2011 MLS Power Rankings: Week 30

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IOctober 9, 2011

2011 MLS Power Rankings: Week 30

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    In this week's Major League Soccer Power Rankings, the push for the playoffs continues. In spite of stumbling against the New York Red Bulls, the Los Angeles Galaxy secure the Supporters' Shield. They aren't the top team this week, though.

    The Seattle Sounders made it three straight U.S. Open Cups with their win over the Chicago Fire, but they aren't the ones on top, either.

    Let's take a look at this week's power rankings and see who is at the head of the pack this week.

18. New England Revolution

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    The Bad News Bears were roaming around Foxborough, Mass., as Steve Nicol's New England Revolution were taken down 2-1 by the San Jose Earthquakes at Gillette Stadium.

    Benny Feilhaber scored the only goal for the Revs in the 55th minute of play.

    "It’s not a case of motivation, to be honest. It’s people making mistakes," Nicol told the press. "I don’t think again tonight it’s a matter of motivation. We went forward for most of the evening. We just haven’t been able to deal with counter attacks or simple long balls from the goalkeeper’s hand."

    New England's final home game is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15 against the Columbus Crew. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet.

17. Toronto FC

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    Aron Winter's Toronto FC were off this week, but they had some plans in store for CONCACAF Champions League play.

    “I feel like if this squad was together from the beginning of the year, we would definitely be in the playoffs,” Toronto's Ryan Johnson told MLSSoccer.com's Larry Millson.

    Before they return to regional action, the Reds have a league contest with the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15 at 4 p.m. ET and will be televised by TSN.

16. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

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    A big momentum boost for next season came for Tom Soehn's Vancouver Whitecaps, who secured their first-ever win at the refurbished BC Place Stadium with a 3-0 hammering of Real Salt Lake on Thursday.

    Camilo Sanvezzo scored a penalty brace in the 44th and 53rd minutes, while Nizar Khalfan opened his scoring account with a scorcher in the 88th minute of play.

    The Whitecaps manager did note the real X-factor for the club on the day.

    “I thought Long Tan had a really good day up top,” Soehn told MLSSoccer.com's Martin MacMahon. “He worked hard and created a lot. Mitchell - coming in at the back - he gave us some bite and real athleticism.

    "He did a good job of communicating and holding a high line. We did a good job of staying organized, but all in all, I still go back to the group effort. It was a really good group performance.”

    Next up for Vancouver are a couple of matches. On Oct. 12, the Whitecaps face D.C. United, who are fighting for a playoff spot. Kickoff at BC Place is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET and will be televised by Rogers SportsNet One.

    On Saturday, Oct. 15, Vancouver take their show on the road one last time when they take on FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Tex. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Rogers SportsNet One.

15. San Jose Earthquakes

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    Chris Wondolowski saved some sort of face for Frank Yallop's San Jose Earthquakes, who defeated the New England Revolution 2-1 at Gillette Stadium.

    Wondolowski scored in the eighth and 82nd minutes of play. Last year, Wondolowski edged Edson Buddle for the Golden Boot. This year, he wants to defend his shoe.

    “Hopefully, I can pull it out,” Wondolowski told MLSSoccer.com's Geoff Lepper. “I know [D.C. United's] Dwayne [De Rosario]’s got a bunch of games left. [New York Red Bulls's] Thierry [Henry] also.

    "I know I’m going to have to do some work in the next two games."

    One of those two matches is against the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.

14. Chivas USA

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    Robin Fraser's Chivas USA were off this week, but they do have something to play for when they take on the Los Angeles Galaxy on Oct. 16 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

    “In sports, you certainly like to control your own destiny, and that was many games ago for us and now, not only do we have to sit in wait, but we have to take care of ourselves,” Fraser told MLSSoccer.com's Adam Serrano. “But it’s better to have a lifeline and some chance than none at all, but we could have and should have put ourselves in a better position.”

    Unfortunately, they didn't. Los Angeles' 2-0 defeat to New York earlier last week meant that the Goats were eliminated from the playoff picture, along with San Jose.

    But with the Galaxy only leading 1-0 on aggregate over Chivas and Juan Pablo Angel going on a scoring tear, some pride and city bragging rights could be most welcome.

    Kickoff between Chivas and the LA Galaxy is scheduled for 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN and ESPN Deportes.

13. Portland Timbers

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    John Spencer's Portland Timbers were off this week. However, there were other matters for the club to take care of. For example, a fashion show. And of course, the calm before the storm.

    “The reality of it is we have three games in eight days that are kind of going to define this whole season,” said midfielder and team captain Jack Jewsbury to MLSSoccer.com's Dan Itel. "It’s kind of been a theme of ours this past month, be as good as you can be in every aspect of what you do. I think that’s the main focus right now.”

    Jewsbury will not be available for the Timbers match with the Houston Dynamo due to suspension. Portland are chasing Houston for the 10th and final playoff spot, and a victory at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Ore. will do wonders for their chances.

    Kickoff between the Timbers and the Dynamo is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Root Sports.

12. Real Salt Lake

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    Jason Kreis was at a loss for words when his Real Salt Lake side capitulated in disgraceful fashion to the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-0.

    It didn't help matters that this was a rescheduled match due to heavy rain at Empire Field, RSL were playing shorthanded due to suspensions and injuries and national team obligations...or Kreis suffering food poisoning before the match.

    “We put ourselves behind the eight ball early with two PK calls and we didn’t react extremely well from that,” RSL assistant coach Jeff Cassar told MLSSoccer.com's Randy Davis. “The effort just quite wasn’t up to par. You could tell Vancouver came out with a little bit of edge, and once that PK happened with the ejection, we were really forced into a situation that we didn’t want to be in.”

    Adding to the misery for RSL was an extended suspension for captain Kyle Beckerman for headbutting Chicago's Daniel Paladini in their last match with the Fire on Sept. 28 at Rio Tinto Stadium. The suspension means that Beckerman will not be available until the MLS Cup Playoffs, which RSL have qualified for.

    That means Nat Borchers gets to don the armband for a couple more games, starting with an intriguing encounter with the Colorado Rapids on Friday, Oct. 14 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. MT/10:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN and ESPN2.

11. D.C. United

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    Ben Olsen's D.C. United were off this week, but they did take the time to prepare for their most dangerous mission yet: qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs.

    “It’s a beautiful break,” head coach Ben Olsen told MLSSoccer.com's Travis Clark. “I hope it recharges us like the last break did. We’re a little banged up and I think it gives us some time to heal up and recharge and go after these last four games.”

    D.C. have a couple of games in hand over the Houston Dynamo, who occupy the last spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Winning out the rest of the season will be critical to their chances at playing for an unprecendented fifth MLS Cup.

    This Wednesday, D.C. face the Vancouver Whitecaps at B.C. Place. Kickoff is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 10 p.m. ET and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet.

    On Saturday, Oct. 15, D.C. will return to RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. to take on the Chicago Fire in the first match of a three-game home stand. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.

10. Chicago Fire

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    Frank Klopas's Chicago Fire were consigned to eating humble pie after losing to the Seattle Sounders in the U.S. Open Cup Final at CenturyLink Field to the tune of 2-0.

    That may have been the only shot of glory Chicago had for the taking this year, with their MLS Cup Playoff hopes on literal life support.

    “We’ve got to win the rest of our games,” Fire captain Logan Pause told Fox Soccer, according to MLSSoccer.com's Sam Stejskal. “We can’t keep looking at the table and hoping for help. We know if we win our last three games it’ll put us in a good spot. From there, only god knows.”

    On Wednesday, Oct. 12, Chicago take on FC Dallas in the second leg of the Brimstone Cup. Kickoff at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet.

    On Saturday, Oct. 15, the Fire face D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT/7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet.

9. FC Dallas

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    Schellas Hyndman's FC Dallas were off this past week. However, the home stretch beckons for the Hoops, who could clinch a spot in the MLS Cup playoffs over the weekend.

    A key contributor to the cause is defender Jack Stewart, formerly of NSC Minnesota Stars of the North American Soccer League. An MLS SuperDraft selection six years ago, Stewart worked his way up the ranks after a string of bad luck on the home front and overseas.

    Hard work does pay off, so the saying goes.

    “It’s good just to be back playing in the top league in the US,” Stewart told MLSSoccer.com's Robert Casner. “It’s definitely grown from when I was last here. The players are a lot better and the competition is getting more skill full and more athletic, and it’s becoming just a better league than what it was. It’s good to see.”

    Stewart will be needed to add some depth to struggling Dallas, who will look to get back on track when they take on the Chicago Fire in the Brimstone Cup. Kickoff  is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Sports Southwest.

    On Saturday, Oct. 15, the Hoops host the Vancouver Whitecaps for their league home finale at Pizza Hut Park. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Sports Southwest Plus.

8. Columbus Crew

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    Robert Warzycha's Columbus Crew had the week off as they also made plans for the playoffs.

    For the first-year players on the Crew, it was all about keeping in touch with their alma mater, such as Duke's very own Cole Grossman.

    “I’m always talking to coach, talking to the players,” Grossman told thecrew.com's Craig Merz. “It’s still a big part of my life. I love Duke. I miss it so much. All the rookies still like talking about their teams and their schools.”

    Other first-year players on the Crew include Rich Balchan of Indiana University, Justin Meram of Michigan, Ben Sippola of Butler and Aaron Horton of Louisville.

    Columbus will wrap up their 2011 regular season campaign on the road for two games, starting with the New England Revolution. Kickoff at Gillette Stadium is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by ONN-TV.

7. Red Bull New York

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    Hopes were high for Hans Backe's New York Red Bulls as they secured an important 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Tuesday at Red Bull Arena.

    Luke Rodgers opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, while Thierry Henry recorded his 14th goal of the season in the 59th minute of play.

    “Over 90 minutes, this has probably been the best, well-balanced game from us,” Backe told MLSSoccer.com's Kristian Dyer. “I can’t really remember our first seven games where we played really well before the Gold Cup.

    "I think we only conceded two goals since seven games and picked up a number of wins, but from the Gold Cup and now, this was definitely the most balanced game.”

    New York currently sit in the third wild card spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs, just above the Houston Dynamo on goal differential.

    Up next for the Red Bulls is a pivotal match with Sporting Kansas City. Kickoff at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15 at 4:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by MSG and Telefutura.

6. Colorado Rapids

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    Gary Smith's Colorado Rapids were off this week, preparing for a Rocky Mountain Cup tie against Real Salt Lake.

    Meanwhile, a couple of dedicated fans decided to declare their loyalty from the top of Africa's highest mountain.

    Kickoff between the Rapids and Real Salt Lake at Dick's Sporting Goods Park is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 14 at 8:30 p.m. MT/10:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.

5. Houston Dynamo

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    Dominic Kinnear's Houston Dynamo were not in action this week, planning for a final push to the MLS Cup Playoffs. They did, however, have some UFC business to attend to.

    "I think it's good to have the weekend off, because with the interntional break, everyone has guys going away to their respective national teams," Kinnear told HoustonDynamo.com's Jonathan Kaplan. "With our team, we could be missing four players, but we are only missing three with Andre [Hainault] choosing to stick around."

    Houston currently occupy the last spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs and are being chased by the Portland Timbers and D.C. United. Key to the hopes of the Dynamo will be the play of Will Bruin, who put on a great performance in action for the reserves.

    Speaking of Timbers, Portland happens to be Houston's next opponent on the schedule. Kickoff at Jeld-Wen Field is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 14 and will be televised by KHOU 11.2, Fox Sports Houston Plus and TV Azteca-51.

4. Los Angeles Galaxy

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    All good streaks have to come to an end, and for the Los Angeles Galaxy, theirs ended on Tuesday in a 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena.

    Despite the setback, the Galaxy reclaimed the Supporters' Shield over the weekend due to Philadelphia's 2-0 victory over Seattle.

    This means that the match with Chivas USA could see some reserves having a crack at it on Sunday, Oct. 16. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET at Victoria Street and will be televised by ESPN and ESPN Deportes.

3. Seattle Sounders FC

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    Open Cup highs and Supporters' Shield lows. That was the week that was for Sigi Schmid's Seattle Sounders.

    On Tuesday, Seattle punched a ticket to the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League with their 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire.

    Fredy Montero opened the scoring deadlock in the 79th minute, while Osvaldo Alonso slammed the door shut in the sixth and final minute of second half stoppage time.

    Montero was suspended for the Sounders' match with the Philadelphia Union, though, and his lack of presence up top hurt Seattle as they were shut out 2-0 by the Union at CenturyLink Field.

    “I think we’ve had some emotional highs in the last two weeks, and sometimes, you come out a little bit flat and they were a little bit flat today, especially in the first half, and we left it for a little bit too late,” Schmid told soundersfc.com's Matt Gaschk.  “It just serves as a reminder that in this league everything is so tight that if you come and aren’t wholly prepared to do all the work you need to do, you end up coming up short.”

    Up next for the Sounders is a match with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, Oct. 15. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET and will be televised by Fox Soccer Channel.

2. Sporting Kansas City

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    Peter Vermes's Sporting Kansas City were off this past week, but this week, they have some work to do with the Philadelphia Union leapfrogging them in the Eastern Conference race.

    A key player to the cause this postseason will be the play of Frenchman Aurelien Collin, whose presence on the backline has fueled Sporting's midseason resurgence.

    “My friends and I were into hip hop and rap, so I was always into American music, style and everything,” Collin told MLSSoccer.com's Andrew Wiebe. “I grew up with the American dream in my head.

    “My passion is soccer and, at the same time, being somewhere I love. I’m here, and I feel very good. I’m very happy.”

    Collin will need to enforce his defensive skill this home stretch, as Sporting aim for more home-cooking on the way against another team on the rebound, the New York Red Bulls.

    Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15 at 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET and will be televised by KSMO-TV and Telefutura.

    Before that, Sporting will host Chivas de Guadalajara in a club friendly. Kickoff is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. ET.

1. Philadelphia Union

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    Peter Nowak's Philadelphia Union doop their way into the top spot in this week's power rankings with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders.

    Freddy Adu opened up the scoring at the hour mark, while Brian Carroll opened up his scoring account 10 minutes later. With the win, Philadelphia sit atop the MLS Eastern Conference standings.

    “It is huge win for us to get it here, especially after the Sounders’ U.S. Open Cup win,” forward Sebastien Le Toux told philadelphiaunion.com's Judah Levine. "To come on out into the west and get a win is a big confidence boost for us. It is big win for us to be on top in the East.”

    Up next for the Union is a home tie with Toronto FC at PPL Park. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15 at 4:00 p.m. ET and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet.