MLS Power Rankings, Week 31: The penultimate edition

John Medina

No big surprises here: The Earthquakes remain atop our rankings and TFC is firmly on the bottom.

With one week left in the regular season, it would appear our voters have decided there's actually a fair amount of parity between the East and West. The top two spots are divvied evenly, as are the top 8. The one team that seems to have gotten a raw deal in the 5-and-5 setup is actually the Crew, who are a full seven points clear of the playoff-bound Whitecaps, but will miss the postseason. Our voters had the Crew at No. 10.

We've decided to dispense with the themes this week and are just presenting the rankings in their purest form. Unless otherwise noted, the blurbs were written by me.

1. San Jose Earthquakes (This week's average: 1.00; Last week's average: 1.00): Even with the 2012 Supporters' Shield already in hand, the Earthquakes still earned a draw against a Galaxy team desperate for a victory, as they summoned up some Goonies magic to twice comeback from being a goal down. Chris Wondolowski's 26th goal of the season, scored in front of current record holder Roy Lassiter, leaves him one away from tying history with one match to play. As Steven Lenhart said after the draw against LA, the team will be doing everything it can to get the ball to Wondo in the season finale at Portland this Saturday. - Quake, Rattle and Goal

2. Sporting Kansas City (2.00; 2.09): The Shield is out of the picture, but top spot in the East is theirs with at least a tie or something less than a D.C. United victory. That defense makes them a real force to be reckoned with come playoffs.

3. Seattle Sounders (3.62; 4.09): If it wasn't for that pesky little San Jose probelm Seattle would be the best team in the league. San Jose exists, so the Sounders are merely third. - Sounder at Heart

4. Real Salt Lake (4.08; 4.09): Despite playing a man up for 60 minutes, only managed a scoreless tie with the Sounders, who they will meet again in the first round of the playoffs.

5. D.C. United (5.92; 8.27): When Dwayne DeRosario went down with a regular-season ending injury, United was just fighting for their playoff lives. They've gone 5-0-1 in their last six and now could wind up with the top spot in the East. Remarkable.

6. Chicago Fire (6.77; 4.55): The Fire were the 2nd team in the East to qualify for the playoffs but if the recent limping continues, Chicago will find itself playing the 1st Round Knockout game on the road. - Hot Time in Old Town

7. LA Galaxy (6.92; 6.36): Give them credit for turning around what looked to be a disastrous season, but they are still going to have play an extra playoff match and have gone 1-6-2 against the Earthquakes, Sounders and RSL -- at least two of whom they'll need to beat to get back to the MLS Cup.

8. New York Red Bulls (6.92; 6.55): Well, they are in the playoffs. The reality is that they are easily talented enough to win the MLS Cup, but unpredictable enough that they might not advance beyond their first round.

9. Houston Dynamo (7.77; 8.45): It might not seem like they were particularly dominant at BBVA Compass Stadium, but they did go 11-0-6 to become just the third team in MLS history to go undefeated at home.

10. Columbus Crew (10.23; 9.36): Hard to know how to judge their season. Do you base it on them missing the playoffs for the first time in four years? Do you grade them on a curve because their point total would have easily qualified them in the West? At least they were fun the second half of the year and appear headed in the right direction.

11. Vancouver Whitecaps (11.92; 11.64): What's more fitting than them needing the Sounders to beat FC Dallas to punch their ticket into the playoffs? Look all the world to be the West's sacrificial lambs.

12. Montreal Impact (12.08; 12.55): On paper, it seems like they should have a great rivalry with Toronto. Yet last week's game was quite listless.

13. FC Dallas (12.31; 12.18): Give them credit for making it interesting, but knowing a win on Sunday would put them in great position to qualify for the playoffs, they were basically played off the pitch in the second half.

14. Philadelphia Union (14.23; 14.27): Every step forward seems to come with a step back, leading to some serious inertia. At least Jack McInerney seems to be the real deal.

15. Colorado Rapids (15.69; 15.45): Assuming Oscar Pareja is back next year, he should have some interesting pieces to play with. Of course, he's also got a lot of rebuilding to do.

16. New England Revolution (15.85; 15.64): Just when you were ready to assume they'd play out the string, they pop up and score a win over the Fire that has huge playoff seeding implications. But is it too much to ask they at least make some attempt to hide those football lines?

16. Portland Timbers (15.85; 16.73): Well, well, well, look at who won the Cascadia Cup. It's not something that the rest of the nation probably cares two hoots about, but winning that rivalry trophy definitely gives them something to market to their fans in the offseason.

18. Chivas USA (18.08; 17.64): I mean, it's crazy to think that this team looked downright decent at midseason, right? Now, oh my god are they bad. Their goal-difference is down to -34 and they are winless since July 28.

19. Toronto FC (18.77; 18.82): The best news to come out of TFC was that they are reducing season ticket prices back to 2007 levels. They are basically rebooting themselves. Definitely not the worst idea.

How the poll works: Each voter ranks the teams from 1-19. The teams are then ordered by average, with the lowest average going first and so on. The editor then splits the rankings into five tiers, looking for natural breaks in the averages. We then pick some kind of group of songs to theme them to.

Who participated: Jeremiah Oshan (SB Nation, soccer); Aaron Campeau (SB Nation, soccer); Ryan Rosenblatt (SB Nation, soccer); Drew Epperley (SB Nation, soccer); Jason Anderson (SB Nation, soccer); Phillip Quin (SB Nation, soccer); Martin Shatzer (Black and Red United); Scott Kessler (Brotherly Game); Matt Montgomery (RSL Soapbox); Robert Jonas (Quake, Rattle and Goal); Daniel Robertson (Big D Soccer); Sean Ringrose and Zach Woosley (Dynamo Theory); Dave Clark and Josh Yockey (Sounder at Heart); Duncan Fletcher (Waking the Red), Steve Stoehr (The Bent Musket); Ben Schneider (Once a Metro); Alicia Ratterree (The Goat Parade); Brenton Walters (The Vancouver Whitecaps Offside); Geoff Gibson (Stumptown Footy); Sofiane Benzaza (Mount Royal Soccer); Rudy Gomez and Ryan Sealock (Hot Time In Old Town).

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