Trying to pin down the MLS hierarchy through two weeks was already a difficult task. With an upset-filled Week 3 in the books, matters now are all the more complicated.
In a reminder of the league's parity-driven nature, several bottom-dwellers from last week's SBI MLS Power Rankings picked up their first wins of the season to shake up the table. No triumph was more notable than No. 18 Chivas USA knocking Real Salt Lake out of the top slot via a 1-0 win — on the road, no less.
As a result, we have a new No. 1 team in this week's ranking: the Seattle Sounders, who defeated the previously unbeaten Houston Dynamo on Friday. And after becoming the league's first club to reach three wins with a dramatic triumph over FC Dallas, Sporting Kansas City has surged to a second-place tie with Salt Lake.
Here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 3)
1. (2) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (2-0-0, 6 points)
Last week: Beat Houston, 2-0, on Friday.
This week: Vs. San Jose, 10 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The partnership of Fredy Montero and David Estrada continues to produce for Seattle, which jumped to an early two-goal lead against Houston and never looked back. And a revamped back line featuring Marc Burch, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Zach Scott sure looked steady.
T-2. (Last week – 1) REAL SALT LAKE (2-1-0, 6 points)
Last week: Lost to Chivas USA, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: At Portland, 10 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Salt Lake fell victim to the formula that has taken down many a heavy favorite, surrendering an ugly set-piece goal against Chivas and failing to equalize against a disciplined back line. On the plus side, Nat Borchers dressed and Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio put in 45-minute shifts as Salt Lake took another step toward full health.
T-2. (4) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (3-0-0, 9 points)
Last week: Beat Dallas, 2-1, on Sunday.
This week: At Chivas USA, 9 p.m., Sunday.
Outlook: Kei Kamara made amends for his penalty kick miss when he poked home the late winner against Dallas and made Kansas City the league's only three-win team. The victories over a disorganized D.C. side, 10-man New England and a Dallas squad without Brek Shea or David Ferreira haven't been terribly impressive, but 3-0 is still 3-0.
4. (3) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (1-1-0, 3 points)
Last week: Idle.
This week: Vs. New England, 11 p.m., Saturday, NBC Sports.
Outlook: With the Champions League behind them, the Galaxy will come off a much-needed bye week with their eyes turned solely to league play. Striker Robbie Keane will want to pick up right where he left off after he recorded a brace against D.C. United in Los Angeles' most recent match.
5. (5) HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-1-0, 6 points)
Last week: Lost to Seattle, 2-0, on Friday.
This week: Idle.
Outlook: Houston couldn't continue its winning ways on the road to start 2012 in Seattle, where two early goals doomed the Dynamo. After the upcoming bye week, Houston will have four more away games before the much-hyped opening of BBVA Compass Stadium finally arrives.
6. (8) FC DALLAS (1-1-1, 4 points)
Last week: Lost to Kansas City, 2-1, on Sunday.
This week: At D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., Friday, NBC Sports.
Outlook: A last-gasp loss at Kansas City kept Dallas from claiming what would have been a nice result on the road without the services of 2010 MVP David Ferreira or 2011 MVP finalist Brek Shea. Dallas fans will hope George John's return to the starting lineup will be the beginning of a return to form for the centerback, who is coming off an unsuccessful loan spell with West Ham.
7. (9) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-0-1, 7 points)
Last week: Tied D.C. United, 0-0, on Saturday.
This week: At Philadelphia, 4 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Vancouver didn't look particularly threatening this past weekend, failing to register a single shot on goal despite hosting a winless D.C. United side. Speaking of winless, the Whitecaps' favorable schedule to start 2012 continues with a trip to 0-3 Philadelphia, during which all eyes will be on former Union striker Sebastien Le Toux.
8. (11) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (2-1-0, 6 points)
Last week: Beat Toronto, 3-0, on Saturday.
This week: At Seattle, 10 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: San Jose fans have been pleased to see Chris Wondolowski pick up right where he left off in 2011, notching a brace in Saturday's win at Toronto to bring his early-season goal total to three. If San Jose really wants to make a statement about its improvement from last season, picking up a result at CenturyLink Field on Saturday would certainly do it.
9. (6) COLORADO RAPIDS (2-1-0, 6 points)
Last week: Lost to New York, 4-1, on Sunday.
This week: Vs. Chicago, 7 p.m., Sunday, Galavision.
Outlook: With Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz out of the lineup, Colorado's midfield looked out of sorts from the opening kickoff in a loss to New York on Sunday. On the other hand, Conor Casey's return to training last week means the Rapids could soon reunite the hulking striker with Omar Cummings up top.
10. (10) CHICAGO FIRE (1-0-1, 4 points)
Last week: Beat Philadelphia, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: At Colorado, 7 p.m., Sunday, Galavision.
Outlook: Out to prove his breakout 2011 campaign was no fluke, Dominic Oduro scored his second goal in as many games to give Chicago a 1-0 win over Philadelphia on Saturday. While the Fire remain undefeated, Sunday's trip to Colorado will be the most difficult task yet for coach Frank Klopas and Co.
11. (13) NEW YORK RED BULLS (1-2-0, 3 points)
Last week: Beat Colorado, 4-1, on Sunday.
This week: Vs. Montreal, 4 p.m., Saturday, TSN.
Outlook: Who needs Luke Rodgers? Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper found quite the rapport up top against Colorado, each notching a brace as New York breezed to a 4-1 win. The return of centerback Wilman Conde from injury and midfielder Rafa Marquez from suspension were promising developments for New York, which hosts expansion Montreal on Saturday.
12. (7) PORTLAND TIMBERS (1-1-1, 4 points)
Last week: Lost to New England, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: Vs. Salt Lake, 10 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: After getting a draw at Dallas in the first match of a two-game road swing, Portland fell Saturday to winless New England. A return this weekend to Jelf-Wen Field will be most welcome. For coach John Spencer, finding the right combination of players to work with prolific poacher Kris Boyd will key.
13. (17) COLUMBUS CREW (1-1-0, 3 points)
Last week: Beat Montreal, 2-0, on Saturday.
This week: At Toronto, 2 p.m., Saturday, TSN.
Outlook: Columbus seemed to put its early bye week to good use, coming out of it looking like a far more cohesive unit than the team that fell to Colorado in Week 1. It has to be encouraging for the Crew that their goals were struck by their two pivotal new attacking pieces: playmaker Milovan Mirosevic and striker Olman Vargas.
14. (18) CHIVAS USA (1-2-0, 3 points)
Last week: Beat Salt Lake, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: Vs. Kansas City, 9 p.m., Sunday.
Outlook: Chivas didn't seem to stand much of a chance Saturday. After all, how could they expect to get a win on the road against undefeated Salt Lake when they couldn't even manage a single goal in two home games to start the year? But rookie striker Casey Townsend grabbed a scrappy goal, and Chivas walked away with a 1-0 win, the shock result of the season thus far.
15. (19) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (1-2-0, 3 points)
Last week: Beat Portland, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: At Los Angeles, 11 p.m., Saturday, NBC Sports.
Outlook: With an early goal from Saer Sene and a solid performance from the makeshift centerback pairing of A.J. Soares and Shalrie Joseph, New England came back from two road losses to start the year and notched a win over a formidable Portland side in its home opener. Saturday's trip to a rested Los Angeles team, however, is daunting.
16. (15) D.C. UNITED (0-2-1, 1 point)
Last week: Tied Vancouver, 0-0, on Saturday.
This week: Vs. FC Dallas, 7:30 p.m., Friday, NBC Sports.
Outlook: United's attack still hasn't found any sort of rhythm in this young campaign, scoring just a single goal in three games. But coach Ben Olsen did seem to find the right centerback combination in Saturday's scoreless draw with Vancouver, as Emiliano Dudar and Brandon McDonald helped hold a talented Whitecaps attack to no shots on goal.
17. (12) TORONTO FC (0-2-0, 0 points)
Last week: Lost to San Jose, 3-0, on Saturday.
This week: Vs. Columbus, 2 p.m., Saturday, TSN.
Outlook: It's looking more and more like Toronto's stunning aggregate win over Los Angeles in Champions League play was more of a fluke than a sign that coach Aron Winter's side has turned the corner. It's safe to say a 3-0 loss at home to San Jose isn't the kind of result Toronto wanted going into Wednesday's CCL match against Santos Laguna.
18. (16) MONTREAL IMPACT (0-2-1, 1 point)
Last week: Lost to Columbus, 2-0, on Saturday.
This week: At New York, 4 p.m., Saturday, TSN.
Outlook: Jeb Brovsky's early red card didn't leave Montreal with much hope of getting a result in Columbus on Saturday. Impact fans, though, did get an extended look at the forward partnership of Bernardo Corradi and Justin Braun when Corradi came on to play the entire second half.
19. (14) PHILADELPHIA UNION (0-3-0, 0 points)
Last week: Lost to Chicago, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: Vs. Vancouver, 4 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: If Sebastien Le Toux comes back to Philadelphia and leads the visiting Whitecaps to victory at PPL Park, an already ugly situation for the Union will only become messier. Although U.S. under-23 national team returnees Freddy Adu and Amobi Okugo could be rested Saturday, right back Sheanon Williams should be back in the fold after not getting on the field in Olympic qualifying.