There is a new team atop the SBI MLS Power Rankings, and it's a team that knows what it feels like to be in the top spot.
Sporting Kansas City has edged past the San Jose Earthquakes for the No. 1 spot after posting their third straight league win with a road shutout against Toronto FC. The newly-crowned U.S. Open Cup champions will have the credentials tested quickly though, with a showdown against the New York Red Bulls awaiting on Sunday with first place in the East on the line.
Three teams continuing to climb up the rankings are the Chicago Fire, Montreal Impact and FC Dallas. All three are a combined 9-0-1 in the month of August, with the Fire riding their recent winning streak to within grasp of the top teams in the East. Montreal and FC Dallas have both revived their playoff lives with their unbeaten streaks, making the races in the East and West that much more interesting.
The bottom of the standings hasn't changed, with the Portland Timbers still rooted to the basement after seeing their winless streak extended to eight matches.
Here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 24)
1. (Last week – 2) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (14-7-4, 46 points)
Last week: Beat Toronto FC, 1-0, last Saturday
This week: vs. New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
Outlook: Held on to first place in the East, and moved into the top spot here, thanks to Kei Kamara's winning goal. The Kamara-Teal Bunbury partnership is really blossoming, while the defense continues to play well. The back-line faces a stiff test in Sunday's showdown vs. the high-powered Red Bulls.
2. (1) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (14-6-5, 47 points)
Last week: Lost at Montreal, 3-1, last Saturday.
This week: vs. Colorado on Saturday.
Outlook: The Western Conference leaders are still in first place, but their starting to look vulnerable. Luckily for them, they are hitting a rather reasonable portion of their schedule. They need Chris Wondolowski to take charge of an attack that has struggled to generate consistent offense lately.
3. (4) NEW YORK RED BULLS (13-7-5, 44 points)
Last week: Tied Columbus, 2-2, last Sunday.
This Week: Tonight vs. CF FAS (CONCACAF), on Saturday vs. Toronto FC
Outlook: Dropped points at home for the first time in six weeks, but the Dynamo did look good battling for a draw. They will have their depth, and endurance, tested as they kick off their CONCACAF Champions League campaign.
5. (6) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (11-6-7, 40 points)
Last week: Beat Vancouver, 2-0, last Saturday.
This week: at Chivas USA on Saturday
Outlook: Osvaldo Alonso put in another outstanding effort in midfield to propel the Sounders to within range of RSL for second place in the West. Eddie Johnson found the net again, but he also missed a few easy ones. The surging Sounders had better be careful because Chivas USA is a tricky opponent sure to give them trouble.
6. (8) CHICAGO FIRE (12-7-5, 41 points)
7. (7) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (11-11-4, 37 points)
Last week : Tied Columbus, 1-1, last Wednesday.
This week: vs. Metapan on Thursday (CONCACAF), vs. FC Dallas on Sunday.
Outlook: Definitely missed Landon Donovan during their road draw at Columbus, but some extra time off should help them in a very intriguing showdown vs. surging FC Dallas in what should be an exciting and wide-open match.
8. (5) REAL SALT LAKE (13-10-3, 42 points)
Last week: Lost to FC Dallas, 2-0, last Sunday.
This week: Beat Tauro FC, 2-0, on Tuesday (CONCACAF), at Philadelphia on Friday.
Outlook: Recorded a sorely-needed victory on Tuesday night against Tauro, snapping a four-match losing streak in all competitions. Paulo Jr. gave the offense some energy it has been lacking in recent weeks, and his performance just might start to wake up some of the team's other mis-firing attacking players. They will have to battle fatigue on Friday, playing with just three days rest.
9. (9) D.C. UNITED (11-8-4, 37 points)
Last week: Tied Philadelphia, 1-1, last Sunday.
This week: vs. Chicago tonight, at Montreal on Saturday.
Outlook: It is easy to look at D.C.'s recent struggles and think about the team's late-season slide a year ago. That cost them a playoff berth then, and just might do the same now if Ben Olsen's team doesn't wake up and start winning. If they are not careful they could drop a two-loss week this week and tumble several points out of a playoff spot.
10. (10) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (10-9-7, 37 points)
Last week : Lost to FC Dallas, 2-1 last Wednesday, lost to Seattle, 2-0, last Saturday.
This week: vs. Portland on Saturday.
11. (12) MONTREAL IMPACT (11-13-3, 33 points)
Last week: Beat San Jose, 3-1, last Saturday.
This week: vs. D.C. United on Saturday.
12. (13) FC DALLAS (8-11-8, 32 points)
Last week: Beat Vancouver, 2-0, last Wednesday, beat Real Salt Lake, 2-1, last Saturday.
This week: at Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday.
13. (11) COLUMBUS CREW (8-8-6, 28 points)
Last week: Tied LA Galaxy, 1-1, last Wednesday, tied Houston, 2-2, last Sunday.
This week: vs. Toronto FC tonight, vs. New England on Saturday.
14. (16) CHIVAS USA (7-9-6, 27 points)
Last week: Tied Colorado Rapids, 1-1, last Saturday.
This week: vs. Seattle on Saturday.
15. (14) PHILADELPHIA UNION (7-12-3, 24 points)
Last week: Tied D.C. United, 1-1, last Sunday.
This week: vs. Real Salt Lake on Friday night.
16. (15) COLORADO RAPIDS (8-15-2, 26 points)
Last week : Tied Chivas USA, 1-1, last Saturday
This week: at San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
17. (17) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (6-13-5, 23 points)
Last week: Lost to the Chicago Fire, 2-1, last Saturday.
This week: at Columbus Crew on Saturday.
18. (18) TORONTO FC (5-14-5, 19 points)
Last week: Tied Portland, 2-2, last Wednesday, lost to Sporting Kansas City, 1-0, last Saturday.
This week: at Columbus Crew tonight, at Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
Outlook: Paul Mariner has learned the hard way that TFC's roster just wasn't good enough to really turn things around in a hurry. There remain some positive signs, like the continued improvement of rookie Luis Silva, and the impressive debut of centerback Darren O'Dea, but it is safe to say the remains games of the season will be nothing more than audition process for 2013. That's even with Champions League still to play (because let's face it, beating out Santos Laguna in their group will be all but impossible).
19. (19) PORTLAND TIMBERS (5-13-6, 20 points)
Last week: Tied Toronto FC, 2-2, last Wednesday; lost to New York Red Bulls, 3-2, last Sunday.
This week: vs. Vancouver on Saturday.
Outlook: It is tough to look at bright sides in an eight-match winless run, particularly after blowing a two-goal lead in Sunday's loss but Portland fans can take some solace in the play of Sal Zizzo and Darlington Nagbe, two players who figure to be parts of the team's rebuilding process.
What do you think of this week's rankings? Agree with Sporting Kansas City being in the top spot? Who do you think is ranked too low? Who is ranked too high?
Share your thoughts below.