Last weekend wasn't terribly kind to FC Dallas as Oscar Pareja's men lost for the first time since May 31st, falling 1-0 to Chicago. That coupled with two wins by Los Angeles and a win from Seattle certainly doesn't help FCD's quest for a top-3 finish, but Real Salt Lake failing to win in San Jose provides some relief, especially with Saturday's showdown at Rio Tinto looming. Here's the weekly look at the Western Conference playoff picture as the MLS week gets underway tonight:
1. Seattle Sounders FC
48 points(+11 GD) - 9 games remaining - Last match: 1-0 win vs Colorado - Next match: 9/3 at Chivas USA - Last 5: W-W-D-L-W
A mid-season swoon seems to be in the rearview mirror for Sigi Schmid's side who secured all three points at home against Colorado last weekend despite not playing at their highest level. The Sounders have a two-point lead over Los Angeles with nine games left on their schedule and face a trip to Chivas USA on Wednesday night before taking the weekend off from MLS action.
2. LA Galaxy
46 points(+21 GD) - 9 games remaining - Last match: 3-0 win vs Chivas USA - Next match: 9/5 vs Colorado - Last 5: W-W-W-W-L
The league was put on notice this week. The Galaxy are officially red-hot. A two-match week of games at StubHub Center saw Los Angeles earn all six points with blowout victories over DC United and Chivas USA. They have another relatively straight-forward test on Friday night against Colorado and could take over first place in the Western Conference soon. They look like the team to beat right now.
3. Real Salt Lake
43 points(+9 GD) - 8 games remaining - Last match: 1-1 draw vs San Jose - Next match: 9/6 vs FC Dallas - Last 5: T-L-W-W-W
Real Salt Lake won't be too disappointed with a point from a tricky trip to San Jose, but the fact remains that Jeff Cassar's side let a valuable opportunity to gain three points on FCD slip away from them. The draw at San Jose simply makes Saturday's upcoming game between RSL and FCD that much bigger. Given the form of Los Angeles and the points plus game in hand of Seattle, RSL and FCD look to be fighting it out for that third playoff spot in the west.
4. FC Dallas
42 points(+11 GD) - 8 games remaining - Last match: 1-0 loss at Chicago - Next match: 9/6 at Real Salt Lake - Last 5: L-W-W-W-W
There's no reason for panic after a 1-0 loss at Chicago in what was really a strange game from the start. With all eight games remaining against the top six of the Western Conference, FCD will have to earn their way to the top of the West, but these tough games will certainly prepare them well for playoffs. FCD has had RSL's number this year so far and Saturday will be another tough test in Rio Tinto.
5. Portland Timbers FC
34 points(+1 GD) - 8 games remaining - Last match: 3-0 win at Vancouver - Next match: 9/7 vs San Jose - Last 5: W-L-D-W-L
Wins in August don't come much bigger than that one for Caleb Porter's side. The Timbers walked into BC Place and thoroughly demolished the Whitecaps 3-0 last weekend to jump above them into the 5th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They're certainly not out of the woods, but according to Sports Club Stats they raised their chances of making the playoffs by a whopping 20% with the win.
6. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
33 points(-1 GD) - 9 games remaining - Last match: 3-0 loss vs Portland - Next match: 9/6 vs DC United - Last 5: L-L-D-W-D
Boy that was quite the surprising result for the Whitecaps. We know how they struggle on the road, but the side is typically one of the strongest in MLS at home. They'll need to recover quickly from Sunday's loss with a tough DC United side coming to town this weekend in a match they really need to win.
7. Colorado Rapids
30 points(-3 GD) - 8 games remaining - Last match: 1-0 loss at Seattle - Next match: 9/5 at Los Angeles - Last 5: L-L-L-L-L
There were plenty of positives to take from Saturday's 1-0 loss at Seattle, but we're getting to the time of the season where moral victories don't count for much. The losing streak is at six with just one win in their last ten and a trip to high-flying Los Angeles on Friday night won't provide any respite. Let's just say the Rapids are huge Earthquakes fans this weekend.
It's hard to believe, but just nine games remain in the 2014 MLS regular season. Some teams have 11 games remaining in those nine weeks, but we're really getting down to the nitty gritty last two months and the good news is your FC Dallas is right in the thick of things!
Over the next couple months, we will do a weekly post tracking the playoff race seeing what happened the weekend before and what's up next.
1. Seattle Sounders FC
45 points(+10 GD) - 10 games remaining - Last match: 4-2 win at Portland - Next match: 8/30 vs Rapids - Last 5: W-D-L-W-L
The Sounders bounced back from a disappointing draw at home against San Jose to trounce their Cascadia opponents in Portland with a comprehensive 4-2 win. With the win, they broke a three-way tie at the top of the Western Conference. Seattle has a three point lead and a game in hand on both Real Salt Lake and FCD, but have a fairly tough schedule with six of their last ten against current playoff teams.
2. FC Dallas
42 points(+12 GD) - 9 games remaining - Last match: 2-1 win vs Real Salt Lake - Next match: 8/30 at Chicago - Last 5: W-W-W-W-D
FC Dallas has burst back to the top of the Western Conference having won four of their last five and six of their last seven. FCD hasn't lost since May 31 but face a trick test this weekend traveling to a Chicago side that has been very tough to beat this season with just six losses and 14 draws. A win in Saturday's game in Chicago would be huge for Dallas' hopes of finishing in the top three of a tight race.
3. Real Salt Lake
42 points(+9 GD) - 9 games remaining - Last match: 2-1 loss at FC Dallas - Next match: 8/30 at San Jose - Last 5: L-W-W-W-T
Real Salt Lake had a three-game winning streak halted by FC Dallas last weekend in Frisco, but still bring a solid 42 points to the playoff race. They've got two games left against both Chivas USA and San Jose, so there are definitely winnable games left on the schedule, but their match in San Jose will certainly be pivotal this weekend.
4. LA Galaxy
40 points(+15 GD) - 11 games remaining - Last match: 2-0 win vs Vancovuer - Next match: 8/27 vs DC United - Last 5: W-W-L-D-W
Los Angeles beat a listless Vancouver squad 2-0 at home on Saturday night and they have the inside track on the #1 seed at this point with more games left than anyone else. The big advantage that Los Angeles has is seven of their last 11 games are at the StubHub Center and tonight they have a huge match against DC United that, with a win, could propel them into second place in the Western Conference. FC Dallas has two remaining games left against LA that will prove vital.
5. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
33 points(+2 GD) - 10 games remaining - Last match: 2-0 loss at LA Galaxy - Next match: 8/30 vs Portland - Last 5: L-D-W-D-D
Vancouver has once again been a Jekyll and Hyde team, almost unbeatable at home but woefully poor on the road. Only six points from their last five matches is not enough to keep pace at the top of the west, opening a large gap between fourth and fifth, but they've got the biggest game of the season on Saturday when they'll host Portland.
6. Portland Timbers FC
31 points(-2 GD) - 9 games remaining - Last match: 4-2 loss vs Seattle - Next match: 8/30 at Vancouver - Last 5: L-D-W-L-W
It's looking like the hole that Portland dug early in the season will prove too much for them to pull out of. With Vancouver's two points and game in hand advantage, Portland really has to put all their chips into Saturday's game at Vancouver. According to Sports Club Stats, their playoff odds will go down to just 10% with a loss on Saturday, so it really is make or break right now for a Timbers squad that is also dealing with CONCACAF Champions League.
7. Colorado Rapids
30 points(-2 GD) - 9 games remaining - Last match: 4-3 loss vs LA - Next match: 8/30 at Seattle - Last 5: L-L-L-L-L
That last five matches. Ouch. Technically the Rapids are still in with a decent shout when you look at the point totals, just three points behind Vancouver, but in reality things are pretty bleak for the Rapids. Losses in their last five matches and the season-ending injury to Drew Moor has sent the club into a bit of a tailspin and a trip to Seattle this weekend means there will be no rest for the weary.
The accolades keep rolling in for FC Dallas this week on the back of their 5-0 win in San Jose. FC Dallas had two players and their head coach named to the MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week, while three FCD players also appeared on the Week 23 Castrol Index Top 20.
On the MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week, we saw Fabian Castillo, Tesho Akindele and Oscar Pareja make the weekly best XI. Here's what they had to say:
F: Fabián Castillo (FC Dallas) – Two great solo goals, an assist, and easily the best player on the pitch. Virtually unplayable at times against the Earthquakes.
Coach: Oscar Pareja (FC Dallas) – In what was supposed to be a must-win for San Jose, Pareja and FCD turned the game at Buck Shaw into a laugher.
On the weekly Castrol Index, rookie Tesho Akindele finished in the top spot overall after scoring a hat trick against San Jose. Fabian Castillo finished fifth on the list while goalkeeper Raul Fernandez who earned a shutout in the win finished 10th.
Hear from Pareja, Hedges & Tesho ahead of #FCDvCOL with FCDTV's Quick Kicks:
Here's your Keys to the Match pres. by Toyota for Saturday's big game:
For the second week in a row, an FC Dallas player has made MLS Team of the week. This week Zach Loyd made the team with his stellar defensive efforts at centerback helping keep the clean sheet for FCD. In addition, Fabian Castillo made the bench for his offensive prowess on Sunday night.
"D: Zach Loyd (FC Dallas) – The veteran right back helped his team blank Chivas USA on the road, limiting red-hot forward Erick Torres in the process. He's officially back in Oscar Pareja's good graces, and for good reason."
Here are your keys to the match driven by Toyota for Sunday's match against Chivas USA
Here's your Toyota Keys to the Match for tonight's international friendly vs Aston Villa with summer intern Taryn Bray stepping in for on vacation Scott Brown!
FC Dallas is in the midst of their second five-game MLS unbeaten streak of the season that's seen Oscar Pareja's men rise back up into a tie for second place in the Western Conference and the accolades are rolling in for FCD this week.
After his second MLS goal and first game-winner, Colombian winger Andres Escobar earned the top spot on the MLS Castrol Index Weekly Top 20. Goalkeeper Raul Fernandez, who had his first MLS shutout of the season, came in at 6th on the top 20 while the other goalscorer, Tesho Akindele, earned the #20 spot on the list.
The MLSsoccer.com Power Rankings were very kind to FC Dallas who rose five spots from #10 to #5 on the list.
In addition, Escobar earned his first nod to the MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week. We'd like to think a couple other guys would be eligible for the list as well, but it's great to also see Moises Hernandez earn a spot on the ToTW bench.
They had this to say about Escobar's weekend: "Nearly unplayable, racing up and down the wings and wreaking havoc as Dallas was able to oust the Revolution 2-0."
Hear from Oscar Pareja, Moises Hernandez & Zach Loyd ahead of Saturday's game vs New England: