MLS Power Rankings: Sporting Kansas City, LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls Rise

Peter Galindo@@GalindoPWFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2015

MLS Power Rankings: Sporting Kansas City, LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls Rise

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 24 in MLS was jam-packed with entertainment like Sporting Kansas City's incredible comeback or the Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire game, and there was no shortage of storylines.

    The Seattle Sounders also returned to winning ways by crushing Orlando City SC. The Sounders will certainly move up this week in the MLS power rankings and a few others will rise as well.

    With the Vancouver Whitecaps losing to SKC, coupled with wins by the LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls, this will affect the top five this week.

    Here are the latest MLS power rankings.

20. Colorado Rapids (Previous: 19)

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    The Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes faced off in one of the dullest matches of the week. The Rapids were sloppier than the Earthquakes on Friday night, and it showed in their 1-0 defeat.

    In truth, neither side really impressed, but San Jose managed to find a winning goal. Colorado has struggled in this department, scoring just three times in its last four games.

    The Rapids remain at the bottom of the Western Conference and look lifeless up front. As a result, they fall to No. 20.

19. Philadelphia Union (Previous: 20)

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    Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    The Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire match was not exciting on paper. However, the game ended up being a thriller, with both sides settling for a 3-3 draw on Sunday night.

    The Union were the better team through most of the contest. They had nearly twice as many shots and players like Cristian Maidana were running the Fire ragged.

    Despite taking a 3-2 advantage in stoppage time, the Union were busy appealing to the referee prior to the Fire's equalizer. Philadelphia also had a 2-1 lead entering halftime, which is what makes the draw so frustrating for the team.

    There appeared to be a handball in the Fire penalty area in the 24th minute, which would've been a huge boost to the Union. Head coach Jim Curtin believed a foul should've been called but blamed the lost points on "other mistakes," per Matthew De George of the Delaware County Daily Times.

    Even though the Union dropped two valuable points, they move up to No. 19 after the Colorado Rapids' defeat.

18. Chicago Fire (Previous: 17)

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    Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    If it wasn't for goalkeeper Sean Johnson, the Chicago Fire would have been handily defeated by the Philadelphia Union on Sunday.

    Johnson faced 20 shots and pulled off several incredible saves in the second half. The Union players were looking up at the sky wondering what they had to do score the winning goal.

    The Union eventually took the lead through Sebastien Le Toux just before second-half stoppage time. It was a shot that Johnson could have stopped. It went right beneath his outstretched hand.

    However, the Fire defense did not help out their goalkeeper at all. There were huge holes between defenders, and Chicago benefited from a lackadaisical Union back line before the third goal. 

    After another sloppy performance, the Fire fall to No. 18.

17. San Jose Earthquakes (Previous: 18)

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    The San Jose Earthquakes earned a vital 1-0 win over the woeful Colorado Rapids on Friday night.

    Clarence Goodson scored the winning goal and deserves plenty of credit for his performance. In fact, the entire back line should earn most of the plaudits from this match. 

    The Earthquakes defense held the Rapids to just eight shots, two of which were on target, and Goodson was at the heart of it. The American made several crucial clearances and tackles to preserve the clean sheet.

    San Jose is still six points away from a playoff spot, but it has two games in hand over the sixth-placed Seattle Sounders. With the win, the Earthquakes move up to 17th this week.

16. Real Salt Lake (Previous: 15)

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Real Salt Lake suffered a devastating 1-0 defeat to the Portland Timbers on Saturday night. Not only did RSL lose, the winning goal was scored by Nat Borchers, a former player of the Claret and Cobalt.

    The defeat was a blow to RSL because a draw would have kept it within five points of the playoffs. Now the 2009 MLS Cup champions are six points back with nine games left to play.

    The bright side for RSL is the improved defending. The team conceded 10 goals in their previous two MLS matches. However, this side is far too inconsistent and falls to No. 16 as a result.

15. Orlando City SC (Previous: 14)

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    It was a frustrating day for Orlando City SC on Sunday. Tyler Turner was sent off, Orlando faced a rejuvenated Seattle Sounders team and the Lions lost 4-0. 

    Turner's red card was Orlando's seventh of the season. Only Real Salt Lake has received more with eight. However, the 19-year-old full-back was struggling to contain Lamar Neagle, and all he could do was foul the winger.

    In general, Orlando was powerless against the Sounders. Obafemi Martins was dominant and completed a brace in his return to the lineup. Debutant Nelson Valdez also scored.

    Orlando has now conceded 41 goals, tied with Toronto FC for the most in MLS. Center back David Mateos was making his debut and it will take time for him to settle.

    The Lions will catch a slight break this week, but they move down in the power rankings after this blowout.

14. Houston Dynamo (Previous: 12)

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    David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    The Houston Dynamo and New England Revolution contest lasted nearly five hours due to weather delays. In the end, the Revolution walked out as 2-0 victors.

    The delays clearly affected both sides, but the Dynamo barely registered any scoring chances. Houston had just one shot on target the entire match.

    Despite the defeat, the Dynamo is still four points away from a playoff spot with one game in hand. However, after picking up points in three straight games, Houston has slipped to No. 14 after a lackluster loss.

13. New York City FC (Previous: 16)

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    Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    New York City FC earned a monumental 3-1 win against the league-leading D.C. United on Thursday. The victory moved NYCFC to within four points of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

    Not only did NYCFC win, it dominated D.C. Apart from Andrea Pirlo's giveaway before United's goal, it was a near-flawless performance.

    Midfielder Perry Kitchen was shut down, and as a result, the D.C. attack registered just five shots. This led to three unanswered goals for NYCFC.

    Kwadwo Poku recorded a goal and an assist in the win. He was a menace throughout the game and couldn't be stopped. Head coach Jason Kreis would be making the right move in starting Poku more often.

    If NYCFC can replicate these performances, it should make the postseason. For now, they move up to No. 13 after knocking off the top seed.

12. Toronto FC (Previous: 10)

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Toronto FC was thoroughly beaten 3-0 by the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night. It was Toronto's second loss in as many games, but the same issues haunted the Reds.

    The defensive positioning was woeful. Mike Grella completed a pass through two defenders before Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the opening goal. Goalkeeper Joe Bendik could have stopped Anthony Wallace's strike, but he should've been closed down as well.

    Gonzalo Veron's goal was scored right before the full-time whistle when TFC was pushed high up the pitch. However, the match was done and dusted by that point.

    TFC's 41 goals allowed is the joint-most in MLS. Toronto is still in a playoff spot, but after another brutal defensive display, it moves down to No. 12.

11. Montreal Impact (Previous: 11)

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    The Montreal Impact did not play this weekend in MLS, so they stay at No. 11 this week.

    However, the Impact was still in action on Wednesday in the Canadian Championship. Montreal overturned a 2-0 second-half deficit to draw 2-2 with the Vancouver Whitecaps in the first leg.

    It was a stunning comeback by the Impact and will give the side confidence entering the second leg. As for MLS action, Montreal faces the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. A win there would significantly improve the team's playoff chances.

10. Seattle Sounders (Previous: 13)

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    Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

    The Seattle Sounders scored just four goals in their previous eight matches. They matched that total with a 4-0 dismantling of Orlando City SC on Sunday.

    Obafemi Martins returned to the lineup and scored twice. Debuting striker Nelson Valdez had a goal in his first game as well. Center back Roman Torres, who made his premiere appearance, had a solid showing at the back.

    The scariest part is Clint Dempsey, Marco Pappa, Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda not starting for the Sounders. All four players are key to the team's success yet they still cruised past Orlando.

    Martins' return was vitally important for Seattle. As ESPN's Paul Carr noted, the Sounders are completely different with him available. If this was a sign of things to come, the rest of MLS better watch out.

9. Columbus Crew (Previous: 9)

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    The Columbus Crew had a bye this weekend, so stay at No. 9. Columbus is currently in third place in the Eastern Conference with 10 games remaining.

    The Crew's next match is on Wednesday versus New York City FC. With NYCFC coming off a massive 3-1 win over D.C. United, it will be full of confidence entering this game.

    Should Columbus win, it could separate itself from the fourth-place New England Revolution by three points.

8. FC Dallas (Previous: 6)

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    FC Dallas suffered a 2-1 loss at the hands of the LA Galaxy on Saturday. A second-half brace from Robbie Keane led the Galaxy comeback.

    Neither side recorded a lot of scoring chances, although Dallas had a few opportunities. Blas Perez missed with a header prior to Michael Barrios' goal. Then Matt Hedges' strike was negated correctly for offside before Perez was stopped by LA goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.

    Dallas' defending has been solid for the most part this season. However, not a single defender tracked Keane's run before his first goal. The second strike came through a counterattack, but the Irishman was left unmarked as well.

    The Hoops slipped to fifth place in the Western Conference after that forgetful five-minute spell. They also fall to No. 8 after that a lapse in concentration.

7. Portland Timbers (Previous: 8)

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Nat Borchers crushed his old fanbase after he scored a late winner for the Portland Timbers in a 1-0 victory at Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening.

    The Timbers may have struck late, but their defending was incredible on the night. Apart from Sebastian Jaime's miss and Luke Mulholland's scorcher from distance, Portland goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey was hardly tested.

    Portland has conceded 28 goals in 25 games and Kwarasey leads MLS in clean sheets. If the Timbers want to succeed in the playoffs, a compact defense is integral to that success.

    Thanks to that stingy back line, the Timbers move up to No. 7.

6. New England Revolution (Previous: 7)

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    David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    The New England Revolution defeated the Houston Dynamo 2-0 on Saturday, but it took nearly five hours to finish due to inclement weather.

    The Revolution conceded just one shot on target to the Dynamo. However, the hosts were held off the scoresheet until the 69th minute when Jose Goncalves struck. 

    New England is now unbeaten in four straight games and has moved up to No. 6 after another confident performance.

5. D.C. United (Previous: 5)

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    Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    D.C. United's three-game winning streak came to an end after a 3-1 loss away to New York City FC on Thursday.

    D.C. had a 1-0 lead, but NYCFC came storming back in the second half. United couldn't contain Kwadwo Poku and Thomas McNamara and paid for it dearly.

    The Black and Red are still on top of the Supporters' Shield standings despite the loss. However, the New York Red Bulls are just five points back with three games in hand.

    This defeat keeps D.C. at No. 5, but a win next week will surely lead to a surge up in the rankings.

4. Vancouver Whitecaps (Previous: 1)

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    For about 80 minutes on Saturday, the Vancouver Whitecaps were in control against Sporting Kansas City. 

    The visitors were up 3-1 on SKC and looked like they were en route to yet another road win. However, three unanswered goals in the final moments led to a dramatic 4-3 win for Sporting.

    It was the second two-goal lead the Whitecaps have blown in as many games. They were up 2-0 on the Montreal Impact on Wednesday but settled for a 2-2 draw. 

    On the other hand, Kendall Waston was suspended on Saturday. SKC scored three headed goals, and if Waston was playing, Vancouver most likely would have held on to its lead. Pa-Modou Kah was also playing through a facial injury.

    The Whitecaps had a strong shout for a penalty in the latter stages of the game, but nothing was called. Regardless, surrendering a 3-1 lead that quickly is inexcusable. It also moves Vancouver down to No. 4.

3. New York Red Bulls (Previous: 4)

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    The New York Red Bulls made quick work of Toronto FC by defeating the Reds 3-0 at home on Saturday.

    New York's swift, quick movement in the final third was too much to handle for TFC. Lloyd Sam, Mike Grella and Bradley Wright-Phillips were running circles around Toronto's defense all night.

    Defensively, the Red Bulls were excellent despite missing three starters. The back line, anchored by Matt Miazga, held Sebastian Giovinco to just two shots. The only team to allow fewer was the New England Revolution with one, but Giovinco played just 45 minutes.

    With three games in hand over the league-leading D.C. United, the Red Bulls jump up to No. 3. Five points separates both sides, who will meet on August 30 in a crucial match in the Eastern Conference.

2. LA Galaxy (Previous: 3)

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Robbie Keane's second-half brace guided the LA Galaxy to a 2-1 win over a strong FC Dallas side on Saturday.

    With the win, LA is now the top seed in the Western Conference. It's tough to imagine the Galaxy falling from that position given their vast scoring options.

    The Galaxy are now on a three-game winning streak and move up to No. 2 in the power rankings. Sporting Kansas City stays ahead of LA due to SKC's comeback and games in hand.

1. Sporting Kansas City (Previous: 2)

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Sporting Kansas City's 4-3 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps may be the best game of the year.

    SKC was down 3-1 in the 81st minute when Dom Dwyer struck to cut the deficit to one. Six minutes later, Paulo Nagamura scored the equalizer. Nagamura popped up again in stoppage time to net the eventual winner.

    Simon Borg and Greg Lalas noted on the official MLS website that a late victory for SKC is incredibly rare. It was just the second time in MLS history a team won after trailing by two goals after 80 minutes.

    Sporting is also undefeated at home and still has three games in hand on the first-placed LA Galaxy. For that reason, SKC reclaims the top spot in the power rankings.

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