The LA Galaxy's second-half surge continued Friday, as Landon Donovan & Co. trounced the Colorado Rapids, 6-0. After beginning the Major League Soccer season with two wins in their first eight games, the Galaxy suddenly look like the leading contender for another MLS Cup.
The LA midfield and forward lines are clicking at an impeccable rate, the fast combinations, dummy runs and intuitive play among teammates at seemingly an all-time high. Robbie Keane and Donovan lead that charge, but second-year player Gyasi Zardes is also the highest-scoring American in the league right now, with 14 goals.
At the same time, a defense anchored by goalkeeper Jaime Penedo has conceded just 27 goals, a league low that when coupled with the league's highest 54 goals scored comes out to a plus-27 goal difference. The second-best in that category, the Seattle Sounders, are at plus-13 but still currently lead the Supporters' Shield standings.
Here are the MLS Power Rankings as every team has less than 10 matches remaining, and many of the playoff contenders still have to play one another in the final two months of the regular season:
MLS Power Rankings — Week 26
1. LA Galaxy (14-5-7)
Last ranking: 3
Last week’s results: 6-0 vs. Colorado
Playing with heavy hearts following the passing of defender AJ DeLaGarza's newborn son, LA demolished Colorado on Friday for its largest margin of victory since an 8-1 win over the Dallas Burn in 1998, giving the Galaxy their fifth win in a row. Donovan continues to lead the hottest team in the league, scoring his 41st career game-winning goal against the Rapids, another league record.
2. Seattle Sounders (16-7-3)
Last ranking: 2
Last week’s results: 4-2 at Chivas USA
The Sounders jumped to a 2-0 lead after just 16 minutes and led 4-0 at halftime against Chivas, giving the Goats no chance to earn a shock result. Seattle has won three in a row and still tops the Supporters’ Shield standings, but Real Salt Lake on Friday should provide a much sterner test than Chivas and Colorado in the last couple weeks.
3. D.C. United (14-8-5)
Last ranking: 1
Last week’s results: 0-0 at Vancouver
D.C. slipped a bit in the Supporters’ Shield standings after a scoreless draw in Vancouver and has one win in the last three matches. Still, United is just four points adrift from the top of the table with several winnable games remaining.
4. Real Salt Lake (12-5-10)
Last ranking: 5
Last week’s results: 2-1 vs. Dallas
RSL won a matchup of two top-five teams, third vs. fourth in the West, by defeating Dallas. Álvaro Saborío came back from injury to score the winning goal with his first touch, and the Costa Rica international could be extremely helpful to RSL down the stretch.
5. FC Dallas (12-9-6)
Last ranking: 4
Last week’s results: 1-2 at Salt Lake
A rocket free kick from Michel was Dallas’ best opportunity against RSL. Dallas managed just three shots to Salt Lake’s 13 at Rio Tinto Stadium — and none on target from the run of play. After a 10-game unbeaten run, FC Dallas has now lost two straight.
6. New York Red Bulls (8-8-10)
Last ranking: 7
Last week’s results: 2-1 vs. Kansas City
A win over Sporting Kansas City propelled New York into the playoff places, and it's thanks to Thierry Henry, who treated the fans at Red Bull Arena to a tremendous game-winner. Points will be precious for the Red Bulls over the final eight matches of the season, especially with D.C., Philadelphia, Seattle and LA next on the schedule.
7. Portland Timbers (8-8-11)
Last ranking: 8
Last week’s results: 3-3 vs. San Jose
The Timbers missed a chance to open a slight gap on Vancouver in the standings on Sunday in a wild 3-3 draw with San Jose. Portland faces the Whitecaps on Sept. 20, and with just one more match until that encounter, just one point separates the two teams.
8. Columbus Crew (9-9-9)
Last ranking: 10
Last week’s results: 3-0 vs. Chivas USA
Columbus outshot Chivas USA, 16-3, on Sunday on the way to a resounding 3-0 victory that also included a missed penalty from Federico Higuaín. The Crew are fourth in the East on goal difference with the same exact record as the Union behind them.
9. Philadelphia Union (9-9-9)
Last ranking: 11
Last week’s results: 1-0 vs. Toronto, 2-0 at Toronto
The Union tied and then passed Toronto with two wins over the Reds, extending their winning streak to three and making it four wins in the last five games. Philadelphia now trails Columbus for fourth place just on goal difference, and they still have to play each other twice.
10. New England Revolution (12-12-3)
Last ranking: 14
Last week’s results: 3-1 vs. Kansas City, 2-1 vs. Chicago
It’s amazing the Revs are still third in the East, considering their eight-game midseason losing streak. Behind some stellar play from Lee Nguyen, though, New England has won four in a row, which is one game away from matching its longest winning streak of the season — which directly preceded that lengthy skid.
11. Sporting Kansas City (12-10-6)
Last ranking: 6
Last week’s results: 1-3 at New England, 1-2 at New York
Kansas City has been outscored 11-3 in losing four straight matches, and it only scored on two set pieces last week. Despite Dom Dwyer (now up to 18 goals) still threatening to score in every match, Sporting has been fairly uninspired in attack, and the defending champions are slipping.
12. Toronto FC (9-11-6)
Last ranking: 9
Last week’s results: 0-1 at Philadelphia, 0-2 vs. Philadelphia
Toronto dropped out of the playoff places with two losses in four days against Philadelphia, failing to score in either match. The wheels are starting to come off once again, and despite a promising start to the year, Toronto could miss out on making the playoffs for the first time without a quick reversal in results, having won just three matches since the World Cup break.
13. Vancouver Whitecaps (7-6-13)
Last ranking: 12
Last week’s results: 0-0 vs. D.C.
Vancouver has one win in 10 matches and hasn’t scored in four. The Whitecaps have slipped out of the playoffs and are now scrambling to find a way to score — and win games — to salvage the season.
14. Houston Dynamo (9-13-4)
Last ranking: 15
Last week’s results: 3-2 vs. Montreal
The Dynamo still have a chance to make the playoffs with a good run to close the season. They’re just three points behind New York in fifth place after a Giles Barnes-inspired 3-2 win over Montreal on Saturday.
15. Colorado Rapids (8-13-6)
Last ranking: 13
Last week’s results: 0-6 at LA
Joe Nasco earned the fastest red card in league history against the Galaxy, bringing down Alan Gordon inside the first minute with a foul that was rightly punished with a straight red by referee Baldomero Toledo. The Rapids have now lost seven in a row, winning just once in their last 11 games and twice since the World Cup break.
16. San Jose Earthquakes (6-10-9)
Last ranking: 18
Last week’s results: 3-3 at Portland
A back-and-forth draw against the Timbers played into San Jose’s hands because of the Earthquakes’ physical style of play. A desperate game on both ends ended in a tie despite San Jose having a 2-0 and 3-2 lead in the match. Chris Wondolowski scored twice and now has 12 goals on the season.
17. Chicago Fire (5-7-14)
Last ranking: 16
Last week’s results: 1-2 at New England
Chicago has been infuriatingly inconsistent in 2014, oscillating between promising and hopeless. At any point, the Fire have been just missing something to turn several of their other results into wins, such as after scoring the first goal on the road against New England on Sunday.
18. Montreal Impact (5-16-5)
Last ranking: 17
Last week’s results: 2-3 at Houston
The Montreal attack has come alive since Ignacio Piatti started playing, scoring two goals in each of the last three games. The next aspect to fix is the defense, which has given up a 48 league goals so far, tied for the most with the Dynamo.
19. Chivas USA (6-15-6)
Last ranking: 19
Last week’s results: 2-4 vs. Seattle, 0-3 at Columbus
Chivas ended its scoreless streak at 595 minutes against the Sounders, but the Goats are nine games without a win after losing to both Seattle and Columbus. It doesn’t get any easier with the remaining schedule, which includes Kansas City, Seattle and RSL (twice).