New England Soccer Today

MLS Rankings: Week 21

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 Brian O’Connell and Sean Donahue contributed rankings. Comments are followed by the ranker’s name and the rank they gave that team.

1. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (13-5-5, 44 points)
Steve Lenhart – on Steve Lenhart Wig Night, no less – comes on as a sub to score a stoppage time equalizer against the ambitious Fire. And the Quakes just keep on rolling. (Brian – 1) … Last-gasp equalizer to tie the Fire. Can’t win them all, but you’d have expected to win that one at home and now Salt Lake is hot on their tails again. (Sean – 1)

T2. (+2) REAL SALT LAKE (13-7-3, 42 points)
A brace by Alvaro Saborio gives Salt Lake a 2-1 over the Whitecaps ahead of CCL competition.  After that, it’s on to the free-falling Rapids, a team Salt Lake just beat two weeks ago. (Brian – 2) … Recovered nicely with two wins after losing to San Jose and are closing back in on the top spot. Will the CCL games slow them down in MLS? (Sean – 3)

T2. (+1) HOUSTON DYNAMO (10-5-7, 37 points)
Even without Geoff Cameron, the Dynamo grab a 2-0 victory over Toronto and continue surging toward the top spot in the East.  A tough game against N.Y. will certainly test the D on Friday. (Brian – 3) … Seven games unbeaten, 6-1-3 in their last ten – best in the East – and all this while dealing with the Geoff Cameron transfer saga?  Suddenly Houston are the hottest team in MLS and the favorites in the East to return to MLS Cup. (Sean – 2)

4. (-2) NEW YORK RED BULLS (11-6-5, 38 points)
How do you say “upset” in French? Well, ask the Impact, who handed the Red Bulls a surprising 3-1 loss last weekend. But with Tim Cahill officially on board, NY won’t be dwelling on last weekend’s disappointment for long. (Brian – 4) … Big loss to Montreal and New York’s the third worst defense in the East is still a concern. Tim Cahill will help, but won’t solve the backline issues. (Sean – 4)

5. (+1) D.C. UNITED (10-7-3, 33 points)
Played to a 1-1 draw to PSG, but a bigger game awaits on Saturday against the Crew. With the competition inside the conference intensifying, nothing less than three points will suffice. (Brian – 5) … Off in MLS, but a tie with PSG should help increase confidence. Second best record in the East over the last ten games will be tested against Columbus. Games in hand have D.C. in a great position. (Sean – 5)

T6. (+2) SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (9-5-7, 34 points)
The Sounders stay unbeaten in their last five thanks to Eddie Johnson, who scored and assisted in a 2-1 win over the Rapids. That streak will be tested when the Galaxy come to town on Sunday. (Brian – 6) … Extend their unbeaten run to five. Eddie Johnson keeps scoring and Seattle’s still waiting for Fredy Montero to go on a run.  (Sean – 7)

T6. (+1) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (10-10-3, 33 points)
Mike Magee’s 62nd minute goal lifts the Galaxy over FC Dallas, which puts the defending champs firmly inside the playoff picture. Another encouraging development? Omar Gonzalez went the full 90 for the first time this season. (Brian – 7) … No Beckham or Donovan? No problem for the resurgent Galaxy. Three points in Dallas puts the Galaxy finally back to .500. 7-2-1 in their last 10 games is best in the league. (Sean – 6)

8. (-3) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (11-7-4, 37 points)
Stumbling of late, with a 2-1 loss to Columbus the latest example. Kei Kamara scored, but can’t seem to get the win at home. They’ll head to Foxboro to play the Revs, who’ve been at their best at Gillette Stadium. (Brian – 8) … First a scoreless home draw with the Revs, then a 2-1 home loss to Columbus? Kansas City’s suddenly struggling. (Sean – 8)

9. (-1) CHICAGO FIRE (9-7-5, 32 points)
The good news? They earned a draw in a match they had no business getting a point from. The bad news? It could’ve been three – that is until the one and only Steve Lenhart leveled it after the 90th minute. (Brian – 9) … Heading into San Jose, a draw seemed like a nice result. Blowing a lead in the 98th minute while holding a man advantage? Well, suddenly that doesn’t seem so great. Inability to maintain possession with a lead and a man advantage is a bit worrying. (Sean – 9)

10. (+1) COLUMBUS CREW (8-7-4, 28 points)
A brace by Jairo Arrieta – who earned his first MLS start on Saturday – leads the Crew over K.C. at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. Good to see someone’s actually scoring goals for C-bus. (Brian – 10) … DP Federico Higuaín is on the way, but the Crew already showed improvement offensively with two goals in upset win at Kansas City. (Sean – 10)

11. (-1) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (9-7-7, 34 points)
Drop a 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake, but Darren Mattocks strengthens his case for Rookie of the Year with his seventh goal of the season. They’ll play Salt Lake again on Aug. 11 without Joe Cannon, who was red carded for handling outside of the box late in last weekend’s defeat. (Brian – 11) … Expected loss to Salt Lake. Still trying to re-find their identity after all the moves – 3-4-3 in their last ten. (Sean – 11)

T12. (+2) PHILADELPHIA UNION (7-10-2, 23 points)
Comeback 2-1 win over the Revolution puts them in the seventh spot as they resume their midseason run.  We’ll see if the John Hackworth Magic continues in Montreal this weekend. (Brian – 12) … Big comeback victory over the Revs. With games in hand Philadelphia still has an outside shot at making a run in the post-Nowak era. (Sean – 13)

T12. CHIVAS USA (7-8-5, 26 points)
Squeak by the Timbers thanks to a Danny Califf goal, but that changes little as the offensively-challenged Goats have got to start scoring some more to keep their playoff hopes alive. (Brian – 13) … Expected win over Portland and a respectable 4-2-4 in their last ten games. With some time off, games in hand and Shalrie Joseph on the way. Don’t bet against Chivas making a run to the playoffs. (Sean – 12)

T14. (-1) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (6-10-5, 23 points)
Run their winless streak to four after Philly scores two unanswered goals in the second half. Chances continue to fall into the roadside ditch while Jerry Bengtson, who’s on Olympic duty with Honduras, is on fire with three goals in two Group games in London. (Brian – 14) … Losses to the East’s three worst teams and shipping off Shalrie? It’ll take a miracle for this team to reach 10 wins, let alone come anywhere close to the playoffs at this point. (Sean – 15)

T14. (+3) MONTREAL IMPACT (8-13-3, 27 points)
The Impact grab a shock 3-1 over N.Y. and continue their progress in the points department. They may not have what it takes to grab a playoff spot, but count on the talented and sometimes entertaining expansion side to make the postseason race interesting. (Brian – 15) … Big win by Montreal over New York to recover from the loss to Houston. Unfortunately, having already played more games than anyone else in the league, Montreal are essentially just three losses away from being eliminated from playoff contention. (Sean – 14)

16. (-1) TORONTO FC (5-12-4, 19 points)
Fell in a 2-0 loss to Houston as the Reds are quickly resuming their pre-Paul Mariner form. The light at the end of the tunnel? You guessed it – Champions League starts up on Wednesday. (Brian – 16) … Home loss to Houston halts Toronto’s run and all but ends any playoff dreams, leaving Toronto with just a 0.1% chance. (Sean – 16)

17. (-1) FC DALLAS (5-11-7, 22 points)
With the season already in the wood chipper, Dallas finds another reason to wish for winter after a 1-0 loss to the resurgent Galaxy.  Meanwhile, a battle of the bottom feeders awaits on Saturday with a trip to Portland on Sunday.  (Brian – 17) … Faced a weakened Galaxy and still lost. Just another disappointment in a season full of them for Dallas. (Sean – 17)

18. (-1) COLORADO RAPIDS (7-14-1, 22 points)
Make it six straight losses with the 2-1 defeat to Seattle. A matchup with Salt Lake is likely to push that streak to seven with Oscar Pareja struggling to find the right gameday combinations. (Brian – 18) … Home loss to Seattle makes it six in a row. Shakeup is needed. (Sean – 18)

19. PORTLAND TIMBERS (5-12-4, 19 points)
Shutout in four of their last five against the Goats, who handed them a 1-0 loss. Anyone have John Spencer’s cell number handy? (Brian – 19) … The season can’t end soon enough for Portland. Plenty of time to find a new coach before 2013. (Sean – 19)

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