MLS Power Rankings: 'Caps continue climb

Vancouver won its fourth game in the last five to continue an ascent up the rankings though the leaders also won to hold their slots Sporting Kansas City is still atop the Power Rankings as the elite teams, despite glitches here and there, are starting to separate themselves from the pack. There's the usual muddle of teams in the middle -- which includes the likes of New England, an MLS Cup finalist last year -- and the Gold Cup could scramble the placings further. In MLS, that's how it goes.

MLS, Week 17 Results:
June 24
Seattle 0, Philadelphia 1 Highlights
LA Galaxy 5, Portland 0 Highlights
New England 1, Columbus 2 Highlights
Chicago 0, D.C. United 1 Highlights
Colorado 0, Orlando City 2 Highlights
Toronto FC 3, Montreal 1 Highlights
NY Red Bulls 1, Real Salt Lake 0 Highlights

June 26
FC Dallas 2, Houston 0 Highlights

June 27
Toronto FC 0, D.C. United 0 Highlights
Philadelphia 2, Montreal 2 Highlights
New England 1, Vancouver 2 Highlights
Sporting Kansas City 2, Colorado 0 Highlights
Real Salt Lake 2, Columbus 2 Highlights
San Jose 3 LA Galaxy 1 Highlights

June 28
New York City FC 1, NY Red Bulls 3 Highlights
Portland 4, Seattle 1 Highlights

The Power Rankings incorporate only league results.  Included in parentheses is the team's record, followed by its ranking last week.

1. SPORTING KC (7-3-6), 1. Okay, this is getting ridiculous. Krisztian Nemeth scored on his only shot in a 2-0 defeat of Colorado and is a perfect seven-for-seven on shots that have been on target. By assisting on the goal, right back Chance Myers punctuated his return to action following more than a year of rehab and recovery to repair and strengthen a severe Achilles injury. SKC has won five of its last eight games and is the league’s only unbeaten team at home (6-0-3).

2. D.C. UNITED (10-5-5), 2. United pitched its fifth and sixth shutouts of the season and only got one goal, but it was a torpedo launched by Conor Doyle from about 25 yards out and downed Chicago, 1-0. D.C. was outshot, 18-4, in Toronto yet returned with a 0-0 tie that opened up an 11-point lead in the Eastern Conference.

3. FC DALLAS (7-5-5), 3. Fabian Castillo tormented the Dynamo back line numerous times in a 2-0 victory that ended a six-match winless streak. He got in close enough to take a shot that went into the net off an opponent for an own goal, then capped up a blurry one-two with Mauro Diaz by shooting directly into the net.

4. SAN JOSE (7-5-4), 5. Falling behind their archrival is no problem for the Quakes, especially at Stanford Stadium in the annual fireworks game. Defender Clarence Goodson, of all people nailed a Matias Perez Garcia corner kick for the winner. Chris Wondolowski started the comeback by scoring midway through the first half and substitute Cordell Cato polished off the win, San Jose's second in a row and fourth in the last eight games. 

5. VANCOUVER (10-6-2), 6. Goals by Cristian Techera and Octavio Rivero and eight saves by David Ousted earned the 'Caps their third straight road win, 2-1, at New England. Last year's team made the playoffs but didn't win its 10th game until early October. The 'Caps have collapsed in the second half of seasons before; the 2015 version looks much more resilient to such fizzles, and it started the second half of 2015 by exploiting a team down to 10 men.

6. TORONTO FC (7-6-2), 8. Four points from a home game and road match is the standard formula for success, yet TFC flipped the script by winning in Montreal, 3-1, with goals by DPs Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco, and tying D.C. United at home, 0-0. How about a few cheers for Chris Konopka: nine games played, 5-2-2 record, 0.89 goals-allowed average, three shutouts, 28 saves. Not bad. And how about 20 points in the last 10 games? Verrry good.

7. L.A. GALAXY (7-6-7), 7. Those road demons refused to be exorcised; a 3-1 loss to the Quakes at Stanford Stadium dropped the Galaxy’s woeful road record to 0-5-5. A third game in eight days wiped away the glow of a 5-0 trampling of Portland three days earlier in which Robbie Keane assisted on two goals after connecting from the penalty spot. Can recent arrival Sebastian Lletget -- a scorer in his last four games -- and new DP Steven Gerrard get up to speed while Omar Gonzalez,Gyasi Zardes and Jaime Penedo are on Gold Cup duty?

8. PORTLAND (8-6-4), 11. Drilled at StubHub Center on Wednesday, the Timbers bounced back to thump Seattle, 4-1. Fanendo Adi scored twice for the seventh time in his career after Darlington Nagbe’s blast from 30 yards ended his 2015 league scoring drought. Only TFC has accumulated more points (19) in its last 10 games than Portland.

9. SEATTLE (9-7-2), 5. No mystery here; the Sounders are hurting badly, both literally (injuries) and figuratively (poor results). One goal in the last three games, four losses in the last five. They were taken apart by Portland, 4-1, after Lamar Neagle equalized with his fourth goal of the season. Former Sounder Erik Friberg has returned after notching one goal and two assists in 26 games during the 2011 season.

10. ORLANDO CITY (6-6-5), 12. A subtle yet important point of progress emerged from a 2-0 defeat of Colorado; to truly contend for a playoff spot, the Lions must beat such struggling teams. They did so convincingly with goals by Kaka and Cyle Larin, and by winning its third game of the last four built up momentum for road tests at Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas after it plays Columbus in the Open Cup.

11. MONTREAL (5-6-3), 10. Spanked at home, 3-1, by TFC on Wednesday, the Impact went to Philly for a Saturday game and endured a driving rainstorm and the dismissal of captain Patrice Bernier (second caution) to notch a 2-2 tie. Ignacio Piatti and Jack McInerney scored to wipe out a 1-0 deficit but Montreal couldn’t hold on.

12. COLUMBUS (5-6-6), 14. A four-point week exceeded the point total of its previous five games (three ties). Kei Kamara logged his fourth two-goal game of the season Wednesday as Crew SC downed New England, 2-1, and despite a rushed trip to Salt Lake City goals by Ethan Finlay and Tony Tchani secured a 2-2 tie.

13. N.Y. RED BULLS (6-5-5), 17. Who are the lords of New York now? A 3-1 win at Yankee Stadium, at least for now, claims of superiority by the town’s blue team. Chris Duvall and Matt Miazga scored their first MLS goals and the usual suspect, Bradley Wright-Phillips, netted as well. Sacha Kljestan orchestrated in midfield to the tune of two assists. The week started well with a 1-0 defeat of Real Salt Lake courtesy of a Mike Grella goal set up by Homegrown product Sean Davis. The RSL win ended a four-game losing streak.

14. PHILADELPHIA (5-10-4), 18. A fourth shutout in eight games by Brian Sylvestre and C.J. Sapong’s goal earned the Union a 1-0 defeat of Seattle despite a failed penalty kick by Maurice Edu. In a 2-2 tie with Montreal, Eric Ayuk scored a goal early and was sent off late. Edu’s goal in the 76th minute earned the point. In its last 10 games, Philly is 4-5-1, and with a lot of ground to make up, that won’t cut it.

15. HOUSTON (5-7-5), 13. Keeper Tyler Deric sprinted off his line to smother balls meant for Castillo and David Texeira to keep the score close at 2-0 but a point-blank shot by Ricardo Clark was snuffed as Houston lost its second straight game and third in the last five. Raul Rodriguez labored at right back and Rob Lovejoy’s removal because of a hamstring strain impaired the attack.

16. REAL SALT LAKE (5-6-7), 15. Another benign week in the Eastern Conference -- a 1-0 loss to the Red Bulls and 2-2 tie with Montreal -- added to RSL’s woes. It did conjure up a superb set piece goal against the Impact, scored by Olmes Garcia from a Joao Plata header set up by Luke Mulholland’s free kick to Kyle Beckerman. But it had two men sent off against New York and another, Jordan Allen, just 10 minutes after he entered the game against Montreal.

17. NEW ENGLAND (6-7-6), 9. The Revs reeled badly last year, remember, losing eight straight before rebounding with Jermaine Jones to reach the MLS Cup final. But recovery from the current skid will take some doing. Defeats to Columbus and Vancouver by 2-1 scores leaves them mired in three straight losses and with just one win in the last 10 games. A very questionable red card to Andrew Farrell in the 29th minute dumped the Revs in a hole they couldn’t climb out of and that loss to the 'Caps ended their 19-game home unbeaten streak.

18. NEW YORK CITY FC (4-8-5), 16. The derby day started brilliantly -- packed Yankee Stadium, Thomas McNamara scoring in the sixth minute -- the earliest goal in team history -- and ended darkly in a 3-1 defeat. Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo were on hand to see the end of a three-game winning streak.

19. COLORADO (2-6-9), 19. The Rapids were beaten twice, 2-0, by Orlando City and Sporting Kansas City. Striker Luis Solignac, signed May 1, hasn’t scored in his seven appearances and as a team the Rapids aren’t much better; since blowing out FCD, 4-0, on April 10, they have scored just seven goals in a dozen matches.

20. CHICAGO (4-9-2), 20. Just about everything went wrong in a 1-0 loss to D.C. United that is the Fire’s fourth consecutive defeat. David Accam and Shaun Maloney were injured, Matt Polster was suspended, Joevin Jones left at halftime because of illness, and Kennedy Igboananike drilled a good chance against the post. United scored with a laser from 25 yards as well.

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