After a pair of dramatic victories away from home, the San Jose Earthquakes now possess the best record in MLS — and the top spot in this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings.
Paced by late winners from Chris Wondolowski in both contests, the Earthquakes grabbed a 2-1 win at the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday before concluding their fruitful Rocky Mountain swing with a 2-1 triumph over Real Salt Lake.
Elsewhere in the rankings, the New York Red Bulls climbed to the No. 2 position thanks to a four-point week, and the Los Angeles Galaxy jumped six spots to No. 9 after taking down Salt Lake and the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 16)
1. (Last week — 4) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (10-3-3, 33 points)
Last week: Beat Colorado 2-1 on Wednesday; beat Salt Lake 2-1 on Saturday
This week: Saturday vs. Los Angeles, 10 p.m.
Outlook: This Alan Gordon fellow sure has a flair for the dramatic, doesn't he? The forward again worked his late magic, coming off the bench to draw a (dubious) penalty kick winner against Colorado and then recorded a goal and assist at Salt Lake.
2. (6) NEW YORK RED BULLS (9-4-3, 30 points)
Last week: Tied Vancouver 1-1 on Wednesday; beat D.C. United 3-2 on Sunday
This week: Saturday at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Outlook: After grinding out a mid-week road point in Vancouver, New York took advantage of an unlikely brace from right back Brandon Barklage against his old team and claimed a frantic 3-2 win over rival D.C. Once Thierry Henry returns to full health and fitness, this Red Bulls squad could be scary.
3. (1) REAL SALT LAKE (10-5-2, 32 points)
Last week: Lost to Los Angeles 3-2 on Wednesday; lost to San Jose 2-1 on Saturday
This week: Saturday at Columbus, 8 p.m.
Outlook: The steady Salt Lake back line we've become accustomed to was replaced by a mistake-prone bunch against Los Angeles, and a makeshift unit faltered late against San Jose. Despite the quality of the opposition, back-to-back losses at Rio Tinto Stadium will be tough to swallow.
4. (2) D.C. UNITED (9-5-3, 30 points)
Last week: Lost to New York 3-2 on Sunday
This week: Saturday vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Another two goals from forward Chris Pontius — including the fastest strike in club history — gave him eight on the season, with five of those coming against New York. But they weren't enough for a United team that still has some questions to answer on the defensive end after being run over by the Red Bulls' midfield.
5. (3) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (9-4-2, 29 points)
Last week: Tied Seattle 1-1 on Wednesday; lost to Philadelphia 4-0 on Saturday
This week: Friday vs. Chicago, 8 p.m.
Outlook: After earning a point at Seattle with a reserve-heavy lineup midweek, Kansas City rolled out its best 11 at lowly Philadelphia on Saturday and promptly got torched. It might be best to just burn the tape of that match and turn the team's sights to Friday's key clash against Chicago.
6. (10) CHICAGO FIRE (7-5-3, 24 points)
Last week: Beat Columbus 2-1 on Saturday
This week: Friday at Kansas City, 8 p.m.
Outlook: What had the makings of a dominating outing quickly turned into a gutsy, grind-it-out triumph Saturday against Columbus after Gonzalo Segares' 29th-minute red card. It was impressive that the Fire hung on for the win, even if Marco Pappa and Dominic Oduro gave them an early two-goal lead.
7. (5) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (7-4-5, 26 points)
Last week: Tied New York 1-1 on Wednesday; lost to Los Angeles 3-0 on Saturday
This week: Idle
Outlook: It wasn't a great week for the Whitecaps, who settled for a draw at home against New York before falling behind 3-0 in the first half against surging Los Angeles. For all that attacking talent, Vancouver still has only scored 18 goals in 16 games this season.
8. (7) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (7-5-4, 25 points)
Last week: Tied Kansas City 1-1 on Wednesday; lost to Portland 2-1 on Sunday
This week: Saturday at New England, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Things aren't so swell in the Emerald City after the Sounders settled for a mid-week draw against reserve-heavy Kansas City and then lost to rival Portland over the weekend and will be without the suspended Fredy Montero for Saturday's match against the Revolution. Seattle's winless stretch has now reached a club-record seven games. Perhaps Steve Zakuani's return will be the boost the team needs?
9. (15) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (6-8-2, 20 points)
Last week: Beat Salt Lake 3-2 on Wednesday; beat Vancouver 3-0 on Saturday
This week: Saturday at San Jose, 10 p.m.
Outlook: With Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane finding the back of the net, David Beckham facilitating out of midfield, and Josh Saunders back-stopping a clean sheet, this week showed MLS the Galaxy most expected to see this season. And just like that, Los Angeles is back in playoff positioning.
10. (8) HOUSTON DYNAMO (5-5-5, 20 points)
Last week: Tied Toronto 3-3 on Wednesday; lost to Montreal 4-2 on Saturday
This week: Saturday vs. Philadelphia, 8:30 p.m.
Outlook: Houston's back line, led by U.S. national team defender Geoff Cameron, is one of the league's top units on paper, but only four clubs in MLS have allowed more goals than the Dynamo. It's a good thing, then, that Will Bruin keeps bagging goals to keep them in games.
11. (9) COLUMBUS CREW (5-5-4, 19 points)
Last week: Lost to Chicago 2-1 on Saturday
This week: Saturday vs. Salt Lake, 8 p.m.
Outlook: Even with a man advantage for 61 minutes, Columbus' anemic attack still couldn't muster more than one goal against Chicago. It's a good thing, then, that the Crew's back line is tied for the league's stingiest defense (with Sporting KC), allowing just 15 goals this season.
12. (11) COLORADO RAPIDS (6-8-1, 19 points)
Last week: Lost to San Jose 2-1 on Wednesday
This week: Saturday vs. Portland, 9 p.m.
Outlook: Colorado saw victory quickly (and controversially) turn into defeat Wednesday when an own goal and a debatable penalty kick gave visiting San Jose a 2-1 win. On the outside looking in at a playoff spot at the they approach their season's halfway point, the Rapids can't afford to drop points at home.
13. (12) MONTREAL IMPACT (5-8-3, 18 points)
Last week: Lost to Chivas 2-1 on Wednesday; beat Houston 4-2 on Saturday
This week: Wednesday vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Montreal continues to be a tough team at home (4-1-2) but a bit of a pushover on the road (1-7-1). With the news of Bernardo Corradi's torn ACL coming last week, the impending debut of Designated Player signing Marco Di Vaio couldn't have come at a better time.
14. (14) CHIVAS USA (5-7-4, 19 points)
Last week: Beat Montreal 2-1 on Wednesday; tied Dallas 0-0 on Saturday
This week: Idle
Outlook: It was a quietly productive week for Chivas, who grabbed three points at home against Montreal before taking a point on the road against Dallas. Robin Fraser's club could be dangerous if Juan Agudelo's confidence keeps growing and veterans such as Juan Pablo Angel and Alejandro Moreno continue to produce.
15. (16) PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-6-4, 16 points)
Last week: Beat Seattle 2-1 on Saturday
This week: Saturday at Colorado, 9 p.m.
Outlook: Early goals from Kris Boyd and David Horst ended up being enough for Portland to down rival Seattle and creep closer to playoff positioning in the congested Western Conference. The Timbers are still winless on the road, though, going into this week's trip to Colorado.
16. (13) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (5-7-3, 18 points)
Last week: Tied Toronto 2-2 on Saturday
This week: Saturday vs. Seattle, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Goals from Blake Brettschneider and Chris Tierney allowed New England to salvage a point in Toronto, but anything other than three points against the Reds should be seen as a missed opportunity. On the plus side, Benny Feilhaber seems to be growing more comfortable in his role with the Revolution every game.
17. (17) PHILADELPHIA UNION (3-8-2, 11 points)
Last week: Beat Kansas City 4-0 on Saturday
This week: Saturday at Houston, 8:30 p.m.
Outlook: The Union put it all together under interim coach John Hackworth, riding Jack McInerney's first-half brace to a 4-0 thrashing of a talented Kansas City squad. With Bakary Soumare on board to solidify the defense and a league-low 13 games played, one can't dismiss Philadelphia just yet.
18. (18) FC DALLAS (3-9-5, 14 points)
Last week: Tied Chivas 0-0 on Saturday
This week: Idle
Outlook: Brek Shea's return from suspension wasn't enough to get Dallas' offense going as the club played to a scoreless draw at home against Chivas. Dallas hasn't won a match since April 14, a winless stretch spanning 12 games in all competitions.
19. (19) TORONTO FC (1-10-2, 5 points)
Last week: Tied Houston 3-3 on Wednesday; tied New England 2-2 on Saturday
This week: Wednesday at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday vs. New York, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Toronto this week coughed away a pair of two-goal leads, turning what easily could have been six points into two. Paul Mariner has his team scoring goals — five this week after scoring just eight in 11 games prior — but the league's worst back line just isn't keeping them out.