Soccer America Power Rankings

[MLS: Week 32] A classic encounter left the LA Galaxy, No. 1 in the Soccer America Power Rankings, and Seattle Sounders tied, 2-2, as they battle for the Supporters' Shield. There are still a few playoff issues to be decided heading into the final weekend, and several teams are gathering strength as they prepare for postseason play.

MLS RESULTS, Week 32:
Oct 19 (Report)
LA Galaxy 2, Seattle 2
New York 1, Columbus 3

Oct. 18 
(Report)
Toronto FC 1, Montreal 1
Colorado 0, FC Dallas 1
Philadelphia 2, Sporting KC 1
D.C. United 2, Chicago 1
San Jose 0, Vancouver 0

Oct. 17 (Report)
Portland 0, Real Salt Lake 0

Oct. 16 (Report)
Houston 1, New England 2 

1. LA GALAXY (17-6-10), 1. Another emotional night for Landon Donovan, who played his last regular-season game at StubHub Center just nine days after ending his USA career in a 1-1 tie with Ecuador, also ended in a blown lead and frustration. The Galaxy squandered a two-goal advantage and the ensuing 2-2 tie with the Sounders necessitates a victory in Seattle on Saturday to lift the Supporters’ Shield. Baggio Husidic was the main danger man; in first-half stoppage time he fired a shot low into the far corner, and early in the second half his pass set up a nice strike for Marcelo Sarvas. Not only did Seattle exploit some poor defending to tie the game, Omar Gonzalez plunged into a bad tackle that produced a second caution that rules him out of the rematch.

2. D.C. UNITED (17-9-7), 3. With Chris Pontius nearing full health and Eddie Johnson rounding into good form, plus homefield advantage against Eastern opposition and perhaps for MLS Cup as well, United should be formidable in the postseason. In a 2-1 defeat of Chicago, Pontius headed home a great cross from Johnson, who then hit the winner himself as D.C. ran its record in the past five games to 3-0-2. The manner of Johnson’s goal tells of a different persona; he pounced on a lazy back pass and finished the chance crisply. He hasn’t always been so willing to chase and harass, but his increased work ethic is coming at just the right time.

3. SEATTLE (19-10-4), 4. When he’s fit and in the mood, there’s no more dangerous player in MLS than Obafemi Martins. Though two stinging shots were repelled by sharp saves, his incisive passes set up the goals for Clint Dempsey and Lamar Neagle as the Sounders rallied to tie the Galaxy, 2-2. Martins leads the team in goals (17), assists (12), and moments of sheer panic imposed upon the opposition (no figures available). The Supporters’ Shield leader has only two wins in the last six games but another tie with LA Saturday will be enough to claim that honor; of a bit more concern is a leaky defense that has posted only two shutouts in the last 13 games.

4. NEW ENGLAND (16-13-4), 5. The Revs spoiled the Houston farewell to head coach Dominic Kinnear -- who masterminded both of the Dynamo’s MLS Cup victories against New England -- by rallying for a 2-1 victory that nailed down a second-place finish. Lee Nguyen earned Player of the Week honors and added to his MVP credentials by netting both goals. He’s tied for fourth in MLS with 17 and leads the league with eight game-winners. Jermaine Jones came off the bench to trigger the sequences on both goals and on the first one earned his fourth MLS assist ). Andrew Farrell left the game on a stretcher but is expected to resume training soon enough to play in the finale against Toronto FC. The Revs are 3-0-1 in the last four games, all of which have been high-scoring (nine goals scored, six conceded).

5. NEW YORK (12-10-11), 2. Yes, it was only the Red Bulls’ second loss in the last eight games, but a 3-1 defeat at home to Columbus was thoroughly deserved and rekindled too many memories of late-season fizzles. (It was also a second defeat in the past four games). Lloyd Sam scored one of the best goals of his MLS career by dribbling past two defenders and blasting a shot inside the near post, but otherwise the attack was muted and the defense came apart under even moderate pressure.

6. FC DALLAS (16-11-6), 6. Rather than drop off from an emotional home win against the Galaxy a week prior, FCD scraped out a 1-0 victory at Colorado and thus jumped into third place. Blas Perez netted his team-high 11th goal of the season from the penalty spot and Andres Escobar confirmed he will be a playoff force by threatening the goal on numerous occasions, one of which drew a red-card offense. FCD limited the Rapids to six shots as it continued fine-tuning for the playoffs with its fourth victory in the last six games. The amazing turnaround engineered by head coach Ben Olsen with D.C. has somewhat overshadowed Oscar Pareja’s work in Big D, but four wins in the last six games ain’t no fluke.

7. REAL SALT LAKE (14-8-11), 7. A 0-0 tie in Portland was RSL’s second straight shutout but wasn’t enough to retain third place, so to avoid a wild-card game it needs to beat Chivas USA Wednesday and for Portland to get at least a tie on Saturday against FCD. RSL was outshot by the Timbers, 23-13, yet a spectacular game by Nick Rimando -- six saves plus a few other vital interventions -- helped bring home the point. The attack has been in a bit of a funk -- three goals in the last four games -- so there’s much for Jeff Cassar to address as he gets ready for his first postseason experience as head coach.

8. COLUMBUS (13-10-10), 8. Beaten 4-1 in their last visit to Red Bull Arena, the Crew this time took command early and rode out an impressive 3-1 victory. Another excellent showing by Tony Tchani, which included a sweet through ball that Ethan Finlay put away, and a pair of goals by Aaron Schoenfeld were enough to climb above New York in the standings. A re-brand of its logo and name -- Columbus Crew Soccer Club -- are not the only changes instilled in the first season under head coach Gregg Berhalter. He's assembled a good team that has room for growth.

9. VANCOUVER (11-8-14), 10. The ‘Caps limited San Jose to just one shot on goal (six total) while extracting a 0-0 tie on the road to stay one point ahead of the Timbers heading into the final round of play. The result also clinched a spot in the CCL as the representative with the best head-to-head record amongst Canadian teams in MLS games. A league-leading 12th shutout of the season and the return of midfielder Gershon Koffie -- he replaced Matias Laba in the 61st minute after sitting out the last 10 games with an ankle problem -- boosts confidence Vancouver can seal the deal by beating Colorado no matter what Portland does in Dallas. That blanking was also attained without suspended defender Kendall Waston. Vancouver has accumulated 10 points in the last four games while outscoring the opposition, 5-1.

10. SPORTING KC (14-12-7), 9. A 2-1 loss at Philadelphia means SKC can finish no higher than third and can still be dragged into the wild-card game pending results on the final weekend of play. However, a victory at home over New York Sunday in the very last game of the season -- if such a result is necessary -- would avoid that scenario. There’s also a trip to Costa Rica to play the final Concacaf Champions League group match on Thursday to be considered, along with a bruised thigh that is bothering defender Matt Besler and kept him out of the Philly game. SKC is 2-2-1 since ending a four-game losing streak and has rarely looked like a championship team during the past month.

11. PORTLAND (11-9-13), 11. A stark contrast between last year and 2014 can be seen in the home records: The Timbers were 11-1-5 while capturing the Western Conference title in 2013; a 0-0 tie with RSL in the home finale last weekend left them with a 5-3-9 mark at Providence Park. They finished the season by shutting out opponents for 275 consecutive minutes at home but still trail fifth-place Vancouver by one point. They play their CCL finale in Honduras Tuesday before traveling on to Dallas; there they kick off Saturday about 90 minutes before the ‘Caps start their game against Colorado.

12. PHILADELPHIA (10-11-12), 12. Nothing official has been announced but around the team there’s a sense that interim head coach Jim Curtin will retain the position for next year. Cristian Maidana took his team-leading assist total to 11 by setting up rookies Brian Brown and Pedro Ribeiro for their second goals as pros in a 2-1 defeat of Sporting Kansas City, and unlike it had done in the past two games, the Union held its lead until the final whistle. The season ends Sunday in Columbus, which has qualified for the postseason after missing out last year.

13. HOUSTON (11-16-6), 13. The ninth and final season with Kinnear in charge ended with a 2-1 loss to New England, the team he’d vanquished in the 2006 and 2007 MLS Cup finals after the team moved from San Jose. Giles Barnes pounced on a rebound to score his 11th goal of the season and push Houston into the lead, but it conceded twice in the final 30 minutes; its 24 goals-allowed during that span ties for second-worst in MLS. The Kinnear era ends Friday in Chicago.

14. MONTREAL (6-18-9), 14. The Impact took some pleasure in eliminating Toronto FC from playoff contention by tying TFC, 1-1, at BMO Field after falling behind. Felipe Martins collected a pass from Andres Romero to hit the equalizer, and a superb block by Matteo Ferrari in the second half helped blot out TFC’s playoff hopes. Yet red cards to Heath Pearce and Hassoun Camara left it with nine men at the final whistle. It can’t avoid finishing in the Eastern Conference cellar, has completed its road campaign without a victory, and needs a win in the last game against D.C. United to finish above .500 at home, where it is 6-6-4.

15. TORONTO FC (11-14-8), 15. An opening goal by Warren Creavalle raised faint hopes that would soon be dashed. The 1-1 tie with Montreal ended a three-game losing streak but not the notion this team needs yet another makeover and might be losing Jermain Defoe, who sat out again because of injury, during the offseason. TFC had about 14 minutes, including stoppage time, of man advantage at the end of the game and couldn’t capitalize.

16. CHICAGO (5-10-18), 16. Another nice goal by rookie Harry Shipp, his seventh of the season, failed to avert an eighth consecutive game without a win. The Fire nearly followed up his goal with an equalizer a minute later but Florent Sinama-Pongolle’s deflected roller came back off the base of the post, and D.C. held onto a 2-1 victory. Defensive miscues resulted in United’s two goals; nobody marked Pontius on the first one and Patrick Ianni’s abysmal back pass led to the second. Veteran midfielder Logan Pause, who has announced his retirement, will be honored Friday in the season finale against Houston.

17. CHIVAS USA (8-16-6), 17. The only team to play twice his week after sitting out last week. With six points on the line against RSL and San Jose it has ample opportunity to finish ahead of Colorado in seventh place, and considering all the turmoil of 2014 that’s at least something.

18. COLORADO (8-17-8), 18. The home portion of the schedule ended with a 1-0 loss to FC Dallas that extended the winless streak to 13 games. A handball whistled against Chris Klute resulted in a goal from the penalty spot, and defender Jared Watts was sent off in the 78th minute for fouling Escobar, one of many FCD players too quick and clever for their Colorado counterparts. Dillon Powers managed the Rapids’ only shot on goal.

19. SAN JOSE (6-15-12), 19. So the seven-year stay at Buck Shaw Stadium ended rather quietly, with a 0-0 tie against the Whitecaps that ran the Quakes’ run without a win to 14 games. The result dropped their home record this season to 5-7-5, the only sub-.500 mark since MLS revived the team in 2008. Up and down fortunes notwithstanding, the Quakes were tough to beat at Buck Shaw, as their all-time record of 50-27-36 shows. The final game against Chivas USA could decide which of the teams finishes last in the Western Conference, a fact that clearly outlines the task ahead for Kinnear, who started his coaching career in 2001 in San Jose as an assistant on a team that featured a rookie named Landon Donovan.

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