New England Soccer Today

MLS Rankings: Week 26

Every week the contributors to New England Soccer Today will look beyond just the standings to rank the 16 Major League Soccer (MLS) teams. This week Brian O’Connell and Sean Donahue contributed rankings. Comments are followed by the ranker’s name and the rank the team was given. Note: This week’s rankings were submitted before Wednesday’s matches. Apologies for the delay.

1. Real Salt Lake (13-4-9, 48 points) – Even if they hadn’t equalized late against Colorado, Salt Lake has done nothing to hurt its position at the top of the class. Dare I say it? Salt Lake has proven the critics that they are for – wait for it – “real” this season. (Brian – 1) … Draw with Colorado, despite resting several players, shows just how deep the team is. (Sean – 1)

2. FC Dallas (11-2-13, 46 points) (+1)– Thoroughly disposed a recently-impressive Kansas City on the road. With Jeff Cunningham starting to resemble his 2009 self, things are looking good in the Big D – well, at least for FCD. The Cowboys are an entirely different matter. (Brian – 2) … Poor start against New England, but impressive fight back. Great win over a streaking Kansas City. (Sean – 2)

3. Los Angeles Galaxy (15-6-5, 50 points) (-1) – Their failure to appear for the so-called “Game of the Season” last Friday showed that this club still hasn’t shaken its second-half woes. Beckham’s return hasn’t done the trick. Nor has Bruce Arena’s pouty face. (Brian – 4) … Poor performance against New York. Another like it and the Supporter’s Shield will be going to Salt Lake. (Sean – 3)

4. Seattle Sounders (11-9-6, 39 points) (+1) – I have no reservations whatsoever about naming them the third best team in the league. Aside from RSL, this is the hottest club in MLS at the moment. Probably the only club that could beat both FCD and RSL in the playoffs. (Brian – 3) … 1-0 over Chicago as they continue strong form heading towards the play-offs. (Sean – 5)

5. New York Red Bulls (13-8-5, 44 points) – There’s a new king atop the Eastern Conference standings. Their impressive form against LA was the formal announcement that this club has arrived, and it drinks Red Bull, and so should you if you don’t want to be a loser. (Brian – 5) … Huge victory over Los Angeles puts the pressure on Columbus in the battle for the top seed in the East. (Sean – 4)

6. Columbus Crew (13-7-6, 45 points) (-2) – Their Champions League commitments may have hurt their form in league play, but the simple fact is that this an experienced side that won’t be deterred by bumps in the road. I mean, they’re named after construction workers after all. (Brian – 6) … Another unimpressive performance, this time against New England. Did they peak too early? (Sean – 6)

7. Colorado Rapids (11-7-8, 41 points) – Nearly eked out a victory at Rio Tinto thanks to a gift non-penalty call, but the fact remains they could hang with the big boys. Whether this was an aberration or reality, only Chuck Norris knows. (Brian – 7) … Debating whether a 1-1 draw at Salt Lake should be considered should be considered a positive, despite Salt Lake resting many players. (Sean – 7)

8. San Jose Earthquakes (11-8-6, 39 points) – Chris Wondolowski’s singular performance catapulted the Quakes to an impressive 3-2 road victory. Insert corny magician/rabbit/hat trick line here. (Brian – 8 ) … Got 3-2 over win Toronto thanks to Wondolowski’s hat trick. 5-1-1 in their last 7 games. (Sean – 8 )

9. Kansas City Wizards (9-10-6, 33 points) – Losing a tough match to FCD is nothing to be embarrassed about. But this league is about results, and losing three late-season points at home never help’s one’s playoff chances. Just an FYI. (Brian – 9) … Excellent comeback victory against Houston on Wednesday put them in a good spot to move closer to a play-off spot, but then ruined by an unimpressive 3-1 home loss to FC Dallas. (Sean – 9)

10. Toronto FC (8-11-7, 31 points)– After getting bounced from CONCACAF Champions League last night, the Reds can now focus on the league. Whether they have to resources to muster up a late-season run is another matter entirely. Spoiler alert: they don’t. (Brian – 10) … 3-2 loss to San Jose all but ends their play-off hopes. De Ro’s stunt only further compounds the team’s problems. (Sean – 10)

11. Philadelphia Union (7-13-6, 27 points) (+1) – If MLS followed the August-May schedule season seen overseas, Philly would probably be early contenders. Although that’s obviously not reality, I sometimes like to dream about these scenarios. That and a trio of Revs Girls on a trampoline in my backyard. (Brian – 11) … Team is rounding into form with a big 3-0 win over Chivas (Sean – 11)

12. Chicago Fire (7-10-8, 29 points) (-1) – Dropped a heartbreaker to Seattle at home, which effectively extinguished the Fire from the playoff conversation. Get it? Fire extinguisher? Yes? No? Can’t win them all, I guess. (Brian – 12) … Continue to fall out of the play-off picture. No excuse not to be doing better with the roster they have. (Sean – 12)

T13. Houston Dynamo (7-14-5, 26 points) (+2) – Moved out of the Western Conference cellar thanks to a 3-1 effort against their former neighbors, DC United. Dominic Oduro’s 100th minute goal proves anything is possible when you play DC. (Brian – 13) … Showed life against Houston before suffering an epic collapse. Win over D.C. United does little to change the fact they’ve been awful this season.  (Sean – 14)

T13. New England Revolution (7-14-5, 26 points) (+1) – Giving up back-to-back late-match goals to earn petty draws shows that while the club may have finally learned how to start, they still haven’t figured out how to finish, among other things – like winning. (Brian – 13) … A couple of strong performances against two of the top teams in the league, but an inability to close out games leaves them with just two points. (Sean – 14)

15. Chivas USA (7-14-4, 25 points) (-3) –Getting thumped to an expansion side is not the way to move up the rankings. In fact, the only thing it assured the Goats is a reservation for the basement of the Western Conference. Don’t forget to check the radon detector! (Brian – 15) … Things are just getting worse for Chivas. Dreadful performance against a first year team. (Sean – 15)

16. D.C. United (5-18-3, 18 points) – Like the Revolution, they couldn’t hold a lead to save their lives. D.C. needs about nine more Andy Najars before they can even dream of returning to the MLS mantle. Nine more Andy Najars, and maybe an Iker Casillas clone. And Jose Mourinho, the real one, for comedy. (Brian – 16) … Another blown lead and D.C. is looking at setting several club records; among them is most losses. (Sean – 16)

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