Lamar Neagle (center) has scored in three straight games for Seattle.
Week 29 MLS Power Rankings
Seattle Sounders (15-8-4) There is no doubt who belongs in the top spot after Seattle played its way past Real Salt Lake Friday night with a 2-0 victory. The Sounders have won eight of their last nine games, including five in a row, to take over the top spot in the MLS Western Conference and Supporters' Shield races. Seattle has peaked early in the past only to fizzle out in the postseason, but it certainly seems like Sigi Schmid's side is hitting its stride at the right time as the final month of the season approaches.
Real Salt Lake (14-9-6) Friday the 13th was unkind to RSL, which came off its bye week and was knocked off its perch for the first time in months following its loss in Seattle. For a team that had scored multiple goals in four straight games, RSL was shut down completely. Now Jason Kreis' side must stay on its toes as it faces four consecutive opponents who will be desperate for points as the season winds down.
Montreal Impact (13-8-6) Montreal has little excuse for allowing Columbus to come into Stade Saputo and come back from a goal down to take a 2-1 result. The Impact failed to play the second half with the required focus and skill and paid the price. The club is still in fine standing for a top-three place in the Eastern Conference, but if it misses out on a top seed and the Supporters' Shield, Saturday's result will certainly stick out.
New York Red Bulls (14-9-6) The Red Bulls sit alone atop the Eastern Conference standings by taking care of business against Toronto FC behind goals from Thierry Henry and Fabian Espindola. Mike Petke showed plenty of faith in rookie and supplemental draft pick Michael Bustamante to start him in a vital game for the club, and he came through in helping set up Henry's opening goal.
Sporting Kansas City (13-9-6) Sporting KC remains five points clear of the wildcard playoff spots after a bye week, one in which it added another past member of Barcelona's La Masia academy in Argentine left back Fede Bessone. He will provide competition for Seth Sinovic and more depth for Peter Vermes' side, which ventures back into CONCACAF Champions League play this week.
LA Galaxy (13-10-5) LA twice blew one-goal leads in a 2-2 draw with lowly D.C., with U.S. center back Omar Gonzalez at fault by committing a huge error for the first equalizer. Robbie Keane's MVP candidacy continues to grow, though, with the Irishman adding another goal and assist to his season tally. He has 13 and 11, respectively, and continues to be the most difficult forward to mark.
Colorado Rapids (12-8-9) Colorado battled back from a goal down to FC Dallas to take an important 2-1 result to boost its playoff positioning. Midseason acquisition Vicente Sanchez was the catalyst, scoring and equalizer and sending in the cross that led to the decisive own goal. It was a vital result for the Rapids, who put a five-point gap between themselves and sixth place.
Portland Timbers (10-5-13) Portland was left unsatisfied again after only being able to take a draw off Chivas USA and having to scramble just in order to pull that off. Diego Valeri came off the bench to score a valuable equalizer. Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was perhaps fortunate to not have conceded a penalty to Erick Torres on a second-half breakaway, but the Timbers will take their point and move forward into a crucial game with Colorado Friday night.
Houston Dynamo (11-10-7) Order was restored for Houston, which snapped a four-game winless skid and took three invaluable points off Philadelphia at PPL Park to climb back into playoff positioning. Ricardo Clark has long been touted as an unsung hero for Houston, going back to the days before he left for Europe, and he scored the game-deciding goal off a ball from Brad Davis. With Adam Moffat traded to Seattle, Clark's performance in the center of the field will become even more important.
Philadelphia Union (11-10-7) After a 1-0 home defeat to the Dynamo, the Union are winless in five matches and have just one win in their last seven games. John Hackworth's side is trending toward mediocrity at the worst possible time and fell out of playoff positioning after being within a result of first place just weeks ago. The remaining five games make for a mixed bag, with two games against Sporting KC and one against Montreal in addition to matches against cellar dwellers D.C. United and Chivas USA.
FC Dallas (10-8-10) FCD blew a chance to make some major headway in its quest to return to the playoff places, as Matt Hedges' unfortunate own goal snapped a tie and allowed Colorado to take a 2-1 result in their 2010 MLS Cup final rematch. Half of Dallas' six remaining games are against Eastern Conference foes, so the club will need to take care of business while hoping for other results to go its way down the stretch.
Chicago Fire (11-11-6) Chicago completed the long ascension back into the playoff places with a four-point week that included a draw at Toronto and a win over New England. Alex came off the bench to immediately play hero, as he scored the game-winning goal in the waning minutes after Chicago twice came back from a goal down at home against a game New England side.
New England Revolution (10-11-7) The Revs will have a serious problem with how they wound up losing to Chicago Saturday night, but harping on the past won't do the club any good. Playing against D.C. United has been the elixir for most clubs, but with the bottom-feeder motivated to avoid setting the league record for losses and playing hard, New England must be ready for a battle in order to snap its three-game winless skid.
Vancouver Whitecaps (10-10-8) Vancouver was stifled by San Jose but managed to claw out a 0-0 draw away from home. That result won't do much for the team's postseason aspirations, as the Whitecaps have just one win in their last nine games and are winless in their last five with an absolutely brutal schedule to close the season. After a Canada clash with Montreal, Vancouver faces RSL, Portland, Seattle and the Rapids twice in succession.
San Jose Earthquakes (10-11-8) The Earthquakes needed more than just a draw from their home clash with the Whitecaps given that they've played a game more than the four teams they are chasing in the standings and have just five games left to make up ground. The club's home unbeaten streak might be at 14 games now, but three of the next four games are on the road, with the playoffs becoming increasingly difficult to reach.
Columbus Crew (10-14-5) Columbus won't go down without a fight, and that much was clear by the club's come-from-behind 2-1 win over Montreal at Stade Saputo. Federico Higuain sparked the comeback, setting up goals by Chad Marshall and Dominic Oduro and taking over in the final 45 minutes as interim manager Brian Bliss saw his side's faint playoff hopes remain alive.
Chivas USA (6-15-8) Chivas continues to thrive in the role of spoiler, holding the Timbers to a 1-1 draw and making Portland's playoff venture all the more tenuous. Despite having little chance at finishing the season out of the basement and no first-round pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, Chivas has at the very least turned back into a squad willing to battle hard.
Toronto FC (4-14-11) TFC saw its winless streak run to seven games after a draw with Chicago and loss to New York, and the road to snapping that skid could become more treacherous. Young sparkplug Jonathan Osorio could be in for some discipline after kicking a ball into the head of Red Bulls defender Kosuke Kimura after a foul was committed in the 2-0 defeat.
D.C. United (3-19-6) D.C. battled back from two one-goal deficits to stun the LA Galaxy and salvage some pride with a 2-2 draw Saturday afternoon. With Chris Pontius being so instrumental and looking like the player who has been on the U.S. national team cusp for the last couple of years, it had to have made D.C. fans wonder what could have been had he not been battling injuries for the duration of the season.
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