By DAN KARELL
FC Dallas are showing no signs of slowing down.
Oscar Pareja’s club re-captured “El Capitan” from the Houston Dynamo last weekend with a tremendous 4-1 performance, backed by the play of midfielder Mauro Diaz. The Argentine has been the key to FC Dallas’ recent success, but the addition of Hendry Thomas in defensive midfield combined with Matt Hedges and Chris Seitz has given FC Dallas one of the best spines in MLS.
With Dallas claiming the top spot, Real Salt Lake drop back to No. 2 even though they’re likely content with a draw at Sporting Kansas City. Rounding out the top five are Toronto FC, the LA Galaxy, and the Columbus Crew.
After losing to TFC at home, the Crew tied for the biggest move in this week’s power rankings, dropping three places. Both the Colorado Rapids and D.C. United jumped up three places themselves on the back of wins.
Here are the SBI MLS Power Rankings for Week 5 (As voted on by members of the SBI Editorial Staff):
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 5)
1. (Last Week- 3) FC DALLAS (4-0-1)
OUTLOOK– Oscar Pareja is quickly making a case for himself to be one of the top coaches in MLS. Coming off a season where the Colorado Rapids performed above expectations, Pareja has been able to get everything and more out of this FC Dallas team that has a great mix of youth, talent, and experience. Mauro Diaz has been a star this season and they’ve stayed undefeated even without starting centerback George John and goalkeeper Raul Fernandez.
2. (1) REAL SALT LAKE (2-0-3)
OUTLOOK– One of just two remaining undefeated teams in the league, Real Salt Lake haven’t exactly broken out with goals aplenty but they’ve kept the hard-nosed attitude from former head coach Jason Kreis under Jeff Cassar. RSL battled to the end in a scoreless draw with Sporting Kansas City last weekend and will be happy with the road point after falling there in the MLS Cup final last December.
3. (4) TORONTO FC (3-1)
OUTLOOK– Toronto FC answered the question of whether they could survive without Jermain Defoe on the field. Missing Defoe and three other starters, TFC went down to Columbus and dominated the center of the field thanks to Michael Bradley, who also scored in the 2-0 win. When this team has all their pieces fit and off suspensions, they can be a very dangerous side at home and away.
4. (5) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (1-1-1)
OUTLOOK– The Galaxy couldn’t have asked for a better time to face intra-stadium rival Chivas USA, as the Galaxy notched their first win of the season in a 3-0 rout. Landon Donovan recorded two assists and Robbie Keane scored his second goal of the season. The two Designated Players returning to form is a great sign of things to come.
5. (2) COLUMBUS CREW (3-1)
OUTLOOK– After defying the odds and expectations in their first three matches, the Crew came back down to earth last weekend against Toronto, due to what Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter called complacency. As it’s still early in the season, the defeat may have just been a good time to light another fire under the team and keep that level of energy needed to remain at the top of the Eastern Conference.
6. (6) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (2-2-1)
OUTLOOK– The Seattle Sounders have plenty of defensive concerns but their will and fight to the finish can’t be argued. Two goals in the final five minutes from Clint Dempsey earned the Sounders a point in a wild 4-4 draw at their rivals, the Portland Timbers. Perhaps worrying is how poor Jalil Anibaba was in place of Djimi Traore.
7. (7) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (2-1-2)
OUTLOOK– Facing their MLS Cup final opponent in an early season match, Sporting KC left their scoring boots at home and finished the game with 20 fouls and down to 10 men after Uri Rosell was sent off for a dangerous challenge. Not only do Sporting KC lose him for their next game but they’ll be without Ike Opara for the rest of the season, putting plenty of stress on the defenders and defensive midfield until the club signs another player for cover.
8. (11) COLORADO RAPIDS (2-1-1)
OUTLOOK– It can be argued that they’ve been helped by referee decisions, but the Rapids are proving that last year was no fluke. Offseason acquisition Jose Mari paid dividends at the Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend with two terrific second-half goals to win the game. That the Rapids survived without the likes of Marvell Wynne in the back line due to a red card is a good sign as well.
9. (8) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-1-2)
OUTLOOK– The Whitecaps have shown the inconsistency of a side that is trying to blend together in a new system. Darren Mattocks’ work rate has been stellar and he finally scored his first goal since last July but the Whitecaps have struggled to find a consistent scoring option, clearly missing Camilo’s efficiency. The Whitecaps also showed last week that without Matias Laba in the holding role they are unable to create as much offensively.
10. (10) PHILADELPHIA UNION (1-1-3)
OUTLOOK– The Union continue to find ways to shoot themselves in the foot. Even when they’ve looked the better team for 90 percent of the game, invariably someone will miss an assignment and the team’s penchant for giving up late goals comes back to bite them. Facing the Chicago Fire on the road should have been a sure three points. Instead, it’s two points dropped.
11. (9) HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-2)
OUTLOOK– The Dynamo were even with FC Dallas last Saturday until the 60th minute when David Horst was sent off. From there, the Dynamo defense crumbled in the face of Je-Vaughn Watson and Mauro Diaz’s innate skill to find his teammates in great positions facing the opposing goal. Will Bruin was shut down by Matt Hedges and was largely invisible during the match.
12. (12) PORTLAND TIMBERS (0-2-3)
OUTLOOK– The Timbers were on their way to their first win of the season and a crucial three points before their defense gave way to two goals from Clint Dempsey, keeping the Timbers winless on the season. Norberto Paparatto has been a liability so far and while Diego Chara and Diego Valeri both had terrific games, the same can’t be said for the Timbers back line. Max Urruti finally scored a goal worthy of his price tag.
13. (13) NEW YORK RED BULLS (0-1-4)
OUTLOOK– Easily one of the most disappointing teams so far, the Red Bulls settled for yet another draw at Montreal and probably should have won the game, even without Thierry Henry in the lineup. Peguy Luyindula scored one goal but also missed a penalty kick, while Felipe Martins and Andrea Romero made Red Bulls defender Armando look silly. The Red Bulls will be desperate for three points heading into a rivalry clash against D.C. United.
14. (17) CHICAGO FIRE (0-1-4)
OUTLOOK– The Fire had a chance to record their first win of the season last Saturday but the palm of Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath denied Mike Magee and the Fire of that result. The new-look Fire defense has given up nine goals already though, something that should worry Frank Yallop.
15. (14) CHIVAS USA (1-2-2)
OUTLOOK– Chivas USA are beginning to look like the Chivas USA from 2013. The Goats were completely outmatched last Sunday against the LA Galaxy and it’s clear that the squad they’ve put together just isn’t good enough at the moment to make a playoff run. A visit to Portland this Saturday will be tough to turn their fortunes around.
16. (19) D.C. UNITED (1-2-1)
OUTLOOK– D.C. United recorded their first win in 16 games, snapping a record losing streak against the woeful New England Revolution. Chris Rolfe announced himself to the D.C. United faithful with a stoppage time goal but D.C. can’t take too much out of this game aside from the three points. Ben Olsen will learn more about his team if they can beat the Red Bulls on Saturday.
17. (15) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (1-3-1)
OUTLOOK– The Revolution continue to struggle even against some of the league’s lower quality opposition. Jose Goncalves is still far from match fit and the offense continues to stutter in front of goal. The Revs are really missing Kelyn Rowe in midfield.
18. (16) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (0-2-1)
OUTLOOK– San Jose had an off week last weekend but they’ll be without Steven Lenhart due to a sprained knee this Sunday against the Crew. Billy Schuler could make his MLS debut or Mark Watson could choose to play Adam Jahn up top along with Alan Gordon, who is nearly back to full fitness.
19. (18) MONTREAL IMPACT (0-3-2)
OUTLOOK– The Impact are slowly looking more like a dangerous MLS team with the return of Marco Di Vaio and Andres Romero. The duo, in their second game of the season, made life very difficult for the Red Bulls but at the other end of the field, the Impact defense was all over the place on the counter-attack. Matteo Ferrari is in the twilight of his career and Hassoun Camara is just not a good enough defender at this level.
What do you think of this week’s power rankings? Do you think any team is ranked too high? Any too low?
Share your thoughts below.