The Chicago Fire just keep on rising.
On the strength of a three-game winning streak, capped by a gutsy 1-0 win at Sporting Kansas City on Friday, the Fire have jumped to No. 4 in this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings.
Aside from the top-ranked San Jose Earthquakes, the top five teams all hail from the Eastern Conference, perhaps signifying a shift in power in a league that in recent years has been dominated by clubs from the West.
Here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 17)
1. (Last week — 1) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (11-3-3, 36 points)
Last week: Beat Los Angeles 4-3 on Saturday
This week: Tuesday at Portland, 10:30 p.m.; Saturday at Dallas, 9 p.m.
Outlook: This San Jose team rarely makes it easy, but the Earthquakes sure are fun to watch. This time around, Chris Wondolowski and Co. turned a 3-1 deficit into a stirring 4-3 triumph in the California Clasico. With another two assists, Marvin Chavez added to his compelling case for an All-Star bid.
2. (4) D.C. UNITED (10-5-3, 33 points)
Last week: Beat Montreal 3-0 on Saturday
This week: Idle
Outlook: It apparently doesn't matter where Chris Pontius is deployed — the midfielder-forward just keeps scoring goals. And with a league-leading 10 assists, reigning MVP Dwayne De Rosario has embraced his role as more of a facilitator in 2012.
3. (2) NEW YORK RED BULLS (9-4-4, 31 points)
Last week: Tied Toronto 1-1 on Saturday
This week: Sunday at New England, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Held to a 1-1 draw by Toronto, New York fell two points behind D.C. United for first place in the Eastern Conference, though the Red Bulls do have a game in hand. Getting a full 90 minutes out of Thierry Henry was an encouraging development.
4. (6) CHICAGO FIRE (8-5-3, 27 points)
Last week: Beat Kansas City 1-0 on Friday
This week: Tuesday at Houston, 8:30 p.m.; Sunday vs. Los Angeles, 3 p.m.
Outlook: Marco Pappa's strike and some late heroics from Sean Johnson were enough for Chicago to grab three points at Livestrong Sporting Park and make the race for first place in the Eastern Conference all the tighter. Chris Rolfe rounding into the form makes this team all the more threatening.
5. (5) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (9-5-2, 29 points)
Last week: Lost to Chicago 1-0 on Friday
This week: Wednesday at Montreal, 7 p.m.; Saturday vs. Houston, 8 p.m.
Outlook: Dropping a 1-0 contest at home to an Eastern Conference foe stings. The frustrating results have been piling up a lot for Kansas City lately, but this team is too talented to stay in its funk for much longer, right?
6. (3) REAL SALT LAKE (10-6-2, 32 points)
Last week: Lost to Columbus 2-0 on Saturday
This week: Wednesday vs. Seattle, 10 p.m.; Saturday vs. Portland, 9 p.m.
Outlook: The Crew historically have Salt Lake's number when playing in Columbus, and that didn't change Saturday when the home side rolled to a 2-0 win. The loss of captain Kyle Beckerman in that one was a major issue for Salt Lake's midfield.
7. (7) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (7-4-5, 26 points)
Last week: Idle
This week: Wednesday at Colorado, 9:30 p.m.; Saturday at Chivas, 10:30 p.m.
Outlook: After a week off, Vancouver is going to the road against a pair of Western Conference foes this week. The match against the Rapids, who trail the Whitecaps by four points in the standings, will be particularly crucial.
8. (11) COLUMBUS CREW (6-5-4, 22 points)
Last week: Beat Salt Lake 2-0 on Saturday
This week: Sunday at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Andy Gruenebaum notched yet another shutout, and the Crew now boast the league's stingiest defense with just 15 goals allowed in 15 games. With four goals, Eddie Gaven is en route to another fine campaign.
9. (10) HOUSTON DYNAMO (6-5-5, 23 points)
Last week: Beat Philadelphia 2-1 on Saturday
This week: Tuesday vs. Chicago, 8:30 p.m.; Saturday at Kansas City, 8 p.m.
Outlook: With four goals and four assists, Brad Davis is quietly enjoying another stellar campaign. The return of Geoff Cameron to holding midfield shakes things up, though it sounds like his time with the Dynamo might be coming to an end sooner rather than later.
10. (12) COLORADO RAPIDS (7-8-1, 22 points)
Last week: Beat Portland 3-0 on Saturday
This week: Wednesday vs. Vancouver, 9:30 p.m.; Saturday at Seattle, 11 p.m.
Outlook: Colorado continued its Jekyll and Hyde act, following consecutive losses with a 3-0 shellacking of Portland. For the injury-plagued team, seeing Conor Casey and Jamie Smith find net was a very welcome sight.
11. (9) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (6-9-2, 20 points)
Last week: Lost to San Jose 4-3 on Saturday
This week: Wednesday vs. Philadelphia, 10:30 p.m.; Sunday at Chicago, 3 p.m.
Outlook: The first half of Saturday's loss to San Jose showcased the Galaxy of late, a team that finally had figured out how to recapture last year's glory. And the second half showed the Galaxy we've seen through most of 2012 — a defensively challenged bunch lacking the drive that brought the MLS Cup to Los Angeles last fall.
12. (8) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (7-5-5, 26 points)
Last week: Tied New England 2-2 on Saturday
This week: Wednesday at Salt Lake, 10 p.m.; Saturday vs. Colorado, 11 p.m.
Outlook: Seattle stretched its winless streak to eight games when New England grabbed a late equalizer to deny the Sounders three valuable points on the road. On the plus side, Eddie Johnson's brace gave the striker seven goals on the campaign.
13. (16) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (5-7-4, 19 points)
Last week: Tied Seattle 2-2 on Saturday
This week: Sunday vs. New York, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Diego Fagundez's 94th-minute tally salvaged a point for the Revolution, but it was still two more dropped at home for a New England side that, at 1-6-1 on the road, can't afford to slip up when playing in the comforts of Gillette Stadium.
14. (14) CHIVAS USA (5-7-4, 19 points)
Last week: Idle
This week: Saturday vs. Vancouver, 10:30 p.m.
Outlook: Chivas return to action Saturday against the Whitecaps at the Home Depot Center, where Vancouver used a Jay DeMerit strike to steal a win 1-0 in March. With a win, Chivas could climb its way into the projected playoff field.
15. (13) MONTREAL IMPACT (5-10-3, 18 points)
Last week: Lost to Toronto 3-0 on Wednesday; lost to D.C. United 3-0 on Saturday
This week: Wednesday vs. Kansas City, 7 p.m.; Sunday vs. Columbus, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: The first two matches of the Marco Di Vaio era didn't exactly go according to plan, with Montreal dropping back-to-back 3-0 contests. After Jesse Marsch gave goalkeeper Evan Bush and defender Calum Mallace their first career starts against United, it's clear he's stretching for answers.
16. (16) PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-7-4, 16 points)
Last week: Lost to Colorado 3-0 on Saturday
This week: Tuesday vs. San Jose, 10:30 p.m.; Saturday at Salt Lake, 9 p.m.
Outlook: Things don't get easier for Portland after suffering a 3-0 loss at Colorado last weekend, as the Timbers host the Western Confence-leading Earthquakes on Tuesday before traveling to Rio Tinto Stadium for a match against second-place Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
17. (17) PHILADELPHIA UNION (3-9-2, 11 points)
Last week: Lost to Houston 2-1 on Saturday
This week: Wednesday at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.; Sunday vs. Toronto, 4 p.m.
Outlook: A late penalty kick deprived the Union of what would have been an encouraging point in Houston. With just 17 goals allowed in 14 matches, Philadelphia continues to boast one of the league's top defenses, even if the offense is erratic.
18. (19) TORONTO FC (2-10-3, 9 points)
Last week: Beat Montreal 3-0 on Wednesday; tied New York 1-1 on Saturday
This week: Wednesday at Dallas, 9 p.m.; Sunday at Philadelphia, 4 p.m.
Outlook: Toronto is in the basement of the power rankings no more — unbeaten in four, the Reds put together a four-point week with a thrashing of Montreal followed by point against a tough Red Bulls team. It took a while, but Danny Koevermans is finally on a roll.
19. (18) FC DALLAS (3-9-5, 14 points)
Last week: Idle
This week: Wednesday vs. Toronto, 9 p.m.; Saturday vs. San Jose, 9 p.m.
Outlook: With Toronto turning a corner under Paul Mariner, the bottom place in the rankings now belongs to a Dallas side that hasn't won a game since April 14. But Dallas will have no better chance to finally grab another three points than Wednesday's home game against the Reds.