Week 23 in Major League Soccer saw Sporting Kansas City's emphatic 4-1 win over Toronto FC -- with Dominic Dwyer netting twice from the spot -- solidify its hold on the Eastern Conference, and regain the top spot in ESPN's Power Rankings.
1. Sporting Kansas City (+1)
The defending champs were back to their physical, high-pressing ways against Toronto, and solidified their spot at the top of the Eastern Conference standings with a 4-1 win. That said, Jon Kempin's second-half save with the game in the balance proved critical.
2. Real Salt Lake (+2)
Even without injured midfielder Javier Morales, RSL still beat Seattle 2-1. How the 5-foot-2 Joao Plata manages to score goals with his head remains a mystery, but RSL won't mind. The club is now unbeaten in six and sitting atop the Western Conference.
3. FC Dallas (+5)
So much for being tired after playing 120 minutes in the midweek Open Cup defeat to Philadelphia. FCD used its speed to devastating effect to hammer San Jose 5-0. Tesho Akindele bagged a hat trick, but it was the much-improved Fabian Castillo who did most of the creative damage.
4. L.A. Galaxy (-3)
Little went right for the Galaxy in falling 4-1 to Columbus, including an injury to Robbie Rogers that may sideline him for Wednesday's match against Colorado. The biggest concern is the poor play of the L.A. midfield, which had been stellar prior to Saturday.
5. Seattle Sounders (-2)
Seattle still controls its Supporters Shield fate, but after falling to RSL, it's now relying on games in hand to make the difference. The return of Obafemi Martins against San Jose this Wednesday should bolster an attack that hasn't been as prolific as it was earlier this year.
6. D.C. United (+1)
With injuries and suspension eating into the team's depth, DCU got big performances from the likes of Fabian Espindola, Luis Silva and Taylor Kemp, who delivered two sublime assists in a 4-2 win over Colorado. The victory should build confidence that had been shaken after a two-game losing streak.
7. Toronto FC (-2)
Hamstrung by injury and illness, manager Ryan Nelsen didn't have much to pick from in terms of defenders, but he'll rethink putting Jackson at right back, as he was whistled for penalty and contrived to blow a four-on-nothing break at the other end. Doneil Henry didn't fare much better.
8. Vancouver Whitecaps (-2)
With midfield catalyst Pedro Morales limited to 20 substitute minutes, Vancouver's 0-0 tie with Chivas USA rated four snores. The Caps have now taken just two points from three matches against Chivas USA, which could cost them a spot in the postseason.
9. New York Red Bulls (No change)
A bye week should leave the Red Bulls plenty rested for this week's home match against last-place Montreal, though it looks like the kind of trap game that has troubled New York in the past.
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
10. Portland Timbers (No change)
The Timbers had Liam "Der Kaiser" Ridgewell to thank for a 1-1 tie, as he finished off a long run with a well-taken goal. Yet Portland will feel hard done by, as Gaston Fernandez had what looked to be a perfectly legit goal disallowed for a poor offside decision.
11. Philadelphia Union (No change)
Against Houston, the Union looked a bit weary after its midweek exertions in the Open Cup, but the 2-0 loss still amounted to a blown opportunity, and there's a huge logjam for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
12. Columbus Crew (+2)
Gregg Berhalter put one over on his old mentor, Bruce Arena, though the quality of the finishing that the Crew had against L.A. will make any coach look good. So has Columbus escaped the summer doldrums? Ten points out of 15 would suggest it has.
13. Houston Dynamo (+4)
Houston went two and a half months without a clean sheet. Now the Dynamo has two in three games after shutting down an admittedly tired Philadelphia side. The pickup of holding midfielder Luis Garrido has been critical to Houston's defensive revival.
14. Colorado Rapids (-2)
The Rapids' implosion continued with a heavy defeat to D.C. United. The loss of captain Drew Moor to a sprained knee will do little to help stabilize a defense that has been leaky in recent weeks.
15. San Jose Earthquakes (-2)
The Quakes found themselves in a track meet against Dallas, and were duly punished against Fabian Castillo & Co., resulting in the worst loss in San Jose's MLS history. With nine out of 13 games left on the road, the Quakes look poised to crater.
16. Chicago Fire (-1)
The past week couldn't have been more brutal for the Fire. A 6-0 hammering at the hands of Seattle in the Open Cup was followed by a loss to the worst team in the league. Help is on the way in the form of forward Robert Earnshaw and possibly midfielder Jermaine Jones. It likely won't be enough.
17. New England Revolution (+1)
Given the Revolution's form of late, a 1-1 tie against the Portland Timbers isn't the worst result, but once again New England did the hard work of getting a lead only to give it up in the second half. With four of its next five games at home, the Revs have to pick up points over the next month.
18. Chivas USA (-2)
The Goats managed to put an end to their four-game losing streak thanks to a 0-0 draw with Vancouver, but goals continue to be elusive, with Chivas now scoreless in four matches. Erick "Cubo" Torres, often the hero for the Goats this season, was profligate in front of goal.
19. Montreal Impact (No change)
The Impact ended their seven-game losing streak at last thanks to Marco Di Vaio's opportunistic strike, and Montreal's ramshackle defense even kept a clean sheet against Chicago. It will matter little, though it proved a bit of revenge for former Chicago manager Frank Klopas.
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.