Monday September 15th, 2014

With the LA Galaxy dropping four points last week, the Seattle Sounders – last-gasp winners of a thrilling Western Conference showdown against Real Salt Lake – now have a three-point lead at the top of the MLS Supporters’ Shield standings and a game in hand. This upcoming week could be just as tough for the Sounders, though, as they play in New York and Dallas after the U.S. Open Cup final on Tuesday in Philadelphia.

With their win this week, coupled with Chivas USA’s 4-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City, Seattle also became the first team in the league to clinch a playoff berth. The Sounders could still win the Open Cup, Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup treble, which has never been done.

• ​STRAUS: Chivas USA could go on 2015 hiatus after team sells

On the opposite coast, the New England Revolution won again, extending their latest winning streak to five games. While the battle in the West is mostly between two teams now, the top three teams in the Eastern Conference are within five points of one another.

Here’s how the league stands with all teams having fewer than 10 matches left in the regular season:

MLS Power Rankings — Week 27

1. Seattle Sounders (17-7-3)

Last ranking: 2

Last week’s results: 3-2 vs. Real Salt Lake

The Sounders have now won four games in a row, getting a long-distance goal from Lamar Neagle and a scrambling winner from Andy Rose to defeat RSL. Seattle is in the midst of perhaps its toughest scheduling stretch of the season, with games spanning both coasts within the next week and a half.

• ​​BIRD: Seattle set to become latest with own USL Pro franchise

2. LA Galaxy (14-5-9)

Last ranking: 1

Last week’s results: 2-2 at Montreal, 1-1 at San Jose

Bruce Arena’s decision to start his team in an unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation against Montreal led to the Impact taking a 2-0 lead at halftime and the Galaxy scrambling to claw back a point. Robbie Keane missed a penalty at 1-0 against San Jose that could have potentially put that game out of reach, with LA eventually settling for just a point there as well.

3. FC Dallas (13-9-6)

Last ranking: 5

Last week’s results: 2-1 vs. Vancouver

After two straight losses, Óscar Pareja’s team got back on track with a home win over Vancouver. Blas Pérez scored both goals, including a looping cross from the right wing that sailed in untouched at the back post.

• BIRD: FC Dallas' Perez leads Week 27 Best XI

4. D.C. United (14-9-5)

Last ranking: 3

Last week’s results: 0-1 at New York

Fabián Espíndola received a harsh red card for a high boot on Dax McCarty that left D.C. down a man for nearly an hour against the Red Bulls. Coach Ben Olsen was understandably livid, but New York had the better opportunities all game, including when all 22 men were still on the pitch.

5. Real Salt Lake (12-6-10)

Last ranking: 4

Last week’s results: 2-3 at Seattle

Nat Borchers sacrificed himself at 2-2 against Seattle, pulling down Obafemi Martins on an obvious goalscoring opportunity and seeing a red card. The gamble didn’t pay off, as RSL conceded a late goal and lost for just the second time this season after scoring the first goal of the game.

• WAHL: MLS all for testing video replay challenge system

6. New England Revolution (13-12-3)

Last ranking: 10

Last week’s results: 2-1 vs. Montreal

Talismanic midfielder Lee Nguyen scored the winner against Montreal, capping a nice team goal that he started with a backheel to Jermaine Jones and finished by continuing his run into the box. The Revs are streaking again, but their previous five-game winning streak this season immediately preceded an eight-game losing streak.

7. New York Red Bulls (9-8-11)

Last ranking: 6

Last week’s results: 1-0 vs. D.C., 2-2 at Philadelphia

The Red Bulls maintain a slim one-point lead on Columbus and Philadelphia for fourth place in the East after a four-point week. It could have been a six-point week, but after scoring a 90th-minute winner in midweek against D.C., they conceded an equalizer in stoppage time on a penalty against the Union.

8. Philadelphia Union (9-9-10)

Last ranking: 9

Last week’s results: 2-2 vs. New York

Sebastien Le Toux’s penalty in stoppage time against New York was the stroke of luck they needed to get something out of the game. Philadelphia has lost just once in the last 10 games, and it has a chance to win its first trophy in franchise history on Tuesday in the U.S. Open Cup final.

9. Portland Timbers (8-8-12)

Last ranking: 7

Last week’s results: 2-2 at Colorado

The Timbers missed a chance to overtake Vancouver and climb into fifth place in their 2-2 draw at lowly Colorado. They host the Whitecaps next, on Saturday, looking to finally get that permanent leg up on their Cascadia Cup rivals in the league standings.

10. Sporting Kansas City (13-10-6)

Last ranking: 11

Last week’s results: 4-0 at Chivas

Sporting snapped its four-game losing streak emphatically, finishing off Chivas USA after a slow start to the match. Dom Dwyer scored his 19th goal of the season in the game, breaking Preki’s single-season Kansas City franchise record.

• ​WAHL: Garber signs 5-year extension to remain MLS commissioner

11. Columbus Crew (9-9-10)

Last ranking: 8

Last week’s results: 2-2 at Houston

Down 2-0 at halftime, the Crew showed good character to come back and earn a point at Houston. In a bizarre twist, Ricardo Salazar called two penalties in Columbus’ favor during the match but ended up rescinding his decision both times after conferring with his assistant referee.

12. Vancouver Whitecaps (8-7-13)

Last ranking: 13

Last week’s results: 2-0 vs. San Jose, 1-2 at Dallas

Vancouver ended its scoreless drought at 449 minutes in midweek, scoring on Pedro Morales’ penalty and again on a set piece to end a four-game winless streak. Erik Hurtado provided a great spark off the bench for the Whitecaps in Dallas, scoring just after he came on, but Blas Pérez scored with just over 10 minutes left to win it.

13. Houston Dynamo (9-13-5)

Last ranking: 14

Last week’s results: 2-2 vs. Columbus

Houston jumped to a 2-0 lead at halftime against Columbus, but the Dynamo couldn’t sustain the attack in the second half to close out the win. A.J. Cochran had an eventful game, inducing Aaron Schoenfeld’s own goal before being whistled for the two penalties Salazar called back.

14. Colorado Rapids (8-13-7)

Last ranking: 15

Last week’s results: 2-2 vs. Portland

At least the Rapids stopped their eight-game losing streak with a draw against the Timbers, but Deshorn Brown missed several opportunities in front of goal to give them all three points. Individual mistakes have cost Colorado all season, and Saturday was no different, even with Drew Fischer’s incorrect penalty call gifting the Rapids a goal just after halftime.

15. Toronto FC (9-11-7)

Last ranking: 12

Last week’s results: 1-1 at Chicago

At the beginning of July, Toronto was third place in the East and on a six-game unbeaten run. After a draw in Chicago on Saturday, the Reds are three points out of the playoffs — albeit with a game in hand of its chief competition.

16. Chicago Fire (5-7-15)

Last ranking: 17

Last week’s results: 1-1 vs. Toronto

The field in Chicago helped nobody on Saturday, and the Fire didn’t help themselves out, either, when Jeff Larentowicz hit a soft penalty at 1-0 that could have iced the game. Instead, the Fire settled for a point after Dwayne de Rosario scored with two minutes left to scramble a point back for Toronto.

17. San Jose Earthquakes (6-11-10)

Last ranking: 16

Last week’s results: 1-1 vs. LA

The Earthquakes haven’t won in eight games, and they had to come from behind to equalize in the second half against LA. Steven Lenhart returned to play for the first time since mid-July after undergoing knee surgery.

18. Montreal Impact (5-17-6)

Last ranking: 18

Last week’s results: 2-2 vs. LA, 1-2 at New England

Montreal is winless in three games, and it probably should have beaten the Galaxy on Wednesday after going up 2-0. The Impact followed that tough match at home by losing to New England away, keeping them still three points beneath Chivas at the bottom of the overall league table.

• ​STRAUS: Retiring Chivas USA captain Bocanegra boasted top leadership qualities

19. Chivas USA (6-16-6)

Last ranking: 19

Last week’s results: 0-4 vs. Kansas City

The Goats looked even worse than Montreal, losing their fifth straight against Kansas City at home. It’s now been 10 games since Chivas won, and they’ve only scored three goals in that entire streak.

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