SBI MLS Power Rankings: Week 23

SBI MLS Power Rankings: Week 23

Major League Soccer

SBI MLS Power Rankings: Week 23

By

Angelnamoff_isiphotoscom

                                                                               Photo by ISIphotos.com

As we head into September the shift in MLS has gone from building teams to preparing for the stretch drive and securing playoff positions. The New York Red Bulls and D.C. United are embroiled in their own battle in the East standings, tied for fourth place with aspirations of moving up the ladder in the season’s final months.

Saturday’s scoreless tie was a hard-fought affair and it showed flashes of what makes both teams dangerous, but also what flaws each team is still trying to deal with. If we learned anything on Saturday it is that both teams have the heart and talent to make the playoffs and given the way Toronto FC and Kansas City are fading, the Red Bulls and D.C. both look like safe bets to reach the post-season.

One team looking more and more like a playoff squad is the San Jose Earthquakes, which pulled within two points of a playoff spot and finally climbed out of the Western Conference basement with its 2-1 win vs. Kansas City on Saturday. The revamped Earthquakes will put their unbeaten run on the line against a D.C. team that might come in fatigued after playing in tonight’s U.S. Open Cup final and flying to California.

The Earthquakes were the biggest movers in this week’s SBI MLS Power Rankings, climbing all the way to eighth. If we’re talking current form, San Jose is probably among the top three teams in MLS.

Here is how the rest of the MLS shakes out in the rankings:

SBI MLS Power Rankings

1. Columbus Crew (12-6-4)

2008_016_2

Last Week: beat FC Dallas, 2-1 on Saturday.

This Week:  vs. New England on Saturday.

Last Five MLS Games: 4-1

Outlook: Crew is on a roll and face off against New England for first place. Columbus hasn’t lost at home in three months and has a chance to put a hammer-lock on first place with a win.

2. New England Revolution (11-6-5)

2008_022

Last Week: tied Los Angeles Galaxy, 2-2, on Saturday.

This Week: at Columbus on Saturday.

Last Five MLS Games: 1-2-2

Outlook: Injuries are taking their toll on a team that looked so good all summer. Game in Columbus will tell us a lot about just how bad a shape the Revs are in.

3. Houston Dynamo (9-5-8)

2008_019_2 

Last Week: beat Chicago Fire, 2-1, on Sunday.

This Week: vs. Kansas City on Sunday.

Last Five MLS Games: 4-1

Outlook: Winners of five of six, Dynamo looking like a championship squad again. The real question is what starting XI Dom Kinnear will settle on as the season winds down.

4. Chicago Fire (10-7-5)

2008_013_2

Last Week: Lost to Houston Dynamo, 2-1, on Sunday.

This Week: vs. New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

Last Five MLS Games: 3-2

Outlook: Brian McBride scored his first goal but still lost to the Dynamo. Now Fire must face streaking Red Bulls without Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Gonzalo Segares, two of the key figures in the Fire’s 5-1 thrashing of the Red Bulls earlier in the season. It should also be noted that Chicago is one of just two MLS teams that doesn’t have more wins than losses at home (LA Galaxy is the other).

5. New York Red Bulls (8-6-8)

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Last Week: tied D.C. United, 0-0, on Saturday.

This Week: at Chicago Fire on Saturday.

Last Five MLS Games: 3-0-2

Outlook: Showed heart and toughness in registering the first shutout at RFK Stadium in team history. Now comes a grudge match against the same Fire team that embarrassed the Red Bulls at Giants Stadium in May. Red Bulls have been awful on the road this year, but Chicago has been vulnerable at home.

6. D.C. United (10-10-2)

2008_017

Last Week: Tied New York Red Bulls, 0-0, on Saturday

This Week: vs. Charleston Battery on Wednesday (U.S. Open Cup Final), at San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.

Last Five MLS Games: 2-2-1

Outlook: Jaime Moreno misses a penalty kick, but seeing Marcelo Gallardo back in action was the best thing about Saturday’s tie vs. D.C. United.

7. Real Salt Lake (8-8-6)

2008_024

Last Week: Beat Colorado Rapids, 2-0, on Friday.

This Week: at Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday.

Last Five MLS Games: 2-2-1

Outlook: Looked good in beating Rapids, but can RSL finally show some competence on the road? LA is one of the worst home teams in MLS so this will be as good a chance as any for Jason Kreis’ team to win away from Utah.

8. San Jose Earthquakes (6-9-7)

2008_025_2

Last Week: Beat Kansas City Wizards, 2-1, on Saturday.

This Week: vs. D.C. United

Last Five MLS Games: 3-0-2

Outlook: The miracle comeback continues as San Jose pulls within two points of a playoff spot. The toughest part of the Earthquakes’ remaining schedule is up next with a date vs. D.C. and two games against Houston. If San Jose can do well in those three games, the stretch run is easy enough for Frank Yallop’s squad to complete its shocking climb into the playoffs.

9. FC Dallas (6-8-8)

2008_018

Last Week: Lost to Columbus Crew, 2-1, on Saturday.

This Week: vs. Colorado Rapids on Thursday.

Last Five MLS Games: 2-2-1

Outlook: Hoops have to feel disappointed about not having taken at least a point from Columbus. They’ll have a chance to regroup against a terrible Colorado squad.

10. Chivas USA (7-9-6)

2008_014

Last Week: Beat Toronto FC, 2-1, on Saturday.

This Week: at Toronto FC on Sunday.

Last Five MLS Games: 1-2-2

Outlook: Looked good in beating Toronto FC and should have an easier time as they take on the Canadians again, but with TFC missing almost half of its senior roster due to international call-ups.

11. Kansas City Wizards (6-8-8)

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Last Week: Lost to San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1, on Saturday.

This Week: at Houston Dynamo on Saturday.

Last Five MLS Games: 1-3-1

Outlook: If there is a more invisible team in the league right now than KC I don’t know who it is. With an offense that just doesn’t have much punch, the Wizards don’t look likely to climb back into the playoff race. The Houston game on Saturday could be the beginning of the end.

12. Los Angeles Galaxy (6-9-7)

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Last Week: Tied New England Revolution, 2-2, on Saturday.

This Week: vs. Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

Last Five MLS Games: 0-3-2

Outlook: Showed some life in tie vs. short-handed Revolution but now the Galaxy have to find a way to win without Landon Donovan and David Beckham. Good luck with that. On the bright side, RSL is the opponent this week, a team that has been dreadful on the road.

13. Toronto FC (7-10-5)

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Last Week: Lost to Chivas USA, 2-1, on Saturday.

This Week: vs. Chivas USA on Saturday.

Last Five MLS Games: 1-3-1

Outlook: Greg Sutton kept Toronto in the Chivas USA game, but then gave it away with a late blunder. Rebounding from that would be tough enough, but rebounding from that with most of your key players absent due to national team duty makes things downright dreary. Will John Carver stick around the rest of the year, or will he pack his bags early for a return to England?

14. Colorado Rapids (7-12-3)

2008_015_3

Last Week: Lost to Real Salt Lake, 2-0, on Friday.

This Week: at FC Dallas on Thursday.

Last Five MLS Games: 1-4

Outlook: Fernando Clavijo knew what he was doing when he got off this sinking ship. There isn’t much reason for optimism and if Rapids ownership were smart (and that’s highly questionable) they might want to start the fire sale now and start looking toward 2009.

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What do you think of this week’s rankings? Share your thoughts below.

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