We're nearly to the playoffs, and the intrigue continues to build in MLS. Can Landy-cakes actually make an impact come playoff time? Can Jozy Altidore ride this goal-scoring wave all the way through the playoffs (and the USMNT qualifiers in November)? Can anyone do anything to make a San Jose game entertaining?
1. Toronto FC (Last Week: 1)
Toronto has the best player in the league (who happens to currently be injured), has the most in-form striker in the league (Jozy Altidore), and has the advantage of playing in the weaker conference. The only thing holding T-Dot back is is whether or not the defense can show up in big games. Regardless, if Altidore can continue to play like he currently is when Giovinco returns, I wouldn't bet on anyone outscoring this team.
2. FC Dallas (Last Week: 3)
In the U.S. Open Cup Final, Dallas won the first piece of silverware in this the year in which they are likely to be the favorites in every competition in which they play, with the exception of the Champions League. This could be a very fruitful few months for the fellas from Frisco as they also became the first team to clinch a postseason berth this week.
3. Colorado Rapids (Last Week: 2)
Colorado with a very in-character 0-0 draw against San Jose. If I were the oddsmaker in charge of this game, I would have been giving favorable odds to anyone willing to bet that there would be a goal in this one. Colorado and San Jose are the two lowest scoring teams in the league and are the only two who haven't cracked the 30-goal mark thus far this year.
4. LA Galaxy (Last Week: 6)
ICYMI Landon Donovan scored a goal this week for LA in a 2-2 draw on the road at SKC. Donovan's competitive drive has been the subject of much debate, but I'm beginning to think that being the best player in the league became too easy of an existence for LD, and his short retirement has reignited that competitive fire that drove him to become the player that he is. You never know what it takes to drive these hyper-competitive athlete types.
5. New York City FC (Last Week: 4)
It baffles me that NYCFC can trot out a three-man midfield of Pirlo, Lampard and Iraola and still be as good as they are. There is more athleticism on the PGA Tour than there is in that midfield trio. Unfortunately for the Soccer Yankees, though, Lampard will not be able to take part for at least the next month due to an injury.
6. New York Red Bulls (Last Week: 5)
New York dropped points after leading in a game again, this time blowing a two-goal lead to Jozy Altidore on the road in Toronto. It sounds like one of those cliches that coaches of losing football teams use all the time, but this team needs to learn to finish games.
7. Portland Timbers (Last Week: 8)
Portland is the only team in the league yet to win a road game, but is in fifth place out West thanks to two straight wins at home over RSL and Philly. Unfortunately for the Champs, it's unlikely that they'll be able to host a playoff game at Providence Park.
8. New England Revolution (Last Week: 13)
It's never been a question of potential with the Revs because up and down their roster there is serious talent, especially on the attacking end of things. The problem is that those attacking talents haven't shown up on a consistent basis, but that seems to be changing. The Revs thumped Montreal 3-1 and are now above the red line in the East after three straight wins. The Revs' next four are against C-Bus, SKC, Chicago, and Montreal, all of which look to be wins considering New England's current form. Look out for these guys.
9. Real Salt Lake (Last Week: 7)
After being placed second in these rankings just a week before last, RSL has plummeted to ninth after two very disappointing one-goal losses to Portland and Houston. Good teams win close games, and RSL is losing them right now.
10. Sporting Kansas City (Last Week: 11)
SKC is five points clear of Seattle for the last Western Conference playoff spot, though the Sounders have two games in hand. Luckily for Peter Vermes, two of their last four games are against San Jose.
11. Montreal Impact (Last Week: 9)
Montreal with a bad loss at home against New England. The Impact have lost four times and won just once since Aug. 13, which is as uninspiring a run as a playoff-bound team could have at this point.
12. Philadelphia Union (Last Week: 10)
Philly's last four heading into the postseason: at TFC, at NYRB, vs. Orlando and vs. NRYB. That's about as tough as it could get for them in their final tuneups for the playoffs, which you could view as either good or bad.
13. D.C. United (Last Week: 14)
As bland as you think D.C. is (and you'd be right), they have the exact same record as Orlando. That's not a good category to be in when you have Kaká and they have Nick DeLeon.
14. Seattle Sounders (Last Week: 15)
Here's a dream scenario that'll never happen but is fun to think about anyway: Seattle somehow buys Christian Pulisic away from Dortmund and pairs him with Jordan Morris as the young, exciting American tandem representing the future of American Soccer in front of the largest crowds in the league. It would be the most exciting duo in the Emerald City since Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp and would instantly become the most intensely scrutinized team in American Soccer history.
15. Orlando City (Last Week: 12)
Really disappointing display from the Lions to get gashed like they did defensively. Just when you thought Jason Kreis had actually turned things around, Orlando goes and loses to Columbus in such a fashion. To paraphrase Fredo Corleone in The Godfather, "Orlando, you don't come to
Camping World Stadium The Citrus Bowl and lose to a team like Columbus like that!"
16. Houston Dynamo (Last Week: 17)
DaMarcus Beasley played this week in Houston's 1-0 win over RSL, his second start in a row after a long benching. Speaking for American soccer fans everywhere, this is a good thing.
17. Columbus Crew (Last Week: 20)
What's troubling about that Orlando loss to C-Bus this weekend is that it might say more about the Lions than the Crew.
18. San Jose Earthquakes (Last Week: 16)
Can we just cleave San Jose from the league for awhile? The Quakes are the lowest-scoring team in the league and are tied in second place for the most ties with 13. If you're not going to score, can you at least do the rest of us a favor and let the other team drop a few in?
19. Chicago Fire (Last Week: 18)
When the Cubs win the World Series later this year, do you think the Fire will be able to hear the cheering way out in Bridgeview?
20. Vancouver Whitecaps (Last Week: 19)
Back to the bottom for the Caps this week after dropping one to Seattle. Chicago and Vancouver are the only two teams with double-digit losses on the road this season, and anytime you're paired with Chicago you're in bad company.