Clint Dempsey was introduced to the Seattle crowd ahead of the Sounders' 3-0 win on Saturday.
Joshua Weisber/Icon SMI
Week 23 MLS Power Rankings
New York Red Bulls (11-7-5) All the Red Bulls have done in three of their last four games is beat the three other teams with the best records in the league, including Saturday's win in Blue Hell -- a 3-2 triumph over Sporting Kansas City. SKC may have been without Graham Zusi, but the Red Bulls coped just fine without the injured Tim Cahill, and Mike Petke's side delivered a statement victory to claim first place in the Eastern Conference.
Real Salt Lake (11-6-4) RSL has Nick Rimando to thank for salvaging a point against rival Colorado, as he came up time and again with highlight-reel saves to preserve the 2-2 draw and keep RSL atop the Western Conference. The club shares the top spot in the Supporters' Shield standings, though, and has not won in its last three games. Having the likes of Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Tony Beltran back from USA duty should help rectify that issue going forward, though a daunting stretch against Houston, LA and Portland awaits.
Portland Timbers (8-3-11) With just three losses, Portland has by far the fewest setbacks in the league, but the Timbers are suddenly struggling to lock down three-point hauls. Caleb Porter's side has won just twice in its last seven games, and it still has only managed to string together consecutive victories on one occasion this season. As part of their league-high 11 draws, Portland has played to a tie in all three of its Cascadia Cup games thus far.
Colorado Rapids (9-7-8) Colorado boasts the league's longest unbeaten streak, with its come-from-behind draw with Real Salt Lake extending its run to seven games. The club's leading scorer last season, Jaime Castrillon, picked an opportune time to net his first goal of the season, as his 70th-minute equalizer clinched the Rocky Mountain Cup for Colorado for the first time in seven years.
Sporting Kansas City (10-7-6) Consecutive league losses have quieted the All-Star Game fever surrounding Sporting KC and knocked the club out of the driver's seat in the Eastern Conference. Despite all of the starpower in the attack, young forwards continue to contribute. Following in Soony Saad's footsteps, Dom Dwyer scored his first MLS goal after a prolific stretch on loan in USL PRO to give the club a chance in the waning moments against New York.
Los Angeles Galaxy (10-9-3) The Galaxy had the week off in league play to turn its focus to the Guinness International Champions Cup, where it lost to Real Madrid but came back with a spirited showing in a win over Juventus. More importantly, is that Robbie Keane returned to the field after his hip injury, and the Keane-Omar Gonzalez-Landon Donovan nucleus teamed to thwart the two-time defending Serie A champions. With a DP slot open and just days remaining in the transfer window, will the Galaxy answer Seattle's Dempsey acquisition add any firepower for the stretch run?
Montreal Impact (10-6-5) The Impact were outplayed in a 3-1 loss at bottom-feeding D.C. United, which is greater cause for concern now that the team has just one win in its last seven games. All of the early season productivity has given the Impact a solid margin for error, but it is one that continues to shrink with every subpar showing. The dip in form could not come at a worse time, too, with CONCACAF Champions League group matches on the docket starting Wednesday.
Houston Dynamo (9-6-6) The Dynamo are unbeaten in four games after a promising showing against Columbus, with Oscar Boniek Garcia turning in perhaps his finest performance of the season in the 3-1 victory. Even more importantly, Will Bruin got on the board for the first time in almost three months, and his ability to score and take the pressure off midfield attackers and current complement Cam Weaver will go a long way in getting Houston to its peak form.
Seattle Sounders (9-7-4) Don't look now, but the Sounders are unbeaten in three straight games, looked stellar in a 3-0 rout of FC Dallas and just acquired arguably the best American soccer player on the planet for the stretch run. The lengthy MLS season is quite forgiving to talented teams that need to either overcome injuries or just require time to get to their best form, and that certainly looks to be playing into the favor of the Sounders, who quietly have the third-highest points-per-game in the Western Conference.
Philadelphia Union (9-7-7) The Union had a golden chance to create a bit of separation in the Eastern Conference playoff race but failed to come through at home against Chicago, succumbing to a 2-1 defeat. On the plus side, with his assist to Sheanon Williams for the Union's goal, Sebastien Le Toux became the first player to enter double digits in helpers this season, notching his league-high 10th. That is one short of his career-high, which he set in Philadelphia in 2010.
Vancouver Whitecaps (9-7-6) The Whitecaps are winless in three after Saturday night's physical 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers in a Cascadia Cup bout. Jordan Harvey's goal-scoring exploits have quietly helped save the Whitecaps this summer, with all of his career-high four goals coming at opportune times and the club being 3-0-1 when he scores. Of note, too, is that David Ousted made his debut in goal for the shorthanded side.
Chicago Fire (8-9-4) Mike Magee's MVP candidacy is in full effect, with his latest goal giving him the league lead at 14 (and tied for the most game-winning goals with five) and helping the Fire to a crucial 2-1 road win over the Philadelphia Union to make the Eastern Conference race even tighter. Chicago, which had just two wins in its first 11 games, has six wins in its last 10 matches and is fully in the seven-team mix in the tightly contested conference.
San Jose Earthquakes (8-9-6) The Earthquakes have won three in a row following their latest triumph, getting a brace from Chris Wondolowski to turn back Chivas USA 2-0. Also, Clarence Goodson and Jaime Alas made their debuts for the club, which could not be hitting its stride at a better time. CONCACAF Champions League play commences Wednesday, with the Earthquakes facing an Impact side that is a bit down on its luck.
FC Dallas (8-6-8) Remember the team that started off the season as the hottest in MLS? Seems like quite a long time ago that FCD was running the show, and after another defeat, one that extended the club's winless streak to nine games, Schellas Hyndman's side is grasping for air and on the outside of the playoff race looking in. A 6-1-1 start has given way to a 2-5-7 rut, and it doesn't get much easier with consecutive games against the Galaxy and Timbers next on the docket.
New England Revolution (8-8-6) It just wasn't Diego Fagundez's night Sunday. The 18-year-old sensation was robbed of scoring by two goal-line clearances and had a number of other chances go begging, as the Revs folded at home against Toronto FC despite carrying the majority of the action. The goal the club conceded was extremely avoidable as well, with Jose Goncalves attempting to dribble forward too much, conceding possession in an awful part of the field and leaving Stephen McCarthy exposed in a 1-on-1 situation with goal scorer Matias Laba.
Columbus Crew (6-11-5) The Crew being sold for a reported $68 million is great news for the franchise, but it certainly looks like the new funds will be more handy for the future and not the present after another disappointing result has the club just three points clear of Trillium Cup rival Toronto FC. Columbus is in the midst of its second three-game losing streak in the last six weeks, and it will have to get a result against first-place New York to prevent that streak from stretching to a season-worst four games.
Toronto FC (4-10-8) The Reds notched back-to-back wins for the first time all season, riding an early goal from Matias Laba and rare defensive cohesiveness to a 1-0 win over New England. Joe Bendik turned in more heroics in goal, getting help with goal-line clearances from Richard Eckersley and Ashtone Morgan, to keep the Revs at bay. Toronto's reward for showing signs of life? Potentially being Clint Dempsey's first opponent on his comeback to MLS this weekend.
D.C. United (3-15-4) D.C. turned in its best performance of the season, taking the action to Montreal, not fretting after conceding an equalizer and walking away from RFK Stadium with a 3-1 victory over the Impact. The confidence boost comes at the perfect juncture, with a U.S. Open Cup semifinal match looming on Wednesday. Considering all of the club's failures in league play, advancing to an Open Cup final would surely put a positive twist on an otherwise lost campaign.
Chivas USA (4-13-5) Erick Torres' two-game goal streak is over, Carlos Bocanegra was sent off and the Goats fell again, dropping a 2-0 result to San Jose and cementing its place as the only team in the Western Conference without a realistic shot at making a run to the playoffs. Chivas trails eighth-place San Jose by 13 points, and with no first-round draft pick next season, toiling in the lower echelon of the standings won't have any real benefit to the club going forward.
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