MLS Power Rankings: Road win keeps SKKC atop heap

There was no movement in the top spots in Soccer America's MLS Power Rankings but Eastern teams Montreal, Philly and the Red Bulls advanced a few slots by winning convincingly. A fifth straight loss dropped New England to one off the bottom slot.

MLS, Week 19 Results:
July 10

San Jose 0, Houston 2.  Highlights
July 11

NY Red Bulls 4, New England 1. Highlights
Montreal 3, Columbus 0. Highlights
Orlando City SC 0, FC Dallas 2. Highlights
Chicago 1, Seattle 0. Highlights
Colorado 3, Real Salt Lake 1.  Highlights
Philadelphia 3, Portland 0. Highlights
July 12

New York City FC 4, Toronto FC 4. Highlights
Vancouver 0, Sporting KC 1. Highlights

Only MLS results are factored into the rankings. A team's current rank is followed by its record in parentheses and its ranking last week.

1. SPORTING KC (8-3-6), 1. A Kevin Ellis goal, some sharp Tim Melia saves, and goal-line clearances by Benny Feilhaber and Amadou Dia propelled SKC past Vancouver, 1-0, for just its second road victory of the season. Ellis’ header was the ninth such goal scored by SKC; it leads MLS in that category. Krisztian Nemeth provided the cross that Ellis put away and also struck the post with a shot. In his first MLS start, rookie Saad Abdul Salaam helped contain Kekuta Manneh as Melia posted his sixth shutout in nine starts.

2. FC DALLAS (9-5-5), 2. Five player absences because of the Gold Cup didn’t faze FCD, which rode two smart moves by Fabian Castillo past Orlando City SC, 2-0. Castillo drew a foul and PK that Mauro Diaz converted, then played a pass that Victor Ulloa relayed for David Texeira to finish. Before its current three-game winning streak, FCD was just a point into the playoff tier; now it is tied for first in the Western Conference.

3. D.C. UNITED (10-6-5), 3. United took the week off from league play to recover from a last-minute 1-0 loss in Seattle on the Fourth of July. It plays at FC Dallas Saturday.

4. LA GALAXY (8-6-7), 4. A wonderful goal by Robbie Keane highlighted a 2-1 defeat of Club America in a friendly. Up next is the second California Clasico of the season Friday at StubHub Center against San Jose that is expected to be the first MLS appearance of Steven Gerrard, who played the first half on Saturday.

5. PORTLAND (9-7-4), 5. After winning six of seven, the Timbers were due to be toppled, yet it wasn’t until the 69th minute that Philly broke through on its way to a 3-0 victory. Three Timbers made their first starts of the season and Diego Valeri hit the crossbar with a free kick. Portland put four shots on goal and lost in Philly for the first time after tying twice and losing thrice since joining MLS in 2011.

6. SAN JOSE (7-7-4), 6. Houston made its first visit to San Jose since head coach Dominic Kinnear swapped the former for the latter, and the Quakes were clearly second-best in a 2-0 defeat. They fell behind in the 10th minute and with Matias Perez Garcia slowed by a hamstring strain and Chris Wondolowski on U.S. duty, didn’t generate much offensively. Still, Victor Bernardez hit the frame with a free kick and a Clarence Goodson goal-bound header struck teammate Fatai Alashe. They play at L.A. Friday.

7. SEATTLE (10-8-2), 7. A stoppage-time goal at Chicago sank the Sounders for their fourth defeat in the last five games, 1-0. Their best attempts at a goal came from Cristian Roldan, who rang the crossbar with a long-distance shot, and captain Zach Scott, whose header was cleared off the goal line. Troy Perkins made his first start for Seattle in place of Stefan Frei, whose injured shoulder kept him out of the game-day squad.

8. VANCOUVER (10-8-2), 8. The ‘Caps homecoming from a five-game run of road games produced a frustrating 1-0 loss to SKC. Shots by Tim Parker forced a good save and a clearance off the goal line, and Cristian Techera also lost a probable goal to a last-ditch defensive play. Gershon Koffie and Octavio Rivero and Parker returned to the starting lineup as the ‘Caps lost a second straight game for just the second time in 2015.

9. TORONTO FC (7-7-3), 9. Not many games in TFC’s history can match its 4-4 tie in Yankee Stadium Sunday for drama and spectacle. Terrible defending by the Reds offset a match for the ages by Sebastian Giovinco, who tormented NYCFC nearly every time he touched the ball. He banged a PK off the post and misfired on another excellent chance, yet still rang up three goals in an amazing nine-minute spell. He assisted Marky Delgado’s apparent game-winner in the 82nd minute but TFC quickly conceded again.

10. MONTREAL (6-7-3), 12. He played for six MLS teams before joining the Impact, so “scoring against his former club” is nothing new for Dominic Oduro. He sandwiched his third and fourth goals of the season around a stunning golazo from distance by Marco Donadel in a 3-0 thumping of Columbus (ex-club No. 5). In the Eastern Conference Montreal is in eighth place, but it has 18 games to play and its 1.31 points per game ranks it fourth.

11. NY RED BULLS (7-6-5), 13. With Bradley Wright-Phillips in the mood, the Red Bulls can romp over a lot of teams. Stationed up top as a lone forward rather than on the left wing, he and NYRB sliced apart the New England back line at will to score three goals -- two by BWP, one by Lloyd Sam -- in the first 12 minutes, then tacked on a deflected shot by Anthony Wallace. The fluid passing and coordinated movement racked up assists for Dax McCarty (two), Mike Grella, Sacha Kljestan, Wright-Phillips and Sam. Three wins in the last four games is their best run of form since they started the season unbeaten in seven (3-0-4).

12. PHILADELPHIA (6-10-4),14. It’s been a a long time coming but the Union is finally edging into playoff contention despite its ugly record. Vincent Nogueira scored twice, Cristian Maidana notched three assists, and Brian Sylvestre earned his fifth shutout in 10 appearances in a 3-0 rolling of Portland. Five of Philly’s six wins have come in the last nine games and in a mediocre conference, aside from D.C., that kind of production will be enough for postseason slot.

13. ORLANDO CITY SC (6-7-6), 10. The Lions battled without a suspended Kaka but a squandered penalty kick and other missed opportunities sent them down to defeat, 2-0, at home against FC Dallas. Carlos Rivas is feeling the pressure of his DP status and didn’t help his cause by blazing a PK a foot wide of the top corner. Pedro Ribeiro lost an apparent goal to a close offside call that replays showed was probably correct. OCSC has played eight of its allotted nine games against Western Conference teams and accrued 14 points (4-2-2).

14. COLUMBUS (6-7-6), 11. Another slow start doomed Crew SC at Montreal; stung twice in the first eight minutes, it reeled off 15 shots and took eight corners without reward in a 3-0 defeat. Crew SC is one of only two teams to surrender six goals in first 15 minutes of play and also one of two teams sans a victory (0-5-4) on the road. In six of those nine away games, it has been shut out, a remarkable stat considering the league’s top goalscorer (Kei Kamara, 12) and assist leader (Ethan Finlay, 10) are Crewmen.

15. NEW YORK CITY (5-8-6), 15. Just minutes into an incredible 4-4 tie with Toronto FC almost everyone had forgotten that a calf strain suffered in training kept Frank Lampard out of the lineup. David Villa scored with a free kick and penalty kick; Patrick Mullins pounced on a saved Villa PK to bounce a shot home off an opponent, and struck again late to end the scoring. The centerback duo of Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Shay Facey were torn apart by Giovinco and the midfield resistance was negligible. The defense certainly needs work, yet 13 points and 14 goals in the last six games -- all against Eastern foes -- are impressive.

16. HOUSTON (6-7-6), 16. Goals have been hard to come by; scoring early and late in a 2-0 defeat of the Quakes doubled the Dynamo’s total in its previous three games. Ricardo Clark, who put all five of his shots on target, headed home an Alex Lopez cross in the 10th minute and Will Bruin bagged his team-high eighth goal from sub Leonel Miranda’s first MLS assist. Tyler Deric logged three saves as Houston posted its first shutout in three months (a span of 12 games).

17. REAL SALT LAKE (5-7-8), 17. Leading, 1-0, at Colorado with nine minutes to go, RSL conceded an equalizer, and then conceded two more goals after its scorer, Sebastian Jaime, incurred a straight red card. Five starters were missing but you’d expect an RSL team to hold on for a point in such circumstances; instead, RSL is winless in the last four games and has just one victory in eight.

18. COLORADO (4-6-9), 19. An equalizer in the 81st minute by defender Drew Moor and Jaime’s red card sparked an assault that netted goals by Jared Watts and Juan Ramirez for a 3-1 victory. Charles Eloundou assisted on the first and third goals and his shot off the post rebounded for Watts to score as well; he did all that in 17 minutes off the bench. Head coach Pablo Mastroeni started the same XI as he had the previous week in a 2-1 defeat of Vancouver, and he got his subs right with Eloundou and Ramirez.

19. NEW ENGLAND (6-9-6), 18. Five defeats in a row and only one victory in the last dozen games notwithstanding, the Revs are tied for third place. But they certainly aren’t looking anything like a team that can rebound and reach MLS Cup, as they did last year. They were lit up for three goals in the first 12 minutes by the Red Bulls and have conceded 13 in their last five games. Bobby Shuttleworth pulled off an amazing triple save by stopping a PK and blocking two follow-up attempts. But did anybody notice?

20. CHICAGO (5-9-3), 20. The Fire ended a five-match winless streak by conjuring up a superb stoppage-time goal to beat Seattle, 1-0. Two substitutes teamed up to get the goal; Michael Stephens ran the ball up the right flank and fed it to Jason Johnson, who cut past an opponent to fire his second goal of the season inside the far post. Mike Magee headed over the bar from a good spot early in the match yet put in a solid 70-minute shift in his first start of 2015.

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