Photo by USA Today Sports
By IVES GALARCEP
The Portland Timbers and FC Dallas have emerged as the class of the Western Conference and it could be some time before teams catch them at the top of the West standings.
Both Dallas and the Timbers are riding nine-match unbeaten streaks, with their 1-1 draw last Wednesday providing a glimpse of what could be the battle for the top spot in the West all season long.
One West team that looks ready to make a run up the charts is the Seattle Sounders. A two-win week against Sporting Kansas City and the San Jose Earthquakes suddenly has the Sounders out of the West basement and riding a five-match unbeaten streak. With multiple games in hand on the top four teams in the West, Seattle could be poised for a speedy rise up the standings based on their suddenly red-hot form.
In the East, Sporting Kansas City made a major statement by ending the Houston Dynamo’s record 36-match unbeaten streak in all competitions. It was a victory that also should provide an important mental boost for a Sporting KC side that has struggled against the Dynamo for the past few years, including elimination from the past two playoffs.
Here are the latest SBI MLS Power Rankings:
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 11)
1. (Last week- 1) FC DALLAS (7-1-3)
LAST WEEK– Tied Portland, 1-1, last Wednesday; beat D.C. United, 2-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– at Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– Still in the top spot, but the Hoops are showing signs of vulnerability. Playing without George John was tough enough, but if they miss David Ferreira for any length of time, FC Dallas could see their lead atop the West disappear. Rookie London Woodberry did well in place of John, while Blas Perez looked good when deputized into a playmaking role. If John and Ferreira aren’t back for Seattle, Dallas could be in for a long day.
2. (6) PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-1-6)
LAST WEEK– tied FC Dallas, 1-1, last Wednesday; beat Chivas USA, 3-0, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK– at Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– It isn’t a stretch to say the Timbers are playing the best soccer in the league. They were the better side in their draw vs. FC Dallas, and their dismantling of Chivas USA showed what they can do when they’re finishing is on point. There are still concerns about the team’s centerback situation, but Futty Danso is playing very well and young defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste looks up to the task.
3. (2) MONTREAL IMPACT (6-2-2)
LAST WEEK– lost to New York, 2-1, last Wednesday; beat Real Salt Lake, 3-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– vs. Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday (Canadian Championship).
OUTLOOK– The Impact showed great resilience in coming back to beat RSL, and they nearly made it two comebacks after their late surge vs. the Red Bulls. Some calls definitely went Montreal’s way in the RSL match, but it should also be noted the Impact won despite not starting several key players, including captain Davy Arnaud and Alessandro Nesta.
4. (4) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (6-4-2)
LAST WEEK– lost to Seattle, 1-0, last Wednesday; beat Houston Dynamo, 1-0, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK– at D.C. United on Sunday.
OUTLOOK– As tough as their loss to Seattle was, their win in Houston more than made up for it. Not only did Sporting KC snap their drought vs. the Dynamo, they did so without regular starters Matt Besler, Benny Feilhaber, Chance Myers and Benny Feilhaber. KC’s bench showed well though, with Ike Opara performing solidly in place of Besler and Mechak Jerome standing firm at right back.
5. (3) HOUSTON DYNAMO (6-3-2)
LAST WEEK– beat D.C. United, 4-0, last Wednesday; lost to Sporting Kansas City, 1-0, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK– vs. New England on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– Will Bruin tore apart D.C. United, delivering two goals and two assists, but he was rendered invisible vs. Sporting KC, managing zero shots on goal in the loss. Dom Kinnear could not have been happy with his team’s set-piece defending against KC. They not only allowed the goal on a set piece, they gave up some quality looks to Sporting as well. Their home unbeaten streak is over now, but they certainly deserve credit for putting together a run we may never see duplicated.
6. (7) NEW YORK RED BULLS (6-4-3)
LAST WEEK– beat Montreal, 2-1, last Wednesday; tied New England, 1-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– vs. Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday.
OUTLOOK– Thierry Henry worked his magic against the Montreal Impact, but his no-show vs. New England forced the Red Bulls to settle for the draw. Lloyd Sam’s performance vs. the Revs was certainly a bright spot for a team that will face a stiff challenge from the LA Galaxy on Sunday.
7. (5) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (4-3-2)
LAST WEEK– lost to Vancouver, 3-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– at Philadelphia Union on Wednesday; at Los Angeles Galaxy on Friday.
OUTLOOK– Looked flat vs. Vancouver, and as much as not having Robbie Keane and Todd Dunivant hurt, the Galaxy have turned in stronger performances without those two in the past. Not the best start to a road swing that will take them East to face the Union and Red Bulls, two teams playing well at the moment. Gyasi Zardes scoring his first goal is definitely a good moment, and it should be the first of many for the top prospect.
8. (9) PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-3-3)
LAST WEEK– beat Chicago, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– vs. Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday; vs. Chicago Fire on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– Zac MacMath turned in an outstanding performance to help the Union win a game they were thoroughly outplayed in. Jack McInerney’s sublime touch and finish was the highlight moment, but Bakary Soumare’s encouraging performance at centerback deserves attention too.
9. (11) COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-3)
LAST WEEK-beat Columbus, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– at San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– The Rapids just keep on delivering results. Martin Rivero is back from injury, which should provide a big boost, but Edson Buddle’s sudden revival is perhaps the most encouraging development in the team’s recent victories. What Oscar Pareja has done to this point in the season has to be applauded, but now he will have a new challenge as he integrates all the players returning from injury.
10. (17) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (3-3-3)
LAST WEEK– beat Sporting Kansas City, 1-0, last Wednesday; beat San Jose Earthquakes, 4-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– vs. FC Dallas on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– Don’t look now but the Sounders are back. Mauro Rosales had an MVP look to him in the win vs. San Jose while the Seattle defense turned in a pair of shutouts to show they have tightened things up at the back.
11. (8) REAL SALT LAKE (5-5-2)
LAST WEEK– beat New England, 2-1, last Wednesday; lost to Montreal, 3-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– at Chivas USA on Sunday.
OUTLOOK– RSL showed great heart in fighting back to beat the Revs, but their finishing let them down again vs. Montreal. You can question some of the officiating that went against RSL, but they have themselves to blame for not finishing chances and defending better late in the game.
12. (15) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (3-4-3)
LAST WEEK– beat Los Angeles Galaxy, 3-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– at Montreal Impact on Wednesday (Canadian Championship); vs. Portland Timbers on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– Snapped their seven-match winless skid in convincing fashion, with Russell Teibert playing the hero. A very tough week awaits, and Martin Rennie will have to figure out how to balance minutes as the schedule gets congested.
13. (10) COLUMBUS CREW (3-4-3)
14. (12) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (3-4-5)
LAST WEEK– beat Toronto FC, 2-1, last Wednesday; lost to Seattle, 4-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– vs. Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– Another comeback win vs. TFC was nice, but their showing vs. Seattle was embarrassing. It showed a defense that is extremely vulnerable. You also have to wonder if Frank Yallop is ready to put Adam Jahn in the starting lineup and leave him there for a while.
15. (14) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (2-4-4)
LAST WEEK– lost to Real Salt Lake, 2-1, last Wednesday; tied New York Red Bulls, 1-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– at Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– Acquiring Juan Agudelo was the best news of the weekend, after managing just one point from two matches. Their loss to RSL was brutal, squandering two late goals and missing a potential game-tying penalty. Diego Fagundez did enjoy a good week and the young attacker could be primed to finally break out soon.
16. (13) CHIVAS USA (3-5-2)
LAST WEEK– lost to Portland, 3-0, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK– vs. Real Salt Lake on Sunday.
OUTLOOK– Things are getting bad for Chivas USA. Really bad. Trading away Juan Agudelo for allocation money was a head-scratcher considering the fact he was such a key part of their strong start to the season. Without him, the Goats offense is going to struggle. Jose Luis Sanchez Sola is starting to look like a good candidate to be the first head coach to be fired this season, which seems unfair, but it’s really though consider anything the Goats do to be all that surprising.
17. (16) CHICAGO FIRE (2-6-1)
LAST WEEK– lost to Philadelphia Union, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– at Philadelphia on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– Frank Klopas has to be going crazy. He watched his Fire side outplay the Union only to suffer a 1-0 loss. Fact of the matter is the Fire don’t have a reliable finisher on the roster. Sherjill MacDonald has regressed, Maicon Santos isn’t a go-to starter and Patrick Nyarko is no more consistent a finisher than Dom Oduro was. The Fire need to start tinkering with their roster, and soon, or their season could get really ugly.
18. (18) TORONTO FC (1-5-4)
LAST WEEK– lost to San Jose, 2-1 last Wednesday.
THIS WEEK– vs. Columbus Crew on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– It is getting tougher and tougher for TFC fans to believe that their team has made progress when they keep finding ways to lose. The reality is Toronto has played much better than last year, but unfortunately that isn’t saying much considering how putrid last season was. The whole Tal Ben Haim falling apart thing isn’t a good look for Toronto, but it might not wind up being the worst thing in the world if that deal never gets done.
19. (19) D.C. UNITED (1-8-1)
LAST WEEK– lost to Houston, 4-0, last Wednesday; lost to FC Dallas, 2-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK– vs. Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
OUTLOOK– Looking for bright spots in D.C.? There just aren’t many to point to. They turned in a better effort against FC Dallas, and having Dwayne DeRosario score a goal was encouraging. Getting Nick DeLeon back is positive as well, but you don’t get the sense things are turning around in D.C. any time soon.
What do you think of this week’s power rankings? Think anyone is rated too highly? See anyone being too low?
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