MLS Rankings: Week 17

Every week the New England Soccer Today crew will look beyond the standings to rank each of the 19 Major League Soccer (MLS) teams. This week Sean Donahue and Brian O’Connell contributed rankings. Comments are followed by the ranker’s name and the rank they gave that team. *Note: Games played on July 3rd were not included in these rankings.

1.    SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (11-3-3, 36 points)
Outlasted L.A. in a wild, nationally-televised shootout that not only saw the Quakes win, but also bore witness to a David Beckham “special” right at Sam Cronin for a questionable injury. Classic game in every sense and who doesn’t love it when Wondo scores? (Brian – 1) … What a fantastic comeback by the ‘Quakes. Not many teams can shoot themselves in the foot against a club like the Galaxy and still come back to win. Not many would’ve predicted it to start the season, but San Jose is clearly ready to make another run at the Cup. (Sean – 1)

2.    D.C. UNITED  (10-5-3, 33 points)
Brought the Impact back down to earth in a 3-0 win at RFK and kept its hold on first place in East. Chris Pontius does a lot of scoring, and he struck again on Saturday. If he can continue bagging goals, D.C. could run away with the East before long. (Brian – 2) … Recovered from their loss to New York with their sixth win in seven games. Remember this was a team that started the season winless in their first three games and looked headed for the cellar of the conference – what a turn around. (Sean – 2)

3. (-1) NEW YORK RED BULLS (9-4-4, 33 points)
Weak effort against Toronto yields a point in a 1-1 draw and keeps them out of the top spot. Is this another sign that the Red Bulls are just playing out the summer in the hopes of turning it on down the stretch? (Brian – 3) … Sure Toronto’s playing better as of late, but it was the all-around poor performance of New York that brings some questions. (Sean – 3)

T4. (+2)  CHICAGO FIRE (8-5-3, 27 points)
Won its third straight with a 1-0 victory over a reeling Sporting K.C. I’m still hesitant to call them a legit contender. Can’t do it. Wouldn’t be prudent. (Brian – 4) … Grab a road win over a suddenly struggling Kansas City, but they were on the back foot the vast majority of the match. Still, the Fire keep finding ways to win lately. (Sean – 5)

T4. REAL SALT LAKE (10-6-2, 32 points)
How..? Lose to the Crew in a storm-delayed game to make it three straight defeats. Meanwhile, there’ll a bonafide you-know-what storm brewing within the Salt Lake camp if they don’t start winning again. (Brian – 5) … No Kyle Beckerman, no Jamison Olave and no Ned Grabavoy – still not a good enough excuse to lose to the Crew. Salt Lake NEEDS a result against Seattle to get back on track. (Sean – 4)

6.  (-1) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (9-5-2, 29 points)
Despite looking like the better club against el Fuego, K.C. does everything but score in a 1-0 loss to a Fire side that was happy to take the points. Two games against Houston in the next week and a half could be a barometer of where this team is going with the summer months upon us. (Brian – 6) … Once the hottest team in the league, Kansas City has really cooled off.  Sill, once the offense starts putting a few in again, expect Sporting to get right back on track. (Sean – 6)

7.    COLUMBUS CREW (6-5-4, 22 points)
Send Salt Lake to its third straight loss with a 2-0 win at stormy Crew Stadium. Like Chicago, it’s tough for me to fathom that the Crew can sustain its success past Labor Day. (Brian – 7) … I’m hesitant to give Columbus too much credit – they faced Salt Lake with a decimated midfield, missing its top defender, in a midst of its worst stretch of the season. Still, the victory, and the manner in which it came, was impressive. (Sean – 7)

8. (-1) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (7-4-5, 26 points) – Depth will be tested with a pair of roads games in four days with a trip to Colorado and L.A. for the Rapids and Chivas USA, respectively. The goals will need to come in order for this team to prove that they belong in the playoff picture. (Brian – 8) … Had some extra time off to recover from the thrashing Los Angeles gave them. Will it help? (Sean – 8)

9.  (+1)  HOUSTON DYNAMO (6-5-5, 23 points) –
Brian Ching plays the hero by slotting home the game-winner via penalty. But can they continue to squeeze out points against terrible teams like Philly and have the rest of the league take them seriously? (Brian – 9) … Is the formation shift a key to Houston’s revival or did they just take advantage of a poor opponent? (Sean – 9)

10. (-1) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (6-9-2, 20 points)
Blew a two-goal lead late in the first half and eventually succumbed to the Quakes in a shoot first, ask questions later kind of game. Meanwhile, guess who’ll be back very soon? Yup.  Omar Gonzalez. (Brian – 10) … Couldn’t hold a lead against the best team in the league, but Gonzalez is back in training and Beckham isn’t headed to the Olympics. Too pieces of great news for Los Angeles. (Sean – 10)

T11. (+1) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (5-7-4, 19 points)
Another 94th minute equalizer saves the day for the Revs, but they could’ve easily won against a tired Seattle side had they converted some golden chances.  We’ll see if the funky formation returns on Sunday against The Best Team Named After An Energy Drink. (Brian – 11) … Another impressive last second equalizer, but the defensive miscues in back-to-back games are very concerning.  They can’t afford to keep dropping points in winnable games against exhausted opponents. (Sean – 12)

T11.  SEATTLE SOUNDERS (7-5-5, 26 points)
And the winless streak goes to eight (0-4-4) after the Revs get a 94th minute equalizer. Recent history hasn’t been good, but the team’s official site is quick to point out that the Sounders have the league’s best record from July 1-onward in the last three years. (Brian – 12) … Rough patch continues for the Sounders. Sure, the first goal by the Revs was offside, but no excuse for giving up a last second equalizer. (Sean – 11)

13. (+1) COLORADO RAPIDS (7-8-1, 22 points)
Pummeled Portland 3-0 in a no doubt display of the fireworks they’re capable of shooting off. Meanwhile – why do the Rapids always get a July 4th game? Shouldn’t a team like – say – THE REVOLUTION play every year on Independence Day? Seriously, which executive’s grandkid did the scheduling this year? (Brian – 13) … Big win over Portland reasserts Colorado’s dominance at home and puts them right back in the playoff hunt. (Sean – 13)

T14. (-1) MONTREAL IMPACT (5-10-3, 18 points)
They better sign Alessandro Nesta quick after getting outscored 6-0 in their last two games. Meanwhile, are the Impact jerseys not one of the sweetest jerseys in MLS? There’s something about royal blue that’s just 1000 times cooler than drab and gloomy navy blue. (Brian – 14) … So much for the turnaround. Two huge losses in a row remind us that Montreal is very much an expansion team. (Sean – 15)

T14.  (+2) CHIVAS USA (5-7-4, 19 points)
Bye week saw them beat Charlotte 2-1 in USOC quarterfinals, but a must-win over Portland on Sunday, as well as an interesting USOC game against Seattle next week, awaits.  (Brian – 15) … Quick… when’s the last time Chivas were in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals? Nev..oh, wait, 2010. Well, that year the Goats finished 15th out of 16 in MLS. Still, Chivas is 2-0-1 in their last three games through all competitions and with Juan Pablo Angel, Alejandro Moreno and Juan Agudelo all looking like dangerous attacking options again, the league’s worst attack may finally be turning a corner. (Sean – 14)

16. (-1) PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-7-4, 16 points)
Remain winless (0-5-2) on the road after a 3-0 loss to Colorado. The offense is killing them. Games against San Jose, Salt Lake and L.A. may send them six feet under. (Brian – 16) … After a big win against Seattle, Portland collapses against Colorado – worse yet, they may have helped revived a rival for the final playoff spot. (Sean – 16)

17.  (+1) FC DALLAS (3-9-5, 14 points)
No disappointment in the Big D thanks to…well…the bye week. On a brighter note, David Ferreira may return on Wednesday, and with a new jersey sponsor, we’ll see if Dallas can turn it around in time for the summer. (Brian – 17) … A week off should help an injury-plagued Dallas squad. No suspensions should help too.  Can an experienced Dallas team get it together for the second half? (Sean – 17)

18. (-1) PHILADELPHIA UNION (3-9-2, 11 points)
Found another way to blow a result after Brian Ching scores the game-winner for Houston via penalty late. The addition of Bakary Soumare should help, but it’s almost definitely too late to salvage the season. Then again, this is MLS, where every team is still eligible on Columbus Day. (Brian – 18) … The Union prove their big win over Kansas City was just a fluke. With more of the club’s staff being dismissed, there’s always next year. (Sean – 18)

19.  TORONTO FC (2-10-3, 9 points)
Let it be known that the Reds won their second game of the season on Jun. 27 in a 3-0 victory over Montreal. All hope isn’t lost…especially with a mid-week match against Dallas, which could either turn out to be the ugliest game on the league fixture list – or the most beautiful. (Brian – 19) … Big second win of the season and now Toronto is four games unbeaten despite a very busy schedule. Still, ties aren’t good enough if Toronto want to keep things interesting heading into the second half of he season. (Sean – 19)

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About Sean Donahue and Brian O'Connell

Sean Donahue has been covering the New England Revolution since 2002 for various publications. He hosted Revolution Recap, a weekly radio program covering the New England Revolution and U.S. Men's National Team from 2005-2008. He is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters, and can be reached via e-mail at nesoccertoday@gmail.com. Brian O'Connell has covered the New England Revolution since 2006, and has written extensively for the Associated Press, Revsnet.com, and New England Soccer News. He is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters, and can be easily reached at BOConnell21@aol.com.