Monday September 22nd, 2014

The Seattle Sounders and LA Galaxy are now tied atop the Major League Soccer standings, on course to have their final two matches against one another decide which team wins the Supporters’ Shield.

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Seattle also has a game in hand on the entire rest of the top 10 in the overall table. A little lower in the standings, the Columbus Crew took sole possession of fifth in the East, while the Portland Timbers jumped into fifth in the West.

Only the Galaxy and Sounders have even clinched a playoff spot so far, and this season has once again personified MLS’s parity-driven model.

Here’s where each team sits with five weeks remaining in the season:

MLS Power Rankings — Week 28

1. LA Galaxy (15-5-9)

Last ranking: 2

Last week’s result: 2-1 vs. FC Dallas

That home-and-away pair of games against Seattle to end the season looks bigger every week. The Galaxy pulled level with the Sounders on Saturday after a 2-1 win against Dallas, and also became the second team in the league to clinch a playoff spot.

2. Seattle Sounders (17-8-3)

Last ranking: 1

Last week’s result: 1-4 at New York

A three-match road trip started in Philadelphia with another U.S. Open Cup final win, but that success didn't carry over to an important league game on the weekend. After a 4-1 loss in New York, Seattle is tied with the Galaxy at the top of the Supporters' Shield standings, although the Sounders are ahead on total wins and have a game in hand.

3. Real Salt Lake (13-6-10)

Last ranking: 5

Last week’s result: 5-1 vs. Colorado

After going down a goal to Colorado, RSL exploded for four before halftime, quickly turning the match into a rout in a 13-minute span. With five matches remaining, including two against Chivas USA, the schedule looks pretty favorable for Salt Lake to maintain or even improve upon its third-place standing in the Western Conference.

4. FC Dallas (13-10-6)

Last ranking: 3

Last week’s result: 1-2 at LA Galaxy

After its 10-game unbeaten run, Dallas has suddenly lost three of its last four matches. It would take a bit of a collapse to miss the playoffs at this point, as sixth-placed Vancouver is eight points behind, but Dallas isn’t exactly known for its late-season ability in recent years.

5. D.C. United (14-9-6)

Last ranking: 4

Last week’s result: 3-3 at Chicago

Atrocious field conditions in the Windy City didn’t help, and neither did missing forwards Eddie Johnson and Fabián Espíndola, but a 3-3 draw against the Fire wasn’t the result D.C. was looking for on Saturday. United did well to reverse a 2-0 deficit and even take the lead for 10 minutes, but the draw puts them even farther adrift of the Supporters’ Shield lead.

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6. New York Red Bulls (10-8-11)

Last ranking: 7

Last week’s result: 4-1 vs. Seattle

Every result is important in a crowded Eastern Conference playoff race, especially when the stretch run is as crowded as New York’s, with Champions League play mixed in with vital league matches. Luckily for the Red Bulls, four of their last seven games in all competitions are at home, although their upcoming road trip to El Salvador and Los Angeles in a four-day span won’t be easy.

7. New England Revolution (13-13-3)

Last ranking: 6

Last week’s result: 0-1 vs. Columbus

The latest Revs winning streak was snapped at Crew Stadium thanks to a moment of brilliance from Federico Higuaín. If New England can remain in the Eastern Conference's top five through the next two games, at Kansas City and against Columbus, then finishing at Montreal, at Houston and against Toronto shouldn’t keep the team out of the playoffs.

8. Portland Timbers (9-8-12)

Last ranking: 9

Last week’s result: 3-0 vs. Vancouver

Combine Portland’s potent attack with little pressure for the Timbers’ inconsistent defense, and you get a 3-0 win that puts Portland into the Western Conference's final playoff spot while knocking the Whitecaps out of it. The Cascadia rivals seem to be the top contenders for that fifth postseason berth, and at least for now, Caleb Porter’s team has the upper hand.

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9. Philadelphia Union (9-9-11)

Last ranking: 8

Last week’s result: 0-0 vs. Houston

Philadelphia slipped up in its race with Columbus for the final playoff spot in the East on Saturday, drawing at home against the lowly Dynamo. Perhaps the Union also suffered from a bit of an Open Cup hangover, which led to its second disappointing home result of the week and make the club's two remaining matches against the Crew look even bigger.

10. Columbus Crew (10-9-10)

Last ranking: 11

Last week’s result: 1-0 vs. New England

The Crew played well at home against New England, only winning by the slimmest margin, but it could have been more. Columbus still has plenty to play for, as all five playoff spots in the East are separated by just eight points, meaning the Crew could realistically still finish anywhere from first to fifth -- or even out of the picture entirely.

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

Last ranking: 10

Last week’s result: Off

Sporting took the weekend off after a 3-1 midweek win in the Champions League against Deportivo Saprissa. That was the first of three straight home games in all competitions, as Real Estelí comes to town Tuesday before league play resumes against New England on Friday.

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12. Houston Dynamo (9-13-6)

Last ranking: 13

Last week’s result: 0-0 at Philadelphia

Houston didn’t muster a single shot on target, and a slew of injuries made even a single point an impressive result against Philadelphia. With six games left, the Dynamo have to make up what is currently a seven-point gap to make the playoffs or miss out on the postseason for the first time since 2010.

13. Vancouver Whitecaps (8-8-13)

Last ranking: 12

Last week’s result: 0-3 at Portland

After winning 2-0 a couple weeks ago, it seemed Vancouver’s attack might have finally found its rhythm again. Saturday’s 3-0 loss told another story, though, as the Whitecaps were again toothless in front of goal despite 16 total shots.

14. Toronto FC (10-11-7)

Last ranking: 15

Last week’s result: 3-0 vs. Chivas

A visit from Chivas on Sunday provided a welcome respite from Toronto’s recent troubles and the six-game winless streak that started over a month ago. However, that respite could be brief, as two of the West’s hottest teams in Portland and LA are up next on the schedule.

15. Chicago Fire (5-7-16)

Last ranking: 16

Last week’s result: 3-3 vs. D.C.

Chicago has the most draws in the league, and tied its own regular-season record with another one-point match on Saturday. The Fire have the second-lowest loss total in the league behind LA’s five, but an inability to turn some of those draws into wins has held them back all season, as they also have the lowest win total in MLS.

16. Colorado Rapids (8-14-7)

Last ranking: 14

Last week’s result: 1-5 at Salt Lake

The Rapids took a 1-0 lead at RSL on Friday, but the game quickly shifted before halftime. Colorado hasn’t won in nine games and has been outscored 29-9 in that span. Making a late climb back into the playoff places seems less likely by the match.

17. Montreal Impact (6-17-6)

Last ranking: 18

Last week’s result: 2-0 vs. San Jose

Despite a two-goal win over San Jose, Montreal became the first team eliminated from the playoffs because of Columbus and New York’s wins. On the plus side, the Impact can now focus on the Champions League, in which it currently has a perfect 3-0 record and leads a group that also includes the Red Bulls, who will be distracted with the playoff race as the season winds down.

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

Last ranking: 17

Last week’s result: 0-2 at Montreal

A loss to the Impact is undeniably the worst result in the last nine winless games for San Jose. The Earthquakes conceded twice in the last 10 minutes and didn’t really create many of their own opportunities.

19. Chivas USA (6-17-6)

Last ranking: 19

Last week’s result: 0-3 at Toronto

There’s very little to smile about in the red-and-white half of the StubHub Center these days. Another lifeless performance to cap MLS’s weekly schedule saw Chivas’ losing streak extended to six games and the winless skid move to 11.

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