Goal.com MLS Power Rankings: End of the regular season

San Jose completes its magnificent run by ending the campaign atop the Goal.com MLS Power Rankings.
1. San Jose – Are the Earthquakes headed for a clean sweep in MLS awards balloting? It is definitely on the table. (1)

2. Sporting Kansas City – Chicago or Houston? It shouldn't matter. If Sporting wants to lift MLS Cup, then it must brush aside all comers and validate its status as the Eastern Conference favorite. (2)

3. Real Salt Lake – Someone will have to provide Álvaro Saborío with some support in front of goal. The veteran Costa Rican forward simply can't fire his teammates to MLS Cup by himself. (3)

4. Seattle – Many, many fingers are crossed in the Emerald City as Eddie Johnson waits for an update on the hamstring injury suffered in Carson on Sunday night. (4)

5. Los Angeles – News of A.J. DeLaGarza's potential absence from Thursday's Knockout Round match with Vancouver injects a little doubt into the proceedings. (5)

6. D.C. United – The suddenly stingy back four must provide the foundation for United's playoff ambitions. Any signs of uncertainty could invite New York to send additional numbers into the final third. (7)

7. New York – There are far larger priorities in play for the residents of New Jersey and New York this week, but one wonders how Sandy will impact how the Red Bulls prepare for D.C. United. (8)

8. Chicago – Can the Fire find a way to slide past Houston if Sherjill MacDonald and Chris Rolfe aren't providing the necessary incisiveness in the final third? (6)

9. Houston – The extra road match may make the Dynamo's trek through the Eastern Conference somewhat prohibitive. (9)

10. Vancouver – Should Martin Rennie restore Barry Robson to the side on Thursday night? It could go either way, but it is tough to leave a midfield operator with that sort of experience out of the side. (10)

11. Columbus – Chad Marshall is probably going to have to play more than 24 games if the Crew wants to return to the playoffs next year. (12)

12. FC Dallas – Former club captain Daniel Hernández vowed to return next season after FCD's season finale on Sunday night. If he's fit enough, then he can still help the side in some capacity. (11)

13. Montréal – The spine of the side looks in fairly decent shape. The wide areas need reinforcements. (13)

14. Philadelphia – Forget about how Carlos Valdés played in the season finale. He remains perhaps the most important player on the roster. (14)

15. New England – This winter probably requires the arrival of two or three veteran linchpins to help the Revs truly establish themselves as viable playoff contenders on and off the field. (15)

16. Colorado – The move for Martín Rivero may make this entire adjustment year worthwhile if the Rapids can keep him in Commerce City. (16)

17. Portland – First order of business for Caleb Porter: add some heft to that flimsy back four. (17)

18. Chivas USA – Grab a seat and fetch some popcorn. This winter will probably merit watching for the Red-and-White. (19)

19. Toronto FC – It is probably fair to suggest Reds fans are less interested in parceling out blame to MLS executives in New York than seeing what TFC plans to do to rectify the currently tattered state of the squad. (18)

Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSsoccer.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at kyle.mccarthy@goal.com and follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

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