Photo by Stephen Brashear/ISIphotos.com
With all of the draws and teams on friendly duty and an unexpected postponement, there wasn't a whole lot of moving and shaking in the SBI MLS Power Rankings this week.
The top four teams in the West continue to be the top four teams in the league, with Los Angeles, Seattle, Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas continung to look like the class of MLS this season. Although the Galaxy didn't lose their ranking atop the Power Rankings, the Sounders have put L.A. on notice by going 6-0-3 over their last nine games.
Philadelphia's victory over New England continued to reinforce its position at the top of the East, but New York and surprising Columbus remain firmly on the Union's heels.
Here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 18)
1. (Last Week — 1) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (10-2-9, 39 points)
Last week: Idle.
This week: vs. Columbus, 10:30 p.m., Wednesday.
Outlook: The Galaxy had the week off from league play and got eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup by Seattle got drubbed by Real Madrid, but nobody is mistaking those results as harbingers of bad things to come for the top team in the league. With Seattle charging hard and Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas not far behind in the standings, though, the Galaxy need to get points out of its midweek match before turning its focus to a weekend friendly with Manchester City.
2. (T-2) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (10-4-8, 38 points)
Last week: Beat Colorado, 4-3, on Saturday.
This week: Idle.
Outlook: Perhaps the league's hottest team, the Sounders take a break from league play to host Manchester United Wednesday night. With Fredy Montero and Mauro Rosales hitting on all cylinders, the Seattle attack has scored seven goals in its last two matches. The defense has conceded five in that time and would benefit from the return of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado from an MCL injury, but Sigi Schmid's side is hitting its stride.
3. (T-2) REAL SALT LAKE (8-3-6, 30 points)
Last week: Game at Vancouver was postponed.
This week: vs. San Jose, 10 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Forced to move its match against the Whitecaps to later in the season because of temporary surface problems at Empire Field, RSL got an unexpected week of rest ahead of its home match against San Jose. The matchup pits the league's stingiest defense against an attack that's been blanked in five of its last six games.
4. (4) FC DALLAS (10-5-5, 35 points)
Last week: Tied D.C. United, 0-0, on Saturday.
This week: at Toronto FC, 8 p.m., Wednesday; at New York, 6 p.m., Saturday, Galavision.
Outlook: FCD has its CONCACAF Champions League quest start in about a week, but two matches against Eastern Conference foes come first. Dallas has the honor of being the first team to encounter the new-new-look Toronto FC before playing at New York in a meeting of two title contenders.
5. (5) PHILADELPHIA UNION (8-4-7, 31 points)
Last week: Beat New England, 3-0, on Saturday.
This week: Idle.
Outlook: The Union head into their bye week in style after joining the club and putting together a sound beating of the Revolution. Matches against Everton and Real Madrid beckon this week before the team returns to action. In the two matches since trading left back Jordan Harvey, the club hasn't conceded a goal.
6. (6) NEW YORK RED BULLS (6-4-11, 29 points)
Last week: Tied Chivas USA, 0-0, on Saturday.
This week: at Colorado, 9:30 p.m., Wednesday; vs. FC Dallas, 6 p.m., Saturday, Galavision.
Outlook: The Red Bulls have the honor of playing both 2010 MLS Cup participants this week, and they'll certainly benefit from the absence of Rapids striker Conor Casey. New goalkeeper Frank Rost looked comfortable in his first match despite not facing a slew of shots against Chivas, but he'll be tested by both Western Conference teams over the next few days.
7. (7) COLUMBUS CREW (7-5-7, 28 points)
Last week: Tied San Jose, 0-0, on Saturday.
This week: at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m., Wednesday; vs. Portland, 8 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Will Hesmer is quietly enjoying a standout season in goal for Columbus, which remains just three points out of first place in the Eastern Conference. Considering the criticism of the team's offseason moves and where the team currently stands, Robert Warzycha has to be in the early conversation for Coach of the Year.
8. (9) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (5-6-8, 23 points)
Last week: Tied Houston, 1-1, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Toronto FC, 8:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Another late goal gave Sporting Kansas City its third consecutive 1-1 draw and extended the club's unbeaten run to 11 games. After a midweek friendly against Newcastle, SKC has its next nine league games at Livestrong Sporting Park, starting with a TFC side that has a ton of new parts that need to get familiar with each other.
9. (10) D.C. UNITED (5-5-8, 23 points)
Last week: Tied FC Dallas, 0-0, on Saturday.
This week: vs. New England, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday.
Outlook: After an impressive four-point road haul at New York and FC Dallas, D.C. returns home to face what is perhaps the league's most out-of-form team in New England. The Revs won't have Benny Feilhaber (red card) for the match, but United has to be wary of dropping points at home, which has been a recent issue for the club.
10. (11) HOUSTON DYNAMO (5-6-9, 24 points)
Last week: Tied Sporting Kansas City, 1-1, on Saturday.
This week: at Chivas USA, 10:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The Dynamo welcome Stuart Holden back to Houston for a midweek friendly to put the disappointment of letting three points slip away against SKC behind them. With Colin Clark and Brian Ching being sent off against SKC, the Dynamo's attacking depth will be tested, which isn't exacly a good sign considering the recent form of Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
11. (8) COLORADO RAPIDS (6-6-9, 27 points)
Last week: Lost to Seattle, 4-3, on Saturday.
This week: vs. New York, 9:30 p.m., Wednesday; vs. New England, 9 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: With Casey out for the season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon, the Rapids hopes at repeating as league champions look pretty slim. The onus is now on former Hull City striker Caleb Folan to try to fill Casey's shoes while Omar Cummings needs to recapture his 2010 form in order for the team to find offensive success.
12. (12) CHIVAS USA (5-7-8, 23 points)
Last week: Tied New York, 0-0, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Houston, 10:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The Chivas defense did well to combat New York's high-octane attack, with Kennedy turning in another strong performance in earning his second clean sheet in three matches. Houston's absences will make things a bit easier on the Goats, but the Dynamo's attack still boasts All-Stars Brad Davis and Geoff Cameron.
13. (13) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (5-6-8, 23 points)
Last week: Tied Columbus, 0-0, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Vancouver, 10:30 p.m., Wednesday; at Real Salt Lake, 10 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Jon Busch's heroics salvaged a point for the Earthquakes, whose attack has gone dormant. The team would benefit from stationing Chris Wondolowski, who hasn't scored in four matches, back up top as opposed to on the wing. The club's best chance to snap its slump is certainly in the midweek match against the Whitecaps as opposed to at Rio Tinto Stadium.
14. (15) PORTLAND TIMBERS (6-9-3, 21 points)
Last week: Beat Chicago, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: at Columbus, 8 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Troy Perkins was immense in keeping the Fire off the board, as the Timbers won on the road for the first time as an MLS franchise. They'll look to double that feat during its stay in the midwest while facing a Crew side it topped earlier this season.
15. (14) CHICAGO FIRE (2-6-12, 18 points)
Last week: Lost to Portland, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: Idle.
Outlook: The Fire get a reprieve from league play while hosting Manchester United this weekend. The friendly gives the club a chance to get new midfield signing Sebastian Grazzini a chance to mesh with his new teammates. Chicago needs that meshing to happen sooner rather than later, because the club hasn't won in six league games and continues to drop points while its conference competitors distance themselves from the bottom of the pack.
16. (17) TORONTO FC (3-9-9, 18 points)
Last week: Idle.
This week: vs. FC Dallas, 8 p.m., Wednesday; at Sporting Kansas City, 8:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: All of the new moving parts come together for TFC, as Designated Players Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans are eligible to suit up along with new acquisitions Terry Dunfield, Ryan Johnson and Andy Iro. The problem is, the Reds host one of the team's tougher teams to beat in FCD and then play at a place where no MLS team has won yet in Livestrong Sporting Park.
17. (16) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (3-9-7, 16 points)
Last week: Lost to Philadephia, 3-0, on Sunday.
This week: at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday; at Colorado, 9 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Things aren't getting any easier for New England, which faces to opponents on the road after being silenced at home by the Union. Ousmane Dabo's retirement signals another blow to the team's personnel, and Steve Nicol's claims this week that the club was close to signing two players who both backed out of the deals says all you need to know about the state of affairs at Gillette Stadium right now.
18. (18) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-10-8, 14 points)
Last week: Game vs. Real Salt Lake was postponed.
This week: at San Jose, 10:30 p.m., Wednesday.
Outlook: Heavy rain forced the postponement of Vancouver's match against Real Salt Lake, but the club isn't completely rested after playing a spirited friendly against Manchester City on Monday. New Designated Player Mustapha Jarju gets his first look at MLS competition when the 'Caps meet San Jose.