By DAN KARELL
Chad Marshall picked a great time to open his Seattle Sounders scoring account.
The towering Sounders centerback powered home a header in the 84th minute to lead his team to their fourth straight win. The Sounders performance in their 2-1 victory against the Philadelphia Union earned them the top spot in this week’s SBI MLS Power Rankings.
Real Salt Lake remained at two after their dramatic comeback victory in Chicago while Sporting KC jumped up from No. 6 to No. 3 and both the Vancouver Whitecaps and the New England Revolution moved up four places each to No. 4 and No. 5 respectively.
The Union dropped to 17th place with their latest defeat while the Chicago Fire and Chivas USA occupy the final two spots in this week’s rankings.
Here are the SBI MLS Power Rankings for Week Nine (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 9)
1. (Last Week-1) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (6-2-1)
OUTLOOK– The Sounders are continuing to roll through the early part of the season, and last Saturday they found a different way to win. The Sounders conceded early but were able to overpower the Union and come back with a late goal to give them a 2-1 victory. Everything seems to be going well for the Sounders with both Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey on form.
2. (2) REAL SALT LAKE (4-0-5)
OUTLOOK– RSL had arguably the most impressive win of the weekend and it’s all thanks to the return of Joao Plata, who scored twice including the game-winning goal in second half stoppage time. Plata’s been on good form when healthy this season and RSL continues to show that they will play hard for the full 90 minutes.
3. (6) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-2)
OUTLOOK– It was men against boys on Saturday when Sporting KC defeated the Columbus Crew last Saturday. Whether due to pure talent or exposing the Crew’s defensive gaps, Sporting KC looked more like the side that won last season’s MLS Cup and less like a team still trying to find their groove.
4. (7) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (3-2-4)
OUTLOOK– The Whitecaps remain one of the most exciting teams in the league due to the immense talent and speed they have in their squad. Against the Earthquakes, despite losing Darren Mattocks early, the Whitecaps showed just how versatile and potent their offensive attack is, scoring three times in the first 20 minutes. They stepped off the pedal late and allowed the Earthquakes to make a game of it, but if they can tighten up defensively, this team will be fun to watch in November.
5. (9) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-3-2)
OUTLOOK– Jay Heap’s decision to move Teal Bunbury to the outside and put Patrick Mullins up top worked to perfection as Mullins scored in the Revolution’s comeback victory in Toronto. The centerback duo of A.J. Soares and Andrew Ferrell played well together and there was good combination in the midfield from Lee Nguyen, Diego Fagundez, and Bunbury. Three wins and a draw in their last four mean things are looking up for the Revolution.
6. (3) FC DALLAS (5-3-1)
OUTLOOK– For the first time this season, FC Dallas had to play without Mauro Diaz. Things didn’t help much when Je-Vaughn Watson was sent off in the 10th minute due to a flying kick. The rest of the team is going to have to pull together to produce the way that Diaz did on his own while he misses the next six to ten weeks with an injury.
7. (5) COLUMBUS CREW (3-2-3)
OUTLOOK– The Crew lost for only the second time this season but they have failed to score a goal from the run of play in more than 180 minutes. Gregg Berhalter’s system allows for plenty of exciting end to end play but it’s left centerbacks Michael Parkhurst and Giancarlo Gonzalez on an island when the Crew turn the ball over. The Crew are now winless in their last five after starting the year with three straight wins.
8. (11) COLORADO RAPIDS (4-2-2)
OUTLOOK– The Rapids aren’t winning in blowout style but they’re starting to look like a team that too many people underrated prior to the start of the season. They may have a missed penalty kick by Robbie Keane to thank but a win vs. the Galaxy is a huge confidence boost for the Rapids after a 4-1 defeat to Seattle.
9. (4) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (2-2-2)
OUTLOOK– The Galaxy last Saturday had one of those days where nothing seemed to be going right. Robbie Keane’s penalty kick went wide, Landon Donovan had a couple of chances that were saved, and Omar Gonzalez was taken off at halftime with a knee problem. Gonzalez’s injury is apparently a minor one though, and the Galaxy should find their rhythm soon going forward as Rob Friend integrates himself into the starting lineup.
10. (12) NEW YORK RED BULLS (3-2-5)
OUTLOOK– It’s a good sign for a team when they are winning games in difficult conditions. The Red Bulls went down to Dallas and clearly struggled in the heat but were able to have Bradley Wright-Phillips sneak one past Raul Fernandez and Luis Robles came up big again to make a save on a penalty kick. The Red Bulls look like the team from last year and are proving that they are a difficult team to beat, even on the road.
11. (8) D.C. UNITED (3-3-2)
OUTLOOK– D.C. United’s winning streak ended in stoppage time as the Timbers won their first of the season. D.C. showed great character coming back from a goal down on two occasions but couldn’t tighten their own defense late in the match. This may be just a slip as D.C. United looks to be putting everything together to stay in the playoff hunt all season long.
12. (10) TORONTO FC (3-4)
OUTLOOK– It’s fair to say that TFC didn’t expect to lose to the Revolution last Saturday. With Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley in the lineup, TFC definitely didn’t play up to expectations, despite controlling possession for much of the match. It’s a bad sign that the team isn’t winning when their stars who will soon be gone for the World Cup are in the lineup.
13. (13) HOUSTON DYNAMO (3-4-2)
OUTLOOK– The Dynamo broke out of their slump with a massive 4-1 rout of Chivas USA. The game started off on a bad note after giving up a penalty kick in the opening seven minutes but goals from Brad Davis, Will Bruin, and a pair from Giles Barnes turned the match around. The Dynamo are notoriously slow starters but they’ve been oddly inconsistent so far. Maybe this win is a platform to lead them up the standings.
14. (17) PORTLAND TIMBERS (1-3-5)
OUTLOOK– The Timbers finally got the monkey off their back as they won their first game of the season in dramatic fashion. Argentine forwards Gaston Fernandez and Max Urruti scored but it’s the team’s defense that has been the issue all season. This time, the Timbers attack provided enough to win, but it’s not going to continue if other teams stay tight on defense.
15. (14) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (1-3-3)
OUTLOOK– The Earthquakes came out very flat in their 3-2 defeat to the Whitecaps and it while the scoreline makes it seem like they were in the game, they never really looked like they would win. It’s going to be a long season for the Earthquakes, one with plenty of one-goal losses. Not even an on-fire Chris Wondolowski seems to be enough.
16. (15) MONTREAL IMPACT (1-4-3)
OUTLOOK– The Impact had a bye week last weekend.
17. (16) PHILADELPHIA UNION (1-4-5)
OUTLOOK– The Union lost their second game in a row last Saturday and are now winless in eight games. Head coach John Hackworth is definitely on the hot seat right now as he tries to get his team of talented players to put together a full performance. Defensively, Amobi Okugo and Aaron Wheeler in the middle just hasn’t been good enough.
18. (18) CHICAGO FIRE (0-2-6)
OUTLOOK– The Fire looked all set to win their first of the year before RSL mounted a tremendous late comeback. The Fire’s defending was all over the place and they wasted a two-goal performance. Unless Frank Yallop fixes these problems, he might be place on the hot seat soon too.
19. (19) CHIVAS USA (1-5-3)
OUTLOOK– Poor Chivas USA were routed again and finished another match with ten players. In a script we’ve seen written so many times last season, Chivas USA didn’t have the talent to stand up to the Dynamo last Saturday. Bobby Burling and Eric Avila didn’t do themselves any favors as they lacked communication and chemistry in the back line. Tim Melia was sent off but Dan Kennedy comes back next game from his own red card suspension.
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.