MLS Power Rankings: Amazing SKC rally edges it top spot

Previous leader FC Dallas tumbled off the perch in Soccer America's MLS Power Rankings by losing its second straight game, which gave Sporting Kansas City the opening to climb into first place by stunning Vancouver with three goals in the final 10 minutes for a 4-3 win.

Though it is third in the Western Conference, Sporting KC has amassed the most points per game (1.82) in the league, and is 5-1-1 in the last seven games.

The LA Galaxy also rallied to win, beating FC Dallas, 2-1, on the road to move into second place. Another convincing victory by the New York Red Bulls -- a 3-0 dispatch of Toronto FC -- enabled them to take over third.

MLS Week 24 Results:
Aug. 13
New York City 3, D.C. United 1 Highlights
Aug. 14
San Jose 1, Colorado 0 Highlights
Aug. 15
New England 2, Houston 0 Highlights
Sporting KC 4, Vancouver 3 Highlights
FC Dallas 1, LA Galaxy 2 Highlights
Real Salt Lake 0, Portland 1 Highlights
Aug. 16
Philadelphia 3, Chicago 3 Highlights 
Seattle 4, Orlando City 0 Highlights

Only MLS results are figured into the Power Rankings, which include the team's record in parentheses followed by its ranking last week.

1. SPORTING KC (11-4-7), 2. Veteran midfielder Paulo Nagamura emphatically reminded the world why Brazilians are valued so highly. He hadn’t scored in MLS play since 2012, but a right-footed strike from the penalty arc tied the game and an aggressive header from close range won it in stoppage time, 4-3. SKC is only the second team in league history to come back from a two-goal deficit in the 80th minute or later to win. Giveaways and missed tackles opened the door for Vancouver to score its first two goals, so there are issues to be addressed, but a great win against a good team is an ideal psychological boost as the season grinds into its final third.

2. LA GALAXY (12-7-7), 4. Whether or not he repeats as league MVP, Robbie Keane reinforced his claim as the best Designated Player signing in league history by scoring twice within five minutes for a 2-1 comeback defeat of FC Dallas. In his 100th regular-season appearance he scored his 65th and 66th goals as the Galaxy won for the fifth time in the last six games. Keeper Donovan Ricketts came up with a couple of big saves and Giovani dos Santos notched his first MLS assist. After failing to win any of its first 11 road games, the Galaxy has won the last two.

3. NY RED BULLS (11-6-6), 5. Another bit of trickery by Mike Grella set up Bradley Wright-Phillips to open the scoring and Anthony Wallace and recent signing Gonzalo Veron added goals in a convincing 3-0 throttling of TFC. The Red Bulls were plainly better at nearly every aspect of the game. They blotted out TFC’s rare intervals of sustained possession and kept their defensive shape to blunt any counterattacks. The shutout drops their goals-allowed average at home to 0.73 (eight goals in 11 games).

4. D.C. UNITED (13-8-5), 3. A steal by Chris Rolfe and feed to Alvaro Saborio produced a goal to give United a 1-0 halftime lead at Yankee Stadium, but NYCFC owned most of the second half and ran through the D.C. defensive third nearly at will. Sean Franklin came back after a two-month injury layoff just in time to take over at right back for Chris Korb, who suffered a torn ACL in the first half and is out for the season. The loss ended a three-game winning streak and was also United’s third setback in the last six games.

5. FC DALLAS (11-7-5), 1. The team of blazing speed met the team of controlled pace, and FCD met its match in the Galaxy, which sent it to a second straight defeat. Michael Barrios scored his fourth goal in the last six games to provide a 1-0 lead at Toyota Stadium, but FCD was twice caught in transition and simply didn’t measure up defensively at critical moments as the Galaxy flooded men into the box.

6. VANCOUVER (13-9-3), 6. The ‘Caps set a dubious record by failing to get a point from a game it had led by two goals. A pair of strikes from Kekuta Manneh provided a 2-0 lead and a great free kick by Pedro Morales restored the advantage at 3-1 before the roof fell in. In the final 10 minutes, Vancouver conceded three goals, two of them headers on which nobody pressured the server. The first goal was also a header.

7. PORTLAND (11-8-6), 7. RSL fans know their former stalwart Nat Borchers is a big player in the big moments, and they watched in despair as he scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time to send their team to a 1-0 defeat at Rio Tinto. The Timbers racked up their league-leading 11th shutout of the season and fourth on the road, thanks in part to a full-stretch save by Adam Kwarasey.

8. MONTREAL (8-9-4), 8. The Impact took a break after tying Vancouver, 2-2, in the Canadian Championship Wednesday and hosts floundering Philly this weekend. Regular seating is sold out for the expected debut of Didier Drogba. The other midseason arrival, midfielder Johan Venegas, has already played three games and at 27 he’s 10 years younger than Drogba. He might be the player to watch down the stretch. Montreal leads the league in the all-important GIH (games-in-hand). It still has 13 games to play.

9. COLUMBUS (9-8-7), 10. Crew SC sat out the weekend and in the span of four days hosts New York City FC and Sporting KC. It has conceded nine goals in the last three games and only two teams have conceded more than its 39. Ghanaian midfielder Harrison Afful, acquired during the summer transfer window, has been training with the team for more than two weeks and might get his first MLS minutes this week.

10. TORONTO FC (9-10-4), 9. Not many TFC players seemed ready for the challenge at Red Bull Arena, where the home team captured a fairly convincing 3-0 victory. Sebastian Giovinco was shackled and his teammates failed to cope with NYRB’s pressure. Defenders Nick Hagglund and Daniel Lovitz -- limited by injuries to a combined 10 starts this season -- made late appearances as substitutes, as did Herculez Gomez, who livened up a sluggish attack and forced a good save with a deflected shot. Jozy Altidore played the full game but was unable to muster a shot.

11. HOUSTON (8-9-7), 11. A sluggish second half following a second weather delay that sapped the Dynamo of its energy at Gillette Stadium yielded a 2-0 defeat and dropped its record in the last eight games to 3-4-1. Raul Rodriguez (groin) and Ricardo Clark (left hamstring) sat out injured and a calf strain forced DaMarcus Beasley out of the game in the second half. Keeper Tyler Deric bailed out his team a few times to keep the game goalless until the Revs broke through in the 69th minute.

12. SAN JOSE (8-10-5), 12. The Quakes pumped a little life into their postseason hopes by downing Colorado, 1-0, in a dour display at Avaya Stadium. Defender Clarence Goodson cashed in a cross from Quincy Amarikwa after colleague Jordan Stewart had hobbled off with a torn Achilles tendon that has ended his season. The win stopped a six-game winless streak but looming is a brutal run of games: at SKC Wednesday, at D.C. United Sunday and home against the Galaxy a week from Friday. Chris Wondolowski is still searching for his first post-Gold Cup goal, and the next week and a half is a good time to find one. Or a few.

13. SEATTLE (11-12-2), 13. The Sounders’ much-needed boost of confidence arrived courtesy of Obafemi Martins, who after missing nine games and two months scored twice in a 4-0 romp over Orlando City. Newcomer Thomas and debutant Nelson Valdez also hit the net as Seattle exploited a man advantage to end a five-game losing streak. The challenges get tougher this week: a home Concacaf game against Olimpia Wednesday and a no-prisoners match at Real Salt Lake Saturday.

14. NEW ENGLAND (9-9-7), 14. It was just past midnight when Lee Nguyen squared a ball that Juan Agudelo drove into the net to clinch a twice-delayed 2-0 defeat of Houston. Lightning delays drove most of the fans home yet a hardy bunch stuck around to celebrate the Revs’ third win in the last four games. Jose Goncalves scored midway through the second half, which followed the second delay and didn’t feature starter Jermaine Jones, who was substituted as a precaution.

15. NEW YORK CITY FC (7-11-6), 15. The Kwadwo Poku Show wasn’t expected to headline at Yankee Stadium this year, if ever, but by storming through D.C. United to set up one goal and score another himself he strengthened his case to feature on the marquee. The big names did their part: Andrea Pirlo intercepted a pass in midfield and bought enough time to chip a ball that David Villa collected and put away for the winner. NYCFC can edge into the playoff tier by beating Columbus Wednesday.

16. COLORADO (5-9-9), 16. Losers of three straight after a 1-0 loss in San Jose, the last-place Rapids play three games in eight days starting Saturday at Chicago, which is at the bottom of the other conference. Against the Quakes, head coach Pablo Mastroeni fielded both of his recent signings: Sean St. Ledger at centerback and Maynor Figueroa at left back. St. Ledger contributed a vital goalmouth block in a good defensive display but aside from a Dillon Powers shot that rang off the crossbar the attack labored. The Rapids are last in goal scoring (20) by a good margin.

17. REAL SALT LAKE (7-10-8), 17. Three chances squandered by Sebastian Jaime preceded Borchers’ header, which was the 12th goal (out of 38 total) conceded by RSL this season in the final 15 minutes. Only expansion team Orlando City has allowed as many late goals, and already RSL has let in only one fewer goal than it did all of last season when it finished third with 56 points. It is six places lower in 2015 and would have to sweep its nine remaining games to match that point total. RSL has lost twice and tied six games at home, which is where it hosts equally desperate Seattle on Saturday.

18. PHILADELPHIA (6-13-6), 18. Philly tied a game it had to win, and thus a 3-3 tie with lowly Chicago did nothing to advance its playoff aspirations. It also blew 2-0 and 3-2 leads and conceded in stoppage time after Sebastian Le Toux’s goal in the 90th minute had apparently won the game. Cristian Maidana took over the league assist lead (14) by notching three assists yet newcomer Tranquillo Barnetta was largely anonymous aside from committing two fouls.

19. ORLANDO CITY SC (7-10-7), 19. The Lions were trailing Seattle, 1-0, and not doing badly when Tyler Turner departed with a second yellow card in the 40th minute. Head coach Adrian Heath labeled the performance “unacceptable” after OCSC conceded three more goals as Martins, et al. ran rampant. The woes are obvious; only one team has conceded more goals than OCSC’s 41. Recent signings David Mateos and Adrian Winter got their first starts in tough conditions and will be tested again Saturday at Toronto.

20. CHICAGO (6-12-5), 20. Six superb saves by Sean Johnson in the final minutes kept the score at 2-2 and set the stage for the Fire to snag a victory it desperately needed but didn’t get. After Philly finally broke through to take the lead, Kennedy Igboananike blasted his second goal of the game to re-tie the game in stoppage time. He also scored the game’s first goal and set up Patrick Nyarko’s equalizer. (His two goals and one assist matched his totals coming into the game.) Mike Magee’s assist on the third Fire goal was his first point in more than a year; the tie extended Chicago’s road winless streak to 21 games (0-16-5).

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