(Nos. 1-10 are on deck …so check back)
19. Chivas USA – It’s a dead heat in my mind for last spot here. The Goats (pictured at right) haven’t won since July and have conceded a stunning 22 goals in seven matches, so there’s compelling evidence on that side. Then again …
18. Toronto FC –The Reds are winless in their last nine (in all competitions), without a win since Aug. 1. (Paul Mariner’s team hasn’t won in MLS since mid-July.) The only reason to favor TFC slightly over Chivas USA in the rankings: Toronto is losing closer than the Goats, generally. Yes, it’s down to that.
17. Colorado Rapids – A 3-0 win over Portland to open September was a big breath of fresh Colorado air for Oscar Pareja’s team. But it was right back to business in Round 28 as they had some possession against Los Angeles but couldn’t turn that into enough quality chances and finished on the wrong end of a 2-0 result.
16. Portland Timbers – Sounders coach Sigi Schmid says the Timbers played their “MLS Cup” last week, and it’s difficult to argue the point. So the 1-1 tie with bitter rival Seattle wasn’t the result desired around Jeld-Wen Field. Then again, it wasn’t a disaster either. So … there’s that. A mid-week trip into Buck Shaw to face San Jose this week looks daunting.
15. Philadelphia Union – John Hackworth made offense a priority for Saturday’s visit to downtrodden BMO Field in Toronto. So the inability to put more than one shot on target says a lot about all the work that still lies ahead around PPL. (They finished that one chance, at least, in a 1-1 draw.)
14. New England Revolution – New England has plenty to work out, clearly. Benny Feilhaber was the cornerstone around which this team was ostensibly built – only he’s not starting. They just signed Juan Toja (pictured, right) and have precious few matches to figure out if he’s the guy to build around, and where the enigmatic Colombian fits, if at all. The back line still needs improvement. But this might be the biggest question around Gillette Stadium: Why, in the name of all that’s good, would goalkeeper Matt Reis be the best choice to charge forward and take a late free kick near opposition goal in a 2-1 match? Seriously, guys?
13. Vancouver Whitecaps – Which term do you prefer? “Sweaty palm” time or “squeaky bum” time? Take your pick, but know that Vancouver is knee deep in it. The schedule still favors the Whitecaps’ chances of keeping ahead of Dallas for the West’s fifth and final playoff spot. Still, it would have seriously lifted some pressure off Martin Rennie’s men to have held on for (literally) a few more seconds last week against FCD.
12. Montréal Impact – There may be a way back into the playoff race for Montreal, but it’s tough to see one. A weekend loss at Chicago pretty much sealed the deal for Jesse Marsch’s expansion team, which had a good summer but just lost too many points over the spring. Either way, the Impact has already accomplished enough to count its debut MLS year as a productive one.
11. FC Dallas – Will Julian de Guzman’s dramatic, last-gasp goal be the one that eventually puts FC Dallas in the playoffs? Hard to say – but it’s the surely one that keeps Schellas Hyndman’s team in the chase for now. The trouble for FCD is that three of four remaining are on the road, including tough stopovers in San Jose and Seattle. And the alarming George John injury, too, of course.