MLS Power Rankings: D.C. United vaults to No. 1 after Sporting KC rout
A logjam at the top of the Major League Soccer standings have six teams within five points of each other in the fight for the Supporters’ Shield. With a big rivalry win on Sunday, the Seattle Sounders are the frontrunners, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are atop the MLS Power Rankings.
The Sounders defeated the Portland Timbers 4-2 at Providence Park on Sunday and have a game in hand on each of the other five contenders besides D.C. United. The Eastern Conference leaders are just two points behind Seattle after an equally emphatic victory, 3-0 at fourth-placed and defending MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City, on Saturday.
FC Dallas is still surging up the table at No. 3, now up to 10 matches without a loss. Real Salt Lake and the LA Galaxy round out the top six, and Toronto FC lags behind in the No. 7 spot, seven points behind LA.
As the hierarchy has been established, the top six spots in the power rankings look a lot like the league table, although not in the same order. Here’s how each team stands with 10 weeks of the regular season remaining:
MLS Power Rankings — Week 24
1. D.C. United (13-7-4)
Last ranking: 3
Last week’s results: 3-0 at Kansas City
Winning six of its last eight games sent D.C. briefly to the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings before Seattle’s win on Sunday. United used three goals in a seven-minute span in the first half to bury the defending MLS Cup champion in its own stadium, adding to the remarkable turnaround from being dead last in 2013.
2. Seattle Sounders (14-7-3)
Last ranking: 4
Last week’s results: 1-1 vs. San Jose, 4-2 at Portland
The Sounders have won just twice in their last six games, but Sunday’s 4-2 win in Portland was intended as a statement game, head coach Sigi Schmid said afterward. Indeed, his team showed just how dangerous it can be when it is in top form — but can it stay in top form long enough to sustain a run in the playoffs?
3. FC Dallas (12-7-6)
Last ranking: 5
Last week’s results: 2-1 vs. Salt Lake
Despite a soft second yellow card to Blas Pérez at 0-0, Dallas recovered to win by a single goal against RSL, taking a 2-0 lead before Olmes García’s consolation in stoppage time. Fabián Castillo scored the winner, extending his goalscoring streak to three games. FCD's last loss came May 31.
4. Real Salt Lake (11-5-9)
Last ranking: 1
Last week’s results: 1-2 at Dallas
RSL is 1-10-2 all-time in Frisco, Texas, which has always been a tough place for the Utah team to play no matter its or its opponent’s standing in the table. The teams meet one more time before the season ends, on Sept. 6, but that matchup will be at the friendlier confines and altitude of Rio Tinto Stadium.
5. LA Galaxy (11-5-7)
Last ranking: 6
Last week’s results: 4-3 at Colorado, 2-0 vs. Vancouver
After completing an impressive comeback in Denver, going down 2-0 early and then 2-1 before scoring three unanswered goals, the Galaxy returned home and brushed aside Vancouver with ease. That two-game swing showed both the unpredictability of LA this season and how strong it can be when it plays at 100-percent capacity.
6. Sporting Kansas City (12-7-6)
Last ranking: 2
Last week’s results: 0-3 vs. D.C.
Saturday was the first time Sporting Park really looked empty in recent seasons, as the Kansas City defense was burned three times in quick succession for its high line in the back. Three goals in the first 31 minutes — in a seven-minute span within that time frame — capped a Sporting skid in which the team has lost twice in the last four matches.
7. New York Red Bulls (7-7-10)
Last ranking: 8
Last week’s results: 4-2 vs. Montreal
Bradley Wright-Phillips broke the New York single-season franchise goalscoring record and distanced himself from Dom Dwyer at the top of the league with a brace against Montreal, giving him 20 goals on the season and putting him within range of Roy Lassiter and Chris Wondolowski's single-season mark of 27. Thierry Henry scored the other two vs. the Impact, firing the Red Bulls to a win after going down 1-0.
8. Toronto FC (9-8-6)
Last ranking: 7
Last week’s results: 2-2 vs. Chicago
Toronto took the lead twice against Chicago, including in the last 11 minutes of the game, but couldn’t make either lead stick. It was two former TFC players, Robert Earnshaw and Quincy Amarikwa, who scored the Fire’s goals to draw even at the final whistle.
9. Columbus Crew (8-8-9)
Last ranking: 11
Last week’s results: 3-0 vs. Houston
The Crew have won two games in a row after blowing by Houston on Saturday. The only time Columbus has managed three straight this season was at the very start, and having the Montreal Impact next on the schedule makes that a distinct possibility once more.
10. Philadelphia Union (7-9-9)
Last ranking: 13
Last week’s results: 4-2 vs. San Jose
Raïs M’Bolhi got his first MLS start as the Union defeated the Earthquakes, sparked by Andrew Wenger’s two-goal performance. Philadelphia nearly gave up the game after going up 2-0 in the first 15 minutes, but Sheanon Williams scored just two minutes after Chris Wondolowski tied the game up to ensure the victory.
11. Portland Timbers (7-8-10)
Last ranking: 9
Last week’s results: 2-4 vs. Seattle
Portland had a rough travel week, going to the East Coast and the Caribbean for Champions League play, but that’s not as easy an excuse as it may seem for the Timbers’ flat performance on Sunday. Only Maxi Urruti started both the match in Guyana against Alpha United and the 4-2 loss to Seattle, and Fanendo Adi scored three goals across those two games after his brace as a substitute against the Sounders.
12. Vancouver Whitecaps (7-5-12)
Last ranking: 10
Last week’s results: 0-2 at LA
Vancouver has won just once in its last eight games, and it has still never won away to the Galaxy in six. The Whitecaps even changed hotels and their road routine to inspire a slump-busting performance, but that kind of history is hard to overcome when conceding just five minutes into the game.
13. Colorado Rapids (8-11-6)
Last ranking: 12
Last week’s results: 3-4 vs. LA
Edson Buddle scored his 100th MLS goal — none of which have come on penalties — to put the Rapids up 2-0 in the 17th minute against LA. However, even a third goal from infrequent scorer Marc Burch on a long free kick couldn’t keep the Galaxy from coming back and winning, handing the Rapids their fifth loss in a row.
14. San Jose Earthquakes (6-10-7)
Last ranking: 15
Last week’s results: 1-1 at Seattle, 2-4 at Philadelphia
Tommy Thompson started his first MLS match for an injury-depleted Earthquakes side in Seattle, showing great promise again. However, after managing a draw in Seattle, the cross-country trip got to San Jose, which dropped its second match to Philadelphia despite tying the game at 2-2 after going down 2-0 early.
15. Chivas USA (6-12-6)
Last ranking: 14
Last week’s results: 0-1 at New England
Chivas has been shut out five times in a row, failing to score since Erick Torres hit home a penalty 456 match minutes ago. The Goats’ upcoming schedule is anything but easy, with games against LA, Seattle, Columbus and Kansas City in the next three weeks.
16. Chicago Fire (4-6-14)
Last ranking: 17
Last week’s results: 2-2 at Toronto
Chicago is now two draws away from tying its own MLS regular-season record, shared with the Red Bulls after both teams drew 16 matches in 2011. Bakary Soumare’s own goal in the third minute sums up this Fire season: a series of self-inflicting obstacles have proved difficult to overcome, not helped by the league intervening on the Jermaine Jones deal and ultimately sending him to New England.
17. New England Revolution (9-12-3)
Last ranking: 18
Last week’s results: 1-0 vs. Chivas
The Revs, before benefitting from another newly created MLS roster-rule permutation, beat Chivas to wind up just one point outside the playoff picture. Four of their last 10 games are against teams below them in the Eastern Conference standings, including coming up against Montreal twice.
18. Houston Dynamo (7-13-4)
Last ranking: 16
Last week’s results: 0-3 at Columbus
A mediocre season keeps getting worse for Houston after a humiliating 3-0 loss to Columbus. The Dynamo have only missed out on the playoffs once, in 2010, since winning back-to-back MLS Cups in 2006 and 2007, but they’re quickly on their way to doing it again this year.
19. Montreal Impact (4-15-5)
Last ranking: 19
Last week’s results: 2-4 at New York
When Matteo Ferrari cleared Tim Cahill’s shot from inside the six-yard box, Evan Bush saved well off the ensuing corner and Dilly Duka scored the first goal against New York, it looked like it might be Montreal’s day. Then, Henry struck for his eighth and ninth goals against the Impact, helped by Bush’s blunder on the second, and the Red Bulls handed the Impact yet another loss after a rare win last week.