Week 20 rankings: Depth matters
An odd week on the MLS schedule features games every day from Wednesday right through to Monday. Several teams didn't play at all, using the open spot in the calendar to host friendlies with touring teams instead. Nevertheless, the results played a part in shuffling the rankings a bit, with the important note that Monday's clash between Seattle and L.A. still looms.
At this point in the long MLS season, it's important to keep an eye both on new signings and injuries. Deeper teams are rising to the top as attrition takes its toll.
1. Seattle Sounders
The Sounders are unlikely to drop from the top spot even if they lose at home to the Galaxy on Monday night. A win would solidify their position as the league's best team while damaging L.A.'s attempt to climb back to the top.
2. Sporting Kansas City
Sporting's win in Toronto was about a champion showing its mettle, even as coach Peter Vermes' team received some fortunate breaks. Yes, TFC hit the post multiple times, but Sporting also managed to win despite losing Matt Besler for the last 15 minutes to a red card and Seth Sinovic to injury.
3. D.C. United
A week off for United saw them fall a little further behind K.C. in the Eastern Conference race, but with two fewer games played than their rivals, coach Ben Olsen's team should feel pretty good about its position. DCU gets Toronto at home on Wednesday, a big game for both teams.
4. Colorado Rapids
The best part of the Rapids' 3-0 win over Chivas USA at Dick's Sporting Goods Park might have been the goal from designated player Gabriel Torres. It was the Panamanian's first goal of the year, a drought that only makes Colorado's position in the standings (fourth in the West) that much more impressive.
5. Vancouver Whitecaps
Do the Whitecaps deserve credit for fighting back from a 2-1 deficit to grab a point at home against FC Dallas on Sunday? Or do the Whitecaps deserve criticism for going up a goal through Darren Mattocks only to fall behind and then need a Pedro Morales penalty to salvage the draw? The lack of a clear answer is the Whitecaps' season in a nutshell.
6. Toronto FC
Michael Bradley took the opportunity after Toronto's 2-1 home defeat to Sporting K.C. to criticize the level of MLS refereeing. Even if Bradley has a point about MLS in general, finishing -- not officiating -- was the cause of the Reds' loss on Saturday. Bradley, meanwhile, can expect a fine from the disciplinary committee in the very near future.
7. L.A. Galaxy
For Landon Donovan & Co., it's all about Monday's showdown with the Sounders. After last weekend's loss in Kansas City, the Galaxy get another chance to prove themselves against a top MLS team. Robbie Keane looks ready to carry the Galaxy, and he will be key to any success in the Pacific Northwest.
8. Real Salt Lake
RSL beat Montreal on Thursday, getting two goals from Olmes Garcia in the process. The goals were the 21-year-old Colombian's first of the year, just when RSL needs another scoring option to step up in the absence of Alvaro Saborio.
9. New York Red Bulls
Off from MLS play, the Red Bulls spent their weekend hosting (and defeating) Thierry Henry's old team, Arsenal, at Red Bull Arena.
10. Portland Timbers
The Timbers went to Montreal targeting three points at all costs, a nod to the precarious position of their playoff hopes. They got what they went for, in the form of a 3-2 win at Stade Saputo. Darlington Nagbe is finally starting to look like himself as part of the Timbers attack.
11. FC Dallas
Raul Fernandez has been an underrated part of FC Dallas' season thus far, though he showed his worth for everyone to see on Sunday in Vancouver. A series of great second-half saves helped his side leave town with both a point and continued sole possession of fourth place in the West.
12. Philadelphia Union
No game this weekend for the Union, who are still awaiting the official return of center-back Carlos Valdes, a process that is dragging on.
13. Columbus Crew
The Crew not only heaped more misery upon the spiraling Revolution with a win at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, but also jumped over New England and into the playoff places in the Eastern Conference.
14. Chivas USA
Up-and-down Chivas is officially down again after two losses in a row. Worse, Chivas conceded three goals in each defeat while leading scorer Erick Torres was neutralized. The Mexican striker simply can't do it all on his own.
15. Chicago Fire
The Fire used the weekend to lick their wounds after a crushing 5-1 road defeat in San Jose by playing an exhibition against Tottenham. The ignominy of that defeat in California was compounded by the fact that it ruined coach Frank Yallop's return to his old stomping grounds.
16. Houston Dynamo
The idle Dynamo get a week to integrate new signings DaMarcus Beasley and Luis Garrido into a team in desperate need of a new spirit.
MLS Power Rankings
- October 27: Seattle at the Double
- October 20: Sounders surging ahead
- October 13: Down to the wire
- October 6: Revs rise up the charts
- September 29: Donovan is the man
- September 22: Galaxy are on target
- September 15: Rose-tinted Sounders win
- September 8: LA in another Galaxy
- September 1: Runaway train
17. New England Revolution
The Revolution's summer is something out of a horror film. Another loss, this time at home against the Crew, brings their epic slide to eight straight. Nothing coach Jay Heaps does is working. Even good performances get lost in the Revs' inability to stake themselves to leads, forcing a slowed-down Revolution into a game that's not their strength.
18. Montreal Impact
It wasn't a good week for the Impact. In the span of four days, Montreal dropped two games. In Utah, Issey Nakajima-Farran undermined the effort with a red card. On Sunday back in Montreal, the Impact dropped a 3-2 decision to the Portland Timbers.
19. San Jose Earthquakes
The Earthquakes hung five goals on the Fire on Wednesday -- and they did it in style. Steven Lenhart's injury forced coach Mark Watson into a lineup without a target forward, and it will be interesting to see if a shift in approach is coming to Northern California.
Jason Davis is a writer from Virginia covering American soccer. He also hosts a daily soccer podcast that covers the beautiful game. Follow him @davisjsn.