Soccer America Power Rankings

[MLS: Week 30] The top two teams, the LA Galaxy and the  Seattle Sounders, kept their spots with overpowering victories and there's a scramble of Eastern Conference teams behind them. The struggles continued for last year's MLS Cup finalists, though Sporting Kansas City did manage to slow its slide by tying D.C. United, 0-0. Real Salt Lake lost to Western Conference cellar-dweller Chivas USA to fall two more places in the Power Rankings.

Oct. 5 (Report)
Colorado 1, Seattle 4
Chicago 0, Montreal 0
Chivas USA 1, Real Salt Lake 0

Oct. 4 (Report)
LA Galaxy 3, Toronto FC 0
New York 1, Houston 0
New England 2, Columbus 1
San Jose 1, Portland 2
Vancouver 2, FC Dallas 0

Oct. 3 (Report)
D.C. United 0, Sporting KC 0

Oct. 2 (Report)
Philadelphia 1, Chicago 1

1. LA GALAXY (17-5-9), 1. Another juggernaut performance swept aside Toronto FC, 3-0, for a third straight victory that extended the unbeaten streak to 10 games. Robbie Keane scored the first two just three minutes apart with a neat finish and a stunning volley on which Landon Donovan earned his league record 136th assist. The central midfield pair was clicking as well: Marcelo Sarvas picked up two assists and a dipping 30-yarder from Juninho hit the crossbar. The major concern is Robbie Rogers; he suffered a pulled hamstring and was replaced by James Riley. The Galaxy plays FC Dallas this week before closing the season with two huge matches against Seattle.

2. SEATTLE (19-9-3), 2. The Sounders kept pace with the Galaxy by posting their first-three goal, road win of the season, a 4-1 pounding of Colorado that could have been twice as large. Obafemi Martins scored two goals for the second game in a row, Clint Dempsey clipped home a "Panenka" penalty kick, and Marco Pappa somehow chipped a superb goal through tight traffic. Dempsey also hit the post with a flying side-volley and a driven 60-yard ball from Osvaldo Alonso forced a spectacular save. Defensive laxness has occasionally plagued Seattle -- it has conceded 47 goals, the most of any team in the playoff tiers -- but everything else looks of championship caliber.

3. NEW YORK (11-9-11). 4. After hitting the crossbar with a curling free kick in the first half, Thierry Henry scored his 51st league goal shortly after halftime in a 1-0 defeat of the Dynamo. On the downside, Bradley Wright-Phillips added to his ledger of memorable misses by drilling a rebound off the crossbar from close range. The wide play of Richard Eckersley and Lloyd Sam were prominent throughout the match. Four wins in the last six games have generated momentum for the postseason though a spot has yet to be clinched. Tim Cahill is one of four players who will miss this weekend’s game against Toronto FC because of international callups.

4. NEW ENGLAND (15-13-3), 7. Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones are forging a formidable midfield partnership. Nguyen scored his team-record (for a midfielder) 14th goal and Jones netted the game-winner for the second consecutive week in a 2-1 defeat of Columbus that lifted the Revs into second place. But the hero for this game was in the net: Bobby Shuttleworth came up with two one-v-one saves and finished the game with six. Jones got the winner by darting into the penalty area to head Chris Tierney’s bouncing free kick into the net. On paper, the Revs aren’t quite the league’s hottest team, but with six wins in the last seven games they aren’t on anybody’s wish list of possible playoff opponents.

5. D.C UNITED (15-9-7), 3. A 0-0 tie with defending champion Sporting Kansas City clinched a playoff spot though United’s lead atop the Eastern Conference shrank to four points. Keeper Bill Hamid was seldom troubled while posting his 10th shutout and the effort was a solid one in the absence of suspended midfielder  Perry Kitchen. Rookie Dave Birnbaum chipped in another strong effort at centerback and partner Bobby Boswell had an especially good game blunting the SKC attack. Hamid has joined the U.S. team this week for its match against Ecuador and will be released for a league game Sunday at Houston.

6. FC DALLAS (14-11-6), 6. Fabian Castillo sat out a third consecutive game yet the attack did reasonably well in a 2-0 defeat at Vancouver. The defense reacted sluggishly to the ‘Caps skillful ball movement and conceded two goals in the first 18 minutes. David Texeira started up top alongside Blas Perez and Tesho Akindele came off the bench. Perez headed a great chance wide in the fourth minute and later in the first half lost a goal to a terrible offside decision. A dour second half left FCD with its fourth loss in the last six games but still within a point of third-place RSL and a big game against the Galaxy up next.

7. REAL SALT LAKE (13-7-10), 5. Rich Balchan’s nightmare game – he replaced defender Chris Schuler, injured in a collision with Nat Borchers -- included a terrible back pass that led to the only goal of a loss to lowly Chivas USA, and a clumsy foul that gave away a penalty kick saved by Nick Rimando, who also came up with two other sharp saves. The attack generated just one shot on frame, a Javier Morales free kick that was easily saved. In his second start since recovering from the broken foot that ruled him out of the World Cup, Alvaro Saborio twice shot over the crossbar. Third-place RSL has lost three of its last four and is just one point ahead of FC Dallas in the battle for third place.

8. COLUMBUS (11-10-10), 8. The Crew probably deserved better than the loss at New England, but before and after Ethan Finlay’s equalizer the finishing could have been sharper. The defeat ended a four-game unbeaten streak but wasn’t enough to dislodge Columbus from the playoff tier. Its lead over sixth-place Toronto FC is just one point and it holds a four-point edge over Philadelphia, which it will visit Saturday without the suspended Waylon Francis and Federico Higuain.

9. HOUSTON (10-14-6), 9. Desperation did not drive the Dynamo to great heights; it lost at Red Bull Arena, 1-0, and probably needs to run the table in its remaining four games just to have a chance at the playoffs. The effort starts Wednesday at Toronto and there’s another match Sunday at home against D.C. United. Honduran internationals Boniek Garcia and Luis Garrido will probably miss both games to play for their country in games against the USA and Mexico. The loss snapped a five-game unbeaten streak that narrowed the gap somewhat but still Houston is seven points out of the playoffs.

10. PHILADELPHIA (9-10-12), 10. The Union is fizzling at just the wrong time; it isn’t playing poorly but neither is it seizing opportunities to grab results. The acquisition of Algerian keeper Rais Mbolhi triggered incredulity when it occurred in July, and his ghastly error that gifted a tying goal to Chicago in stoppage time stripped Philly of two badly needed points. Philly set up its own demise from a set play by playing three backwards passes to put the ball at Mbolhi’s feet. Amobi Okugo’s goal in the 85th  had triggered a raucous celebration at PPL Park, which echoed with jeers and boos at the final whistle. There are three games remaining, for which the returns of Sebastien Le Toux (ankle injury), Conor Casey (knee) and Sheanon Williams (quadriceps) would be most welcome.

11. SPORTING KC (13-11-7), 11. Head coach Peter Vermes praised his team’s defensive effort in a 0-0 tie at RFK Stadium that was just its third shutout since the World Cup break, a span of 16 games. Andy Gruenebaum earned the zero with seven saves; he got the start in place of Eric Kronberg, still bothered by a broken left hand suffered in early July. Kevin Ellis started his second straight league game in place of Aurelien Collin (right ankle injury) and formed a strong pairing with

12. VANCOUVER (10-8-13), 13. The ‘Caps have been solid at home this season and they took control early of a crucial game against FC Dallas in a 2-0 victory. Both goals were tallied by Sebastian Fernandez, who had failed to score in his previous 14 games. He headed home a Mauro Rosales cross in the 14th minute and then finished off a great play by Rosales, who helped win a ball near the sideline and dribbled diagonally to push a ball and Fernandez drilled into the net. A superb sliding block by Matias Laba helped keep FCD off the board. The toughest of Vancouver’s three remaining games comes Friday in Seattle, where last year it stunned the Sounders, 4-1, at the same point in the season.

13. PORTLAND (10-9-12), 14. The odds were stacked against the Timbers in San Jose -- Diego Valeri suspended, Will Johnson out for the season with a broken leg -- and in pregame warmups Pa Modou Ka strained a calf muscle, necessitating the insertion of Norberto Paparatto, and still they won, 2-1. Rodney Wallace scored on a deflected shot and was credited for the second goal when Liam Ridgewell’s header bounced off him and into the net. Wallace has scored four goals in nine games since recovering from a torn ACL. Gaston Fernandez did a creditable job filling in for Valeri and Ben Zemanski took Johnson’s midfield spot alongside Diego Chara. A rematch against the Quakes Wednesday offers the Timbers a chance to take back fifth place from the ‘Caps, who don’t play until Friday in Seattle.

14. TORONTO FC (11-12-7), 12. The Galaxy has thumped a few teams this year at StubHub Center yet still it was a painful return for ex-Los Angeles defender Greg Vanney, who revamped his lineup. Warren Creavalle took over at right back for Mark Bloom (knee injury), Dominic Oduro took over at forward for Gilberto (hamstring), and Kyle Bekker joined Michael Bradley in central midfield. Jermain Defoe returned after missing nine games with a groin injury but by the time he entered the match in the 60th minute, TFC trailed by two goals and seldom looked capable of getting a point. TFC has the same record as did RSL in 2009, when it rolled through the playoffs and won MLS Cup; Vanney’s men need to make up a three-point gap and have more games, four, to play than the teams it is chasing.

15. CHICAGO (5-8-18), 15. Two more ties -- what else? -- left the Fire with a league record for deadlocks and much to evaluate for next year. It snagged a 1-1 tie at Philadelphia when substitute Robert Earnshaw turned a goalkeeping gaffe into the equalizer, and ground out a 0-0 game at home against Montreal that officially eliminated it from playoff contention. The alternative black jersey unveiled by the Fire, Patrick Nyarko’s first start since mid-May, and Sean Johnson’s sixth shutout of 2014 were the only notable elements of the Montreal game.

16. MONTREAL (6-18-7), 16. Head coach Frank Klopas was suspended for the game at Chicago for which he served as player, technical director and head coach before taking the Impact job. An acrobatic goal by Jack McInerney was disallowed by very tight, if not erroneous, offside call against Justin Mapp, who joined an elite group of players with more than 20,000 minutes of action. Several excellent saves by Evan Bush earned him Man of the Match honors. On Friday, striker Marco Di Vaio announced his retirement. He holds the team’s MLS scoring record with 31 goals and replacing him is just one of many pressing issues Klopas and his staff will face during the offseason.

17. COLORADO (8-15-8), 17. A 4-1 trampling by Seattle extended the winless streak to 11 games -- a team record -- and officially ended playoff hopes that realistically evaporated more than a month ago. Deshorn Brown scored his 10th goal – matching the output of his 2013 rookie season -- but the Rapids got no closer than 3-1 and are tied with Chivas USA for the most goals conceded (58) in MLS. English defender Zat Knight made his first MLS appearance in the second half; how many of his new teammates will be welcomed back next year and who will coach them?

18. SAN JOSE (6-13-11), 18. Leading, 1-0, on Chris Wondolowski’s 14th goal of the season, the Quakes went for more offense by bringing on Yannick Djalo, and instead ceded control of midfield to the Timbers, who scored two quick goals for a 2-1 victory. The winless streak is 11, during which San Jose has conceded 24 goals, a stat that suggests how significant was the injury to defender Clarence Goodson, who has been sidelined since suffering an injury to his big toe in mid-July. Wondo has scored nine goals and four assists since returning from the World Cup but this second-half tailspin suggests the Quakes need more than a new stadium -- and perhaps a new head coach -- for 2015.

19. CHIVAS USA (7-18-6), 19. Felix Borja scored his first MLS goal on the rebound of a shot off the crossbar by Erick "Cubo" Torres, who failed to convert a penalty kick in a 1-0 defeat of RSL that ended a seven-game losing streak. Keeper Dan Kennedy recorded his fifth shutout of the season and the first since a 0-0 tie with the Whitecaps more than two months ago. Borja, Torres and Kennedy will probably draw interest from other teams should the team be folded by MLS as expected but there are other processes besides a dispersal draft to be considered.

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