MLS Power Rankings: The Colorado Rapids' Surprise Run Continues

Peter Galindo@@GalindoPWFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2016

MLS Power Rankings: The Colorado Rapids' Surprise Run Continues

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    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    There were some big surprise victories this week in Major League Soccer this week.  

    These victories skyrocketed some teams in the latest power rankings. As always, the following criteria were used to grade every team:

    • Form over the last five games
    • Injuries/absences
    • Quality of a team's most recent performance
    • Games in hand (if applicable)

    Here is where every team stands after the latest round of matches.

20. Houston Dynamo (Previous: 18)

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    Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    The Houston Dynamo were edged 1-0 by the Columbus Crew after goalkeeper Tyler Deric was sent off after just 18 minutes.

    The decision appeared to be the correct one as Deric clipped Federico Higuain and rightfully saw a red card for the challenge. From that point on, Houston was facing an uphill battle.

    The Dynamo finished the game with just four shots and have now failed to win their last five games. Houston has only scored two goals in four matches after opening the campaign with 11 from its opening three fixtures.

    There is clearly a ton of attacking potential within the squad, but it cannot be tapped when the Dynamo have generated the fourth-lowest amount of shots in the league, per the official MLS website.

    Games played: Seven

    Form: LLDLL

    Points: Five

    Record: 1-4-2

    Standing: 10th in Western Conference

19. New York City FC (Previous: 19)

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    Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    New York City's winless skid now stands at six games after their 2-0 loss against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. 

    If that wasn't bad enough, head coach Patrick Vieira was drawn into an odd argument with a reporter after the game, per PhillyVoice's Kevin Kinkead. The most curious response from Vieira was his claim that NYCFC "dominated the game," which is not entirely true.

    NYCFC slightly outshot Philadelphia and had more possession, but generally speaking, it was an even match. New York City failed to convert quality chances once again, and the injury to Ethan White was significant.

    This team is capable of qualifying for the playoffs, but with a new coach and new additions, it takes time for an MLS side to fully jell. However, if this slide continues, NYCFC brass may grow impatient as it did with Jason Kreis.

    Games played: Seven

    Form: LDDLL

    Points: Six

    Record: 1-3-3

    Standing: 10th in the Eastern Conference

18. New England Revolution (Previous: 11)

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    Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    The New England Revolution's 3-0 loss to D.C. United was a tad harsh, but it was a reminder to the Revs that the finishing has to improve.

    The Revs were punished by two late goals but could have easily opened the scoring prior to Lamar Neagle's penalty. Teal Bunbury and Je-Vaughn Watson had quality opportunities but were wildly inaccurate with their respective finishes.

    New England is now riding a three-game winning streak and still owns just one victory in 2016. It's clear that the Revs are a much stronger team than their record indicates, but the product in the final third is dreadful at the moment.

    Games played: Eight

    Form: DWDDL

    Points: Eight

    Record: 1-2-5

    Standing: Seventh in the Eastern Conference

17. New York Red Bulls (Previous: 20)

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    Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    The New York Red Bulls snapped multiple dry spells in their 3-2 win over Orlando City SC on Sunday night. 

    Not only did the Red Bulls earn their first win since March 19, but Bradley Wright-Phillips finally ended his seven-game scoreless run with a brace on Sunday.

    There was some controversy as defender Karl Ouimette tackled Cyle Larin as he was in on goal. Orlando should have had a man advantage and potentially a penalty as well.

    Nonetheless, New York deserved the win. They were wreaking havoc in the final third, forcing turnovers and stayed compact at the back for most of the game. 

    The Red Bulls are still missing the injured Damien Perrinelle and Gideon Baah, but this was an encouraging performance.

    Games played: Eight

    Form: LLLLW

    Points: Six

    Record: 2-6-0

    Standing: Eighth in the Eastern Conference

16. Seattle Sounders (Previous: 12)

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    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    The Seattle Sounders' three-game unbeaten streak came to an end with a 3-1 defeat against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. 

    The only positive for Seattle was Jordan Morris scoring his second goal in as many matches. Otherwise, it was a dour showing, and, as the Seattle Times' Matt Pentz writes, the Sounders are growing frustrated.

    Head coach Sigi Schmid thinks the loss was the team's "worst game of the season." It's tough to disagree with him, especially after it appeared the Sounders were gaining momentum. That resurgence was foiled thanks to sloppy defending and a few blown opportunities in the final third.

    This could be a one-off performance seeing as how Clint Dempsey and Nelson Valdez were injured. However, due to wins from the likes of the Vancouver Whitecaps and Columbus Crew, Seattle has to make room.

    Games played: Seven

    Form: LWDWL

    Points: Seven

    Record: 2-4-1

    Standing: Ninth in the Western Conference

15. Chicago Fire (Previous: 15)

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    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    The Chicago Fire were inactive this past weekend but return to the field this Saturday to face D.C. United.

    The Fire are enduring a small slump as they have failed to win either of their previous two matches. A victory over D.C. could move Chicago back into a playoff spot depending on other results in the Eastern Conference.

    Games played: Six

    Form: DDWDL

    Points: Six

    Record: 1-2-3

    Standing: Ninth in the Eastern Conference

14. Columbus Crew (Previous: 16)

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    Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    The Columbus Crew earned their second win in as many games after defeating the 10-man Houston Dynamo 1-0 on Saturday.

    The Crew had a man advantage for more than 70 minutes and thoroughly dominated, but the convincing performance did not show in the final score.

    Seeing as how the Crew were struggling in their first five games of the year, picking up wins is all that matters at this point. Columbus still held Houston to just four shots, and the hosts themselves generated several chances.

    Once the Crew consistently turn those opportunities into goals, they will rise even higher in the rankings. For now, they get a slight bump up to No. 14.

    Games played: Seven

    Form: DDLWW

    Points: Eight

    Record: 2-3-2

    Standing: Sixth in the Eastern Conference

13. Portland Timbers (Previous: 13)

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    Godofredo Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    The Portland Timbers, along with the Chicago Fire, did not participate in any games this past weekend. The champions will make up for the inactivity with two matches this week.

    The Timbers face the New England Revolution this Wednesday before hosting Toronto FC on the following Saturday, and Portland is in desperate need of a victory.

    Head coach Caleb Porter will have fewer options for those fixtures as Diego Valeri is suspended for the Revolution game. Goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey, defenders Liam Ridgewell and Alvas Powell are all injured as well, along with midfielder Darlington Nagbe. 

    It will be an uphill battle, but a victory over the Revs would be a huge confidence boost for the Timbers, who have not won back-to-back matches yet this season.

    Games played: Seven

    Form: DLDLW

    Points: Eight

    Record: 2-3-2

    Standing: Eighth in the Western Conference

12. D.C. United (Previous: 17)

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    Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

    D.C. United recovered from their dour 1-0 defeat to Toronto FC the previous week by defeating the New England Revolution 3-0 on Saturday.

    Lamar Neagle's penalty was D.C.'s loan goal until Luciano Acosta's magnificent chip and Alvaro Saborio's strike in the 90th minute. Each tally was a punishment to the Revs, who failed to convert on three tremendous opportunities in the game, whereas United capitalized on theirs to clinch the win.

    It's still difficult to assess who the best forwards are within the squad. Saborio and Acosta have made their cases in recent weeks, but Fabian Espindola has now been ruled out for two to four weeks, per ESPN FC.

    Both players can now take advantage and show head coach Ben Olsen that they deserve to start more often. A strike partnership between Saborio and Acosta could be the answer up front for D.C.

    Games played: Eight

    Form: LDWLW

    Points: Nine

    Record: 2-3-3

    Standing: Fifth in the Eastern Conference

11. Sporting Kansas City (Previous: 10)

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    Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    Sporting Kansas City's 1-0 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday was the team's third consecutive loss. However, if not for a missed penalty call, Sporting could have walked out of Avaya Stadium with a win.

    It's apparent that SKC's Dom Dwyer was fouled in the box, but referee Jair Marrufo failed to award a penalty. Chris Wondolowski ended up converting a spot kick a few minutes to clinch the victory. This was clearly a game of thin margins.

    The injury to Soni Mustivar has negatively affected SKC at the back because the Haitian midfielder is incredibly solid in the deep-lying role that he occupies. 

    Injuries affect every team at some point during the year, but Sporting have either been on the wrong end of refereeing decisions or have been unlucky with their finishing.

    Games played: Eight

    Form: LWLLL

    Points: 12

    Record: 4-4-0

    Standing: Sixth in the Western Conference

10. Vancouver Whitecaps (Previous: 14)

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    The Vancouver Whitecaps cruised to a 3-0 win over FC Dallas Saturday and snapped their goalless drought from open play.

    It was unknown whether Maynor Figueroa's own goal counted as the Whitecaps' first goal from open play in 2016, but Kekuta Manneh put the argument to rest with his 77th-minute strike.

    Based on the score, it was a comfortable victory for the Whitecaps, but that is far from the truth. Goalkeeper David Ousted made several outstanding saves to boost Vancouver's chances of winning. 

    The Danish goalkeeper clearly deserved the man-of-the-match award, but Manneh was another standout. The Gambian-born winger was dealing with niggling injuries since the 2015 playoffs, but he appears to be back to his best.

    The one negative for Vancouver is Octavio Rivero's failure to score again. However, with an in-form Ousted, a confident Manneh and a fit-again Pedro Morales, luck could rub off on the Uruguayan.

    Games played: Eight

    Form: WDLLW

    Points: 10

    Record: 3-4-1

    Standing: Seventh in the Western Conference

9. Orlando City SC (Previous: 6)

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    Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    Like a few other games, Orlando City SC's 3-2 loss to the New York Red Bulls on Sunday night was affected by some refereeing controversy.

    Red Bulls defender Karl Ouimette appeared to foul fellow Canadian Cyle Larin, which should have at least been a red-card offense. That is a fair claim, although PRO later revealed that Larin was offside prior to the incident, so the referee and his assistants missed two calls.

    Despite the missed call, Orlando was nowhere near good enough defensively. The Lions' passing was inaccurate, they kept turning over the ball and were slow in closing down New York's front four.

    Orlando has proven to be a solid team, especially at home, but without a win in three straight games, it has to move down in the rankings this week.

    Games played: Seven

    Form: WWLDL

    Points: Nine

    Record: 2-2-3

    Standing: Fourth in the Eastern Conference

8. San Jose Earthquakes (Previous: 9)

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    Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    The San Jose Earthquakes probably should have conceded at least one goal in their 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, but they'll surely be thrilled with the final score.

    The Earthquakes caught a huge break after referee Jair Marrufo failed to award Sporting a penalty for this foul. Eventually, San Jose won a spot-kick of their own, Chris Wondolowski converted it and the Quakes clinched another home victory.

    San Jose now has four wins and a draw in five matches at Avaya Stadium this season. The Quakes have also recorded three clean sheets at home, hence their slight rise in the rankings this week.

    Games played: Eight

    Form: DDWLW

    Points: 14

    Record: 4-2-2

    Standing: Fifth in the Western Conference

7. Montreal Impact (Previous: 3)

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    The Montreal Impact suffered their first loss at home this season, and it came against their rivals Toronto FC in a 2-0 defeat on Saturday afternoon.

    Montreal wasn't particularly poor by any means. Toronto was just more clinical and had the advantage of a penalty right before halftime, which deflated the Impact. 

    The Impact are still a top side in the Eastern Conference and one loss doesn't affect them too much. They have two chances to rebound this week against lowly New York City FC and the high-flying Colorado Rapids.

    Games played: Seven

    Form: LLWWL

    Points: 12

    Record: 4-3-0

    Standing: Second in the Eastern Conference

6. Real Salt Lake (Previous: 1)

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    Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

    Real Salt Lake suffered their first defeat of the season in convincing fashion. The Claret and Cobalt were hammered 5-2 by Giovani dos Santos and the LA Galaxy on Saturday at the StubHub Center.

    A few players struggled in this match for RSL, mainly John Stertzer, Jamison Olave and Aaron Maund. They could not contain Dos Santos, Gyasi Zardes and Emmanuel Boateng, which was reflected in their dominant performances.

    It was unrealistic to expect RSL to continue this form, especially without Joao Plata, but for this week, they have been bumped out of the top five after an emphatic loss.

    Games played: Seven

    Form: DWWWL

    Points: 14

    Record: 4-1-2

    Standing: Fourth in the Western Conference

5. Philadelphia Union (Previous: 7)

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    Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    The Philadelphia Union quietly earned another emphatic victory, defeating New York City FC 2-0 on Saturday. This was the Union's fourth win in their last six games.

    C.J. Sapong's impressive start to the season has been a major factor in Philadelphia's surprising 2016 campaign. Sapong bagged his fourth goal in five games and looks set to eclipse his career high of nine.

    Another key player has been Andre Blake, who was fantastic once again against NYCFC. The back line in front of him has been equally brilliant, too.

    Keegan Rosenberry has gradually improved, Joshua Yaro looked solid in his second professional start, Richie Marquez was commanding as always, and Fabinho was tremendous on both sides of the pitch as usual. 

    A victory over a struggling NYCFC doesn't seem that spectacular, but the Union are slowly becoming a threat in the Eastern Conference.

    Games played: Seven

    Form: WLWLW

    Points: 12

    Record: 4-3-0

    Standing: First in the Eastern Conference

4. Toronto FC (Previous: 8)

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Toronto FC earned one of their best wins of the season as they beat the Montreal Impact 2-0 on the road on Saturday.

    This was Toronto's third win in seven games away from home. TFC have only lost twice in that span and have kept three clean sheets. They had two on the road all of last season.

    The addition of Will Johnson has also been a huge boost to the midfield. He was especially brilliant against the Impact. The Canadian was breaking up onrushing attacks and bursting forward in the final third to create space for teammates.

    Sebastian Giovinco's form is an added bonus, too. He already has six goals and two assists in seven games. Once TFC return home, the Italian will be an even bigger menace for opposing defenses.

    Games played: Seven

    Form: LLDWW

    Points: 11

    Record: 3-2-2

    Standing: Third in the Eastern Conference

3. FC Dallas (Previous: 2)

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

    FC Dallas lost 3-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, but if it wasn't for one of the top goalkeeping performances of the season, the Hoops could have earned at least a point.

    Fabian Castillo was also very wasteful as he fired a few shots wide and high of the goal. Some poor luck on Maynor Figueroa's own goal also opened the floodgates for the Whitecaps, who were locked in after taking the lead.

    The injury to Matt Hedges, plus the recent return of Mauro Diaz, were two major factors that went against Dallas, but it is still leading the league with 17 points.

    If the Texan side rebounds on Friday versus the New York Red Bulls, then this loss will be written off as an anomaly.

    Games played: Nine

    Form: DDWWL

    Points: 17

    Record: 5-2-2

    Standing: First in the Western Conference

2. Colorado Rapids (Previous: 4)

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    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    The Colorado Rapids accumulated nine wins in 2015. They already earned their fifth victory of 2016 after defeating the Seattle Sounders 3-1 on Saturday night.

    Jermaine Jones scored his second goal in as many games in his new No. 10 role. Shkelzen Gashi provided the assist as that partnership continues to flourish. Kevin Doyle got on the scoresheet in his return from injury as well.

    Colorado is now riding a three-game winning streak, and the Rapids are actually playing an entertaining style. Once Tim Howard arrives, this team will be a serious contender in the Western Conference.

    Games played: Eight

    Form: WLWWW

    Points: 16

    Record: 5-2-1

    Standing: Second in the Western Conference

1. LA Galaxy (Previous: 5)

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    The LA Galaxy trashed Real Salt Lake 5-2 on Saturday, but even more importantly, Giovani dos Santos and Steven Gerrard shone again.

    Both of LA's designated players were exceptional. Dos Santos stole the headlines with a goal and an assist, but Gerrard also had a tally of his own, although he did miss a penalty.

    However, Gyasi Zardes and Emmanuel Boateng were equally, if not, more impressive. Boateng was absolutely sensational on the wing and could not be stopped. He and Zardes were also involved in two goals apiece.

    This was an especially solid game by Zardes, who now has four goals and one assist in seven appearances. If he's in form, the U.S. men's national team will also benefit.

    LA's stars are clicking, its other attackers are hitting their stride and it also has games in hand. This strong performance is only enhanced without Robbie Keane and Nigel de Jong, which is why the Galaxy top this week's power rankings.

    Games played: Seven

    Form: WDDWW

    Points: 14

    Record: 4-1-2

    Standing: Third in the Western Conference