Seattle Sounders gaining ground in MLS power ranks after Vancouver win
The Sounders make a big move in this week's rankings, thanks to an emphatic win on the road against the first-place Whitecaps. It wasn't just Vancouver taking it on the chin in Week 29, though, as other teams' losses also making for a shuffling of positions throughout the list.
The Red Bulls took a loss in New England on Wednesday night, but bounced back with a dominate performance in Portland on Sunday. With no other team staking a claim, New York maintains the top spot, thanks to a resolve that is becoming their 2015 calling card.
Everything turned on Andreas Ivanschitz's opener in Vancouver's 3-0 loss to Seattle. Forced to chase the game, the 'Caps opened themselves up to the Sounders' devastating counterattack. At least it gives Vancouver coach Carl Robinson something to work on heading towards the playoffs.
The Revs made a statement with a big win over New York in midweek, only to have a statement made against them by the improving Impact. New England will be fine, but the loss in Montreal is a hit to their burgeoning confidence.
Crew SC victimized sliding D.C. United with a 2-1 win at RFK Stadium, thanks largely to the two key offensive cogs in their humming machine. If there was "best duo" award, Kei Kamara and Ethan Finley would be well ahead of any other pair in MLS.
The Galaxy are still a mess on the road, something that is now a legitimate concern. Bruce Arena is the most accomplished coach in MLS history and a master of fine-tuning a team just in time for the playoffs, but the road woes must be concerning even to him.
The Sounders have their groove back. It wasn't necessarily the scoreline of their 3-0 road victory in Vancouver (a win that secured Seattle the Cascadia Cup for the first time since 2011) that was impressive, it was the total team precision of their goals. There are still issues, but things suddenly look good for the Sounders.
FC Dallas has a gem in young goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, but the 20-year-old's heroics weren't enough to keep his team's three-game winning streak from coming to an end against Sporting Kansas City in a 3-1 loss.
The Sporting slide is finally over. SKC's big home win over FC Dallas ends the club's five-game winless run and provides a platform from which Peter Vermes' team can build with the playoffs looming. There's still a chance to improve seeding with six games to play.
Nothing sums up the Timbers' limp performance at home against New York in a 2-0 loss like Caleb Porter's use of the word "disappointed" seven times in a postgame press conference that lasted less than 10 minutes.
10. D.C. United (-2)
United continues to underwhelm. This time, the former East leaders came up short in a 2-1 home loss to Crew SC on Saturday. That makes five games without a win for Ben Olsen's team, which has slipped down to fourth place in the standings.
Since Didier Drogba's installation as a starter (minus the strategic rest Mauro Biello gave Drogba and other starters against San Jose), the Impact have earned eight of a possible 12 points. It would be an understatement to say the Ivorian has changed Montreal for the better.
12. Toronto FC (+1)
TFC started a run of five straight home dates with a convincing 3-1 win against the Rapids. Sebastian Giovinco scored twice to hit 19 goals on the year, then added an assist to bring his total to 14. The Italian's season is proving to be one of the best by any player in MLS history.
The Lions kept playoff hopes alive with an important 1-0 road win at Chicago. Uncharacteristically, Orlando City managed to keep a clean sheet, something they hadn't done since playing the Union to a scoreless draw back on Aug. 8.
Not only did RSL take a big scalp with a dominant 3-0 win over the Galaxy on Saturday, they also managed to put themselves within touching distance of the last playoff spot in the West. A lot has to go right for their playoff streak to hit eight seasons, but at least there's hope.
The Quakes can't win at home -- something they have to do if the playoffs are in their future -- and they can't win on the road. San Jose now faces a final four games with several personnel issues due to yellow card suspensions and international call-ups for United States under-23s.
The Dynamo defense conspired to make the Union look like world-beaters on Sunday, something that has to worry Owen Coyle with four of his team's final five games against teams currently occupying playoff spots in the Western Conference.
The Union aren't clinical by any stretch, but Houston's poor defense allowed Philadelphia plenty of opportunities to find the goals they needed to get a feel-good win at home on Sunday. A playoff berth seems very unlikely, but the Union could use some positive results ahead of the U.S. Open Cup final.
A six-point week has NYCFC feeling good after several weeks of troubling drama. Give Jason Kreis credit for lighting a fire under his team, especially DPs Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard. Both played well in each of the team's wins this week, even if it's probably too little, too late.
The Rapids looked non-competitive in a 3-1 road loss to Toronto. News that Pablo Mastroeni will return as head coach in 2016 flies in the face of what has been an exceptionally poor season for Colorado, though continuity might end up doing the club some good.
It finally happened. After the Fire's 1-0 home loss to Orlando City - -possessor of the league's worst defense -- Chicago ownership pulled the plug on the Frank Yallop era. There's little to salvage from this campaign, but maybe interim head coach Brian Bliss can create some momentum for 2016.
Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.