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Just when you think you have a good read on Major League Soccer, you get a week like Week 11.
The Chicago Fire defeated Chivas USA, arguably the best team in MLS, on Thursday, then gets pummeled at home by FC Dallas, widely-regarded as one of the worst teams in MLS.
FC Dallas wasn't the only bottom-dweller to rise up this week. San Jose finally broke its own winless streak by knocking off a struggling Real Salt Lake team that hasn't looked the same since that blowout win over New England. The Columbus Crew escaped Seattle with a valuable point and is looking poised to start climbing up the standings.
Not everything was unpredictable this week. New York still can't win, Los Angeles still can't do anything but tie and the Houston Dynamo can't stop winning. Oh, and the referees were AWFUL again (yes, I know I wrote the ESPN feature about how people thing MLS refs are better this year, but after watching that embarrassment of a penalty called in the New England-DC match I'm officially on the "MLS refs are having a bad year" bandwagon).
Here is a rundown of this week's MLS Power Rankings:
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 11)
1 (Last week- 1). Chivas USA (7-2-3)
Last Week: Lost to Chicago Fire, 3-2, on Thursday.
This Week: vs. Seattle Sounders on Saturday (10:30pm, Direct Kick).
Outlook: Blew a lead and lost some poise in dropping decision to Chicago, but given the way that game ended, and given Chicago's meltdown vs. FC Dallas, it's tough to remove the Goats from the top spot. Seattle will pose a tough test, especially with Jesse March suspended.
2 (2). Chicago Fire (5-1-6)
Last Week: Beat Chivas USA, 3-2, on Thursday; Lost to FC Dallas, 3-0, on Sunday.
This Week: vs. Houston Dynamo on Friday (9pm, Direct Kick).
Outlook: Comeback against Chivas USA was impressive, but losing to FC Dallas at home (even with some starters benched) is inexcusable.
3 (4). Houston Dynamo (5-2-3)
Last Week: Beat Toronto FC, 3-0, on Saturday.
This Week: at Chicago Fire on Friday (9pm, Direct Kick)
Outlook: Dynamo keep on rolling and Stuart Holden is in a groove. With him and Davis sparking the attack, Houston is suddenly a complete team that doesn't seem to be missing Dwayne DeRosario all that much. A win on Friday and Houston could catapult into the top spot here.
4 (7). Colorado Rapids (4-2-4)
Last Week: Beat New York Red Bulls, 3-2, on Saturday.
This Week: at Real Salt Lake on Saturday (10pm, FSC).
Outlook: Conor Casey cannot be stopped. Still not sure if the defense is championship caliber, but the Rapids attack is capable of being one of the best in the league.
5 (6). Seattle Sounders (4-2-5)
Last Week: Tied Columbus Crew, 1-1, on Saturday.
This Week: at Chivas USA on Saturday (10:30pm, Direct Kick).
Outlook: Freddie Ljungberg will wear the goat horns for Seattle this week, but he will have a chance to redeem himself in big Western Conference showdown vs. Chivas USA.
6 (3). D.C. United (3-2-7)
Last Week: Lost to New England, 2-1, on Saturday.
This Week: vs. New York Red Bulls on Thursday (7:30pm, ESPN2)
Outlook: Was absolutely robbed of a point by an awful penalty call at the end of the New England match. Luckily for D.C., it's favorite cure for the blahs is on the way, yes, the Red Bulls are up next on the schedule.
7 (5). Toronto FC (4-4-4)
Last Week: Lost to Houston Dynamo, 3-0, on Saturday.
This Week: vs. Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday (4pm, Direct Kick)
Outlook: TFC fans sing: "All we are sayyy-ing, is give us a forward who can score goals." Seriously though, losing to Houston is nothing to be embarrassed about, being being smacked around, 3-0, is alarming.
8 (8). Kansas City Wizards (4-4-4)
Last Week: Tied Los Angeles Galaxy, 1-1, on Saturday.
This Week: vs. Columbus Crew on Saturday (8:30pm, Direct Kick).
Outlook: Wizards had a great chance to move up the East standings before blowing a late lead against LA. Now, KC is in danger of being passed up in the standings by the recovering Columbus Crew.
9 (10). New England Revolution (3-3-4)
Last Week: Beat D.C. United, 2-1, on Saturday.
This Week: vs. New York Red Bulls on Sunday (6pm, Direct Kick)
Outlook: Having Taylor Twellman back is huge for the Revs (and not because of his diving skills). Shalrie Joseph keeps scoring goals, but you have to wonder if Joseph's time at forward is over now. He's just too important in the midfield not to use there.
10 (11). Columbus Crew (2-2-7)
Last Week: Beat San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1, on Wednesday; Tied Seattle Sounders, 1-1, on Saturday.
This Week: at Kansas City on Saturday (8:30pm, Direct Kick).
Outlook: Tying Seattle without Frankie Hejduk or Brian Carroll was impressive and makes me think Columbus is serious about climbing into this wide-open Eastern conference race.
11 (12). Los Angeles Galaxy (1-1-9)
Last Week: Tied Kansas City Wizards, 1-1, on Saturday.
This Week: at Toronto FC on Satuday (4pm, Direct Kick)
Outlook: Another late comeback, another tie. Rallying for a point despite being a man down moves up LA up a bit, but winning in Toronto without Landon Donovan would provide a major boost.
12 (9). Real Salt Lake (3-6-2)
Last Week: Lost to San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1, on Saturday.
This Week: vs. Colorado Rapids on Saturday (10pm, FSC)
Outlook: Has the worm turned in Salt Lake City? It's amazing how things have gone from extremely promising to volatile. RSL is looking to deal players and can't put together a quality performance because of the turmoil going on.
13 (14). FC Dallas (2-6-3)
Last Week: Beat Chicago Fire, 3-0, on Sunday.
This Week: vs. San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday (3pm, Telefutura).
Outlook: Kudos to FC Dallas for putting a beatdown on the Fire at Toyota Park. That win won't matter much though if they lose to San Jose this week.
14 (13). New York Red Bulls (2-7-3)
Last Week: Lost to Colorado Rapids, 3-2, on Saturday.
This Week: at D.C. United on Thursday (7:30pm, ESPN2); at New England on Sunday (6pm, MSG).
Outlook: The Red Bulls/MetroStars haven't missed the playoffs since 2002. That six-year streak looks all but over as bad as certain key players are playing for the Red Bulls. They need to find a way to get results at RFK Stadium and Gillette Stadium, two places that have been horror shows for New York.
15 (15). San Jose Earthquakes (2-7-2)
Last Week: Beat Real Salt Lake, 2-1, on Saturday.
This Week: at FC Dallas on Sunday (3pm, Telefutura).
Outlook: Cornell Glen has that look of being a player who can not only help Ryan Johnson up top, but also provide some real speed in attack. Has he really grown up now? If so, the Earthquakes could wind up with a steal.
Here are some thoughts on this week's rankings:
Chivas USA over Chicago. I was all set to put Chicago back on top, but how can you move a team to No. 1 after a blowout loss to FC Dallas? I know the Fire had just capped a brutal schedule stretch, but Chivas USA probably should have gotten a point vs. Chicago and will have a chance to keep or lose that top spot after playing Seattle.
I definitely thought about ranking the Red Bulls last, but they did just smoke San Jose recently and Real Salt Lake looks like it would lose to a PDL team at the rate its going these days.
Has Conor Casey replaced Kenny Cooper as Mr. "Why hasn't he gotten a legitimate national team look"?
Cornell Glen signals his return to MLS with a goal. San Jose fans are happy the bleeding stopped, and now comes a match-up against FC Dallas the Earthquakes will desperately need to win to have any hope of climbing out of the West basement.
What do you think of this week's rankings? Think the Fire should have still moved up to No. 1 despite losing to FC Dallas? Stunned at how bad things are getting for Real Salt Lake? Think Columbus will wind up near the top of the rankings by July?
Share your thoughts below.