Obafemi Martins scored a wondrous goal to lead the Seattle Sounders over the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday night. (Jacob Kupferman/Zuma Press/Icon SMI)
World Cup preparation camps may have depleted some Major League Soccer rosters, but the players left behind have been hungry to prove their worth.
Obafemi Martins, Eddie Johnson and Jermain Defoe, leaders of MLS's snub list, all scored over the weekend weekend to net points for their teams, with Defoe's Toronto FC defeating New York 2-0 without Brazil-bound Michael Bradley and Júlio César. As for the league's last remaining unbeaten squad, Real Salt Lake's Joao Plata continued scoring, making Costa Rica international Álvaro Saborío's absence less cumbersome in yet another win.
With three and a half weeks remaining before MLS breaks for the World Cup, here's how its teams stand:
MLS Power Rankings — Week 11
1. Real Salt Lake (6-0-5)
Last week: 1
This week: 2-1 vs. Colorado
RSL just keeps rolling, winning the first Rocky Mountain Cup matchup of the season with Colorado convincingly despite a one-goal score line. If RSL can get past FC Dallas next week, the May 31 match in Seattle should be one of the games of the season, at least in terms of its implications thus far.
2. Seattle Sounders (8-3-1)
Last week: 3
This week: 1-0 vs. San Jose
San Jose might have a reputation for late-game heroics, but the Sounders looked comfortable from the first minute to the 90th on Saturday. Obafemi Martins scored a sublime goal for the winner as he fills in Clint Dempsey's shoes nicely, despite the fact that he would surely prefer to be gearing up for the World Cup right now.
3. New England Revolution (6-3-2)
Last week: 4
This week: 5-3 at Philadelphia
The Revs scored five goals for the second week in a row in taking down Philadelphia. Diego Fagundez scored again, his third in two weeks, and he's starting to get back to the form he showed that led many to dub him as one of the league's top young prospects in 2013.
4. Vancouver Whitecaps (4-2-4)
Last week: 5
This week: Off
Vancouver had the weekend off after losing to Toronto FC on penalties in the Canadian Championship in midweek. The Whitecaps’ first Cascadia Cup match of the season comes after some time to regroup, when they host Seattle on Saturday.
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5. Sporting Kansas City (5-4-2)
Last week: 2
This week: 1-2 vs. Philadelphia, 1-2 at Chicago
It was a rough week for Kansas City, which might be missing its World Cup-bound players more than any other team. Without Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, Sporting clearly lost some ability on both ends of the field, resulting in two losses to teams far lower in the standings.
6. FC Dallas (5-5-2)
Last week: 8
This week: 1-1 vs. Chivas
Dallas is winless in five, and it could have been five straight losses if it weren't for a late equalizer on a corner kick from Fabián Castillo. Dallas has traditionally played RSL tough, but the two teams could hardly be trending in more opposing directions leading into their game next week.
7. L.A. Galaxy (2-3-3)
Last week: 7
This week: 0-1 at Houston
A momentary lapse from Dan Gargan and Jaime Penedo erased a road match full of promise in Houston. Gargan's throw was poor, and Penedo's control was just as bad, gifting Houston the only goal it would need to secure three points.
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8. New York Red Bulls (3-4-5)
Last week: 6
This week: 0-2 at Toronto
Bradley Wright-Phillips, contrary to his recent form, missed a big chance to tie the game in Toronto when it was just 1-0. It was that kind of night for the Red Bulls, who were a step slow all night north of the border.
9. Toronto FC (4-4-0)
Last week: 11
This week: 2-0 vs. New York
Even without Michael Bradley and Júlio César, Toronto came up with an important win against the Red Bulls to draw back to .500 on the season. It’ll be interesting to see how the Reds fare without their most important players in the coming games, but Jermain Defoe made sure his presence was still noticeable with the winning goal.
Eddie Johnson (7) gets congratulated by his teammates after scoring his first D.C. United goal on Saturday. (Chuck Myers/MCT/Landov)
10. Colorado Rapids (4-4-3)
Last week: 9
This week: 1-2 at Salt Lake
Drew Moor's late goal was too little to give the Rapids a chance of taking a point at Rio Tinto Stadium. They will rightly feel that Devon Sandoval went down easily to earn the penalty and RSL's second goal, but the home team still deserved to win the game more.
11. Houston Dynamo (5-5-2)
Last week: 12
This week: 1-0 vs. L.A.
Giles Barnes took five shots against L.A., but he only needed one to fall to give his team three points. The Dynamo defended well again, led by Tally Hall in goal and a goal-line clearance from David Horst, to thwart the Galaxy's continual attack.
12. D.C. United (4-3-3)
Last week: 10
This week: 1-1 vs. Montreal
Eddie Johnson salvaged a point for D.C. at home against the lowly Impact, scoring his first goal for the club after being left off the U.S. World Cup preliminary roster earlier in the week. United has only won once in its last three games and twice in the last five, reversing some of the momentum it gained in the weeks prior to that.
13. Chivas USA (2-5-4)
Last week: 14
This week: 1-1 at Dallas
Despite losing its one-goal lead late in Dallas, a tie gave Chivas two positive results in a row after a long winless streak. At the same time, the Goats could have had two wins in a row if it weren't for poor set-piece defending in the last 10 minutes.
14. Columbus Crew (3-4-4)
Last week: 13
This week: 3-3 at Portland
Up a man for more than an hour, Columbus couldn't find away to put Portland away. One point at Providence Park is never a poor result, but after leading twice in the second half against 10 men, the Crew should have won that one.
15. Philadelphia Union (2-6-5)
Last week: 17
This week: 2-1 at Kansas City, 3-5 vs. New England
Philadelphia went from defeating Kansas City on the road to losing heavily to New England at home in the same week, showcasing the inconsistency the Union have showed all year. The players still seem to believe in coach John Hackworth, running to celebrate with him after the opening goal against Sporting, but his seat has to be getting awfully warm.
16. Portland Timbers (1-3-7)
Last week: 15
This week: 3-3 vs. Columbus
After Alvas Powell was sent off, Portland did well to battle back twice and secure a draw, but it could have won. Again, it was the back four that prevented the Timbers from getting all three points, with a line of defensive players watching as Ethan Finlay drove toward goal and unleashed a shot that was deflected in, leaving the club needing Gastón Fernández to score yet another late equalizer.
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17. Chicago Fire (2-2-6)
Last week: 18
This week: 2-1 vs. Kansas City
Mike Magee placed two penalties inside the first 15 minutes in the exact same spot, just inside the left post, carrying the Fire to a surprise win over Kansas City. Magee is another player who could perhaps feel like he at least deserved a call-up to the initial U.S. camp, but Chicago will be happy to have the reigning league MVP with the team over the summer.
18. San Jose Earthquakes (2-4-4)
Last week: 16
This week: 0-1 at Seattle
The Earthquakes were in trouble before Saturday's game even started, as Víctor Bernárdez's suspension meant they could only travel 16 players to Seattle. With a selection further depleted by injuries and World Cup call-ups, San Jose couldn't muster much of a response to Martins' early goal, only forcing one save from Stefan Frei.
19. Montreal Impact (1-5-4)
Last week: 19
This week: 1-1 at D.C.
The Impact might be missing Marco di Vaio, but Jack McInerney is doing his best to endear himself to his new fans after a surprise move from the Union. He has two goals in four starts for Montreal, which was six minutes away from its second win of the season in D.C. before Johnson struck.