2015 Major League Soccer power rankings, Volume V: ‘Caps cap, Quakes shake up the Top Five

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There’s been a lot of moving and shaking going through the MLS power rankings as June comes to a close with plenty of head-scratching and fist-bumping through a streaky and even league.

Parity continues to reign in Major League Soccer, and we see some serious movement of the sneaky variety. For example, do you realize San Jose has lost just once since April 17, and it was against a very good Toronto FC?

Or that FC Dallas’ derby win over Houston was just its second win overall since the last Texas takedown on May 1?

[ MORE: Portland thumps Seattle 4-1 ]

The challenge becomes how to rank these teams. Reeling Seattle has to fall from the top, but just a bit or a total free fall? Consider the team was on a 6-1-1 run the last time we did our PRs, and part of its three-game losing skid — four in five — has come without suspended Clint Dempsey and injured Obafemi Martins.

Those absences certainly play a massive role in where the club stands, and those players will be back, so do we slot them higher than current form or give the current run its just desserts?

Plus when we last met, Orlando City and New York City had yet to go on recent tears, and sat Nos. 19 and 20 in our rankings.

Less talking, more ranking. Feel free to debate in the comments section.

RANKING Up/Down
source:  1 UP 2 Vancouver Whitecaps: Began a four-game road trip with a loss to Montreal, then spun off three-straight wins over L.A., New York Red Bulls and New England. Octavio Rivero is back on the map, and the ‘Caps will bid for their second four-game win streak of the season this weekend before a massive litmus test against KC on July 12.
source:  2 Sporting KC: Easy, fans, you did jump 12 places last go-round. The only blemish in recent weeks is an understandable but still very frustrating loss to Real Salt Lake which came off a 15-day layoff.
source:  3 UP 5 Toronto FC: Take away a loss to a then-raging New York City FC, and Toronto has looked as good as anyone. A derby win against Montreal capped a batch of wins that included DC United, Portland and San Jose (not one of whom is going poorly). And if those didn’t convince you, TFC held DC on the weekend for four of six points from the last two meetings.
source:  4 UP 1 DC United: Doing just fine, but hasn’t beaten high quality competition in a while. You have to run back to May to find wins worth holding up. Still, you can only play who’s on your schedule, and Seattle and Dallas are up next.
source:  5 UP 3 San Jose: The derby win over L.A. is nice, but don’t discount that the Galaxy had played on Wednesday and San Jose had a week off. That said, I’m a believer in the Earthquakes now and moving forward. One loss since April 17, and that came against TFC.

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6 UP 1 L.A. Galaxy: Have a legit argument to be higher up, as they can easily dismiss their loss to San Jose as coming against a strong, rested opponent. And by easily dismiss, we mean as a result, not as a derby loss. That still stings.
source:  7 UP 12 Orlando City SC: Adrian Heath has his charges in order after an early-season swoon. Their only loss since May 13’s loss to DC United came to Montreal last week.
source:  8 UP 2 Portland Timbers: There may be no hotter team in Major League Soccer, but we’re hesitate to latch onto the club due to their schedule run. As we said with DC, you can only beat who’s on your schedule, and Portland has done that. Toss in a win over Seattle when the Sounders were at full-strength, albeit in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and we’re getting there. San Jose’s up next, and a win would make us believers.
source:  9 DOWN 3 FC Dallas: Fortunate to not drop much further. A three-game Eastern Conference swing could have them in a bad, bad spot when we meet again, or Oscar Pareja’s men could use the stretch to restore some faith.
source:  10 DOWN 9 Seattle Sounders: Woof. Another team without a win of true quality dating back to a Cascadian victory over Vancouver in mid-May.
source:  11 UP 1 Columbus Crew: Unbeaten in three is a start, but this is far from the tour de force we expected after last season’s revelatory campaign under Gregg Berhalter.
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12 DOWN 8 New England Revolution: Jermaine Jones is as important as we thought he was. Get well soon.
source:  13 DOWN 2 New York Red Bulls: From May 10’s win over NYC to Sunday night’s victory over the same opponents, New York went 1-4-1, and is still in fourth place in the East because, well, the East refuses to stand up.
source:  14 UP 6 New York City FC: After winning just once through 13 matches, Jason Kreis’ boys picked up wins No. 2, 3 and 4 in a row before Sunday’s dispiriting derby loss.
source:  15 Montreal Impact: Now in a playoff spot (if we ranked by points per game). Have to get points against New York City and Columbus before a two-match run versus Seattle and KC.

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16 DOWN 3 Houston Dynamo: Back-to-back losses have cooled our brief Dynamo enthusiasm. Bring on Cubo, soon, please and thank you.
source:  17 UP 1 Philadelphia Union: Better than they’ve looked, can Maurice Edu possibly overcome their poor start to the season? A gauntlet is up ahead.
source:  18 DOWN 2 Real Salt Lake: Just one win in six, but it was a big one against hot Sporting KC.
source:  19 DOWN 5 Chicago Fire: Four losses in a row makes them 1-6-2 in their last nine.

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20 DOWN 3 Colorado Rapids: Eleven points back of a playoff spot before the calendar finds July. It’s just not a good season.

Must-See Goal: Jozy Altidore

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If Jozy Altidore keeps up his current scoring pace, U.S. Men’s National Team coach Gregg Berhalter will have no choice but to start him in the future.

[FOLLOW LIVE, MLS Wednesday]

For the second consecutive game since returning from the Gold Cup, Jozy Altidore found the back of the net, and once again it was in tremendous fashion. Taking a cross in from the right, Altidore realized his near-post run was too close to goal. Instead of controlling the pass or letting it by him, Altidore caressed the ball with the inside of his right heel, directing the ball past New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles and in for a goal.

Altidore scored a brilliant free kick last week to help secure all three points. Toronto FC inside ten minutes is already on its way to another three.

Watch the goal below.

FOLLOW LIVE, MLS Wednesday: Atlanta, TFC, Red Bulls in action

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It’s an exciting four-game slate in some Wednesday MLS action, headlined by Toronto FC hosting the New York Red Bulls. Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore always seem to relish playing their old club, but it’s also a crucial game for the playoff picture

Toronto FC is right on the red line to make it into the playoffs, and three points tonight will go a long way to helping them make it there. The Red Bulls meanwhile can jump into second place with a win and will be just two points back from the first-place Philadelphia Union.

[ FOLLOW: Wednesday’s MLS action ]

Elsewhere, Atlanta United looks to rebound from a 2-1 defeat to the Seattle Sounders with a trip across the continent back home as Atlanta hosts the Houston Dynamo. Emerson Hyndman has earned the start for his new club while Brandon Vasquez starts ahead of MLS record signing Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez.

New addition Mo Adams also makes the bench for Atlanta.

Also tonight, the New England Revolution host the Vancouver Whitecaps, and new signing Gustavo Bou makes his first start for New England. In addition, the Chicago Fire host the Columbus Crew in a match between two struggling Midwest clubs.

Follow along with us at the link above and stay right here at PST for plenty of postgame analysis.

UCL Roundup: Celtic advances to second round

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Scottish Premier League champion Celtic advanced mostly with ease to the second round of UEFA Champions League qualifying.

In the first official home game of the season at Celtic Park, Celtic defeated FK Sarajevo, 2-1, advancing with a 5-2 aggregate victory. Manager Neil Lennon was able to rest some starters, including Craig Gordon, Scott Sinclair and Leigh Griffiths as Ryan Christie and Callum McGregor scored for the hosts.

A second half turnover led to a wide-open Benjamin Tatar in the box, who finished to tie the score at 1-1 on the night. McGregor’s 76th minute smash from 30-yards out gave Celtic the lead again, which it held on to for the rest of the game.

With the win, Celtic advances to face Nõmme Kalju of Estonia, with matches set to take place July 23/24 and July 30/31.

Here’s a roundup of other UCL first round qualifying second leg scores.


Riga FC 0-0 Dundalk (4-5 on penalty kicks)

AIK 3-1 Ararat

Qarabag 2-0 Partizani

Rosenborg 4-0 Linfield

Ludogorets 2-3 Ferencvaros

CFR Cluj 3-1 Astana

Piast Gliwice 1-2 BATE Borisov

Maribor 2-0 Valur

Sutjeska 1-1 Slovan Bratislava

North and South Korea to meet in 2022 World Cup qualifiers

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) North Korea and South Korea have been drawn together in an Asian qualifying group for soccer’s 2022 World Cup.

The Korean neighbors will play each other home and away in the five-nation Group H that includes Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka. Saudi Arabia and Yemen were also paired in Wednesday’s draw that involved 40 national teams and some political sensitivities. The Saudis, which played at the 2018 World Cup, are top-seeded in Group D that also has Uzbekistan, Palestine and Singapore.

Top-ranked Iran was drawn with neighboring Iraq, plus Bahrain, Hong Kong and Cambodia, in Group C.

United Arab Emirates is top-seeded in a Group G loaded with Southeast Asian derbies, involving Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Australia, which plays in the Asian soccer confederation, will play Jordan, Taiwan, Kuwait and Nepal in Group B.

World Cup host Qatar also plays as this group stage doubles up as qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup being played in China. Qatar will play Oman, India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh in Group E.

China is in Group A with Syria, Philippines, Maldives and Guam. Japan is in Group F with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Mongolia.

The eight groups play from September through June.

Group winners and the four best runners-up advance to another group stage, played from September 2020 to October 2021. Those 12 teams also qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup.

Four Asian teams will qualify directly for the World Cup. A fifth nation can advance to Qatar in an intercontinental playoff round in March 2022.