MLS Power Rankings: Vancouver Whitecaps and D.C. United Rise
A dramatic Week 16 in MLS produced more drama than usual.
The Vancouver Whitecaps edged the 10-man New York Red Bulls thanks to goalkeeper David Ousted, who saved two penalties. Real Salt Lake, D.C. United and the Colorado Rapids also picked up results thanks to some late heroics.
These decisive events have once again altered the MLS power rankings this week. Did Vancouver and D.C. do enough to pass the Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City, who both lost?
Here are the latest MLS power rankings.
20. Chicago Fire (Previous: 20)
The Chicago Fire did not play this weekend after the team's 1-0 win over Louisville City in the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday, so the Fire stays put at No. 20.
Chicago has won just one of its last seven matches in league play and will face D.C. United in its next game. The Fire are in last place in the Eastern Conference, but are still just three points away from a playoff spot.
19. Philadelphia Union (Previous: 17)
The Philadelphia Union were embarrassed by the L.A. Galaxy on Saturday night. The Union lost 5-1 to the Galaxy, who hadn't scored more than two goals in a game all season before that match.
The Union defense was a shambles, especially in the second half. Both sides were very sluggish in the first interval, but L.A. exposed the disorganized back line on the counter and out wide. There were also several occasions when the defenders were ball-watching instead of closing down the opposing forwards.
It was a night to forget for Philadelphia, who slip to ninth in the Eastern Conference standings and to No. 19 in the power rankings.
18. Colorado Rapids (Previous: 19)
The Colorado Rapids struck late against FC Dallas through Dillon Serna to claim a draw against the Hoops on Friday night. In doing so, the Rapids managed to stay unbeaten against one of the Western Conference's best teams this season.
However, as impressive as the Rapids were in the second half, they're still in the basement of the Western Conference and are eight points adrift of a playoff spot.
Regardless, it was a grand performance from the Rapids. The defense was able to restrict Blas Perez, Mauro Diaz and the other forwards for most of the match. The attack was stagnant, but that's to be expected with new arrivals.
The draw against a contender in the West moves Colorado up to No. 18.
17. Houston Dynamo (Previous: 14)
The Houston Dynamo may have felt that they were hard done by against the Portland Timbers on Saturday night.
Raul Rodriguez's goal was negated for an apparent foul by Ricardo Clark on Jorge Villafana, but it appeared as if Villafana simply ran into Clark. However, the penalty conceded by David Horst was a fair call compared to the previous incident.
Houston didn't play poorly and probably deserved a point, but generating just one shot on target is indefensible. The Dynamo have also won just once in their last four games, which moves them down to No. 17.
16. Columbus Crew (Previous: 13)
The Columbus Crew wasn't in action this weekend, but they need to break out of this current slump.
Columbus is on a four-game winless skid and has fallen to sixth place and is tied with three other teams on 17 points.
The Crew slip to No. 16 due to the Montreal Impact and New York City FC's wins. Both sides are in better form and are two of the sides who are tied with Columbus in the Eastern Conference standings.
15. New York City FC (Previous: 16)
New York City FC was in last place in the Eastern Conference just a couple of weeks ago, and now is tied with three other teams for a playoff spot thanks to its three-game winning streak.
NYCFC picked up their third win in as many games against Toronto FC on Saturday. David Villa scored both goals in what was a picture-perfect showing at BMO Field.
The defense was able to contain Sebastian Giovinco, a feat that few teams have accomplished. NYCFC was also working hard in the attacking third. The forwards pressed TFC's defenders, which forced the turnover that led to Villa's second goal.
This was NYCFC's most complete performance since March 15 against the New England Revolution, which moves them into 15th this week.
14. Montreal Impact (Previous: 18)
The Montreal Impact picked up a vital 2-0 win over Orlando City SC. It wasn't flashy, but the Impact were effective once again and continue to climb up the Eastern Conference standings.
Laurent Ciman was exceptional once again as he and the rest of the back line only allowed three shots on target, per the official MLS website. The Impact also capitalized on a set piece, which has been a weakness for Orlando this season.
Montreal is in fifth with 17 points and has a few games in hand over most of the Eastern Conference clubs. Picking up a clean sheet and a win over the third-placed team in the East moves the Impact into 14th.
13. Real Salt Lake (Previous: 15)
Real Salt Lake benefitted from a lucky touch to beat Sporting Kansas City on Sunday night. Olmes Garcia's shot was deflected by Kevin Ellis into the net for RSL's winning goal in a 2-1 victory.
RSL and SKC were very balanced in this game. Both defenses were exposed a couple of times, but both Nick Rimando and Tim Melia made clutch saves to give their respective sides a chance to win.
However, RSL was the stronger side in the second half. Javier Morales was the difference with his two assists, Devon Sandoval had a few opportunities to score and Sebastian Jaime finally scored his first MLS goal.
Earning a win over one of the in-form sides in MLS moves the Claret and Cobalt up two spots to No. 13.
12. Orlando City SC (Previous: 10)
Orlando City SC's resurgence hit a bump after falling 2-0 to the Montreal Impact on Saturday. Orlando lost just once in its last seven games before the defeat at Stade Saputo.
Striker Cyle Larin had a few opportunities to get on the scoresheet, but he missed with every shot. Pedro Ribeiro was eventually substituted into the game and tested Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush to no avail.
With Orlando chasing the equalizer late in the game, it ended up conceding a second goal to Dominic Oduro. This loss shouldn't cause any alarm for head coach Adrian Heath, but the wasted chances have demoted the Lions to 12th.
11. New York Red Bulls (Previous: 9)
New York Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips set a record for futility. He became the first player in MLS history to miss two penalties in the same game, per Sporting Kansas City's Kurt Austin. The 10-man Red Bulls ended up losing to the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 in that match on Saturday.
Midfielder Sacha Kljestan was sent off after he swung his elbow at Whitecaps defender Kendall Waston. Kljestan also attempted to kick Waston.
Overall, it was not a fun night for New York, who had plenty of chances to score, but couldn't beat Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted. The defeat also extends the Red Bulls' winless skid to five games and has sent them out of the top 10 in the power rankings.
10. New England Revolution (Previous: 8)
The New England Revolution outclassed D.C. United Sunday on the road. The Revolution were up 1-0 and had a handful of opportunities to double that lead, but they ended up falling 2-1 to D.C.
Lee Nguyen and Charlie Davies created the Revs' only goal, but Chris Tierney and Teal Bunbury also had terrific opportunities to double the lead. Unfortunately for New England, Steve Neumann conceded a penalty and tossed away a point.
Even if New England held on for the draw after allowing the first goal, it would've been enough to keep them at No. 8, but the momentary lapse in concentration cost them.
9. San Jose Earthquakes (Previous: 12)
The San Jose Earthquakes benefited from the depleted Seattle Sounders squad to earn the win. However, even without Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Gonzalo Pineda and Osvaldo Alonso, the Sounders' starting XI was still very competitive.
The Earthquakes pegged the Sounders in the first half thanks to Matias Perez Garcia's incredible vision. The Argentinean playmaker picked out Sanna Nyassi with five defenders trying to close him down, which allowed Nyassi to line up his shot.
Perez Garcia then demonstrated his technique by skimming past Micheal Azira and Andy Rose before placing the ball into the top corner. It capped off a memorable performance from the Earthquakes designated player.
Goalkeeper David Bingham also contributed to the win with a few terrific saves. All in all, it was a perfect display from San Jose, who deservedly move back into the top 10.
8. FC Dallas (Previous: 7)
Fabian Castillo almost single-handedly won three points for FC Dallas against the Colorado Rapids on Friday. That was until Dillon Serna equalized for Colorado a few minutes later to claim a draw for the Rapids.
Dallas has now lost six games in a row. The Hoops have dealt with international call-ups, suspensions and injuries, but it still doesn't fully explain the attack's drought as of late.
Dallas hasn't scored multiple goals in a match in six straight games, which has coincided with the losing streak.
The Texan side has slipped to No. 8 due to the team's lack of killer instinct up front. If it wasn't for Fabian Castillo, Dallas would not be occupying a playoff spot.
7. L.A. Galaxy (Previous: 11)
The L.A. Galaxy have been clinging to a playoff spot for the past few weeks. The predictability in the final third and new additions have contributed to the slow start, but the Galaxy's 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Union is easily their most emphatic victory of the season.
L.A. was displaying the flair and free-flowing movement its prided itself on the last few years. The Union couldn't keep up with the Galaxy and were thoroughly dominated.
The Galaxy usually hit top form during the summer, so this game might be the beginning of a dominating run. For now, L.A. moves up to No. 7 after a lopsided five-goal victory.
6. Toronto FC (Previous: 5)
Toronto FC was frustrated by New York City FC, who walked out of BMO Field with a 2-0 win thanks to David Villa's brace.
Sebastian Giovinco entered the match with three goals and three assists in his last four games, but NYCFC closed him down quickly and got under his skin.
Giovinco and Luke Moore forced two great saves out of goalkeeper Josh Saunders in the first half, but failed to generate any other noteworthy chances. As a result, TFC has been knocked out of the top five.
5. Portland Timbers (Previous: 6)
The Portland Timbers picked up their fourth win in a row by defeating the Houston Dynamo 2-0 at Providence Park on Saturday.
The Timbers were the beneficiaries of Raul Rodriguez's disallowed goal, which appeared to be a soft call. However, the defense was solid yet again and has conceded just one goal during this winning streak.
Suddenly, Portland is now in third place and trails the Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps by four points. This latest victory and clean sheet has also guided the Timbers into the top five of the power rankings.
4. Sporting Kansas City (Previous: 2)
Sporting Kansas City nearly claimed a point on the road against Real Salt Lake on Sunday, but Olmes Garcia's deflected shot off Kevin Ellis clinched a 2-1 win for RSL.
Despite the loss, Benny Feilhaber was still a positive influence in the game as always. He provided the assist for Dom Dwyer's goal with this delightful through ball.
However, because the Portland Timbers, D.C. United and Vancouver Whitecaps won, SKC slips to No. 4 to make way for the victors.
3. Seattle Sounders (Previous: 1)
The Seattle Sounders had to cope without four regular starters, including Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins. The San Jose Earthquakes took advantage of the Sounders' depleted squad and won 2-0 on Saturday.
Seattle's starting XI was still decent, even without those four players in the lineup. However, the defense was picked apart twice by the Earthquakes' Matias Perez Garcia, who had a goal and an assist.
Due to the Sounders' weakened lineup, they only moved down two spots to make way for the victorious D.C. United and Vancouver Whitecaps.
2. D.C. United (Previous: 4)
D.C. United recorded another dramatic win, beating the New England Revolution 2-1 on Sunday. As a result, D.C. is back on top of the Supporters' Shield standings.
Chris Rolfe scored his fifth and sixth goals of the campaign, which matches his total from last season. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid was excellent once again, making a few crucial saves to keep his team in the game.
D.C. moves up to No. 2 this week thanks to a win over the second-placed side in the Eastern Conference to reclaim the league lead.
1. Vancouver Whitecaps (Previous: 3)
The Vancouver Whitecaps have moved into the No. 1 spot for the first time this season thanks in large part to keeper David Ousted.
Vancouver's shot-stopper saved two penalties from Bradley Wright-Phillips in the Whitecaps' 2-1 victory. Had Wright-Phillips converted just once, the 10-man New York Red Bulls would've likely claimed a point.
Even with Ousted's heroics, Vancouver was still threatening. Kekuta Manneh's goal was executed to perfection and Kianz Froese's strike was equally brilliant. The Whitecaps weren't dominant, but they used their pace to clinch the win.
The Whitecaps trail D.C. United in the Supporters' Shield standings, but they're in better form with three wins in their last four matches. D.C. has won just twice in that span and have a game in hand.
Because of these two factors, the Whitecaps edge D.C. for the top spot this week.