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The Top Ten in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

Oct 23, 2012, 1:15 PM EDT

Colombus Crew v D.C. United Getty Images

(Nos. 11-19 are here)

10. Vancouver Whitecaps – Congratulations to the Whitecaps, the first Canadian side to make an MLS playoff appearance, never mind Toronto’s five-year head start. Your reward: a trip to Los Angeles in a one-game elimination contest. Unless Martin Rennie’s men find a lot of offense over the next week or so, the club’s season will be extended by about four days.

(MORE: Hard to like Vancouver’s playoff chances)

9. Houston Dynamo – Houston finished its home season unbeaten and clinched a playoff spot, but there’s still a lot of play for. Three points from a Round 34 trip into Colorado could be the difference between playing at home (We mentioned they are unbeaten there, right?) or playing on the road in the 4th-vs.-5th elimination match. It might even mean avoiding that opening-round match altogether. All of that tells us manager Dominic Kinnear is even more likely to use a team of reservists in tonight’s CONCACAF Champions League contest.

8. New York Red Bulls – Difficult to say how RBNY fans should feel about last week’s scoreless draw at home. I mean, “scoreless draw at home” is never a good place to start a conversation about a talented team with playoff ambition. On the other hand, New York took it to the Eastern Conference champs. Sporting Kansas City needed a herculean effort from goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen to preserve the shutout. Teemu Tainio had one of his best outings in months; they need more of that, and less of his diminished 2012 form.

7. Chicago Fire – Going into the playoffs on up-and-down roller coaster form reduces the post-season to a toss-up. The “good” Fire apparently remained home in Chicago  last weekend, while the “bad” Fire went limp in a 1-0 loss at New England. In further bad news, the Fire (don’t forget, we were talking about Frank Klopas’ men challenging for East’s top spot just a couple of weeks ago) could tumble all way to fifth if they aren’t careful; they finish at home against D.C. United this week.

6. D.C. United – Man, throw in a little SexyBack and Timbaland and it’s 2006 all over again! The RFK Stadium stands were full (“down-sized” full, anyway) and the team secured a playoff spot, its first since 2007. Ben Olsen’s team secured post-season passage in a thriller, a 3-2 win over Columbus secured on a late goal by reservist Lewis Neal (pictured above along with Olsen). Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, check out Branko Boskovic’s clever, no-look pass to arrange Neal’s goal; it’s sure worth a look.

5. Real Salt Lake – What RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey says about tonight’s CONCACAF Champions League match, where the Utah side requires a win over Costa Rica’s CS Herediano to move into next year’s elimination stage: “It is a massive game. Pretending it’s not won’t make it go away. And I think everybody understands that — from the players in the locker room to the fans. They know what it’s all about.”  Meanwhile, they still hope to finish with flourish in league matters; a contest at home against Vancouver could vault RSL past Seattle, a better place to be in case teams ahead of them stumble en route to MLS Cup 2012.

4. Los Angeles Galaxy – All the extracurriculars took center stage after Sunday’s 2-2 draw in San Jose, a match that was either rough and tumble and full of hard-nosed stuff … or the very embodiment of why MLS needs to tamp down reckless and overly aggressive play. It all depends on your viewpoint. Meanwhile, Landon Donovan and David Beckham are back at practice for the club, which is locked into fourth place. They’ll host Vancouver on Oct. 31 in an MLS playoff elimination match.

(MORE: Omar Gonzalez calls San Jose’s MO “embarrassing”)

3. Seattle Sounders – Smart, opportunistic soccer, not to mention some strong finishing, carried a 3-1 win over FC Dallas and helped secure the Sounders’ playoff positioning. This week’s trip into Los Angeles looks tricky. Does coach Sigi Schmid risk a confidence beat-down and slippage in positioning for MLS Cup hosts right by deploying reservists? On the other hand, doing so could mean some beneficial rest for the coming post-season charge.

source: Getty Images

2. San Jose Earthquakes – C’mon, Wondo … just one more goal! (Or maybe two more, so you aren’t sharing the record.) Chris Wondolowski (pictured right) has one more contest to match Roy Lassiter’s 17-year-old MLS mark for goals scored in a season. With a match in Portland set for Round 34, the Earthquakes’ striker sits on 26 goals. He’s lobbying Frank Yallop for as much playing time as possible, and the team is committed in its efforts to help “Wonder Wondo” achieve the record. Who says the Supporters Shield winners don’t have anything to play for on the final weekend?

(MORE: a huge week around the San Jose Earthquakes organization)

1. Sporting Kansas City – It took big stuff from goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen to keep New York out of goal in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Red Bull Arena. The team definitely misses Roger Espinoza, who needs to heal up quickly for the men of Livestrong to have the best chance in playoff encounters ahead. Meanwhile, SKC loyalists have themselves an interesting debate going: Lawrence Olum or Aurelien Collin as Matt Besler’s center back partner? It’s most been Olum lately, although Collin got the call in last week’s shutout against New York.

  1. joanismylover - Oct 23, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Steve Davis, the only “expert” to put Kansas City first in the power rankings when they failed to get the result they needed in New York, and lost the supporters shield. Congrats Mr. Davis. Keep up the good work!

    • Steve Davis - Oct 23, 2012 at 4:49 PM

      As opposed to your team, San Jose (I suppose), who failed to win at home? Well, you have your opinions and I have mine …

  2. joanismylover - Oct 23, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    San Jose didn’t need the win. Champagne was already chilled. The only thing the team wanted was to get Wondo his record. Made some progress. KC needed the result and failed.

  3. Dan Haug - Oct 23, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    I realize power rankings are really all in fun… but I do disagree heartily with your assessment this week. If ever you needed to stick with San Jose, now would be the time.
    1. Both teams tied to decent opponents
    2. SKC was away and SJ at home (advantage SKC)
    3. NYRB, by your own rankings, are well below LA. (advantage SJ)
    4. SJ clinched the Supportes Shield with 2 matches left in the season (advantage SJ)

    I’m an LA fan who HATES the way SJ plays… but right now I have a tough time arguing that SKC should be ranked above them.

    That said… your job is to create hits on your site. Well done, sir.

    • joanismylover - Oct 23, 2012 at 7:23 PM

      @ Dan Haug

      Well reasoned comment, backed by some analysis. Unlike the post about which we’re commenting. The problem with writers and so-called experts that say silly things to get website hits and posts is that ultimately, they lack credibility, and people see through it.

      So while there may be a short term gain – I’m certainly fueling that right now- long term it means we won’t rely on these particular experts for any kind of informed analysis. Maybe for a laugh, but not for serious discussion of the sport.

      Mr. Davis put Sporting at the top simply because he could, not because he should have. It’s clear from his adulation of Omar Gonzalez – a great defender who maybe chose his words poorly after a difficult game – his contempt for Steve Lenhart, that he doesn’t like San Jose and sees something wrong with how they play. I suspect this is the real and unstated reason he has put San Jose second, even though there is no real factual basis for him to do so.

      • Steve Davis - Oct 24, 2012 at 11:38 AM

        Joanis …

        Good discussion is always welcome on this site.

        But if you continue to come on and lob silly accusations and question the motives of myself or one of the PST writers, I’ll just delete your comments. We write what we think. Period.

        It’s fine to disagree, but just because we don’t see the world as you do, that doesn’t mean we harbor ulterior motives. Consider this your yellow card.

      • ravegreenstreet - Oct 24, 2012 at 12:35 PM

        Steve, I agree that there’s no reason to make stupid accusations that you have ulterior motives for something as silly as power rankings… but censoring comments just because they’re criticizing you is a great way to lose ALL discussion here. It’s a fine line to walk when considering what’s positive for the website or not, but making a discussion dictatorship is going a little too far.

        Anyways, can’t wait to see how the Sounders do in the post-season this year. I hope they get all three points in LA to give them the best chance possible to host MLS Cup. I can’t even imagine what a sold-out Clink would be like for the CHAMPIONSHIP. It’d be absolutely incredible. Hope it happens so I get to be there and experience it.

      • joanismylover - Oct 24, 2012 at 1:14 PM

        Mr. Davis –

        I’m sorry you felt the need to caution me. I apologize.

        Yours in Soccer,

        Joanismylover

  4. Steve Davis - Oct 24, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    You’re correct, it is a fine line. But it’s also a way to police the comments section, to make sure it doesn’t devolve into the loud clutter and mess than so many comment sections do. And personally, it’s just difficult to see something written than is so clearly wrong, wrong-headed and removed from context or reality. At some point, it’s a basic honesty issue … words like “vendetta” are trip points. So is something like “you didn’t watch the match.”

    I have the ability to see that people aren’t reading things that simply are not true, so don’t I have to at least consider deleting them?

    As you said, it’s a slippery slope. But it was just a yellow card, not a red.

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