MLS Power Rankings: LA Galaxy Capitalize After a Wild Week 30

Peter Galindo@@GalindoPWFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2015

MLS Power Rankings: LA Galaxy Capitalize After a Wild Week 30

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 30 in MLS was one of the most dramatic rounds of the season.

    Many of the league's top sides dropped points this past weekend. However, other teams managed to pick up crucial wins as they fight for a spot in the playoffs.

    With so many differing results, the power rankings have been significantly altered. As always, teams will be ranked based on the following criteria:

    • Quality of opponent and performance
    • Recent form beyond the last week
    • Key absences
    • Current standing
    • Remaining games in hand (if applicable)

    Here are the latest MLS power rankings.

20. Chicago Fire (Previous: 20)

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    The Chicago Fire's woes continued as they lost back-to-back matches to the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC.

    Chicago's winless skid now stands at six games. Two defeats have come against Didier Drogba and the Impact during this poor run of form.

    Drogba scored again on Wednesday night in a 2-1 win. However, Jeff Larentowicz was clearly manhandled by the Ivorian before the header, and Chicago couldn't capitalize on most of their 16 shots. 

    The effort against TFC was more valiant. Gilberto scored twice in his return to BMO Field, but the defense let down the Fire. Toronto managed to fight back when it was down 2-1 to earn a 3-2 win.

    Once again, Chicago was not consistent on both sides of the pitch. The team's poor form also keeps it at No. 20 in the power rankings.

19. Colorado Rapids (Previous: 19)

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    The Colorado Rapids are still at the bottom of the Western Conference following a 3-2 loss against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.

    This match was incredibly exciting for neutrals. Vicente Sanchez equalized twice for the Rapids, but the Dynamo eventually bunkered down after Brad Davis' strike to claim the win.

    Colorado's play was very sloppy. Jared Watts was muscled off the ball by Will Bruin, which caught the defense out of position before the first goal. The back line was ball-watching during the second and third strikes as well.

    The Rapids haven't won since August 29 and have virtually been eliminated from the playoffs as a result. For that reason, they stay at No. 19.

18. Philadelphia Union (Previous: 17)

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    The Philadelphia Union drew 1-1 with the New England Revolution on Saturday night. Had it not been for the heroics of goalkeeper Andre Blake, the result would have been a lot worse for Philadelphia.

    Blake made 10 saves and faced 20 shots on the night. The only goal he conceded was a Lee Nguyen penalty. No one could beat the Jamaican international after the spot-kick.

    The Union only generated five shots, but still managed to score an equalizer through Fernando Aristeguieta. It was the Venezuelan's first goal since August 16.

    The draw keeps the Union eight points behind the sixth-placed Montreal Impact, who have two games in hand. This result doesn't eliminate Philadelphia from the playoffs, but the odds are slimmer now. 

    Tying a side as strong as the Revolution is encouraging. However, the Union's patchy form and current standing in the Eastern Conference moves them down to No. 18.

17. Real Salt Lake (Previous: 13)

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    Real Salt Lake's playoff hopes were dealt a blow after losing 1-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday.

    Head coach Jeff Cassar started a fairly strong lineup, although one notable absentee was playmaker Javier Morales. Luis Silva replaced the Argentinian, but the loss of Morales was felt.

    RSL sat deep to absorb the Earthquakes' pressure. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando made several outstanding saves, including this one on Chris Wondolowski in the 51st minute. However, there was no creativity in the final third for the Claret and Cobalt.

    RSL generated just five shots. Only one forced a save from San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham. Devon Sandoval, who had three goals in his previous two starts, finished the game without an attempt. Juan Manuel Martinez was also silenced.

    Despite Morales' absence, this was a must-win match. The team is only six points away from a playoff spot, but this defeat coupled with a win by the Portland Timbers demotes RSL to No. 17.

16. New York City FC (Previous: 16)

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    New York City FC earned its third straight win by defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 at BC Place on Saturday.

    NYCFC was leading 1-0 late in the second half, but two dubious penalties created extra drama at the end of the game.

    The first call was contentious because it didn't look like Angelino fouled Kendall Waston. Matias Laba's "foul" on Frank Lampard a few minutes later gave the visitors their deserved win.

    Once again, Lampard and Andrea Pirlo excelled. This was clear during the opening goal. The Italian created the chance and the Englishman finished it.

    The expansion side is still five points adrift of a playoff spot and has played two more games than the sixth-placed Montreal Impact. With Montreal winning and the red-hot Houston Dynamo earning two solid victories, New York City remains at No. 16.

15. Houston Dynamo (Previous: 18)

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    The Houston Dynamo earned two wins this week over Sporting Kansas City and the Colorado Rapids.

    The 1-0 victory against Sporting KC last Wednesday was especially impressive. The returns of left-back DaMarcus Beasley and center-back Raul Rodriguez were huge boosts. Beasley recorded the assist for Will Bruin's goal and Rodriguez helped the Dynamo hold SKC to eight shots.

    The only blemish was Oscar Boniek Garcia's red card. Garcia made contact with Dom Dwyer's face, which prompted the second booking.

    The sending off didn't seem to matter as Houston rolled past Colorado with a 3-2 win. The Dynamo pressured the Rapids midfield, countered against them with pace and finished their chances very well.

    Both wins moved Houston to within three points of a playoff spot. However, with the Earthquakes' two-point advantage, the Dynamo stay below San Jose for the time being.

14. San Jose Earthquakes (Previous: 15)

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    The San Jose Earthquakes edged Real Salt Lake 1-0. However, it appeared as if the Earthquakes were going to have to settle for a point thanks to RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

    Rimando continually pulled off incredible saves. Chris Wondolowski was stopped twice and Shea Salinas was frustrated once as well. Eventually, Matias Perez Garcia found the winner before he received a second yellow card for taking off his shirt.

    This was a much-needed victory for San Jose. Not only are the Quakes one point adrift of a playoff spot, this win also snapped a four-match winless skid. Triumphs for the Portland Timbers and Orlando City SC only moves the Earthquakes up to No. 14.

13. Orlando City SC (Previous: 14)

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    Orlando City SC stunned the New York Red Bulls in their building with a 5-2 win on Friday night. 

    Striker Cyle Larin bagged a hat-trick and accomplished a few feats in the process, including the single-season rookie scoring record

    Cristian Higuita bossed the midfield the entire night. The Colombian was winning tackles and quickly deploying the forwards for counter-attacks. Carlos Rivas also delivered a tremendous performance off the bench with two assists.

    This was also a win over a first-choice Red Bulls lineup. Unfortunately for Orlando, it is still trailing the Montreal Impact by four points, even after recording three straight wins. The Lions have a chance to gain ground against the Impact on Saturday.

    Due to the extra games played, Orlando only moves up one spot this week.

12. D.C. United (Previous: 9)

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    D.C. United continued their slide down the Eastern Conference after a 2-0 loss to the red-hot Montreal Impact on Saturday.

    Didier Drogba's brace gave Montreal a 2-0 lead after just 11 minutes and D.C. failed to recover. United's defense was caught too high up the pitch on a few occasions, including Drogba's second goal.

    Since D.C. defeated the Impact in record fashion on August 8, the Black and Red haven't won a single match. Their winless skid now stands at six games.

    United is now in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and is in serious danger of finishing fifth or sixth. All of this considered, D.C. falls to No. 12.

11. Portland Timbers (Previous: 12)

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    The Portland Timbers snapped a four-match winless skid by defeating the Columbus Crew 2-1 on Saturday night.

    Fanendo Adi completed a brace and Darlington Nagbe assisted the opener. This was the Timbers' first multi-goal game since August 21, and it was a big relief for a team that was struggling to score.

    Portland recorded a quality win on the road, but Toronto FC's superior form and higher standing keeps the Canadian side above the Timbers this week.

10. Toronto FC (Previous: 11)

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    Toronto FC picked up a second straight win after defeating the Chicago Fire 3-2 on Saturday afternoon.

    It wasn't an easy performance for TFC, though. One of its old designated players, Gilberto, opened the scoring after just 40 seconds. Sebastian Giovinco bagged an impressive equalizer later in the half. Whether it was intentional or not remains a debate, but it kept Toronto in the game.

    Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore scored the next two goals for the Reds after Gilberto completed a brace. TFC's resilience was encouraging, but the basic errors at the back continue to haunt this team.

    Toronto has earned six points against inferior opposition. However, the real test will be the final three matches of the season versus the Columbus Crew, New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact.

    For now, TFC moves up one spot to No. 10, but conceding 52 goals is a real worry heading into the playoffs.

9. Sporting Kansas City (Previous: 6)

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Sporting Kansas City earned a hard-fought point against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday. However, the 1-1 draw followed a disappointing 1-0 loss against the Houston Dynamo last Wednesday.

    SKC fielded a fairly strong lineup against the Dynamo, but Houston claimed the win with the help of DaMarcus Beasley's darting run into Sporting's penalty area. It drew the defense towards the near post, which allowed Beasley to cross the ball to Will Bruin for the only goal.

    Despite Sporting KC outshooting Houston, the visitors barely tested goalkeeper Tyler Deric. When head coach Peter Vermes rested several starters for the Seattle game, SKC generated plenty of chances.

    Throwing in Dom Dwyer off the bench made the difference, but it was still a monumental result given the differing strengths in lineups. However, the loss to Houston cannot be ignored and demotes SKC to No. 9.

8. Montreal Impact (Previous: 10)

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    The Montreal Impact are still riding high after another pair of wins last week. Montreal defeated the Chicago Fire 2-1 on Wednesday, then cruised past D.C. United 2-0 on Saturday.

    Didier Drogba scored in both matches, which included a brace against D.C. The Ivorian now has seven goals in just six MLS matches. The Impact are unbeaten in six straight games, which is no coincidence.

    One of the Impact's biggest issues before Drogba's arrival was a consistent finisher up front. Now that the former Chelsea striker has seamlessly adjusted to his new surroundings, Montreal has proven to be unbeatable.

    Interim head coach Mauro Biello is also undefeated since replacing Frank Klopas at the end of August. The Impact still have a couple of games in hand and could clinch a home playoff game the way they have been playing recently. For these reasons, Montreal has been promoted to eighth in the power rankings.

7. Seattle Sounders (Previous: 7)

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    The Seattle Sounders had a tremendous opportunity to pick up another win against a weakened Sporting Kansas City XI. In the end, though, they had to settle for a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

    Center backs Chad Marshall and Roman Torres were unavailable, but otherwise, the Sounders' lineup was very solid. SKC, on the other hand, were missing nine regular starters ahead of the U.S. Open Cup final.

    The Sounders took a 1-0 lead through Obafemi Martins in the 32nd minute. His strike partner Clint Dempsey missed two brilliant chances to double the advantage. Jon Kempin saved the first attempt, although the former Tottenham and Fulham man shot right at the goalkeeper.

    SKC eventually took control of the game, head coach Peter Vermes substituted Dom Dwyer into the match and he scored the equalizer. 

    The Sounders are still unbeaten in five straight MLS games and are in fourth place in the Western Conference. However, this disappointing draw keeps Seattle at No. 7 in the power rankings.

6. Vancouver Whitecaps (Previous: 3)

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    The Vancouver Whitecaps lost for the third time in a week as they fell 2-1 to New York City FC on Saturday. Two defeats against the Seattle Sounders in MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League preceded the latest debacle.

    Head coach Carl Robinson had plenty of decisions to make with three games in a short period of time. Vancouver played well against NYCFC, but the hosts just couldn't finish their chances.

    Both penalties were, arguably, wrongly awarded as well. Firstly, Angelino didn't appear to tackle Kendall Waston. Matias Laba was also incorrectly punished for a clean tackle on Frank Lampard. Even if both spot-kicks weren't awarded, NYCFC would've won.

    Vancouver has lost three of its last five MLS games. Even though the Whitecaps are still fighting for the Supporters' Shield, they slip to No. 6 due to FC Dallas' superior form and the Hoops' game in hand.

5. FC Dallas (Previous: 5)

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    FC Dallas suffered a narrow 3-2 defeat to the LA Galaxy on Sunday. Despite losing back-to-back games, Dallas is still in prime position to claim the Supporters' Shield.

    From the opening whistle, it was evident how much Dallas was missing midfielder Kellyn Acosta. The 20-year-old was recovering from an injury and had to sit on the bench. Ezequiel Cirigliano replaced the homegrown talent and he struggled mightily.

    Cirigliano was overrun by the Galaxy forwards and conceded too much space for Robbie Keane, Giovani dos Santos and Steven Gerrard. Both Keane and Dos Santos weren't closed down outside the box, which allowed them to connect for the first two goals.

    Dallas still managed to counter and record two goals to keep the match within reach. However, the Galaxy bunkered down and held on for the win.

    The Hoops still have a game in hand over the Vancouver Whitecaps and two on the Galaxy. They only trail LA by three points, which is why Dallas stays at No. 5 this week.

4. New England Revolution (Previous: 4)

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    Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

    The New England Revolution were left frustrated after a 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.

    The Revolution were foiled by goalkeeper Andre Blake, who recorded an astounding 10 saves. Only Lee Nguyen managed to beat him thanks to a 36th-minute penalty.

    New England completely dominated the game. If it wasn't for a fantastic strike by Fernando Aristeguieta, the Revs could've won this match despite Blake's masterclass.

    With the New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew also losing, the Revolution remain at No. 4 despite the draw.

3. New York Red Bulls (Previous: 1)

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    The New York Red Bulls were crushed 5-2 by Orlando City SC at home on Friday.

    The defense was completely torn apart by Kaka, Carlos Rivas and Cyle Larin. Orlando simply countered with pace and finished almost every opportunity. As New York pushed forward to find a goal, the Lions continually found space to expose.

    The positive for the Red Bulls is that they're still on top of the Eastern Conference. They also have games in hand over the Vancouver Whitecaps and LA Galaxy in the race for the Supporters' Shield.

    For those reasons, New York remains in the top three, but it has to move down to third after such a lopsided defeat at home.

2. Columbus Crew (Previous: 2)

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    Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

    The Columbus Crew lost 2-1 to the Portland Timbers on Saturday, which snapped the Crew's mini two-game winning streak.

    Kei Kamara scored in the defeat, although the defending was questionable once again. Darlington Nagbe wasn't challenged by the defenders, which allowed Nagbe to complete the assist to Fanendo Adi. 

    The Timbers then took advantage of the holes in Columbus' midfield and defense before the second goal. Eventually, Portland held on for the victory.

    The Crew have now conceded 51 goals this season. Only Toronto FC (52) and Orlando City SC (53) have allowed more in 2015. This is the one issue holding back Columbus entering the playoffs.

    Thankfully for the Crew, they stay at No. 2 because this defeat wasn't as lopsided as the New York Red Bulls' loss to Orlando City SC. Columbus also faced a stronger opponent in the Timbers.

1. LA Galaxy (Previous: 8)

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    The LA Galaxy moved back on top of the Supporters' Shield standings after defeating FC Dallas 3-2 on Sunday. 

    Their biggest earners made the difference as Robbie Keane, Giovani dos Santos and Steven Gerrard scored in the win.

    Despite the win, LA still has a couple of kinks to work through. Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was at fault for Dallas' first goal as he was caught off his line for some unknown reason. The defense as a whole is still a tad slow as well.

    LA has also won just twice on the road all year and has been outscored 27-13 in those games.

    However, in a week when many of MLS' top teams faltered, the Galaxy took advantage. That is why LA will retake the No. 1 spot in the power rankings this week.

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