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Don't look now, but here comes the Houston Dynamo.
Okay, so beating an injury-riddled New England team isn't the ultimate proof that Dom Kinnear's squad is back in business, but two straight wins and three straight shutouts should have fans in Houston excited that maybe, just maybe, the Dynamo is ready to rise and be a power in the West again.
Chivas USA continues to set the pace out West, and in MLS overall, with another victory that extended the gap between the Goats and Seattle.
Also on the rise is D.C. United, which posted a second straight comeback victory. That has to give head coach Tom Soehn some satisfaction after fans were calling for his head early in the season.
Here is how this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings shook out:
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 7)
1 (Last week- 1). Chivas USA (6-1-1)
Last Week: Beat San Jose, 1-0, on Saturday
This Week: vs. Real Salt Lake on Saturday (10:30pm, Direct Kick).
Outlook: Road wins are always valuable, even against a struggling squad like San Jose. Kasey Keller is getting all the buzz but Zach Thornton is right there in the MLS goalkeeper of the year race.
2 (2). Seattle Sounders (4-2-1)
Last Week: Tied Chicago, 1-1, on Saturday.
This Week: vs. Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday (3pm, Telefutura)
Outlook: Outplayed for most of the night, the Sounders still showed great poise to battle back after Fredy Montero's red card. A return to Qwest Field (for a day game no less) should help the Sounders kick-start a suddenly struggling offense.
3 (3). Chicago Fire (2-0-5)
Last Week: Tied Seattle Sounders, 1-1,on Saturday.
This Week: vs. New England Revolution on Saturday (8:30pm, Direct Kick)
Outlook: Cuauhtemoc Blanco looked like his old dangerous self on Saturday, but the Fire still couldn't finish off its chances in a game it had ever chance to win. The growing question in Fire land is how in the world is Chris Rolfe still on the bench?
4 (5). D.C. United (3-1-3)
Last Week: Beat FC Dallas, 2-1, on Saturday.
This Week: at Kansas City on Wednesday (Direct Kick), vs. Toronto FC on Saturday (7:30pm, Direct Kick).
Outlook: Jaime Moreno dons the Superman cape one more time and delivers a pair of key goals to help D.C. pull off another comeback and move into first place in the East.
5 (9). Colorado Rapids (3-2-2)
Last Week: beat Real Salt Lake, 2-0, on Saturday
This Week: Bye Week
Outlook: The Rapids will go into the bye week with some momentum after knocking off Rocky Mountain rival Real Salt Lake and posting their first win in almost a month. Questions remain about the attack, something head coach Gary Smith should look to address during the off week.
6 (4). Real Salt Lake (3-3)
Last Week: Lost to Colorado Rapids, 2-0, on Saturday.
This Week: vs. Los Angeles on Wednesday (9pm, Direct Kick); at Chivas USA on Saturday (10:30pm, Direct Kick).
Outlook: Real Salt Lake apparently used up all its goals in the previous week's drubbing of New England. Losing Jamison Olave to a first-half red card made things tough, but RSL's road woes continue and Jason Kreis' team will continue to be ignored as a serious contender until it shows it can win away from Rio Tinto Stadium.
7 (7). Toronto FC (3-2-3)
Last Week: Tied Columbus, 1-1, on Saturday.
This Week: at D.C. United on Saturday (7:30pm, Direct Kick).
Outlook: Out played at home by Columbus on Saturday, particularly in the first half. Chad Barrett finally found a chance even he couldn't squander while Pablo Vitti continues to struggle.
8 (10). Houston Dynamo (2-2-2)
Last Week: Beat New England, 2-0, on Sunday
This Week: vs. FC Dallas on Saturday (9pm, ESPN2)
Outlook: Starting to look like the Dynamo of old. Could Stuart Holden be ready to finally break out? A winnable game against struggling FC Dallas squad could help the Dynamo move closer to Chivas and Seattle.
9 (8). Kansas City Wizards (3-3-1)
Last Week: Bye week
This Week: vs. D.C. United on Wednesday (8:30pm, Direct Kick); at Columbus Crew (7pm, FSC).
Outlook: The Wizards will have hopefully addressed their struggling offense during the bye week. A tough week lies ahead against a red-hot D.C. United and desperate Columbus Crew.
10 (6). New England Revolution (2-2-2)
Last Week: Lost to Houston, 2-0, on Sunday.
This Week: at Chicago Fire on Saturday.
Outlook: After overachieving early in the season, the myriad of injuries is finally catching up to the Revs. A draw vs. Chicago is vital to help avoid falling too far behind the pack in the East. Luckily for New England, the Fire is tying EVERYBODY these days.
11 (11). Columbus Crew (0-2-5)
Last Week: Tied Toronto FC, 1-1, on Saturday.
This Week: vs. Kansas City Wizards (7pm, FSC).
Outlook: Yes, Columbus is winless, but the Crew has been playing much better in recent weeks and look poised for a breakout.
12 (14). Los Angeles Galaxy (1-1-4)
Last Week: Beat New York, 1-0, on Saturday.
This Week: at Real Salt Lake on Wednesday (9pm, Direct Kick), at Seattle Sounders on Sunday (3pm, Telefutura).
Outlook: Yes, the Galaxy deserves credit for having just one loss through six, but the more you watch LA the more you see an old team with seemingly little upside. LA catches a break by facing Seattle without Fredy Montero (red card suspension) but the Galaxy better start finding some attacking options for when Landon Donovan leaves on national team duty in a month.
13 (13). FC Dallas (1-4-1)
Last Week: Lost to D.C. United, 2-1, on Saturday.
This Week: at Houston Dynamo on Saturday (9pm, ESPN2)
Outlook: Schellas Hyndman deserves credit for acknowledging that his squad played poorly vs D.C., but he also shoulders blame for the shoddy defense he came into the season with. There is talent in the attack, but FC Dallas is falling further and further behind the pack in the West as it tries to sort things out.
14 (12). New York Red Bulls (1-4-2)
Last Week: Beat San Jose, 2-1, on Wednesday (U.S. Open Cup); lost to Los Angeles Galaxy, 1-0, on Saturday.
This Week: vs. San Jose Earthquakes on Friday (7:30pm, MSG)
Outlook: Coming away from the LA match without a point is devastating for a Red Bulls team desperate to keep pace in the East. At this point, the Red Bulls don't look capable of beating anybody in MLS, well, aside from San Jose, which happens to be next on the schedule. Anything short of a win on Friday and Juan Carlos Osorio will start to feel serious pressure.
15 (15). San Jose Earthquakes (1-3-2)
Last Week: Lost to New York Red Bulls, 2-1, on Wednesday (U.S. Open Cup); lost to Chivas USA, 1-0, on Saturday.
This Week: vs. New York Red Bulls (7:30pm, MSG)
Outlook: What do you get when you take a team that had a weak offense and throw in an injury-plagued defense? You get the Earthquakes, who can thank the Red Bulls and FC Dallas for taking some of the attention away in the race for the league's worst team.
Some notes on this week's rankings:
Colorado's boost up to No. 5 might seem high but lackluster performances from Real Salt Lake and Toronto FC made it easy to move them up. I'm not sold on the Rapids at all, but they are getting results.
Chicago fans will wonder why the Fire isn't No. 2 after outplaying the Sounders. I said throughout the commentary on Saturday that Chicago was outplaying the Sounders, but the Fire's inability to take advantage of being a man up for an entire half leaves me with far more question marks than does Seattle's lackluster performance BEFORE Montero's red card.
D.C. fans will ask why their team isn't ahead of Chicago despite having more points. Fair question but I think that the two teams are evenly-matched early in the season and D.C. is playing up to its potential while the Fire is nowhere close. Chicago also scored a tie at RFK Stadium.
The bottom three is pretty much equally bad. Any way you want to rank them is fine with me. I gave FC Dallas the nod among that group because it has actually scored some goals lately and has held leads a few times. The Red Bulls were dreadful on Saturday and are only saved from the bottom because of their U.S. Open Cup win at San Jose. Yes, I realize both team fielded reserve sides, but the Red Bulls deserve credit for winning it.
That's all for now. What do you think of this week's rankings? Share your thoughts below.