By IVES GALARCEP
The Colorado Rapids turned heads in a major way last weekend after destroying the Seattle Sounders, 5-1, last Saturday. It was a win that not only pushed the Rapids closer to a playoff berth, it also announced them as a team nobody will want to have to deal with when the post-season begins.
The resounding victory helped the Rapids move past the Sounders into a top five spot in the latest SBI MLS Power Rankings. Seattle has gone three matches without a win, and will face a busy week ahead against Cascadia rivals Vancouver and Portland.
The New York Red Bulls held on to the top spot in a weekend that saw none of the top three teams record a victory. The Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake settled for draws, while Sporting Kansas City closed some ground with a win vs. the Columbus Crew, which slid back out of the top 10 after having their recent hot streak halted.
Here are the SBI MLS Power Rankings:
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 33)
1. (Last Week-1) NEW YORK RED BULLS (15-9-8)
OUTLOOK– Tim Cahill came through again with a clutch late goal, but New York’s play after the controversial penalty awarded to New England was a cause for concern. David Carney needs to cut out the mistakes if he’s going to keep the starting left back job.
2. (3) REAL SALT LAKE (15-10-7)
OUTLOOK– Didn’t completely rebound from last week’s disappointing U.S. Open Cup Final loss and dropped points to a struggling FC Dallas side. A week off should help before a very tough showdown vs. Portland.
3. (4) PORTLAND TIMBERS (12-5-14)
OUTLOOK– In complete control of their game vs. Vancouver in the first half, the Timbers turned in a rare weak second-half effort. Donovan Ricketts was outstanding in helping Portland earn a draw. Up next: Seattle at Jeld-Wen Field in a match with all sorts of implications.
4. (5) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (15-10-6)
OUTLOOK– Peter Vermes’ side is building some momentum heading into the post-season, having won four of five matches, but tonight’s clash vs. the Houston Dynamo should give us a real idea of how strong Sporting KC is right now.
5. (6) COLORADO RAPIDS (13-9-9)
OUTLOOK– Played their game of the year in dismantling Seattle, a win that has to boost the team’s confidence heading toward the playoffs. A tricky week lies ahead though as international call-ups leave the Rapids short-handed, particularly in their attack. The absences should help Oscar Pareja’s side show off their impressive depth one more time.
6. (2) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (15-8-6)
OUTLOOK– The less said about the Sounders’ performance vs. Colorado the better. Yes, they were missing players, but still had way too much talent on the field to justify an awful outing like that. Seattle does have games in hand, and still have a good chance to win the Supporters Shield, but if they are not careful they could wind up slipping down the West standings before you know it.
7. (8) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (14-11-6)
OUTLOOK– Yes, it was only Chivas USA, but the Galaxy still earned a much-needed three points and sorely-needed confidence booster in their 5-0 drubbing of the Goats. Rookie Gyasi Zardes enjoyed his best game of the season, something Bruce Arena had to be giddy about considering the team’s need for a clear-cut third attacking threat.
8. (9) HOUSTON DYNAMO (13-10-8)
OUTLOOK– Ricardo Clark continues to excel and the Dynamo succeeded in catching and surpassing the Montreal Impact for third in the East. Now they face Sporting KC in a match that could help them move to the doorstep of second place in the East. That’s a place few outside Houston could have imagined them getting close to just a month ago.
9. (11) PHILADELPHIA UNION (12-10-9)
OUTLOOK– Kleberson’s last-second game-winning free kick not only gave the Union’s playoff chances a sorely-needed jolt, it could be the inspiration that helps the Brazilian World Cup winner emerge as a late-season force. Philly still has plenty of work to do, but they will head into RFK Stadium with a lot of confidence against D.C. United on Saturday.
10. (12) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (12-11-8)
OUTLOOK– Given a gift in the form of a late spilled ball that resulted in Chris Wondolowski’s winner vs. Chivas USA, but the Earthquakes must surely know that effort won’t be good enough in upcoming matches vs. Colorado and the Galaxy. Steven Lenhart’s red card won’t help matters either.
11. (11) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (11-11-9)
OUTLOOK– The Revs will feel cheated after seeing a series of terrible calls cost them in their 2-2 tie vs. the New York Red Bulls, but bad calls went both ways and a draw is actually not that bad a result. New England showed heart and fight, and that draw just might propel them into a strong playoff push.
12. (12) CHICAGO FIRE (12-12-7)
OUTLOOK– The final score suggests the Fire ran away with their win vs. D.C. United, but the truth is Sean Johnson’s bagful of saves kept Chicago from turning an easy three points into another complicated result. The Fire defense will need to tighten things up as another pair of winnable games (FC Dallas, Toronto FC) await.
13. (7) COLUMBUS CREW (12-15-5)
OUTLOOK– Ran into a better team in Sporting KC, and saw their recent hot streak snapped by the only team to beat them since August. Did Brian Bliss do enough to keep the head coaching job on a full-time basis? Probably not, but he didn’t hurt his chances.
14. (10) MONTREAL IMPACT (13-9-7)
OUTLOOK– Showed some heart in fighting back to tie Chicago in a game where the Fire were the better side and created more chances. The Impact defense continues to look extremely shaky, and if it doesn’t improve, a loss to Houston is likely.
15. (15) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (11-11-9)
OUTLOOK– The way Camilo threw the Whitecaps on his back in tying Portland was impressive, but he was one of the few bright spots in what had been a pretty drab team performance before their Brazilian star took over. The playoffs are a distant dream, and Martin Rennie’s time in Vancouver looks to be winding to a close.
16. (16) FC DALLAS (10-10-11)
OUTLOOK– Normally a road point at RSL would be a pretty impressive result, but for a team in desperate need of a win to revive their playoff chances, FCD simply didn’t get the job done.
17. (17) TORONTO FC (5-16-11)
OUTLOOK– Will feel a little unlucky not to have earned a point vs. the Philadelphia Union, but that isn’t the first time TFC has given up a late goal at PPL Park.
18. (19) D.C. UNITED (3-22-6)
OUTLOOK– The U.S. Open Cup hangover wasn’t actually that strong considering D.C. actually created a bunch of scoring chances. Only Sean Johnson’s heroics kept D.C. from really making it a game.
19. (18) CHIVAS USA (6-18-8)
OUTLOOK– Another extremely ugly loss, coupled with D.C. United’s recent U.S. Open Cup triumph, lands the Goats in the bottom spot.
What do you think of this week’s power rankings? Think anyone is rated too highly? See anyone being too low?
Share your thoughts below.