MLS Power Rankings: Seattle at the Double
In a playoff before the playoffs, the Seattle Sounders got the better of the L.A. Galaxy to claim the Supporters' Shield and the top spot in ESPN FC's Power Rankings.
1. Seattle Sounders (no change)
Seattle's offense took center stage for much of the season, but it was the team's defense -- and two late goals from super-sub Marco Pappa -- that allowed them to claim the Supporters' Shield at L.A.'s expense. There are no MLS Cup guarantees, though. Just six of 18 previous shield winners claimed both trophies.
2. New England Revolution (no change)
Even in a game that didn't have playoff implications, the Revolution still managed to get another win. Make that Nguyen, as in Lee, who added to his MVP credentials by tallying his 18th goal of the season in a 1-0 victory over Toronto.
3. L.A. Galaxy (no change)
The Galaxy didn't seem all that perturbed by losing out on the Supporters' Shield against Seattle, but Saturday's defeat did reveal how reliant L.A. is on an in-form Robbie Keane. Next up is a tricky playoff encounter against Real Salt Lake.
4. D.C. United (no change)
Leave it to Fabian Espindola to spoil Marco Di Vaio's going-away party. The Argentine's late equalizer allowed D.C. United to earn a 1-1 tie. Now United will try to break the hearts of their opponents in the playoffs. Given how stingy their defense has been this season, a deep run is a distinct possibility.
5. Real Salt Lake (no change)
RSL took care of business against Chivas USA, winning 2-0 to secure third place in the Western Conference. Their reward? A playoff series with L.A., although RSL dumped the Galaxy out of the playoffs last year. The availability of injured defender Chris Schuler could well determine if RSL delivers a repeat performance.
6. Columbus Crew (+1)
The Crew's form down the stretch has been nothing short of astonishing, going 8-2-1. Their playoff fate will largely be determined by how well the team's forwards finish. The sight of Jairo Arrieta getting on the scoresheet against Philadelphia bodes well.
7. FC Dallas (-1)
Dallas squandered a chance to avoid the play-in game by losing 2-0 at home to Portland. Now it hosts a defensively strong Vancouver side on Wednesday. That said, there's no denying the superb job Oscar Pareja has done with his injury-hit side this season.
8. New York Red Bulls (no change)
Bradley Wright-Phillips entered the record books against Kansas City, scoring twice in a 2-0 win over Sporting Kansas City to give him 27 goals on the year, tying the single-season record. Mike Petke's decision earlier this season to move Eric Alexander into the center of midfield continues to pay dividends.
9. Vancouver Whitecaps (no change)
Honor is due to Carl Robinson. The first-year head coach managed to lead his team into the postseason despite losing last year's Golden Boot winner, Camilo. The midseason acquisition of defender Kendall Waston -- who scored the game winner against Colorado -- was a masterstroke.
10. Portland Timbers (+1)
Still think games early in the season don't matter? Portland's 2-0 win over Dallas meant it finished the campaign 5-1-3, yet it still wasn't enough to make the playoffs because of a disastrous 0-3-5 start. Despite finishing the season with three straight shutouts, the Timbers simply took too long to sort out their defense.
11. Sporting Kansas City (-1)
SKC's recent form -- just two wins in their last 10 games -- makes the champs easy to write off. But there are examples of MLS Cup champions like the 2005 L.A. Galaxy who looked awful heading into the playoffs. SKC's defense has to tighten up, and that is tough to see at the moment. The quest for a repeat starts Thursday in New York.
12. Philadelphia Union (no change)
Sunday's loss to Columbus was like so many the Union have suffered this season; lots of good work undone by massive breakdowns late. The controversial nature of Columbus' goal only adds salt to the wound.
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
13. Toronto FC (no change)
Toronto's 1-0 loss to New England typified its season in that it didn't play poorly, but just bad enough to lose. TFC were on the wrong end of a controversial call that led to Nguyen's winner, and they couldn't create enough chances to find a breakthrough. With Jermain Defoe rumored to be exiting, the offseason should be interesting indeed.
14. Chicago Fire (+1)
The Fire's 2-1 victory over Houston proved a nice send-off for the retiring Logan Pause. There was a dubious slant to it as well, however, as it enabled Chicago to tie Montreal and San Jose for the fewest league wins this year. It will be interesting to see how long a leash Frank Yallop has next season.
15. Houston Dynamo (-1)
The Dynamo's 2-1 loss to Chicago proved that motivating a team under a lame-duck coach -- even one as successful as Dominic Kinnear -- is nearly impossible. Now the club's focus is solely on the search for a new technical director and head coach.
16. Montreal Impact (no change)
Marco Di Vaio held up his end, scoring in his last game as a professional, but the Impact couldn't hold on for a victory against D.C. United. Last offseason Montreal did little to augment its roster. That can't happen this year; Frank Klopas has a ton of work to do in order to improve this side.
17. Chivas USA (no change)
The Goats recorded their first MLS point against San Jose back in 2005, so it was fitting that Chivas USA exited MLS with a win against the Quakes, a club that knows a thing or two about coming back after going dark for a few years. Lots to ponder for the new ownership group.
18. Colorado Rapids (+1)
Colorado didn't lie down for Vancouver. In fact, the Rapids created some solid chances late to nearly snatch a draw. Instead, their season ended with a 1-0 defeat and a 14-game winless streak. Colorado has some good young players but needs a massive overhaul on the defensive side of the ball.
19. San Jose Earthquakes (-1)
How big of a disaster was 2014 for San Jose? A club just two years removed from winning the Supporters' Shield finished the season with a 15-game winless streak. Good thing there's a new stadium and Dominic Kinnear to look forward to.
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.