MLS Power Rankings: Red Bulls No. 1 entering playoffs

Monday October 28th, 2013

The Red Bulls claimed their first major trophy by clinching the Supporters' Shield on Sunday.
Rich Graessle/Icon SMI

As we head into the the playoffs, it's the Supporters' Shield-winning New York Red Bulls atop the Power Rankings while the New England Revolution jump up two spots.

Week 35 MLS Power Rankings
New Rank Old Rank Team
1 1 New York Red Bulls (17-9-8)
The Red Bulls turned in a statement second half to thrash the Chicago Fire 5-2 and claim their first Supporters' Shield. Peguy Luyindula, of all people, played a vital role with his three assists, and Designated Players Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill continued to perform at levels worthy of their salaries to ensure New York entered the playoffs as the top seed.
2 2 Real Salt Lake (16-10-8)
RSL enters the postseason on a high after a 2-1 victory over Chivas USA, and the club has the benefit of getting more rest than any other postseason team considering its final game came Wednesday and it got to sit out the weekend. Jason Kreis' side will face Western Conference nemesis LA Galaxy in a series worthy of a conference or MLS Cup final and one that is sure to leave one club sorely disappointed.
3 3 Portland Timbers (14-5-15)
The Timbers captured the Western Conference's top seed with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Chivas USA, likely sewing up Newcomer of the Year honors for Diego Valeri in the process. The club awaits the winner of the Seattle-Colorado wild card game. Portland boasted a 2-0-1 record against Colorado and an even 1-1-1 mark against rival Seattle during the regular season..
4 4 Sporting Kansas City (17-10-7)
Playing against a desperate opponent in enemy territory, Sporting KC held it together and walked out of PPL Park with a hard-earned 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union to enter the playoffs as winners of six of their last eight games. With 10-goal scorer Claudio Bieler becoming an afterthought for Peter Vermes over the last two months, the club's young strike force will carry plenty of the playoff scoring burden.
5 5 LA Galaxy (15-11-8)
The two-time defending champions head to the postseason on the heels of a 1-1 draw in Seattle, with Robbie Keane making a final case for MVP honors with his equalizing goal. Omar Gonzalez surely should have been granted a goal of his own after his controversially disallowed strike most definitely cleared the line, but two more points would not have improved LA's conference standing anyway.
6 6 Colorado Rapids (14-11-9)
With playoff seeding on the line, the Rapids rolled over and closed the season on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline, but Colorado still enters the postseason as a dangerous and quite capable five-seed. Avoiding the play-in match surely would have been preferable for Oscar Pareja's side, and instead the Rapids will have to go through Seattle to keep their playoff hunt going.
7 9 New England Revolution (14-11-9)
The Revs took care of business in Columbus, turning in a 1-0 victory to clinch their first playoff berth since 2009. Juan Agudelo appears motivated to leave MLS as a winner, and the club will ride the 20-year-old and his 18-year-old attacking partner Diego Fagundez as far as it can. Of concern is the injury that defensive leader and captain Jose Goncalves suffered and gutted through in Sunday's finale, as the club needs its rock to have any shot of advancement.
8 7 Seattle Sounders (15-12-7)
The Sounders enter the postseason on a seven-game winless streak following Sunday's 1-1 draw with the Galaxy. Clint Dempsey reopened his MLS account with the Sounders' lone goal on the night, and he'll hope it is the opening of the floodgates that catapults him and his success-starved side to new heights with the stakes at their highest.
9 11 Houston Dynamo (14-11-9)
Surprise, surprise: The Dynamo did what they had to do to make the playoff field. Sunday's 2-1 win over D.C. United was no easy feat, but Giles Barnes, Brad Davis and Oscar Boniek Garcia keyed the victory, much like they will be at the forefront if Houston is to make a third straight run to an MLS Cup final. For the second straight season, the Dynamo will need to go through the play-in round on its playoff route, with Montreal the opponent this season.
10 10 Montreal Impact (14-13-7)
If there's a team that Mexico'd its way into the playoffs, it is Montreal. The Impact were a Red Bulls draw or loss away from stunningly missing out on the playoffs altogether after being at or near the top of the East all season long. Backing into the playoffs after a 1-0 loss to lowly Toronto FC, Montreal has new life but some serious soul searching to do to avoid an early exit.
11 13 San Jose Earthquakes (14-11-9)
The Quakes finished off the season an MLS-best 11-5-3 over the final 19 games, with interim manager Mark Watson at the helm, but ultimately came up short in their quest to return to the postseason. With the likes of Chris Wondolowski and Clarence Goodson in place, San Jose will be one of the favorite picks among non-playoff teams to make the postseason next year, but adding a playmaking component to the squad is a necessary piece to the puzzle.
12 8 Chicago Fire(14-13-7)
It was all there for the taking for the Fire and Mike Magee, but it slipped away so quickly. With a postseason place on the line for the club and the Golden Boot and potentially MVP honors at stake for Magee, Chicago folded at Red Bull Arena and failed to secure a postseason berth, missing out on the goals scored tiebreaker with Montreal. Considering where the club started the season, that is an accomplishment in itself, but given the ending, it ultimately feels like an utter disappointment.
13 12 Philadelphia Union (12-12-10)
The Union needed a win and some help to get into the playoffs, and despite Philadelphia throwing everything at Sporting KC down the stretch Saturday, the win was not in the cards, nor was a postseason berth. Ultimately, the club just did not do enough against high-caliber opposition during the season to merit a playoff place. However, there are plenty of legitimate building blocks on that roster to believe 2013 was a step in the right direction.
14 14 Vancouver Whitecaps (13-12-9)
It's of little consolation for the club, which misses out on the postseason, but Camilo's hat trick in a 3-0 season-ending win over Colorado earned the Brazilian Golden Boot honors. The clean sheet was also a fitting way for South Korean icon Young-Pyo Lee to close his career, as the three-time World Cup veteran rides off into retirement.
15 15 FC Dallas (11-12-11)
The Schellas Hyndman era in Dallas came to a close with a 2-1 loss to San Jose, cementing a disappointing finish to what looked to be a promising campaign in the early months of the season. FC Dallas started the year 8-2-3 only to win just three games from June on. The search for a new manager will get underway as change rings through Big D.
16 16 Columbus Crew (12-17-5)
Change is on the way in Columbus as well, as new owner Anthony Precourt surveys his options following another playoff-less campaign for the Crew. Columbus had already been eliminated, but it could not muster enough to prevent the Revolution from walking out of Crew Stadium with three points and a playoff berth Sunday. Brian Bliss did a tremendous job as interim manager, but was it enough to land the gig permanently?.
17 18 Toronto FC (6-17-11)
TFC ended the season on a high note, nearly preventing Canadian rival Montreal from making the playoffs after a deserved 1-0 victory at BMO Field. TFC fans won't want another offseason of rebuilding, but that is exactly what lies ahead as head honchos Tim Leiweke and Tim Bezbatchenko look to mold the team into a bona fide winner for the first time.
18 17 Chivas USA (6-20-8)
The Goats had a chance to play playoff-seed-spoiler in their final two games against Real Salt Lake and Portland, but they succumbed to defeat in both matches to close out what has been a volatile, controversial and utterly lackluster season. There is plenty of work to be done before the "other" team at the StubHub Center can claim even a sliver of the limelight.
19 19 D.C. United (3-24-7)
D.C. set the new bar for regular season futility following its 2-1 home loss to Houston on Sunday, but there is reason to believe the U.S. Open Cup-winning club will bounce back next season considering its financial flexibility, draft positioning and young building blocks. Whether the club can secure forward Conor Doyle to a permanent deal after his loan from Derby County expires will be one move to watch.

CREDITOR: Pressure's on Red Bulls, Dempsey as MLS playoffs get underway

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