New England Soccer Today

MLS Rankings: Week 22

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)
After Swansea City provided some bye week entertainment, they’ll have to face a Seattle side surely smarting over their USOC final loss come Saturday. Get the popcorn ready for this one. (Brian – 1) … While San Jose’s Western Conference rivals are kept busy with CONCACAF Champions League and the US Open Cup Final, the ‘Quakes get some extra rest for the home stretch. That could help the Quakes grab a big win over Seattle this week that helps secure their spot at the top. (Sean – 1)

2. HOUSTON DYNAMO (11-5-7, 40 points)
In a game that could swing the power inside the Eastern Conference, the Dynamo make a statement by beating the Red Bulls 2-0. But NY won’t have to wait long for the rematch – which takes place on Friday. (Brian) … Look who is back on top of the East. Who? Houston Dynamo, and with the team riding a five game winning run and Ricardo Clark back, maybe it’s time to start prepping for another rally with Mike Jones. (Sean – 2)

3. (-1) REAL SALT LAKE (13-8-3, 42 points)
From Real Salt Lake to Really, Salt Lake? Just when you think they’ve shaken their demons, they go ahead and drop a 1-0 loss to a Colorado team that hadn’t won since June. And a loss in their opening CCL game to Herediano only confirms that the future holds more sleepless nights for Jason Kreis. (Brian – 3) … It’s really hard to keep Salt Lake this high after their loss to struggling Colorado, but it’s even harder to find someone else to place above them after the top four. Big game in Vancouver coming up as Salt Lake need to worry about keeping the second seed in the West. (Sean – 4)

4. (+1) D.C. UNITED (11-7-3, 36 points)
Edge the Crew 1-0 thanks to the game-winner from Chris Pontius, who’s reached double-digits in the goal department. Another tough test awaits this weekend with newly-crownd USOC champion Sporting K.C. on tap. (Brian – 4) … Important three points against the Crew means United – who have the second best record (6-4-0) in the East over the last ten games) – are keeping the pace with the East’s leaders and hold their own destiny with two games in hand on the Dynamo. (Sean – 5)

5. (+1) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (10-5-7, 37 points)
Absolutely obliterated the Galaxy to the tune of 4-0 at CenteryLink Field on national TV. Though they fell short of the USOC 4-peat, they’ll surely use the bitter taste of that defeat to steer their focus on the Supporter’s Shield. (Brian – 7) … Tough loss in the Open Cup final, but with a huge win 4-0 over the Galaxy and a six run unbeaten streak in MLS, as well as a 3-1 win to start Champions League play, things are looking good for the Sounders. (Sean – 3)

T6. (-2) NEW YORK RED BULLS (11-7-5, 38 points)
Tim Cahill’s debut gets spoiled by the Dynamo, but they won’t have to wait long for a chance at revenge on Friday. More good news: Dax McCarty returns from suspension. (Brian – 6) … Two losses in a row, though with Houston’s home form, can you blame them? With a rematch with the Dynamo at home on Friday and the talent the Red Bulls have on their squad, a repeat of the same result will raise a lot of questions about NY’s title credentials. (Sean – 6)

T6. (+2) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (12-7-4, 40 points)
After hoisting the Lamar Hunt Trophy on Wednesday, it’s short rest for the weary with D.C United up next. The attack may not be at its sharpest, but the midfield has done well to fluster its opponents in recent weeks. (Brian – 5) … An Open Cup is great and three points is three points, but the SKC will need to play a lot better than they did against the Revs if they are to keep the pace at the top of the East. Huge home game against D.C. United coming up. (Sean – 7)

8. (+1) CHICAGO FIRE (10-7-5, 35 points)
Snapped its two-game skid with a 2-1 win over the cellar-dwelling Toronto FC. A trip to PPL Park may give some indication as to how badly it wants to stay inside the playoff picture. (Brian – 8) … Comeback win over Toronto has the Fire sitting pretty in the fifth and final playoff spot in the East with a nice cushion over their rivals. The Fire aren’t blowing anyone out, but their racking up points. (Sean – 8)

9. (-3) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (10-11-3, 33 points)
Gals crash and burn in Seattle thanks to a 4-0 artificial grass whuppin’. You know it’s bad when Bruce Arena isn’t the only one blaming the refs for the wretched result. (Brian – 9) … Crushing loss to the Seattle Sounders ends the Galaxy’s impressive run. Suddenly this weekend’s match against Chivas USA is looking crucial to the Galaxy’s hopes of holding onto the fifth spot in the West. (Sean – 9)

10. (+ 1) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (9-7-7, 34 points)
Come off the bye week with Kenny Miller in tow to face a Salt Lake side coming off of stunning league and CCL defeats. Will this be the game where Vancouver finally convinces us that its postseason worthy? (Brian – 10) … Bye week for the Caps as they continue to shuffle their roster. Form has been poor, but the Crew’s loss moves them up a spot. (Sean – 10)

11. (-1) COLUMBUS CREW (8-8-4, 28 points)
The 1-0 loss was nothing compared the tragic news of Kirk Urso’s passing early Sunday morning. Although the Crew will enter Saturday’s match against TFC with a heavy heart, they’ll have to retain their focus to start collecting points down the stretch. (Brian – 11) … With two games in hand the Crew still have the best (realistically, the only) shot at catching the Fire. Still, a 1-0 loss to D.C. put a significant dent in their hopes and Saturday’s match vs. Toronto is pretty close to a must win. (Sean – 11) *(Note: the Toronto match has been postponed to August 22nd)

12. (+2) MONTREAL IMPACT (9-13-3, 30 points)
It was the headbutt heard ‘round MLS: Nelson Rivas taking down Antoine Hoppenot with his forehead. Even so, the Impact grab the 2-0 win, but Rivas faces a three-game ban – which takes effect against a reeling Revolution side on Sunday. (Brian – 12) … The Impact seems to have finally found their form. Unfortunately for them, they’ve played more games than everyone else and would need to come close to winning out the season to make the playoffs. (Sean – 12)

13. (-1) CHIVAS USA (7-8-5, 26 points)
With Shalrie Joseph on board, the Goats will look to repeat the success they grabbed last time they faced the Galaxy, who come into Saturday’s game looking to rebound from last weekend’s humiliation. (Brian – 13) … Had a bye week to get ready for their biggest match of the season. Upset the Galaxy and Chivas all of a sudden have a great shot at the postseason with all their games in hand. (Sean – 13)

14. (+4) COLORADO RAPIDS (8-14-1, 25 points)
Joseph Nane’s first MLS goal snaps the Rapids six-game losing streak against rival Real Salt Lake. And – what’s this – perhaps a chance to make it two in a row against Dallas this weekend? (Brian – 14) … Shock upset win over Real Salt Lake ends their six losing streak and keeps their extremely slim playoff hopes still alive. (Sean – 15)

T15. (-3) PHILADELPHIA UNION (7-11-2, 23 points)
Jack McInerney gets sent to the showers in a 2-0 loss to the Impact. Even though they still have games in hand, the season’s not getting any longer, and three points is a must against the Fire on Saturday. (Brian – 17) … Tough loss to Montreal essentially ends any realistic playoff hopes for the Union. Still, they’re far better off than where they were before Peter Nowak’s departure. (Sean – 14)

T15. (-1) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (6-11-5, 23 points)
Looks like the well’s gone dry in New England, as the Revolution’s slide continues with a 1-0 loss to a chippy Sporting K.C. With Montreal in town on Sunday, they’ll have to find a way to get maximum points. (Brian – 15) … The worst team in the East over the last 10 games kept their form intact with a loss to Sporting Kansas City in which the team looked lost with captain Shalrie Joseph now on permanently the west coast. Jerry Bengtson’s return could help a lot, but even a 2002-esque run wouldn’t be enough to get this team to the playoffs with the improved East. It’s all about building for 2013 at this point. (Sean – 16)

17. FC DALLAS (5-11-8, 23 points)
Fit to be tied against the equally abysmal Portland Timbers. Granted Brek Shea and Kevin Hartman looked their usual selves, but even with both in form, it’s too little, too late. (Brian – 16) … Another red card forces Dallas to settle for a point even with their stars returning to health and form. A team with this talent should’ve still been in the hunt at this point, which makes Dallas’ awful season even more of a disappointment. (Sean – 17)

18. (-2) TORONTO FC (5-13-4, 19 points)
The Reds resume to what they do best – blowing what few leads they earn – in Sunday’s go from in front 2-1 loss to the Fire. Another tough game against an emotionally-charged Crew doesn’t look promising. (Brian – 18) … Back-to-back losses means Toronto can officially put their focus on the Champions League – and picking up as high a draft pick as possible. (Sean – 18)

19. PORTLAND TIMBERS (5-12-5, 20 points)
At least they didn’t lose. A 1-1 draw with Dallas finally gives the Timbers something to celebrate, but you have to wonder what the trade for Donovan Ricketts will do for the attack, which has been terrible this season. (Brian – 19) … Rarely threatened against Dallas until going up a man, so it’s hard to give them much credit for the draw that ended their losing skid. (Sean – 19)

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