MLS Power Rankings After a Dramatic Week 12
Week 12 in MLS produced several dramatic upsets this past weekend which drastically altered the league standings.
The Chicago Fire recovered from a 2-0 deficit to draw 2-2 versus the Columbus Crew, the Montreal Impact squeezed out a 2-1 win over FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids edged the Vancouver Whitecaps.
A few of the top sides in MLS failed to win, including last week's No. 1, the Seattle Sounders. Did they manage to keep hold of the top spot?
Here are the MLS power rankings after Week 12.
20. New York City FC (Previous: 18)
New York City FC head coach Jason Kreis returned to Rio Tinto Stadium for the first time since leaving Real Salt Lake after the 2013 season. Unfortunately for Kreis, his first match in Sandy, Utah, ended in a 2-0 defeat.
The attack had a few chances but hardly troubled goalkeeper Nick Rimando. It was the individual mistakes at the back that cost NYCFC. Shay Facey whiffed on a clearance, allowing John Stertzer the space to score the opening goal.
Ex-RSL defender Chris Wingert was mainly at fault for Alvaro Saborio's goal after he was caught ball-watching during Luke Mulholland's cross. This lapse in concentration gave Saborio the necessary space to execute the header for the second strike.
New York hasn't fixed the same basic defensive errors, and the ineffective attack failed to deliver after last week's comeback. As a result, NYCFC falls to the bottom of the power rankings.
19. Chicago Fire (Previous: 20)
The Chicago Fire were well on their way to a 2-0 defeat until David Accam and Jason Johnson bailed them out against the Columbus Crew.
Despite every striker (barring Johnson) missing quality opportunities, the Fire were incredibly persistent after Kei Kamara's second goal. Chicago capitalized on a lucky deflection after Kennedy Igboananike's run down the left flank.
However, the cross from Eric Gehrig for Johnson's goal was inch-perfect from a defender whose delivery into the box is below-average.
Chicago's defense was disorganized during both goals, especially on Kamara's second. However, it was a feisty performance from the Fire against one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, which moves them up to No. 19.
18. Portland Timbers (Previous: 16)
The Portland Timbers continue to slide down the Western Conference standings. Portland is now tied for last in the West after losing 1-0 to Toronto FC on Saturday.
Diego Valeri's ankle injury was a tough break for the Timbers, but failing to close down Sebastian Giovinco before his goal highlights how much Portland needs Will Johnson in the lineup.
Another worrying trend is the inconsistent attack. Portland seldom tested TFC goalkeeper Chris Konopka despite controlling the majority of the possession. Toronto actually had more quality scoring chances on Saturday.
This underwhelming performance on both sides of the pitch has moved Portland down to No. 18.
17. Philadelphia Union (Previous: 19)
The Philadelphia Union produced their best performance of the season on Sunday, defeating the New York Red Bulls 2-0.
The Red Bulls were unlucky to not have scored after hitting the post a few times throughout the match. However, the Union were worthy victors after shutting down the New York midfield, forcing turnovers and countering when they won possession.
Philadelphia has now won back-to-back matches against two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. That's deserving of the No. 17 spot for this week.
16. Montreal Impact (Previous: 17)
After their CONCACAF Champions League run, the Montreal Impact appear to be back on track in MLS. They crushed Real Salt Lake last week and followed that up with a 2-1 victory over Western Conference leaders FC Dallas.
A late surge almost saw Dallas earn a point, but Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush bailed out his team with a couple of fantastic saves. Before the final 15 minutes of the match, Montreal was proactive, organized and clinical.
Ignacio Piatti was electric once again, and Jack McInerney scored, which should help him solidify a spot in head coach Frank Klopas' lineup after the striker questioned his coaching staff, per TSN 690's Joey Alfieri.
Two wins in a row have moved the Impact out of the basement in the Eastern Conference. They've also guided Montreal to No. 16 in the power rankings.
15. Orlando City SC (Previous: 12)
Orlando City SC was fresh off a 4-0 win over the LA Galaxy last week but came down to reality after drawing the in-form San Jose Earthquakes.
Orlando was playing with 10 men after the 51st minute, when the referee sent Brek Shea off. The Lions took the lead thanks to a Kaka penalty, but Chris Wondolowski tied the game with his 100th MLS goal.
Claiming a point on the road with 10 men is an admirable result, but Orlando wasn't clicking for most of the game. Kaka was contained. Cyle Larin failed to record a shot. And the attack struggled to create opportunities.
It also doesn't help when other mid-ranked teams also record wins, which is why Orlando slips to No. 15 this week.
14. Colorado Rapids (Previous: 15)
The Colorado Rapids slayed one of the Western Conference's top contenders in the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. Lucas Pittinari's strike was the difference in a 1-0 victory.
One of the Rapids' newest strikers, Luis Solignac, appears to be a solid acquisition. He didn't score, but he was intelligent with his runs and skilled on the ball. Another new signing, Kevin Doyle, entered the match as a substitute and was also lively.
Colorado may have benefited from some suspect non-calls. The referee could have called the tackle on Gershon Koffie before Pittinari's goal, and he called off Pedro Morales' wonderfully taken free-kick for an apparent foul on Pa-Modou Kah.
Nonetheless, Colorado deserved its win. The Rapids constantly pressured the Whitecaps midfield, closed down Octavio Rivero and Pedro Morales and were effective on counterattacks. This effort moves them up one spot.
13. LA Galaxy (Previous: 12)
The LA Galaxy earned another late victory thanks to (who else?) Alan Gordon and his game-winning goal on Friday. The forward's strike against the Houston Dynamo was his third in the final 15 minutes of a match this season.
Gordon, Robbie Keane and Mika Vayrynen all had chances to score before the winning goal but were stymied by Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric. The second half was especially hectic, and it appeared as if the Galaxy were on their way to a draw.
This game could've also swung in favor of Houston if not for Jaime Penedo's saves to preserve the 0-0 draw. Because L.A. just snapped a five-match winless skid and won by a narrow score, it remains at No. 13.
12. Real Salt Lake (Previous: 14)
Real Salt Lake was clearly motivated to face its old head coach, Jason Kreis. It shut out New York City FC to draw level with the sixth-placed LA Galaxy after a disastrous showing in Montreal last week.
John Stertzer, who replaced Jordan Allen in midfield, scored the opening goal before forward Alvaro Saborio doubled the lead. The defense also deserves a lot of credit for shutting down NYCFC's attack for almost the entire match.
It was a complete performance by RSL, which has moved it into 12th in the power rankings.
11. Houston Dynamo (Previous: 10)
The Houston Dynamo entered their match against the LA Galaxy having lost just once in their previous seven games. That run of form came to an end after Alan Gordon's late winner on Friday night.
The Dynamo would've been happy with a 0-0 draw, especially with their lack of quality scoring chances. Will Bruin had the only decent opportunity, but it was saved by L.A. goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
Houston was content with sitting deep and waiting to attack the Galaxy on the break. That's how the Dynamo nearly scored through Bruin.
It's harsh to move the Dynamo to No. 11 given their recent form, but with other teams around them winning, Houston falls victim to other teams' successes.
10. Columbus Crew (Previous: 8)
The Columbus Crew should have walked out of Mapfre Stadium with all three points but split two with the Chicago Fire after blowing a 2-0 lead.
The positive is that Kei Kamara now leads MLS in goals scored with nine. However, the Crew's recent defensive displays have to worry head coach Gregg Berhalter.
Friday's match was the third consecutive time the team has conceded at least two goals. Injuries, suspensions and Hernan Grana's release have hurt the chemistry in the back line, so the performances might improve. But they've cost the Crew a few points recently and dropped them to No. 10.
9. Toronto FC (Previous: 11)
Toronto FC failed to deliver in its home opener versus the Houston Dynamo on May 10. After drawing 1-1 against the New Revolution on the road, TFC returned to BMO Field and defeated the Portland Timbers 1-0.
Sebastian Giovinco's strike, which is up for Goal of the Week, was the difference in what was a splendid performance by Toronto.
The team consistently attacked the Timbers' penalty area but was not able to extend its lead. Head coach Greg Vanney could fret on the lack of composure in the box, but Portland goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey also produced a couple of decent saves.
Even with the slim margin of victory, TFC still earned its first home win, recorded another clean sheet and moved into fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Thanks to these three accomplishments, Toronto moves into the top 10.
8. New England Revolution (Previous: 6)
The New England Revolution did not have a good week. It began on Wednesday with a crushing 4-2 loss away to Sporting Kansas City and concluded with a feisty 1-1 draw versus D.C. United at home on Saturday.
Rotation played a factor in New England's abysmal showing in Kansas City. Jermaine Jones partnered with Jose Goncalves in the center of defense, and both struggled. An apparently weak penalty call didn't help the Revolution's efforts, but it wouldn't have made a difference due to the their sloppy defensive display.
Saturday's showing versus D.C. was more positive. The Revs were reduced to nine men after Chris Tierney and Lee Nguyen were sent off in quick succession. The Revs had a 1-0 lead after Nguyen received his second yellow card but conceded the equalizer in the final minutes of the game.
That softens the blow for the Revolution this week, but that loss in Kansas City was awful, which drops New England to No. 8 in the power rankings.
7. San Jose Earthquakes (Previous: 7)
The San Jose Earthquakes could have moved into a tie for second place in the Western Conference with a win over Orlando City SC on Sunday. However, they failed to take advantage of the 10-man Lions and had to settle for a point after a 1-1 draw.
There was a silver lining, though. Chris Wondolowski scored his 100th MLS goal, becoming the ninth player in league history to reach the milestone and the second quickest to reach the feat.
Wondolowski has already scored seven goals in 12 appearances, which is thanks to head coach Dominic Kinnear's system. The forward has less pressure on him to create chances thanks to Matias Perez Garcia, Shea Salinas and others.
San Jose is still undefeated since May 1, a span of five games. The Earthquakes are also just three points behind FC Dallas for first place in the West, so the Quakes will stay put at No. 7 as a result.
6. New York Red Bulls (Previous: 3)
The New York Red Bulls may have been unlucky in their 2-0 loss against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday. New York had a few shots hit the post, and a couple of others just missed the target.
However, the Union game-planned well and deserved to win. The Red Bulls midfield was closed down after the first 20 minutes, which led to a few dangerous counterattacks from Philadelphia.
This tactic that FC Dallas and Philadelphia utilized has contributed to the team's scoring drought the last two weeks. The Red Bulls shouldn't fret because chances were still being created thanks to some brilliant movement from Dax McCarty and Mike Grella.
However, losing at home to Philadelphia and being shut out is still inexcusable even if the Union defeated D.C. United last week. Thanks to this poor showing, New York slips to No. 6.
5. Vancouver Whitecaps (Previous: 5)
The Vancouver Whitecaps were left frustrated by the Colorado Rapids, losing 1-0 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday.
A storm delay may have distracted the Whitecaps, but the same can be said for the Rapids. What didn't hurt Colorado was referee Jose Carlos Rivero, who made a few suspect calls that influenced the game.
The first occurred prior to Lucas Pittinari's goal when Gershon Koffie was muscled off the ball illegally. This led to the Rapids scoring the eventual winner. The second incident involved Gabriel Torres knocking over Matias Laba in a similar fashion, but David Ousted saved Luis Solignac's effort shortly thereafter.
Finally, Rivero called back Pedro Morales' free-kick goal after he judged Pa-Modou Kah have interfered with the wall. However, it doesn't look like Kah committed a foul.
The Whitecaps attack wasn't very productive, but it's always tough to win at high altitude. At the very least, Vancouver should've had a point, but even with the defeat, its still in second place in the Western Conference. Therefore, the Canadian side remains at No. 5.
4. FC Dallas (Previous: 4)
FC Dallas' five-game unbeaten streak was snapped after the 2-1 Montreal Impact upset at Stade Saputo on Saturday night.
Despite Dallas' lackluster display for the first 75 minutes, the visitors nearly salvaged a draw. Matt Hedges cut a 2-0 deficit in half, but the Hoops were foiled by Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush and by their own finishing.
Blas Perez attempted a scissor kick despite having time to control the ball and shoot on his feet. Walker Zimmerman, Fabian Castillo and Victor Ulloa also failed to convert their chances.
However, this loss doesn't alter Dallas' standing in the Western Conference. A defeat would normally move it down, but since the Vancouver Whitecaps and New York Red Bulls also lost, the Hoops reluctantly stay put at No. 4.
3. Sporting Kansas City (Previous: 9)
Sporting Kansas City's 4-2 win versus the New England Revolution on Wednesday and 0-0 draw against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday laid down a marker in the Western Conference.
It's arguably Sporting KC's best two-game stretch this season, and it came against the Supporters' Shield winners and last year's MLS Cup finalist. Krisztian Nemeth continues to impress, as do Benny Feilhaber and Dom Dwyer.
There was the odd slip-up at the back against New England, but after coughing up the first goal, SKC stayed tight and restricted space for Kelyn Rowe, Lee Nguyen and other key playmakers.
The 0-0 draw in Seattle wasn't as glamorous, but Nemeth, Jacob Peterson and Jimmy Medranda produced some troubling shots for goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Four points against two of the best teams in MLS move Sporting into the top three after a magnificent week.
2. D.C. United (Previous: 2)
For just the second time this season, D.C. United has gone back-to-back games without a win. The 1-1 draw versus the New England Revolution was a wasted opportunity.
The Revolution were reduced to nine men early in the second half. However, it took D.C. 22 minutes to score the equalizer. Despite the huge advantage, United barely tested goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
Part of the excellent defensive play was due to Andrew Farrell's monster performance at center back, but it highlighted D.C.'s attacking woes in recent weeks. Fabian Espindola and Luis Silva are hurt and were integral to the team's success last year, but if the defense concedes a goal, United will likely drop points.
Despite the disappointing draw, D.C. is still on top in the Supporters' Shield standings and picked up a point when other Eastern Conference contenders lost. This preserves United's No. 2 rank this week.
1. Seattle Sounders (Previous: 1)
The Seattle Sounders didn't exactly solidify their status as the No. 1 team in the power rankings, but they didn't negatively affect their standing either.
The Sounders' 0-0 draw versus Sporting Kansas City appears mundane judging by the result, but it was an entertaining affair. Brad Evans made a surging run forward and narrowly missed a shot from distance, and Lamar Neagle also spoiled an opportunity.
The 0-0 tie marks the fifth time in six games when Seattle has picked up at least a point. With D.C. United, FC Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps also dropping points, the Sounders stay at No. 1 for this week.