By IVES GALARCEP
The Montreal Impact saw their dream start to the 2013 MLS season halted by Sporting Kansas City, but that didn’t stop two other teams from continuing impressive runs that few outside of their home markets could have seen coming.
FC Dallas and Chivas USA are two of the hottest teams in the league at the moment, with the Goats running their unbeaten streak to four matches while Dallas improved their record to a league-best 4-1 after edging New England.
The top team in the league, at the moment, is the Los Angeles Galaxy, which remained unbeaten after riding a late Jose Villarreal equalizer to a 2-2 draw vs. Toronto FC. Landon Donovan made his return to action for the Galaxy, which did well to earn a draw in Canada despite missing the services of star striker Robbie Keane.
The New York Red Bulls finally broke through with their first win of the season while Cascadia clubs Portland and Seattle are still in search of their first victories of the 2013 MLS campaign. Portland pulled off yet another second-half comeback, but settled for the draw. The Sounders fell to a short-handed Real Salt Lake side to stay in the Western Conference basement.
Here are the SBI MLS Power Rankings for Week Five:
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week Five)
1. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (2-0-2)
LAST WEEK– Tied Toronto FC, 2-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– vs. Monterrey on Wednesday (CONCACAF);
OUTLOOK– The only remaining unbeaten team in the league, the Galaxy needed a Jose Villarreal equalizer to pull out a draw in Toronto. With Landon Donovan back, the Galaxy are a step closer to full strength, but that may not be enough to beat a tough Monterrey side in CONCACAF Champions League.
2. HOUSTON DYNAMO (3-1)
LAST WEEK– Beat San Jose Earthquakes, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– at Portland Timbers on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– The Dynamo tied the league record for longest home unbeaten streak in all competitions (34 matches) with their win vs. San Jose. Giles Barnes was outstanding vs. the Earthquakes and is really rounding into another good threat for Dom Kinnear’s side.
3. FC DALLAS (4-1)
LAST WEEK– Beat New England Revolution, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– at Toronto FC on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– Another win for a first-place Dallas side that is gaining more confidence every week. The midfield tandem of Andrew Jacobson and Michel are playing very well together, allowing David Ferreira the freedom to create. Kenny Cooper still hasn’t really gotten going yet, but with Blas Perez back, FC Dallas could keep their hot streak going into the summer.
4. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (2-1-2)
LAST WEEK– Beat Montreal Impact, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– vs. D.C. United on Friday.
OUTLOOK– We finally saw the team we were expecting Sporting KC to be when the season began. A stingy defense and a potent attack was on display in Saturday’s win, and it isn’t a surprise that Benny Feilhaber’s best game of the season sparked the turnaround.
5. MONTREAL IMPACT (4-1)
LAST WEEK– Lost to Sporting Kansas City, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– Bye.
OUTLOOK– Thoroughly outplayed in their first loss of the season. They clearly missed Alessandro Nesta, but their inability to create chances against Sporting KC makes you wonder just how close they truly are to being among the elite teams in the league. The bye week should help one of the league’s older teams recuperate.
6. CHIVAS USA (3-1-1)
LAST WEEK– Beat Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– Bye.
OUTLOOK– The Goats are for real. Their free-flowing attacking soccer keeps pressure on teams and keeps opponents from being able to really go after Chivas USA’s defense. Bobby Burling has quietly put together an outstanding first month, with Edgar Mejia another pleasant surprise. The bye week comes at a good time considering Juan Agudelo’s hamstring injury, though you just know Jose Luis Sanchez Sola would rather keep playing.
7. REAL SALT LAKE (2-2-1)
LAST WEEK– Beat Seattle Sounders, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– at Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– No Alvaro Saborio or Javier Morales in the starting lineup? No problem. Luis Gil and rookie Devon Sandoval filled in admirably against a struggling Seattle side. Tony Beltran turned in a quality showing, reminding us why Jurgen Klinsmann thought enough of him to bring him in for the recent World Cup qualifiers.
8. COLUMBUS CREW (2-1-1)
LAST WEEK– Bye Week
THIS WEEK– vs. Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– A week off can only help the Crew, as they regroup heading into a winnable home game against the Philadelphia Union.
9. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (2-2-1)
LAST WEEK– Lost to Houston Dynamo, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– vs. Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– It was probably too much to ask a makeshift Earthquakes lineup to go to BBVA Compass Stadium and snap Houston’s record unbeaten streak at home, but it was still a pretty flat performance from a team clearly missing starters like Steven Lenhart, Steven Beitashour and Alan Gordon.
10. NEW YORK RED BULLS (1-2-2)
LAST WEEK– Beat Philadelphia Union, 2-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– at Chicago Fire on Sunday.
OUTLOOK– Thierry Henry played the role of super sub to deliver the Red Bulls their first win of the season. Puguy Luyindola earned the assist on Henry’s game-winner, but what Red Bulls fans will remember from him that game is the number of wasted chances he squandered. Kudos to Tim Cahill for battling through injury to play vs. the Union. Next up is a winnable road game against a struggling Chicago Fire team, though the Red Bulls have traditionally struggled at Toyota Park.
11. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-2)
LAST WEEK– Lost to Chivas USA, 2-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– at San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– The Whitecaps saw their defense ripped apart on the counter in the first half against Chivas USA, and their offense really didn’t get going until the second half. Rookies Erik Hurtado and Kekuta Manneh are serious speedsters, but it was Darren Mattocks who failed to show much in a match he should have been able to make more of a mark in.
12. PHILADELPHIA UNION (2-2)
LAST WEEK– Lost to New York Red Bulls, 2-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– at Columbus Crew on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– The Union never posed much of a threat to the Red Bulls, aside from Conor Casey’s second-half header, and you couldn’t help but wonder whether newly-acquired Brazilian Kleberson will have to wait long to be plugged into the starting lineup. The midfield is lacking some spark, and some bit and the former Manchester United midfielder should be able to upgrade the middle.
13. TORONTO FC (1-2-1)
LAST WEEK– Tied Los Angeles Galaxy, 2-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– vs. FC Dallas on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– TFC’s offense looked good in testing the Galaxy’s defense, but the defense showed vulnerabilities that make you wonder whether Ryan Nelsen will need to do some shopping this summer to bring the Toronto defense up to a playoff level.
14. D.C. UNITED (1-2-1)
LAST WEEK– Bye Week
THIS WEEK– at Sporting Kansas City on Friday.
OUTLOOK– A week off should help D.C. heading into a very tough Eastern Conference clash vs. Sporting KC. Bill Hamid’s form has been outstanding the first month of the season, but it is the D.C. attack that Ben Olsen will have worked on closely during the bye week.
LAST WEEK– Tied Colorado Rapids, 2-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– vs. Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– Another slow start, another halftime deficit and another second-half rally. The Timbers are showing tremendous heart to keep fighting back, but Caleb Porter has to be fed up with the first-half breakdowns that keep putting his team in early holes. A road point is a positive though, as is receiving the team’s first penalty kick since 2011. Given some of the clear penalties they have been denied it’s safe to say they aren’t going to complain about how soft the PK awarded vs. Colorado was.
16. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (0-3-1)
LAST WEEK– Lost to Real Salt Lake, 2-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– vs. Santos Laguna on Tuesday (CONCACAF);
OUTLOOK– What is going on with the Sounders? They just aren’t playing as a cohesive unit, and their defense is showing some signs of vulnerability. The offense has too much talent to keep on struggling, but that back-line could wind up being the team’s Achilles heel in the long run.
17. (17) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (1-2-1)
LAST WEEK– Lost to FC Dallas, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– Bye.
OUTLOOK– The Res are making games ugly, and their defense is holding up well, but until their offense starts generating serious chances and converting them, new England will stay near the bottom of the East standings. A week off, and a week closer to getting Saer Sene back can’t hurt. One of the few bright spots continues to be Andrew Farrell, who is playing some of the best and steadiest right back in MLS.
18. COLORADO RAPIDS (0-3-2)
LAST WEEK– Tied Portland Timbers, 2-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– vs. Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– Dillon Powers and Deshorn Brown continued to look good as Rapids rookies, but the team’s plethora of injuries has them struggling early. Oscar Pareja’s side does have a gripe on the soft penalty awarded to Portland, but you can also make the argument that Atiba Harris should have been smarter and not gone for the no-look side volley clearance attempt in the penalty area. Having homegrown player Shane O’Neill make his starting debut for the Rapids was a significant milestone even if he is probably still in need of some seasoning.
19. CHICAGO FIRE (0-3-1)
LAST WEEK– Bye Week.
THIS WEEK– vs. New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
OUTLOOK– Frank Klopas probably spent the bye week searching the want adds for forwards, though given the team’s recent defensive struggles, having another week for Arne Friedrich to heal had to be a welcome relief. Having Sean Johnson back from international duty is a plus as well.