MLS Power Rankings: Week 4
It was a dramatic week in Major League Soccer, with seven goals scored in the last 10 minutes of games. Three winning goals were also scored in stoppage time, by Sporting KC's Dom Dwyer, Columbus' Justin Meram and New England's Lee Nguyen.
One game devoid of drama was Real Salt Lake's 3-0 win over Toronto FC, but that result is interesting for a different reason. After Toronto's winter spending spree spawned a two-win start to the season, the Reds received a reality check on Saturday on the Wasatch Front.
On the other end of the rankings, D.C. United's slide continues, although it can't really be considered just a slide anymore, considering how long Ben Olsen's team has been at the bottom now. One bright spot for D.C. was Perry Kitchen's play, as the midfielder scored and had a good game in midfield.
We're a month into the 2014 MLS season already. Here's how the league shapes up in the early going:
MLS Power Rankings — Week 4
1. Columbus Crew (3-0-0)
Last week: 10
Of their three victories this season, Saturday's was the Crew's most impressive. After conceding a first-half goal to a team that has rarely lost when scoring first, Columbus regrouped and pressured for the rest of the evening. The 2-1 win at Seattle was a great result, helped by a red card to Djimi Traore and some heads-up play to take a stoppage-time corner kick quickly.
2. Sporting Kansas City (2-1-1)
Last week: 2
Dom Dwyer's cool celebration belied the nature of his stoppage-time winner against Colorado, as he ventured into the penalty area and smacked a shot in at the near post to win. Kansas City took advantage of a late man-up situation to score the winner.
3. Real Salt Lake (2-0-2)
Last week: 4
An early penalty and some good build-up through midfield led RSL to cruise over Toronto FC. Luis Gil and Javier Morales combined particularly well for Jeff Cassar's men, who are unbeaten after four tough fixtures to open the season.
4. FC Dallas (3-0-1)
Last week: 8
Last year's second half of the season should show Dallas fans why it's dangerous to be excited about a fast start, but their team is on top of the Western Conference standings after a month. Mauro Díaz again provided a spark, and the 23-year-old looks like a good early candidate for Newcomer of the Year.
5. Houston Dynamo (2-1-0)
Last week: 1
Houston has still never won in Vancouver, as BC Place continued to be a tough place for the Dynamo on Saturday. They lost to a handball in the penalty area and a retaken Kenny Miller penalty for their first loss (and goals conceded) of the season.
6. Philadelphia Union (1-1-2)
Last week: 3
The Union couldn't turn a fast start into a home win against Montreal. Even with Philadelphia a man up after Andrew Wenger's late red card, the Impact's Marco Di Vaio found enough space to punish some lax defending from Amobi Okugo in the last 10 minutes.
7. Toronto FC (2-1-0)
Last week: 5
It's not panic time for the Reds, even after a 3-0 loss in Salt Lake, but that game did show what Toronto's biggest challenge will be this season: depth. Without injured partner Jonathan Osorio, Michael Bradley wasn't enough to hold down the midfield, where RSL dominated.
8. L.A. Galaxy (0-1-1)
Last week: 7
L.A. got a week off to prepare for a matchup against StubHub Center rival Chivas USA next week. It should be a better game than in the past few years, as Wilmer Cabrera's team is showing signs of turning this fixture back into a real rivalry.
9. Seattle Sounders (2-2-0)
Last week: 6
Columbus snapped the Sounders' 40-0-11 unbeaten run when scoring the first goal, which was the longest active streak in the league. Kenny Cooper scored his first Seattle goal in the loss, and Obafemi Martins has a goal or assist in the last three games. The Sounders felt victimized by the officiating after the game, as Djimi Traore's red card changed the course of the game.
10. Colorado Rapids (1-1-1)
Last week: 9
Two more penalties at home couldn't lift the Rapids to a second straight win in Commerce City. (That's five goals off penalties already in 2014.) Vicente Sánchez bagged both spot kicks for Colorado, but Marvell Wynne's red card opened the door for Dwyer to score a winner for Kansas City in stoppage time.
11. Vancouver Whitecaps (2-0-2)
Last week: 14
After two straight draws, which could be construed as disappointing results based on the opponents and circumstances, the Whitecaps got back on track by handing Houston its first loss. They took down a Dynamo team that hadn't conceded a goal prior to the game, showing that they will be tough to beat at BC Place this year.
12. New York Red Bulls (0-1-3)
Last week: 12
Peguy Luyindula scored in stoppage time to save a home point against Chivas USA. New York played a good second half after going down to a penalty kick in the first half. Perhaps more noteworthy than the result was Tim Cahill's injury, as the Red Bulls' most important player left early with a hamstring problem.
13. Chivas USA (1-1-2)
Last week: 13
Dan Kennedy had an exceptional game as Chivas nearly won its first away game in MLS play in over a year. Cubo Torres scored again, putting away a penalty kick, but Chivas fell to a tie in this week's late-goal curse.
14. New England Revolution (1-2-1)
Last week: 15
The Revolution scored their first goals of the season at San Jose, but they had to wait until Nguyen's stoppage-time winner to get one off their own foot. Nguyen scored on a counterattack as the Earthquakes pressed for their own late winner, turning the tables on a team that scores a lot of late goals.
15. Portland Timbers (0-2-2)
Last week: 11
If anybody in the league should be aggrieved by constant fouls, it's Darlington Nagbe. The Timbers winger was hacked down a couple times again in Dallas, and he eventually left the game with a hamstring strain. After two straight road losses, Portland returns home for the first Cascadia Cup game of the season next week.
16. San Jose Earthquakes (0-2-1)
Last week: 17
It wasn't a good week for the Earthquakes at home. First, Jordan Stewart and Víctor Bernárdez combined on a bizarre own goal, and then they lost in stoppage time after Chris Wondolowski equalized in the second half. The loss ended San Jose's 21-game unbeaten run at Buck Shaw Stadium.
17. Chicago Fire (0-1-3)
Last week: 16
The Fire are leaving a lot to be desired so far this season. Harrison Shipp has been a bright spot on the wing for Chicago, as he has turned in a couple solid games in a row now. He has to be in early consideration for Rookie of the Year, along with Chivas USA's Thomas McNamara.
18. Montreal Impact (0-3-1)
Last week: 19
After just one game back, Di Vaio's importance to the Impact should immediately be understood. He equalized in the 80th minute on the road in Philadelphia after Montreal went a man down, and he was a general pest for the Union defense all game.
19. D.C. United (0-2-1)
Last week: 18 At some point, Ben Olsen has to come under pressure for how poorly his team continues to play. D.C. hasn't won a game since its Open Cup final win in October, and it has been nearly eight months since United's last win in league play.