That was quite a week in MLS and set things up nicely for blanket coverage of all 10 games when the regular-season concludes on Sunday.
FC Dallas took over the top spot in the Power Rankings by beating Vancouver at home and snuffing RSL’s playoff hopes on the road. The Galaxy tumbled down the ladder after being thrashed, 5-2, by Portland, which had also won at Rio Tinto Stadium earlier in the week and jumped three places in the rankings.
The Red Bulls lost first place despite beating Philly, 4-1; that victory followed a 2-1 defeat in Toronto by which TFC clinched its first playoff spot in its ninth MLS season. Columbus then beat TFC to move into the top three.
MLS Results Week 33
Toronto FC 2, New York 1 Highlights
Real Salt Lake 0, Portland 1 Highlights
FC Dallas 2, Vancouver 0 Highlights
Orlando City FC 2, New York City FC 1 Highlights
San Jose 1, Sporting Kansas City 0 Highlights
Toronto FC 0, Columbus 2 Highlights
New England 0, Montreal 1 Highlights
Real Salt Lake 0, FC Dallas 1 Highlights
D.C. United 4, Chicago 0 Highlights
New York 4, Philadelphia 1 Highlights
Houston 1, Seattle 1 Highlights
Los Angeles 2, Portland 5 Highlights
Only league results are factored into the Power Rankings, which includes a team’s current record in parentheses, followed by ranking last week.
1. FC DALLAS (17-10-6), 3. Six points accrued by shutouts and two solid games from playmaker Mauro Diaz propelled FCD up to No. 1. Another great pass by Diaz set up David Texiera to score his third goal in the last four games against RSL. The ‘Caps were undone by a Diaz feed to Michael Barrios during a sweeping move and then a stinging shot that caromed off the gloves of David Ousted and into the net. FCD is 12-2-2 at home heading into the season finale against San Jose.
2. NEW YORK RED BULLS (17-10-6), 1. The earliest goal in league history – seven seconds after the opening kickoff – triggered a 4-1 hammering of Philadelphia that kept the Red Bulls even with FC Dallas in the Supporters’ Shield race. Mike Grella pounced on a Union back pass to score the opener and tallied again in the 17th minute. Dax McCarty picked up two assists and Luis Robles tuned up for the playoffs with a spectacular flying save. Shaun Wright-Phillips netted his first MLS goal in a 2-1 loss to TFC on Wednesday.
3. COLUMBUS (14-11-8), 5. Crew SC took advantage of a TFC team still basking from clinching a playoff spot to secure its own postseason slot. Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuain got the goals and keeper Steve Clark earned just his fifth shutout. A leaky back line is often cited as one reason Crew SC won’t get much mention as a title contender, but newcomer Gaston Sauro has bolstered the central defense. Yellow-card suspensions will rule out Kei Kamara and Higuain for the last game against United by which Columbus could leapfrog D.C. into second place.
4. TORONTO FC (15-14-4), 4. A long waited ended Wednesday when a 2-1 defeat of the Red Bulls secured the first playoff berth in TFC’s nine MLS seasons, and three days later a rather flat performance yielded a 2-0 loss to Crew SC. Jozy Altidore broke new ground by being dismissed from the bench for directing abuse at the match officials shortly before halftime. But Sebastian Giovinco’s amazing run through the Red Bulls and lethal finish that turned out to be the winner of the playoff-clinching victory immediately took a place among the most treasured moments in team history and probably added Goal of the Year honors to his likely MVP trophy.
5. LA GALAXY (14-10-9), 2. Losing 5-2 in the final home game of the year is bad enough, but that was also the Galaxy’s third defeat in the last six league games dating back to Aug. 28. Many teams are overloaded with games this time of year; could L.A. be a bit rusty even though it has also been playing in the CCL? Both of Robbie Keane’s goals were sharp finishes but in transition and the defensive third LA definitely looked lax, and we don’t mean the airport.
6. SEATTLE (14-13-6), 7. A third straight tie, 1-1, in Houston preserved a seven-game unbeaten streak but didn’t secure a playoff spot, and the Sounders were in danger of losing until the 82nd minute, when Obafemi Martins nodded in a point-blank header. He latched onto a fortunate bounce from a corner kick the Dynamo failed to clear. Martins scored after his front-line partner Clint Dempsey failed to put away a clear, in-close opportunity; he has scored just one goal in his last 12 games, though he has registered five assists.
7. PORTLAND (14-11-8), 10. The Timbers shattered their MLS record for goals in a game and won at StubHub Center for the first time by dismantling the Galaxy, 5-2. Fanendo Adi led the charge with two goals as Portland shook off a goalscoring malaise that has plagued much of its season. Its rugged defense and an Adi penalty kick did the job on Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
8. MONTREAL (14-13-6), 12. A month or so ago, few would have predicted that the Impact, if it got into the playoffs all, would do so before New England. Yet Montreal did exactly that thing by winning, 1-0, at Gillette Stadium for its fifth victory in the last seven games, a run that started Sept. 19 with a 3-0 defeat of the Revs. Ignacio Piatti slalomed through several challenges to score a wonderful goal and the shutout was Montreal’s fourth in those five wins.
9. VANCOUVER (15-13-5), 6. The ‘Caps defense looked outclassed for much of the 2-0 loss at FC Dallas and a five-game winless run has drained away the momentum of August and September. The attack did its part; Gerson Koffie smashed a shot off the post and steered a shot on frame that got past the keeper but was cleared away. Keeper David Ousted turned away a penalty kick awarded for a Tim Parker foul. The Caps play at Olimpia in the CCL Thursday before closing out the regular season against Houston; they can finish as high as second or as low as fifth.
10. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (13-10-9), 8. SKC squandered a chance to clinch a playoff spot by losing, 1-0, in San Jose. It is in sixth place but with two games to play – at home against Colorado and the Galaxy -- could finish as high as second. Dom Dwyer squandered a breakaway in the ninth minute and was thwarted again a few minutes after San Jose got its goal. Seven saves by Tim Melia weren’t quite enough.
11. SAN JOSE (12-13-8), 11. Days of the Goonies are long gone but this group of Quakes does not succumb easily, either. A can’t-lose game became a victory thanks to a fine piece of combination play polished off by Anibal Godoy’s tap-in and defensive work that yielded a 12th shutout. They are still on the outside looking in and need a victory in Dallas and some help to edge into the postseason, but given Portland’s romp over the Galaxy two days later, a tie with SKC would have meant elimination.
12. NEW ENGLAND (13-12-8), 9. The Revs are reeling on the eve of the playoffs. They botched a fourth opportunity to secure a playoff spot and left a stand-alone, regular-season record crowd of 42,947 confused and disappointed. A correct offside decision annulled an apparent goal by Jermaine Jones and neither of their two shots on goal found the net. Three losses in the last four games has pushed their quest to the final game, which is at New York City FC. A large edge in goal difference will probably render the last day moot, but given just a month ago they were riding a five-game winning streak, some momentum would be nice.
13. D.C. UNITED (15-12-6), 13. Four different players scored as United secured a home playoff game by dousing the Fire, 4-0, yet this win and a 2-1 defeat of NYCFC in the previous game won’t assuage all concerns about performance. United finishes the season at Columbus and a loss could drop it as low as fourth but a good game against a good team would form a platform for the playoffs.
14. ORLANDO CITY SC (12-13-8), 15. A fifth straight victory, 2-1 over New York City FC, fashioned on two goals by rookie Cyle Larin may not be enough to reach the playoffs but is an impressive accomplishment in any regard. There’s no question which of the 2015 expansion teams has performed better over the long haul. Goalkeeper Tally Hall will miss the last game of the season at Philadelphia; he injured his right knee in the NYCFC game and will have surgery this week.
15. REAL SALT LAKE (11-14-8), 14. The era of playoff appearances, seven to be exact, ended with troubling shutout losses at home to FCD and Portland by 1-0 scores. RSL outshot FCD, 19-9, after generating just seven shots against the Timbers, which prevailed on a penalty kick whistled for a DOGSO foul by Jamison Olave. RSL slipped quite a ways in Jeff Cassar’s second season as head coach; what are his chances of a third?
16. HOUSTON (11-13-9), 16. After taking a 1-0 lead on a Ricardo Clark goal in a game it had to win, the Dynamo conceded the goal that officially knocked it out of playoff contention. Clark scored his eighth goal of the season – twice as many as his previous career high – from an assist by Brad Davis, who reached 10 assists for the seventh time. The first season under Scottish head coach Owen Coyle thus ends in disappointment and a second straight failure to reach the postseason.
17. PHILADELPHIA (9-17-7), 17. Conceding a goal seven seconds after kicking off seems impossible but that’s how Philly started in a 4-1 stinker at Red Bull Arena. A goal by Sebastien Le Toux 10 minutes into the second half was his seventh of the season and did nothing to erase the stigma of a very insipid display. Philly can’t finish last in the Eastern Conference but it lost a lot of the fans’ backing this season; still, they will want something from the final at home against Orlando City.
18. NEW YORK CITY FC (10-16-7), 18. Kwame Watson-Sirobe's goal just before the halftime whistle didn’t provide the lasting momentum such goals often do, and the 2-1 loss to OCSC was NYCFC’s second straight. Keeper Josh Saunders conceded the winner after making a good save and though defender Jefferson Mena stopped a goal-bound shot on the goal line NYCFC couldn’t notch an equalizer.
19. COLORADO (8-14-10), 19. The Rapids sat out last weekend and will play some role in the shakeout of playoff places; they play at Sporting Kansas City Wednesday and Portland Sunday. They’ve lost five of the last six games and cannot escape the Western Conference cellar even by winning both matches. How that portends well for the future only team management knows.
20. CHICAGO (8-19-6), 20. A dismal showing at RFK brought the Fire its sixth loss in the last seven matches. The misery ends against the Red Bulls.