MLS Power Rankings: Seattle Sounders Rise in Week 11

Peter Galindo@@GalindoPWFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2015

MLS Power Rankings: Seattle Sounders Rise in Week 11

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    The MLS weekend is over and it produced the craziest, most dramatic set of matches this season. It was the perfect showcase of the league's parity.

    The Seattle Sounders turned heads with their 2-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps, one of the hottest teams in the first half of the campaign.

    Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Union, New York City FC and the Montreal Impact all recorded points. Their results, as well as Seattle's, have significantly altered the power rankings.

    Here are the power rankings for MLS for Week 11.

20. Chicago Fire

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 17

    The Chicago Fire shouldn't be at the bottom, especially after a dominant first half against New York City FC on Friday.

    However, the Fire let a 2-0 lead slip against 10-man NYCFC. It wasn't just the defensive display that let down Chicago, it was complacency and a sharp drop in intensity that let down the team.

    NYCFC's defense has been leaking goals the past few weeks. It was an odd decision by head coach Frank Yallop to sit back and let New York City attack his side's penalty area. In the end, it cost his team two valuable road points.

19. Philadelphia Union

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    Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 20

    The Philadelphia Union would have stayed at the bottom of the power rankings if not for Zach Pfeffer's stoppage-time winner against D.C. United at PPL Park on Sunday.

    The homegrown talent's wonderfully taken goal gave the Union just its second win of the season in a game that was highlighted by fan protests. It was a gritty win, but defeating the best team in the league is a noteworthy result.

    On one hand, D.C. was playing with 10 men after Luis Silva left the match with an injury just before second-half stoppage time. However, apart from one shot off the post from Miguel Aguilar, the United attack was lackluster.

    Credit the Union for capitalizing on the man advantage and for snapping a five-game losing streak against the league's top team.

18. New York City FC

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 18

    New York City FC's 2-2 draw versus the Chicago Fire was as dramatic as they came in Week 11. NYCFC is still winless since the team's home opener on March 15, a streak of nine games, but this tie could be the beginning of a positive run.

    It definitely wasn't a perfect night on Friday for NYCFC. R. J. Allen conceded a penalty and was subsequently sent off for the challenge. Chicago then took a 2-0 lead and it appeared as if New York was going to leave Yankee Stadium with another loss.

    However, unlike the previous week against the New York Red Bulls, NYCFC courageously fought and was rewarded with a point.

    NYCFC stays at No. 18 because, despite the resiliency, the defense was still slow and coughing up chances to the Fire even before the red card.

17. Montreal Impact

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    Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 19

    Virtually out of nowhere and without warning, the Montreal Impact recorded one of the most emphatic wins of the weekend, defeating Real Salt Lake 4-1 on Saturday.

    The Impact had just four goals in total during the regular season prior to Saturday and hadn't scored four in an MLS match since September 8, 2013. Montreal also snapped a 10-match winless skid.

    Those stats indicate how significant this victory was for the Impact, especially since RSL head coach Jeff Cassar sent out a strong lineup. 

16. Portland Timbers

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 14

    The Portland Timbers have struggled to gain consistency so far in 2015. After defeating the Montreal Impact last week, the Timbers were outplayed and it showed in a 3-1 defeat to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night.

    Head coach Caleb Porter can cite injuries and a change in philosophy as the reasons for Portland's struggles, but they're running out of excuses now that Diego Valeri has returned from injury.

    The defense failed to close down Will Bruin and Giles Barnes on several occasions. The back line also conceded a goal via a set piece and the attack was wasteful. The latter two aren't rare occurrences, which is concerning for Porter and his team.

    Will Johnson is nearing a return, which may help the defense, but for now, the squad is in disarray.

15. Colorado Rapids

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    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 15

    The Colorado Rapids' match versus Sporting Kansas City was postponed due to inclement weather. As a result, the Rapids remain at No. 15 for this week.

    Colorado's next game is against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. It will be a tricky encounter, but the Rapids are at home and have won three straight games against Vancouver at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

14. Real Salt Lake

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    Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 10

    It was a horrible day for Real Salt Lake on Saturday. For the second time this season, RSL conceded four goals in a match in a 4-1 defeat to the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo.

    The defense allowed Ignacio Piatti, Dominic Oduro and Montreal's wingers too much space and time to execute a pass or shot. The midfield was also overrun by Calum Mallace and Marco Donadel. RSL's midfield is too experienced and talented to let that happen.

    Head coach Jeff Cassar can chalk this up as a freak result. Complacency appeared to affect the squad, but it's still a horrific result for RSL and deservedly moves them down to No. 14.

13. L.A. Galaxy

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 11

    The L.A. Galaxy continue to slide down the power rankings. The defending champions suffered their worst loss of the campaign so far, a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Orlando City SC on Sunday.

    The Galaxy have failed to win in their last five games. However, Robbie Keane, Jose Villarreal (who came on as a substitute), Omar Gonzalez, Robbie Rogers and Dan Gargan didn't start versus Orlando. It's tough for any team to miss five starters.

    Fans shouldn't panic yet given the absentees. Orlando only recorded one more shot than L.A., but the difference was the penalty and the poor display from Tommy Meyer in defense.

    Still, that doesn't completely excuse the Galaxy from what was their most pitiful performance of the year.

12. Orlando City SC

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 16

    After losing to D.C. United on Wednesday, Orlando City SC had to immediately change its focus to the defending champion LA Galaxy for Sunday. Without starting center back Aurelien Collin, it looked like a tough test.

    It ended up being a cakewalk with Orlando crushing the Galaxy 4-0 at home. The front four of Cyle Larin, Kaka, Brek Shea and Eric Avila clicked, plus the midfield duo of Darwin Ceren and Cristian Higuita bossed the L.A. pairing. 

    Orlando's first home victory of the season moves them up from No. 16 into 11th. Demolishing the MLS Cup holders will have that effect.

11. Toronto FC

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Previous week: No. 13

    Toronto FC tied the New England Revolution despite the injury to Jozy Altidore in the first half. However, TFC earned the point thanks to two players: Michael Bradley and Chris Konopka. 

    Bradley's slalom run and calm, composed finished into the far post was beautifully executed. New England's defense could have closed him down instead of clumsily lunging towards him, but credit the midfielder for the effort.

    Konopka, who is starting in place of injured goalkeeper Joe Bendik, made several key saves to preserve TFC's draw. He displayed athleticism, reflexes and awareness in each situation.

    The attack was noticeably weaker without Altidore, but exiting Gillette Stadium with a point after a lifeless performance a week ago moves TFC into the 11th spot.

10. Houston Dynamo

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    Bob Levey/Associated Press

    Previous week: No. 12

    The Houston Dynamo showed no mercy against the Portland Timbers on Saturday night. Brad Davis, Will Bruin and Giles Barnes starred in a 3-1 win.

    Davis' deliveries on set pieces were executed to perfection, plus Will Bruin and Giles Barnes found space and finished their chances.

    The Dynamo took advantage of a disorganized Timbers back line and Houston deserved to win by a couple of goals. As the match continued, Barnes and Bruin became more difficult to contain. 

    It was pleasing to see the Dynamo's forwards excel because that's been a rare occurrence.

9. Sporting Kansas City

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    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 9

    With Sporting Kansas City's match against the Colorado Rapids postponed due to storms in the Kansas City area, Sporting remains in ninth this week.

    SKC has a quick turnaround when it faces the New England Revolution on Wednesday. Since Sporting KC hasn't played a match since May 9, the team should be well rested.

8. Columbus Crew

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    Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 5

    The Columbus Crew's match against the San Jose Earthquakes gradually became worse as the night continued. Mohammed Saeid was not playing well and ended up getting sent off. The Earthquakes eventually penetrated the Crew's defense and scored twice to win 2-0.

    San Jose exposed Columbus through the flanks, which is exactly how the Crew like to attack. The Earthquakes' most influential players were Matias Perez Garcia and Shea Salinas, who often drifted inside from the wings. 

    The Crew had a bad game and it happens, but they still haven't won a game after conceding the first goal. Columbus was also second best on the night, hence the drop to No. 8.

7. San Jose Earthquakes

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    Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 8

    The San Jose Earthquakes have clearly adjusted to head coach Dominic Kinnear's philosophy in recent weeks. The Earthquakes are now unbeaten in four consecutive games after toppling the Columbus Crew.

    The Crew will likely challenge for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, so it's a solid win, especially since Kinnear beat Columbus at its own game. The Quakes utilized swift counterattacks and moved the ball out wide to expose the back line.

    It was a monumental performance and moved the Earthquakes into fourth place in the Western Conference. As a result, San Jose moves up to No. 7.

6. New England Revolution

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    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 6

    The New England Revolution controlled their game against Toronto FC but were left frustrated by goalkeeper Chris Konopka, who kept saving everything in sight in the second half.

    Apart from Michael Bradley's goal, the Revolution defense and midfield was tight and stingy. However, the New England attack could not convert its chances. Konopka made some great saves, but Lee Nguyen missed a sitter inside the box and a few others were wasteful as well.

    New England didn't play poorly, but the front four were shut down after scoring the opening goal. Because of that, the Revolution remain at No. 6.

5. Vancouver Whitecaps

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 2

    The Vancouver Whitecaps came crashing down to Earth after the Seattle Sounders defeated them 2-0 at BC Place on Saturday. To add insult to injury, Chad Barrett scored both goals.

    The Sounders caught the Whitecaps high up the pitch and exposed the slow back line by playing in balls over the top for Barrett. The striker received and converted well on both goals. 

    It's troubling that the Whitecaps were so easily beaten at the back. It was also a worry to see the attack neutralized by Seattle. Octavio Rivero, Pedro Morales, Kekuta Manneh and Cristian Techera were quickly closed down and had little space to operate in all match.

    Overall, the Whitecaps' performance was disappointing. The ineffective attack and two lapses in judgment have moved down Vancouver to fifth.

4. FC Dallas

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 4

    FC Dallas was peppering the New York Red Bulls keeper on Friday but couldn't find that decisive goal and had to settle for a 0-0 draw. 

    The attack wasted several opportunities, mustering just three shots on target, according to the official MLS website. Fabian Castillo's finishing was especially disappointing. He had one attempt blocked and he fired a sitter over the bar in the 76th minute.

    On the bright side, the defense was able to shut down New York's attack. Whenever the Red Bulls tried to counterattack, the Dallas defenders were usually in position to close down any player who had the ball.

    However, the scoreless draw and lack of composure in the penalty area keeps Dallas at No. 4.

3. New York Red Bulls

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 3

    The New York Red Bulls seldom tested FC Dallas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy in Friday's 0-0 draw. It wasn't just the attack that was lacking, the whole team didn't look sharp.

    Felipe had to clear a ball off the line to prevent a Dallas goal, Chris Duvall was also beaten a few times by Fabian Castillo, although several full-backs have been embarrassed by the Colombian.

    It's worth noting that the Red Bulls were missing two center backs. Matt Miazga was suspended and Ronald Zubar is recovering from an injury. Despite the weaker defense, New York still managed to weather the storm and earn a point on the road. That is good enough to keep them in the top three.

2. D.C. United

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    Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 1

    If D.C. United didn't concede a late goal to Zach Pfeffer of the Philadelphia Union on Sunday, United would have likely stayed at No. 1.

    D.C. defeated Orlando City SC at home on Wednesday, but the hosts had to score twice in the second half to clinch the victory. It's clear that the team misses striker Fabian Espindola, but United converted through a set piece and a counterattack.

    D.C. couldn't capitalize from any dead ball or through the counter. Miguel Aguilar's shot was the only quality chance that United produced all night. Due to this lackluster performance, D.C. loses its No. 1 status this week.

1. Seattle Sounders

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous week: No. 7

    The Seattle Sounders have claimed the No. 1 spot for this week after a perfect performance against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.

    Seattle kept Vancouver's high-octane attack in check all afternoon. A week after a disastrous display versus the Columbus Crew, the defense was able to recover from a horrific showing.

    The shock of the win was Chad Barrett's performance. He replaced the injured Obafemi Martins and scored both goals for the Sounders. 

    Clint Dempsey and Marco Pappa caught the Whitecaps back line too high up the pitch, so they chipped balls over the top for Barrett to chase. It worked on both occasions as Seattle earned its first win in Vancouver since 2011.

    Recording a clean sheet and winning 2-0 at the home of the in-form team in the Western Conference makes the Sounders the clear No. 1.

    Peter Galindo covers MLS and U.S. soccer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @GalindoPW.

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