scoring luck and finishing pluck left FCD a 1-0 loser at Toyota Park and thus ended a 10-game unbeaten streak. Ryan Hollingshead shot one good chance at the opposing keeper, Sean Johnson, and hit the frame with another, and Fabian Castillo threatened twice only to be denied at the last second. The jockeying for playoff places begins Saturday at Real Salt Lake, which is a point ahead of FCD in the Western Conference.

2. SEATTLE (15-7-3), 2. Seldom has a 1-0 win looked more convincing. Despite not scoring until Clint Dempsey volleyed home Marco Pappa’s corner kick in the 53rd minute, the Sounders dominated most of the play against the reeling Rapids. Obafemi Martins rattled a shot off the crossbar and Seattle limited Colorado to just two shots on goal as it won a second straight game. Pappa has registered three goals and three assists this season and not only enhanced Seattle’s set plays but brought a left-sided attacking presence the team has sometimes lacked.

3. LA GALAXY (13-5-7), 5. The league’s hottest team (23 points in the last 10 games) punched out a pair of impressive wins at StubHub Center. It dismantled D.C. United, 4-1, on Wednesday and as the away team outclassed Chivas USA, 3-0, Sunday. Alan Gordon scored in his second straight game and three teammates also netted against D.C.; Gyasi Zardes got two goals and Robbie Keane, who sat out the United game, scored a beauty before leaving to join Ireland’s national team.

4. D.C. UNITED (14-8-4), 3. Bouncing back is the hallmark of a good team, and United did just that in a rivalry game by dispatching the Red Bulls, 2-0, four days after being toasted by the Galaxy. This was a complete team effort; keeper Bill Hamid snuffed the few good chances generated by the Red Bulls, the midfield quelled most of what New York tried to do, and Luis Silva’s eighth goal of the season -- which matches his career total prior to this season -- stemming from a Fabian Espindola feed turned out to be the winner. Hamid, who did the splits to get his toe on a Saer Sene attempt, ended up five saves, his 11th victory, seventh shutout, and first career assist.

5. REAL SALT LAKE (11-5-10), 6. Javier Morales rather quietly returned to the lineup after missing two games, and RSL resorted to toughness rather than talent to get a 1-1 tie against the Quakes at Buck Shaw Stadium. Joao Plata also seemed subdued yet RSL converted a penalty kick awarded when Olmes Garcia, leaning to reach a cross Abdoulie Mansally played behind him, was tackled just before the ball arrived. Morales converted and RSL went home with its 15th point in the last eight games (4-1-3). Nick Rimando did his part with a full-length stretch that smothered a shot on his goal line.

6. SPORTING KC (12-8-6), 4.  A 3-1 home loss to Houston and several questionable refereeing decisions left head coach Peter Vermes incensed and SKC with three losses in the last four games. When play resumed after a 77-minute lightning delay, SKC missed three good chances and fell behind when a miscue by Aurelien Collin opened the door. After Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber were cautioned during a scuffle, which prompted protests from Vermes, they combined for Dwyer’s 17th goal of the season, one fewer than the team record held by Preki. But the Dynamo scored twice more on set plays to send home SKC’s 50th straight Sporting Park sellout crowd disappointed. Dwyer and Feilhaber are also suspended for a major match Wednesday at New England.

7. PORTLAND (8-8-10), 12. The Timbers edged into fifth place by riding out a tense first half at Vancouver and then racking up three opportunistic goals to win going away, 3-0. They used myriad weapons: Alvas Powell got forward from his outside back position to nudge a glancing header from a Diego Valeri cross in the 51st minute, Max Urruti blasted home a shot off the underside of the crossbar, and four minutes later Rodney Wallace polished off a nice pass from Darlington Nagbe. This was just the Timbers’ third shutout of the season and the first that didn’t involve Chivas USA.

8. NEW YORK (7-8-10), 8
. If this was to be a statement game, a 2-0 loss at RFK said, ‘We’re in trouble.” A pair of bungles by defender Ibrahim Sekagya presented United with two excellent chances and though both were saved by Luis Robles, when those two mixed up their signals early in the second half, D.C. took advantage and the lead. A couple of sharp saves thwarted the Red Bulls, who watched Bradley Wright-Phillips misfire on a great chance early in the match. In their last seven games they are 2-3-2, which is a fair indication of their inconsistent effort and performance during that span.

9. COLUMBUS (8-9-9), 9. The Crew wasn’t prepared for Ignacio Piatti; he danced past several players to score the first goal and victimized them again in stoppage time of a 2-0 Montreal victory that dropped the Crew's road record to 3-5-5. Federico Higuain got five shots but looked off his game and put just one attempt on frame. Columbus gets an easy home draw with its next match against Chivas USA, though both Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani are suspended.

10. TORONTO FC (9-9-6), 7. Wow. So TFC starts over again, again. After surviving heavy runs of injuries and persistent sniping by fans and the press, perhaps Ryan Nelsen believed he could rebuff his boss after a devastating 3-0 home loss to New England and get away with it. At a Sunday afternoon press conference about 15 hours after Nelsen uttered his blunt postgame comments, GM Tim Bezbatchenko showed him how wrong he was. Replacement Greg Vanney, whether qualified or not, jumps right into the fire Wednesday when TFC hosts pursuer Philadelphia. The entire coaching staff departed along with Nelsen, and the injury absences continue, so Vanney will have a roomy bench for his debut.

11. PHILADELPHIA (7-9-9), 11. The Union heads into that great unknown of an underachieving team rocked by a coaching upheaval. On the foundation of a week off and a 4-2 pasting of San Jose in its most recent match, as well as fervent backing at PPL Park, one would guess Philly can obtain three points it desperately needs from TFC on Wednesday.

12. VANCOUVER (7-6-12), 10. The spectre of a strikerless team reared up again during a dispiriting 3-0 home loss to the Timbers when Darren Mattocks, used off the bench this time, got a ball tangled under his feet long enough that his eventual shot from a deeper angle was saved. The ‘Caps were already behind by that time, but as early as the fifth minute, a great ball from newcomer Mauro Rosales was headed over the bar by the team’s main playmaker, Pedro Morales. Rosales tried his luck as well only to shoot high into the side netting. Vancouver has been blanked in three consecutive games and four times in the last five.

13. HOUSTON (8-13-4), 14. The Dynamo pulled out a game from its past to knock off the defending champion on the road. Will Bruin tapped home a chance generated by a defensive miscue, and a pair of Brad Davis set plays were put away by David Horst and Ricardo Clark. Shortly after scoring, Bruin hobbled off and might not be available when Houston hosts Montreal Saturday trying to extend a moderate dose of momentum from winning its third game in the last five.

14. COLORADO (8-12-6), 13. The story of keeper Joe Nasco is a good one -- he left his job as a sheriff in 2012 to sign with Atlanta of the NASL and joined the Rapids last February -- and in his MLS debut he was about the only good player for the Rapids in a 1-0 loss at Seattle. Nasco’s five saves weren’t enough to prevent a sixth consecutive loss. The Rapids had conceded 15 goals in their previous five losses and though the defensive effort was an improvement, they seldom were dangerous in the attacking third. The road doesn’t get any easier Friday on the road against the Galaxy.

15. CHICAGO (5-6-14), 16. Goalscorers earn their money by deciding tight games, and that’s exactly what Robert Earnshaw did to earn the Fire a 1-0 victory did to earn the Fire over FC Dallas. A well-timed leap and precise flick of a Jeff Larentowicz cross headed home his second goal in as many games as the Fire upped its recent mark to nine points in the last six games. It is four points out of fifth and in its next two games plays New England and Toronto, two of the teams it is chasing.

16. NEW ENGLAND (10-12-3), 17. Lee Nguyen stole the show in Toronto. He scored his team high 10th goal in the second minute and earned assists on strikes by Kelyn Rowe and Teal Bunbury as the Revs’ revival notched a second straight victory. For once, the back line looked solid and the midfield outplayed that of its rival even before the Revs’ debut of Jermaine Jones in the 65th minute. Listen for the ovation Jones gets Wednesday at Gillette Stadium when New England hosts the defending champion

17. SAN JOSE (6-10-8), 15. A creditable 1-1 tie with RSL didn’t much brighten the Quakes dimming playoff hopes. They complained about the penalty kick in the 36th minute by which RSL matched Sam Cronin’s second goal in as many games, but they didn’t threaten all that often the rest of the way. A spectacular stop robbed Atiba Harris, who would have scored if he’d simply provided more power on the shot that Rimando stopped on the goal line. Winless in five games and eight points out of the playoff tier, the Quakes play at Portland Sunday.

18. MONTREAL (5-15-5),19. The next two months will reveal if Piatti is truly an excellent signing or a meteoric streak destined to fizzle out, and also whether his arrival encourages Marco Di Vaio to stay or spurs him out the door, but the touch, guile and confidence Piatti displayed scoring the first of his two goals in a 2-0 defeat of Columbus at least confirms his class. Thanks to the schedule, Montreal must wait more than a week to build on the momentum of its second win in the last three games, and that game is a doozy: at home against the Galaxy Sept. 10.

19. CHIVAS USA (6-13-6),18. Nigel Reo-Coker’s debut added some bite and intensity in midfield, but the attack lacked punch and the entire team looked a step slow while being outclassed by the Galaxy, 3-0. Erick "Cubo" Torres raced off the field after being red-carded in the 75th minute; he’s been called up by Mexico for its two friendlies next week, by which time his team’s seven-game losing streak will probably have been extended by Seattle and Columbus. The goalless run is 546 consecutive minutes.


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