MLS Power Rankings: FC Dallas flips places with Columbus

Only 10 of 20 MLS teams were in action last weekend yet still the FIFA international dates affected several league matches. A big 3-0 win in Columbus halted a losing skid and moved FC Dallas into fourth place while dropping Crew SC to fifth.

MLS, Week 27 Results:
Sept. 5
Montreal 4 Chicago 3 Highlights
New England 3 Orlando City 0 Highlights
Seattle 2 Toronto FC 1. Highlights
San Jose 1 Philadelphia 2. Highlights
Sept. 6
Columbus 0 FC Dallas 3. Highlights

1. LA GALAXY (13-8-7), 1. A wake-up call in San Jose halted a four-game winning streak prior to the FIFA break. Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes will return in plenty of time to face Montreal Saturday as the Galaxy starts the final portion of the season, during which it has two midweek games in CCL play and road matches at Real Salt Lake, Seattle and Sporting KC.

2. NEW YORK RED BULLS (12-7-6), 2. A town-hall meeting held during a break from MLS play drew support from the season-ticket holders who attended, and they gave standing ovations at the start and conclusion of the Q&A session conducted with head coach Jesse Marsch, general manager Marc de Grandpre, sporting director Ali Curtis and captain Dax McCarty. The games resume Friday at home against Chicago with a conference title and Supporters’ Shield extremely realistic objectives.

3. VANCOUVER (14-10-3), 3. The ‘Caps sat out last weekend and don’t play this weekend, either, but will be shorthanded Wednesday against the Rapids. Head coach Carl Robinson gave the players four days off during the break and also spoke with Kendall Waston and Matias Laba, who were both red-carded in a 2-0 loss to Houston that preceded the break. With Russell Teibert on duty for Canada, Robinson’s ability to juggle personnel and get results will be tested again.

4. FC DALLAS (13-8-5), 5. FCD started five Homegrown players with combined ages of 98 (average 19.6) and the young guns strutted out of MAPFRE Stadium after an impressive 3-0 vanquishing of Crew SC. The old man of the group, Atiba Harris (30), got the first goal from a corner kick and Michael Barrios and David Texeira also hit the net as FCD prevailed.

5. COLUMBUS (11-9-8), 4. Squandered chances and lax defending at critical times proved to be costly against FCD. Gonzalo Higuain drove a penalty kick wide and Jack McInerney, starting his first game for Crew SC after being traded by Montreal, botched a free shot at an open net. Newcomer Gaston Sauro had to leave the game just a few minutes into his first start after clashing heads with teammate Wil Trapp.

6. TORONTO FC (11-11-4), 6. Missing 10 players, starting with Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore, TFC gave a heroic effort in Seattle. Two flying saves by Chris Konopka and a clinical header by Eriq Zavaleta -- who had been drafted by the Sounders in 2013 -- weren’t quite enough. The next big game is at home against Sunday against the Revs, who trail TFC by just three points and have played one more game. Giovinco’s strained adductor comes at a bad time: the Revs’ game is the first of three in seven days.

7. SAN JOSE (11-11-5), 7. Panamanian midfielder Anibal Godoy missed his first league game to represent Panama and without him for the first time since he arrived the Quakes blew a 1-0 lead at home and lost to Philadelphia, 2-1. Chris Wondolowski converted a penalty kick to supply a lead but the Quakes, deprived of centerback Victor Bernardez late in the first half to a leg injury, succumbed twice to crosses as midfielder J.J. Koval struggled to fill in.

8. NEW ENGLAND (11-9-7), 12. The Revs are starting to roll at the right time. They overcame the absence of U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones to pound Orlando City SC, 3-0 as Lee Nguyen ran the show and played a role in all three goals. He provided the final pass on those scored by Diego Fagundez and Chris Tierney, and his ball to Teal Bunbury yielded a strike by Juan Agudelo. In their last six games, the Revs are unbeaten and have posted shutouts in all five wins.

9. PORTLAND (11-9-7), 8. Two of the Timbers remaining seven games are against Sporting Kansas City, the first of which is Wednesday at Providence Park. Since the teams are tied for fifth and sixth place with 40 points, and the Quakes trail them by just two points, these head-to-head battles are especially crucial. Midfielder Will Johnson (Canada) and Alvas Powell (Jamaica) were called for international duty.

10. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (11-7-7), 9. SKC heads to Portland missing Krisztian Nemeth (Hungary) but will have defender Matt Besler, who was released by the USA after coming on as a sub in a 2-1 defeat of Peru last Friday. SKC has conceded 10 goals during its three-game losing streak yet needs to shore up a midfield stripped bare by injuries. 

11. D.C. UNITED (13-10-5), 10. United is also mired in a three-game run of defeats and though it plays at Colorado Saturday it gets the Rapids on just two days of rest after hosting Vancouver. The attack needs a boost after being shut out in back-to-back games.

12. SEATTLE (13-13-2), 13. Reunited for the first time in more than two and a half months, Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey rekindled their synergy in a 2-1 defeat of Toronto. Dempsey’s immaculate chip -- it was Pirlo-esque -- freed Martins to score the first goal and the Nigerian returned the favor by chasing down a ball that caromed off Konopka into Dempsey’s path to notch the winner.

13. HOUSTON (9-10-8), 11. Midfielder Ricardo Clark looked a bit gimpy after scoring in a 2-0 defeat of Vancouver Aug. 29; he had missed four games with a strained hamstring, so the FIFA break came at a good time for him. 

14. COLORADO (8-9-9), 14. The winners of three straight games need to pass two more stiff tests to maintain a belated playoff push: at Vancouver Wednesday and home against D.C. United Saturday. Those games will reveal whether the recent additions of Maynor Figueroa and Sean St. Ledger are more than short-term solutions.

15. MONTREAL (9-11-4), 15. Magnifique! What else to say about the superb hat trick rung up by Didier Drogba in his first Stade Saputo start, a wild 4-3 triumph over Chicago? His turn and collection and finish on the first goal reminded everyone he’s still got game at age 37, and if he can bring consistency to the Impact attack the transition under interim head coach Mauro Biello can be relatively smooth. Defender Laurent Ciman must serve a suspension when he returns from international duty with Belgium so goals will be precious.

16. PHILADELPHIA (8-14-6), 17. The tactical and personnel decisions of head coach Jim Curtin have, inevitably, come under criticism, but his timely insertion of Conor Casey into the Quakes game produced two headed goals in nine minutes and a 2-1 road victory. A cross by Ray Gaddis and a free kick nicely flighted by Tranquillo Barnetta supplied the chances that Casey ruthlessly converted. Philly needs a complete collapse from Montreal to have any real chance of a playoff spot but with eight points in its last four games it’s at least giving it a go.

17. REAL SALT LAKE (8-11-8), 16. A week off gave RSL a well-needed rest after it played seven games in 29 days and went 1-4-0 in league matches. Argentine forward Juan Manuel Martinez gave a good showing in his MLS debut against FCD before the break and might be ready for a start this week against Houston with that 25-minute stint and two more weeks of training under his belt.

18. CHICAGO (7-14-6), 18. Unhinged by Drogba, the Fire succumbed despite goals by Jeff Larentowicz, Gilberto and Kennedy Igboananike that tied the game twice, then supplied a 3-2 lead that quickly disintegrated. Sean Johnson horribly misjudged a corner kick to gift Montreal a goal but also fended off several dangerous shots while recording seven saves. On the plus side, Mike Magee played the final 15 minutes in just his eighth appearance of 2015.

19. NEW YORK CITY (7-13-7), 19. The departure of forward Adam Nemec, who left the team last week by mutual agreement and after playing nine games to minimal effect, doesn’t much alter the landscape. Three games in eight days, starting Saturday at FC Dallas, will test the older legs on the roster as well as the acumen of head coach Jason Kreis. In August, it lost four of six games while conceding 15 goals.

20. ORLANDO CITY (7-13-8), 20. No Kaka, no Cyle Larin, and no excuses from head coach Adrian Heath, who acknowledged his toothless Lions deserved their defeat at Gillette Stadium. OCSC plays SKC Sunday at the Citrus Bowl, where it has tied its last two games by combined scores of 1-1; it needs a repeat of the 5-2 thrashing of Columbus Aug. 1 to restore confidence and revive momentum. 

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