MLS Power Rankings Week 20: 2013 finalists Sporting KC, RSL climb
With many teams taking time off for midseason friendlies, the 20th week of the Major League Soccer season featured just seven matches. Only the Montreal Impact played twice, continuing its run at the bottom of the table by losing to Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers.
On the other end of the standings, the Seattle Sounders and D.C. United didn’t play, leaving room for Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake to stake out their territory with a win each. Seattle and D.C. both have games in hand now, but the Sounders will have to come through a tough test against the LA Galaxy on Monday to make good on that advantage.
Six MLS teams didn’t play league games last week, but 13 did. Here’s how everybody stacks up with just over three months remaining in the regular season:
MLS Power Rankings — Week 20
1. Seattle Sounders (12-4-2)
Last ranking: 1
Last week’s results: Off
Seattle plays Monday at home against the Galaxy after some time off from league play. The slight lull in the schedule was mitigated somewhat by a friendly against Tottenham Hotspur, but the Sounders will have to be wary to ensure it doesn’t break their good league form.
2. Sporting Kansas City (11-5-5)
Last ranking: 3
Results: 2-1 at Toronto
One mark of a good team is earning points through adversity, and going down a goal early on the road and losing captain Matt Besler to a red card after scoring the equalizer certainly fits the definition. Kansas City got stronger as the match at BMO Field progressed, scoring the winner late through Jacob Peterson, but now Besler will miss the match Friday against Philadelphia.
3. D.C. United (10-5-4)
Last ranking: 2
D.C. played an unorthodox midseason friendly on Saturday, traveling to Jacksonville, Fla., to take on Fulham. The extra travel won’t make playing three matches in nine days any easier, especially with a trip to sweltering Houston – a traditional house of horrors for D.C. – coming up next weekend.
4. L.A. Galaxy (7-4-6)
Last ranking: 4
After an embarrassing 7-0 loss to Manchester United, LA takes on a team that knows all too well how that result feels, as the Sounders had the same misfortune in 2011. Midseason friendlies might not mean anything in the standings, but that loss sent Seattle on a two-game skid in the Champions League and MLS, which the Galaxy will want to avoid against a major Western Conference rival.
5. Vancouver Whitecaps (6-4-10)
Last ranking: 5
Results: 2-2 vs. Dallas
The Whitecaps started well, with Darren Mattocks scoring for the third match in a row in the 11th minute, but they ended up having to claw back a point after conceding twice following the opener. David Ousted and Carlyle Mitchell gave away a poor penalty after the equalizer, but Pedro Morales also scored from the spot after a handball in Dallas’ area later in the game.
6. Real Salt Lake (8-4-8)
Last ranking: 8
Results: 3-1 vs. Montreal
After a good early start on Luke Mulholland’s third-minute goal, RSL fell back and allowed Montreal back into the game until Issey Nakajima-Farran saw red for a high, studs-up tackle. From that point, playmaker Javier Morales and substitute forward Olmes García took over, combining stylishly on the winning and insurance goals.
7. New York Red Bulls (5-6-9)
Last ranking: 7
Fellow Eastern Conference playoff contender New England is in town next weekend, after a midweek trip to play RSL. The last time the Red Bulls, who downed Arsenal in a friendly on Saturday, won two matches in a row was back in April, but a similar run in those games would pull them closer to the top of the standings and provide some breathing room between them and the red line of playoff qualification.
8. Toronto FC (7-6-5)
Last ranking: 6
Results: 1-2 vs. Kansas City
Despite a high-pressure first half, taking the lead in the first quarter-hour and two yellow cards to Matt Besler, Toronto couldn’t take any points off the top East team at home. Dominic Oduro was a bright spot all game, assisting the goal and nearly creating a couple others from the right wing.
9. Colorado Rapids (8-6-6)
Last ranking: 9
Results: 3-0 vs. Chivas
On a night that head coach Pablo Mastroeni was honored for his contributions as a Rapids player, his charges celebrated his career in style. The result was never really in doubt against Chivas, a 3-0 win punctuated by more solid performances from the young players Mastroeni has come to rely on, in particular Dillon Powers and Dillon Serna.
10. Portland Timbers (6-6-9)
Last ranking: 12
Results: 3-2 at Montreal
The Timbers showed a resilient mentality on the road again, coming from behind to defeat Montreal after conceding the opener early and the 2-2 equalizer just before halftime. Another good Diego Valeri strike from distance late in the game sealed all three points.
11. FC Dallas (8-7-6)
Last ranking: 11
Results: 2-2 at Vancouver
Dallas responded well to going down early at B.C. Place, but Raúl Fernández had to make a couple sharp late saves to take a point back home. Dallas can be happy it has reversed its away fortunes as of late, not losing on the road since late May, although it has only won once, on April 5 in Houston.
12. Chivas USA (6-8-5)
Last ranking: 10
Results: 0-3 at Colorado
After four wins in a row, Chivas has lost its last two matches. Colorado was the only team in a while that could silence talismanic striker Erick Torres, who finished without a goal after scoring in six straight matches and was generally a non-factor.
13. Philadelphia Union (5-8-8)
Last ranking: 13
Unlike most teams that played a friendly last weekend, Philadelphia has a full week off before its next league game, on Friday at high-flying Kansas City. That will be Sporting’s second league match of the week and a great opportunity for the Union to take some vital points and perhaps climb back into playoff contention.
14. Columbus Crew (6-7-8)
Last ranking: 15
Results: 2-1 at New England
Columbus has won two games in a row for the first time since opening the season with three. Federico Higuaín led the charge again, scoring an impeccable free kick just before halftime, and Steve Clark made several important saves to allow his team to take three points on the road.
15. San Jose Earthquakes (4-9-5)
Last ranking: 17
Results: 5-1 vs. Chicago
The difference between the Earthquakes and Fire on Wednesday was San Jose’s finishing, taking advantage of obvious and less-obvious chances. Both San Jose wingers and forwards scored, as did a winger off the bench, effectively giving the Earthquakes optimal production from each attacking player.
16. New England Revolution (7-11-2)
Last ranking: 14
Results: 1-2 vs. Columbus
The losing skid is now at eight games for the once first-placed Revolution. New England responded well to going down a goal just before halftime against Columbus at home, but a simple mistake cost them the points late on, as Justin Meram chipped an easy ball over the top for Ethan Finlay to score the winner.
17. Houston Dynamo (5-11-4)
Last ranking: 18
Midfield reinforcements have arrived for the Dynamo in the form of World Cup veterans DaMarcus Beasley and Luis Garrido, and Dominic Kinnear will need them up to speed right away to pull away from its second-worst ranking in the East. But with its next matches against D.C. and Seattle, two of the league’s hottest teams, Houston’s form could get worse before it gets better.
18. Chicago Fire (3-5-11)
Last ranking: 16
Results: 1-5 at San Jose
Statistically, Chicago’s 5-1 loss to San Jose was a fairly even match except when the ball was in the Fire’s defensive third. The central defensive pairing of Bakary Soumare and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado had an awful match, and Chicago’s back line in general couldn’t have looked much worse, conceding chances on poor giveaways and anytime the Earthquakes attacked from left, right or center.
19. Montreal Impact (3-12-5)
Last ranking: 19
Results: 1-3 at Salt Lake, 2-3 vs. Portland
Two losses, one at home and one on the road, comprised another miserable week for Montreal. Making it worse is the fact that the Impact were tied with RSL for a large stretch before an unnecessary red card changed the tide, and they couldn’t make an early lead against Portland stand up.