1. SEATTLE (20-10-4), 3. By scoring both goals in the season-ending defeat of the Galaxy, Marco Pappa confirmed Sounders’ management made a shrewd move by acquiring him through the allocation process. Six goals in 29 games is a nice return and his angled runs from midfield are a valuable weapon if teams collapse on Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey, who finished the season with combined totals of 32 goals and 23 assists.
2. D.C. UNITED (17-9-8), 2. A 1-1 tie with Montreal wasn’t secured until Fabian Espindola scored his 11th goal of the season to finish the season tied with Luis Silva for the team lead. A solid mark of 4-1-4 in the last nine games should bode well for the playoffs, but Silva sat out the Montreal game to rest a sore hamstring and may not be ready for playoff action that commences this weekend. Minor injuries sidelined Chris Pontius, Taylor Kemp, and Davy Arnaud as well but they are on course to play this weekend.
3. LA GALAXY (17-7-10), 1. Robbie Keane sat out the finale, a 2-0 loss to the Sounders at CenturyLink Field, yet the Galaxy conjured up a fair share of chances. After blowing through 10 games unbeaten (8-0-2), in its final three games it lost to FC Dallas and could only tie the Sounders at StubHub Center before losing the rematch. Yet it has enough potency and experience that no one will be surprised if LA reached its third MLS Cup final in the past four seasons.
4. NEW ENGLAND (17-13-4), 4. Lee Nguyen wrapped up a fabulous regular-season by scoring his 18th goal in a 1-0 defeat of Toronto FC. He wound up as the league leader with nine game-winning goals. New England went 10-2-2 down the stretch and it beat the defending champion twice. It also split two games with the Crew, which it faces in the playoffs. The centerback pairing of Jose Goncalves and A.J. Soares has meshed nicely, Jermaine Jones is the force everyone thought he would be, and spearhead Charlie Davies can carve open spaces for Nguyen and Co. to exploit.
5. NEW YORK (13-10-11), 5. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored twice to tie the regular-season record of 27 goals in a 2-0 defeat of Sporting Kansas City and probably should have been provided a golden chance to break the mark, but what looked like a penalty-kick foul wasn’t called. Keeper Luis Robles came up with a couple of sharp saves to give his defense a confidence-boosting shutout. The victory earned the Red Bulls home-field advantage for the wild-card rematch on Thursday and based on form (4-2-1 in the last seven games), they should be favored.
6. COLUMBUS (14-10-10), 8. Other teams may also be peaking for the playoffs but none are sharper than the Crew, which by beating Philadelphia, 2-1, ended the season with a sparking 6-1-1 mark. In his third year as a pro, Ethan Finlay tied Federico Higuain for the team lead in goals (11) and assists (seven); Finlay, Justin Meram and Jairo Arrieta give head coach Gregg Berhalter multiple weapons to deploy.
7. REAL SALT LAKE (15-8-11), 7. RSL took care of business by beating Chivas USA, 2-0, a week ago Wednesday and thus will be the most-rested team heading into the playoffs. In his first postseason as a head coach, Jeff Cassar has one of the league’s strongest spines in Nick Rimando, Nat Borchers, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, and Alvaro Saborio; they can overcome a rather tepid finish (4-3-2) to the regular season, but drawing the Galaxy -- again -- in the first series is a tough beat.
8. FC DALLAS (16-12-6), 6. A contentious 2-0 loss to the Timbers that featured a few shoving matches and two disallowed goals –both involving Fabian Castillo -- yielded FCD its fifth defeat in the last nine games. The good news is midfielder Mauro Diaz came on a sub for the final 26 minutes. He had sat out the previous four games because of a hamstring problem, and for much of the season has been bothered by knee injuries as well. Blas Perez has scored five goals in last six appearances to match his 2013 seasonal total of 11 goals.
9. VANCOUVER (12-8-14), 9. The ‘Caps got the victory they needed, a nervy 1-0 defeat of Colorado, to edge Portland for the last Western Conference playoff spot. Centerback Kendall Waston overpowered an opponent to head home Pedro Morales’ corner kick after more than an hour of goalless play, and another solid defensive effort extended its shutout streak to 393 minutes.
10. PORTLAND (12-9-13), 10. The defeat of FCD polished Portland’s record in its last six games to 4-1-1 yet its playoff quest fell a bit short, a far cry from its regular-season conference title of 2013. Darlington Nagbe scored his first goal of the season just before halftime and Maximiliano Urruti hit a wonderful goal on the turn, his 10th of 2014. The road record rose to 7-6-4 with that victory, and Fanendo Adi (nine goals) was among the positive changes this season, but a home mark of 5-3-9 raises questions.
11. SPORTING KC (14-13-7), 10. A feeble 2-0 home loss to New York – SKC’s seventh loss in the last 10 games -- doesn’t pump up confidence for the playoffs. There are still big-game players on the roster, and in several of those losses it has played relatively well, but many players look tired or off-form. Dom Dwyer set a team record with 22 goals and if the veterans get their games in order SKC can regain its mojo.
12. MONTREAL (6-18-10), 14. A 1-1 tie at D.C. United in which Marco Di Vaio signed off with his ninth goal of the season -- after netting 20 last year -- ran the Impact’s season-ending streak to four deadlocks. It’s likely that Di Vaio isn’t the only experienced veteran who will be leaving but management must decide if it’s time for remodeling or detonation.
13. PHILADELPHIA (10-12-12), 12. Losing its final game to the Crew, 2-1, neatly summarized its late-season fizzle. The Union won just one of its last seven games and needed to at least double the six points it accrued in those matches to reach the postseason. Newcomer Cristian Maidana led the team with 11 assists, but a few other moves didn’t work out, Maurice Edu wasn’t quite as impactful as expected, and the fan base is divided as to whether interim head coach Jim Curtin is the right choice long-term.
14. HOUSTON (11-17-6), 13. Nine seasons with head coach Dominic Kinnear in charge ended with a 2-1 defeat at Chicago. Significant injury losses finally caught up with the Dynamo, which lost four of its last six and fell 12 points short of the playoffs. Giles Barnes was a bright spot with his 11 goals. The winds of change are already blowing. Six-year starting keeper Tally Hall, who suffered a torn ACL that ended his season in August, has been traded to expansion club Orlando City SC for allocation money.
15. CHICAGO (6-10-18), 16. A record-setting season for ties -- and probably injuries as well -- ended in victory, a 2-1 decision over Houston in which Jeff Larentowicz equalized from the penalty spot and Florent Sinama-Pongolle headed the winner. Logan Pause bade farewell after serving the club for 12 years, and Sean Johnson is bound for a training stint with Premier League club Hull City. The Fire needs to make moves to get back into the playoffs and expansion teams Orlando City SC and New York City FC won’t be easy pickings.
16. CHIVAS USA (9-19-6), 17. MLS officially terminated the club on Monday after it dispatched San Jose, 1-0, with a goal by Felix Borja, who in the last month of the season added his name to the list of players other teams might be interested in. How they will be distributed, and whether MLS can put in a bid for Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres, who is on loan from Guadalajara, won’t be known for at least a few days.
17. TORONTO FC (11-15-8), 15. A fourth loss in the last five games, 1-0 to New England, ended a disappointing season appropriately. Offseason foot surgery for Michael Bradley isn’t a surprise; the news that defender Doniel Henry played the season on loan from a club in Cyprus and might do so again next season certainly is. The MLS futures of Gilberto and Jermain Defoe are unclear and the team sputtered under the tenure of interim head coach Greg Vanney. The saga continues.
18. COLORADO (8-18-8), 18. The Rapids finished the season winless in 14 games despite a decent effort while losing, 1-0, to Vancouver. A milestone was reached when Davy Armstrong came into the game as a sub, joining fellow Homegrown products Shane O’Neil and Dillon Serna to mark the first team in team history three HG players were on the field for an MLS game at the same time.
19. SAN JOSE (6-16-12), 19. There’s no place lower to go after a 1-0 loss to Chivas USA extends a winless streak to 15 games. New head coach Dominic Kinnear can’t start soon enough. There are a few pieces to build around, starting with Chris Wondolowski and keeper Jon Busch. But the cupboard isn't well-stocked.