MLS Power Rankings: Whitecaps Still No. 1, Sounders Continue to Fall

Peter Galindo@@GalindoPWFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2015

MLS Power Rankings: Whitecaps Still No. 1, Sounders Continue to Fall

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    Greg Wahl-Stephens/Associated Press

    MLS' Rivalry Week lived up to its billing after some monumental results. The Portland Timbers capped off the weekend with an emphatic 4-1 home win over the depleted Seattle Sounders.

    The victory came just four days after the Timbers were embarrassed 5-0 by the L.A. Galaxy, who lost 3-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes in the California Clasico. 

    Elsewhere, Toronto FC earned four more points with a victory over their Canadian rivals, the Montreal Impact, and a draw versus D.C. United.

    The Vancouver Whitecaps recorded their third away win in a row after a narrow 2-1 triumph over the 10-man New England Revolution on Saturday. As a result, the Whitecaps sit alone at the top of the Western Conference.

    Due to these results, the power rankings have been significantly altered and may contain a few surprises this week.

20. Chicago Fire (Previous: 20)

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    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    The Chicago Fire remain at the bottom of the power rankings after they lost their fourth straight game.

    D.C. United squeezed out a 1-0 win over the Fire thanks to Conor Doyle's thunderous strike in the 73rd minute.

    Chicago mustered just one attempt on target, as noted by the official MLS website. Considering this match was at home, it's a disappointing stat. Shaun Maloney's absence clearly hurt the team, because Guly do Prado and Kennedy Igboananike were wildly ineffective.

    Until the Fire can snap this losing skid, they'll remain at No. 20 for the foreseeable future.

19. Colorado Rapids (Previous: 18)

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    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    The Colorado Rapids lost twice in the span of three days to Orlando City SC and Sporting Kansas City. Both defeats extended the Rapids' winless skid to six games.

    The match on Wednesday against Orlando was especially atrocious. The Lions peppered the Rapids' goal with an astounding 23 shots, according to the official MLS website. If it wasn't for goalkeeper Clint Irwin and the post, Colorado could have lost by at least four goals.

    Defensively, Colorado was a lot stronger against Sporting KC, but the attack was tepid. Apart from Luis Solignac's effort, which forced a save out of Tim Melia, the Rapids couldn't generate any noteworthy chances.

    Because of these two dismal matches, Colorado stays at No. 19 this week.

18. Houston Dynamo (Previous: 17)

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    The Houston Dynamo suffered a 2-0 defeat to FC Dallas in Friday's Texas Derby. It was a slight improvement over Houston's 4-1 loss to Dallas on May 1, but it wasn't enough to prevent another Hoops victory.

    The Dynamo have won just once in their last four games, which has sent them plummeting down the Western Conference standings. Houston is currently in ninth place but is only six points out of a playoff spot.

    Houston had plenty of chances to score, but Dallas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy made a few saves to preserve the team's lead.

    Due to the Dynamo's latest loss, they slip to No. 18.

17. New York City FC (Previous: 15)

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    Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    New York City FC started their heated match against the New York Red Bulls very brightly. Thomas McNamara struck in the sixth minute to give the hosts an early 1-0 lead.

    However, it was all downhill after McNamara's goal. The Red Bulls pushed for an equalizer and found it through Bradley Wright-Phillips after a delightful cross from Sacha Kljestan. Chris Duvall and Matt Miazga also scored in a 3-1 victory for the visitors at Yankee Stadium.

    The final two goals were scored via set pieces. Duvall's strike came after the initial ball was cleared, but NYCFC couldn't snuff out the danger and paid for it. Miazga wasn't covered well before he clinched the Red Bulls' victory, either.

    It was a disappointing second half and an even tougher result for NYCFC, especially after the team's three-game winning streak. Thanks to the defeat, the expansion side falls to No. 17.

16. Montreal Impact (Previous: 14)

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    Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    The Montreal Impact picked up just one point from two games this week after a 3-1 loss to Toronto FC and a 2-2 draw against the Philadelphia Union. 

    Montreal started Wednesday's match against Toronto on the front foot. Ambroise Oyongo opened the scoring for the Impact, but TFC stormed back, with all three of the Reds' designated players scoring all of the team's goals.

    The game against the Union on Saturday was a thrilling affair. Patrice Bernier and Eric Ayuk were both sent off, and the inclement weather added to the drama. The defenders' vision was likely blurred by the rain when they failed to push up to pressure Fabinho before the shot that led to Maurice Edu's equalizer.

    The positive for Montreal was Ignacio Piatti's performance on the road. He entered the game with zero goals and just one assist away from home this season. The downside was the performance from the back line, which looked slow in both games.

    With the Impact failing to win and conceding five goals in two matches, they fall to No. 16.

15. Philadelphia Union (Previous: 19)

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    Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    The Philadelphia Union earned four massive points on Wednesday and Saturday. The Union defeated a weakened Seattle Sounders side 1-0 before fighting back against the Montreal Impact to claim a point in a 2-2 draw.

    Admittedly, the Sounders faced the Union with a rotated lineup, but Philadelphia still deserved the win. Maurice Edu's penalty was saved by goalkeeper Stefan Frei, and Cristian Maidana narrowly missed the top corner from about 25 yards out. Philly finally got its goal through C.J. Sapong, who has secured a spot in the starting XI for the time being.

    The Union had a tougher outing against the Impact. Montreal actually took a 2-1 lead thanks to former Philadelphia striker Jack McInerney, but Edu bailed out his team with about 15 minutes left to clinch a point.

    The defending was more suspect on Saturday compared to Wednesday, but the Union worked hard for those four points.

    Philadelphia is now in seventh place and has moved up to No. 15 in the power rankings after a relatively consistent week.

14. Real Salt Lake (Previous: 13)

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    Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

    Real Salt Lake's struggles continued last week after a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of the New York Red Bulls and a 2-2 draw versus the Columbus Crew. 

    RSL had three players sent off over the two games, including two against the Red Bulls. New York dominated possession as expected but only scored once with a two-man advantage.

    The Crew game was a slight improvement, although the defending was suspect on both goals. No one tracked the runs of Tony Tchani or Ethan Finlay, although goalkeeper Nick Rimando valiantly tried to stop Finlay.

    Whether or not the red cards were deserved, RSL have now accumulated six in 18 games, according to Chris Kamrani of the Salt Lake Tribune. Poor discipline is holding back the Claret and Cobalt and has dropped them to No. 14 this week.

13. Columbus Crew (Previous: 16)

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    The Columbus Crew desperately needed three points out of six last week. They recorded four after defeating the New England Revolution 2-1 on Wednesday and tying Real Salt Lake 2-2 on Saturday.

    Columbus found itself down 1-0 after just 32 seconds when Lee Nguyen struck from distance. Nguyen managed to expose the space with Tony Tchani and Mohammed Saeid pushed up the pitch, but the Revolution's lead was short-lived. Kei Kamara bagged his league-leading 11th and 12th goals to give the Crew a narrow win.

    Columbus followed up that victory with a draw against RSL. Miscommunication between defender Emanuel Pogatetz and goalkeeper Steve Clark led to Sebastian Jaime's goal, which gave the Claret and Cobalt the lead. If it wasn't for that lapse in concentration, the Crew may have won.

    Regardless, four points from six is still a solid return, especially after riding a six-match winless skid. The win and draw move Columbus to 13th.

12. New England Revolution (Previous: 10)

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    The New England Revolution had a forgettable week with 2-1 losses to both the Columbus Crew and Vancouver Whitecaps. 

    The Revolution wanted a handball call on the Crew's Ethan Finlay when he appeared to control the ball with his arm prior to Kei Kamara's winning goal. However, the referee allowed play to continue.

    The Whitecaps match was equally frustrating for New England. Andrew Farrell was sent off after he tugged the arm of Cristian Techera in the box. Since he was the last man, the referee had no choice but to send Farrell off. However, calling that a foul seemed harsh.

    New England was actually controlling the match against Vancouver until that call was made. A late surge nearly resulted in an equalizer, but goalkeeper David Ousted came to the rescue again.

    The Revolution have only themselves to blame after their inconsistent finishing and lapses in concentration at the back. As a result, the Revs drop to No. 12.

11. Orlando City SC (Previous: 12)

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Orlando City SC won their third game in their last four matches with a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday. Rookie Cyle Larin scored his sixth goal of the season, with Kaka recording the second blow just three minutes later.

    Orlando recorded an incredible 23 shots against Colorado, according to the official MLS website. The back line also prevented the Rapids from generating chances. Luis Solignac produced the only noteworthy effort.

    It was a complete performance, but the wasteful finishing was also a problem (it plagued Orlando City earlier in the season). However, the Lions still managed to pick up a clean sheet and the win keeps them level with Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls.

    It's reason enough to move Orlando into 11th.

10. Seattle Sounders (Previous: 3)

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    Godofredo Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    The Seattle Sounders were the only team in the top 10 of the power rankings to lose twice last week, as the Philadelphia Union and Portland Timbers defeated the depleted Sounders on Wednesday and Sunday, respectively.

    The Sounders were down 1-0 against the Timbers but managed to draw level through Lamar Neagle off a set piece. However, Fanendo Adi broke the deadlock in the final moments of the second half.

    Darlington Nagbe ran towards the Sounders' penalty area and picked out Adi with a pass before he scored the Timbers' second goal. The Nigerian struck again minutes later, and Rodney Wallace added a fourth in stoppage time.

    The Sounders played with a rotated lineup in the 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union but were second-best on the night and deserved to lose by at least two goals. However, goalkeeper Stefan Frei kept his team in the game.

    Seattle has now lost three straight games and four of its last five. This, coupled with the fact that the rest of the top 10 won at least once this past week, demotes the Sounders to No. 10.

9. New York Red Bulls (Previous: 11)

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    Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    The New York Red Bulls picked up two much-needed victories over Real Salt Lake and New York City FC. The Red Bulls were riding a five-game winless skid before the RSL match on Wednesday.

    New York struggled against nine-man RSL, scoring just once despite the lofty advantage, but the Red Bulls also rotated their lineup to cope with the NYCFC game on Sunday. Connor Lade, Sean Davis and Anatole Abang were all slotted into the starting XI.

    The beginning of the NYCFC game was a nightmare for the Red Bulls. Thomas McNamara struck in the sixth minute, but that lead eventually slipped. 

    The Red Bulls equalized just two minutes into the second half through Bradley Wright-Phillips. Chris Duvall and Matt Miazga added two more goals via set pieces to secure the victory. Miazga was also a rock at the back, containing David Villa for 90 minutes, which is always a tough task.

    New York is tied with two other teams in third place in the Eastern Conference after picking up six points. It also moves the Red Bulls up to No. 9.

8. San Jose Earthquakes (Previous: 9)

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    Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

    After defeating the Seattle Sounders last week, the San Jose Earthquakes followed it up with a convincing 3-1 win over the L.A. Galaxy in the California Clasico on Saturday. 

    Matias Perez Garcia was instrumental once again, providing two assists for Chris Wondolowski and Clarence Goodson. It was also Wondolowski's ninth goal of the season; only Kei Kamara (12) has scored more.

    Goalkeeper David Bingham probably could've done better with Juninho's goal, but he might have seen the ball late, and it was a scorcher from distance. Nevertheless, the win moves the Earthquakes to within three points of the Galaxy and one spot below L.A. in the power rankings.

7. L.A. Galaxy (Previous: 7)

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    Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

    The L.A. Galaxy entered Sunday's match against the San Jose Earthquakes on a three-game unbeaten streak. They recorded 5-1 and 5-0 wins over the Philadelphia Union and Portland Timbers, respectively.

    Juninho gave the Galaxy a 1-0 lead, but it slipped away, and they ended up losing 3-1.

    The Galaxy were incredibly slow on both sides of the pitch, which cost them defensively. The defenders were ball-watching during Chris Wondolowski's and Clarence Goodson's goals, which put them in a deep hole.

    L.A. couldn't recover from the 2-1 deficit due to its lack of creativity in the final third. The defeat canceled out the demolition over the Timbers on Wednesday, but because they won so convincingly, it keeps the Galaxy above the Earthquakes in the power rankings.

6. FC Dallas (Previous: 8)

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    It's difficult to imagine where FC Dallas would sit in the Western Conference standings without Fabian Castillo. Dallas has won just one of its last four games without Castillo, scoring four goals in that span.

    The Colombian forward scored in a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo in the Texas Derby on Friday. He also forced an own goal from Jermaine Taylor to give Dallas the lead in the 33rd minute.

    Castillo and Dallas picked up their first win since May 9 and still remain six points behind the Vancouver Whitecaps for first place with a game in hand. The Hoops move up to sixth in the power rankings after a convincing derby victory.

5. Portland Timbers (Previous: 5)

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    Greg Wahl-Stephens/Associated Press

    The Portland Timbers erased the awful memories of Wednesday's humiliating 5-0 loss to the L.A. Galaxy by crushing their bitter rivals Seattle Sounders 4-1 on Sunday.

    Everything went wrong for Portland against the Galaxy, but the tables turned in favor of the Timbers in their match with the Sounders.

    Darlington Nagbe gave Portland the lead with this potential Goal of the Week. Lamar Neagle equalized just before halftime, but then Fanendo Adi stepped into the spotlight.

    Adi completed a brace after just two minutes to clinch a Timbers win. The first goal was the result of a powerful Nagbe run and pass, before the Nigerian converted calmly past goalkeeper Stefan Frei. The striker's second finish was even more impressive, as he charged at the Sounders defense before scoring.

    It was a clinical performance by the Timbers, but due to the embarrassing 5-0 loss on Wednesday, Portland stays at No. 5.

4. Toronto FC (Previous: 6)

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Toronto FC bounced back after their 2-0 loss at home to New York City FC on June 20 by picking up four points against the Montreal Impact and D.C. United.

    TFC were actually struggling in the early going versus the Impact on Wednesday. Ambroise Oyongo opened the scoring with a nifty effort from outside the box, but goalkeeper Chris Konopka probably could've stopped it.

    However, Toronto FC's designated players took over and scored all three goals in the 3-1 win. Jozy Altidore's strike was easily the best of them all. Michael Bradley found Altidore with a scintillating pass, then the forward converted the chance. It was also nominated for Goal of the Week.

    The D.C. game wasn't as entertaining due to the inclement weather, but Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco still had a couple of chances to score. However, it was clear that both teams were affected by the heavy rain and wind.

    Toronto still managed to earn a point against the league leaders and reacted well after the loss to NYCFC. TFC remain in third place with up to five games in hand on the rest of the playoff teams in the Eastern Conference. The Reds move up to fourth following an impressive week.

3. Sporting Kansas City (Previous: 3)

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Sporting Kansas City kept pace with the top of the Western Conference after a 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. Sporting KC are now just five points behind the Vancouver Whitecaps for first place and have two games in hand.

    Krisztian Nemeth scored his seventh goal in 13 games, with Benny Feilhaber recording another assist. Sporting KC were in control throughout the game and never in danger of losing the match. After the defensive mishaps from last week, SKC's back line conceded just five shots, according to the official MLS website.

    SKC have only lost one of their last nine games in MLS and have done this without key players such as Ike Opara. With D.C. United and the Vancouver Whitecaps also winning, Kansas City remains in third, but it meets the Whitecaps on July 12, so that may change very soon.

2. D.C. United (Previous: 2)

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    Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    D.C. United earned four points last week despite scoring just one goal, but also recorded two clean sheets against the Chicago Fire and Toronto FC.

    D.C. has conceded a league-low 17 goals along with the Vancouver Whitecaps and Sporting Kansas City, hence its ranking as the best team in the Eastern Conference. United had to cope without attackers such as Fabian Espindola at the beginning of the year, and so had to rely on defending.

    The defensive solidity was on display versus the Fire and TFC. Conor Doyle's incredible strike clinched the win for D.C. over Chicago, with the defense conceding just one shot on target, as noted by the official MLS website.

    The TFC game was ugly due to the weather, but credit D.C. for earning a point on the road in adverse conditions. 

    United are still on top of the Supporters' Shield standings, but due to the Whitecaps having games in hand, D.C. stays at No. 2.

1. Vancouver Whitecaps (Previous: 1)

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    Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

    The Vancouver Whitecaps continue to defy convention in MLS. They usually concede possession on the road and surrender several chances, but goalkeeper David Ousted has bailed out the Whitecaps, and the forwards have been clinical. That's why they've recorded three straight away wins.

    Vancouver's latest triumph away from BC Place came against the 10-man New England Revolution. The Whitecaps won 2-1 and snapped the Revolution's 17-game home unbeaten streak, as noted by The Province's Patrick Johnston.

    The Whitecaps were dominated early in the first half, but Ousted kept his team in the game. Cristian Techera gave Vancouver the lead via a counterattack. Then Andrew Farrell tugged Techera's arm a few minutes later in the box on another counter, which resulted in a red card and a penalty.

    Octavio Rivero converted from the spot, although Teal Bunbury scored to cut the Whitecaps' lead in half. However, Vancouver held on to pick up its 10th win of the season and thus retains its spot on top of the power rankings.

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