The unpredictability of Major League Soccer ramped up last week, as even teams without World Cup-bound players experienced all kinds of unusual results.
For example, Real Salt Lake lost for the first time, while the Montreal Impact beat the No. 1 team in the East. Despite missing Clint Dempsey, the Seattle Sounders got attacking production from those left with the team to defeat RSL by four goals. RSL, ravaged by injury and call-ups, only has two healthy forwards.
The other hottest team in the league, the New England Revolution, fell behind early and couldn’t recover in Montreal. The Revs, only missing Jerry Bengtson, missed an opportunity to extend their lead in the Eastern Conference. Only one round remains before the World Cup break.
Here is how the league stacks up after 13 match weeks:
MLS Power Rankings — Week 13
1. Seattle Sounders (9-3-2)
Last week's rank: 3
This week: 4-0 vs. Salt Lake
In Clint Dempsey’s absence, Seattle got a strong performance and goals out of Chad Barrett alongside Obafemi Martins to emphatically defeat RSL. Marco Pappa added a curling free kick reminiscent of his effort for Guatemala, and Gonzalo Pineda buried his second penalty in as many games.
2. Vancouver Whitecaps (5-2-5)
Last week: 4
This week: 4-3 at Portland
The Whitecaps survived a late comeback effort from the Timbers to win another entertaining Cascadia Cup game at Providence Park. It was their first victory over Portland in the MLS era, paced by two penalty goals from Pedro Morales.
3. New England Revolution (7-4-2)
Last week: 1
This week: 0-2 at Montreal
New England’s five-game winning streak is no more, ended by the unlikeliest of opponents. On the bright side, the Revs remain on top of the Eastern Conference by two points.
4. Real Salt Lake (6-1-6)
Last week: 2
This week: 0-4 at Seattle
MLS’s only undefeated team fell dramatically on Saturday, hurt more than its opponent by World Cup and injury absences. A questionable penalty started the flow of goals against, but by the end, Seattle dominated RSL.
5. Colorado Rapids (6-4-3)
Last week: 7
This week: 3-0 vs. Houston
Deshorn Brown's production after a successful rookie year has been much lower than expected so far this season, but he scored twice on Sunday. Colorado walked all over Houston from the first minute, winning by three goals.
6. Toronto FC (5-4-1)
Last week: 8
This week: 3-2 vs. Columbus
Doneil Henry went from villain to hero for Toronto, first failing to defend a Crew corner and then leaping to head home on a set piece in stoppage time. Jermain Defoe continued his campaign to prove Roy Hodgson wrong, scoring the other two Reds goals.
7. Sporting Kansas City (5-5-4)
Last week: 6
This week: 1-1 vs. New York, 0-1 at D.C.
It was a frustrating week for the defending champions, who were unable to defeat the Red Bulls despite multiple chances in front of goal and went on to lose on the weekend at D.C. With the loss, Sporting not only missed its chance to leap to the top of the Eastern Conference, but it was also overtaken by its opponent.
8. L.A. Galaxy (4-3-4)
Last week: 5
This week: 1-1 at Chicago
The Galaxy turned in a lackluster performance in the Chicago heat, looking pretty lethargic until they went down against the Fire. Landon Donovan scored again to pull back a point on the road, but given the standings, it’s not a great result.
9. D.C. United (6-4-3)
Last week: 11
This week: 1-0 vs. Kansas City
It won’t matter to his teammates, but the biggest question about Fabián Espíndola’s winner against Sporting is: was it a cross or a shot? Either way, the curling lob over Erik Kronberg’s head capped D.C.’s sixth win, already doubling its total from 2013.
10. New York Red Bulls (3-5-6)
Last week: 10
This week: 1-1 at Kansas City
Winless in four games, New York was perhaps lucky to escape Sporting Park with a draw on Tuesday after Kansas City’s early pressure. The Red Bulls again started slow and had to climb back into the game, conceding in the first 15 minutes for a league-worst seventh time this season.
11. Portland Timbers (3-3-8)
Last week: 15
This week: 2-0 at Chivas, 3-4 vs. Vancouver
Caleb Porter took a gamble that paid off, resting a lot of players for the Chivas game in midweek after a cross-country flight. Another passionate display from the Timbers on Sunday fell just short, not helped by a poor game from referee Kevin Stott; perhaps referees are so keen to show they're not swayed by the atmosphere at Providence Park that they end up favoring away teams more.
12. FC Dallas (5-7-3)
Last week: 9
This week: 1-2 vs. San Jose
Blas Pérez’s early goal was negated by an equalizer just 10 minutes later and Adam Moffat being sent off just before the end of the first half. Dallas’ remaining chances to get anything out of the game — a penalty and a point-blank chance late in the second half — were snuffed out by Jon Busch.
13. Columbus Crew (4-5-4)
Last week: 12
This week: 2-3 at Toronto
The Crew got off to a fast start with Justin Meram’s goal inside 20 minutes, but they gave up two leads and conceded twice in the last 10 minutes to lose to Toronto. Columbus has only won once in its last 10 games.
14. San Jose Earthquakes (4-4-4)
Last week: 16
This week: 2-1 at Dallas
With wins in three of their last four games, including two against Dallas, the Earthquakes are picking up steam just before the World Cup break. Next week’s match in Toronto should be a good test.
15. Houston Dynamo (5-7-3)
Last week: 14
This week: 0-3 at Colorado
Injuries and World Cup call-ups have hit Houston hard, and it's shown in the results with three losses in a row and four in the last five games. Without much attacking inspiration, the Dynamo didn't put one shot on target in a heavy loss to Colorado.
16. Philadelphia Union (2-7-5)
Last week: 17
This week: 3-0 at Chivas
There were a couple bizarre plays in the win against Chivas, particularly the penalty after an indirect free kick inside the box and the late goal that should have been called offside. Conor Casey scored his first two goals of the season, but it was the Union midfield that was superb.
17. Chivas USA (2-6-4)
Last week: 13
This week: 0-2 vs. Portland, 0-3 vs. Philadelphia
After a two-loss week, Chivas has dropped five of its last seven matches, getting outscored 14-6 in that span. Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy is putting in a steady effort again this season, but he is receiving very little help from the players in front of him.
18. Montreal Impact (2-6-4)
Last week: 19
This week: 2-0 vs. New England
A team at the bottom of the table (Montreal) defeated a team at the top (New England) by two goals on Saturday, showing again how close all teams in MLS are. Both of the Impact’s victories in 2014 have been shutouts anchored by young center backs.
19. Chicago Fire (2-3-7)
Last week: 18
This week: 1-1 vs. L.A.
The Fire benefitted from a generous penalty call — Quincy Amarikwa was fouled outside the box, but Hilario Grajeda pointed to the spot anyway — but couldn’t keep the lead against L.A. Chicago has only won twice in nine games when scoring the first goal.