A week after a plethora of goals were scored throughout MLS, defenses tightened up in a week that saw the most shutouts of the season.
A total of seven teams were shutout in this past weekend's matches, with some defenses putting in surprisingly strong performances. Toronto FC was chief among them, keeping Los Angeles off the scoreboard with the help of a standout performance from Stefan Frei. San Jose posted another shutout, but the Earthquakes couldn't score either.
One team that did find the net multiple times in MLS Week 8 was Real Salt Lake, which continued its rise up the SBI MLS Power Rankings with its latest victory. As well as well as RSL is playing right now, you could argue that Real Salt Lake is now the strongest team in MLS now that the LA Galaxy lost Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle to national team camp.
Now, without further delay, here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings:
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (Week 8)
1 (Last Week- 1). LOS ANGELES GALAXY (7-0-2)
Last Week- Tied Toronto FC, 0-0, last Saturday.
Next Week– at FC Dallas on Thursday.
Outlook: Created countless chances but couldn't beat Toronto's Stefan Frei. Offense will struggle without Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan, but the Galaxy can lean on its stingy defense. Look for rookie Michael Stephens to play a bigger role.
Last Week- Beat Chivas USA, 1-0, last Saturday.
Next Week– at New York Red Bulls on Thursday; Kansas City Wizards on Sunday.
Outlook: Crew held on for another close victory as offense still can't quite hit a consistent stride. Depth will be tested as they face two-game week without Robbie Rogers, Chad Marshall and possibly Wil Hesmer (and without Guillermo Barros Schelotto for NYRB match).
3 (6). REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1)
Next Week– at Chivas USA on Saturday.
Outlook: Alvaro Saborio has been sharp all season but his two-goal effort could be his coming-out party. RSL won't miss Robbie Findley too much thanks to a deep stable of forwards. That said, RSL needs to show it can win on the road.
4 (3). SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-2-1)
Last Week- Beat New York Red Bulls, 4-0, on Saturday.
Next Week– at New England Revolution on Saturday.
Outlook: The defense posted another shutout, and the offense created chances, but the Earthquakes couldn't solve Preston Burpo. Will Frank Yallop start Ike Opara after two straight shutouts without him? Either way, the Earthquakes face a tough trip to Seattle.
5 (7). COLORADO RAPIDS (4-3-1)
Last Week- Beat D.C. United, 1-0, last Saturday.
Next Week– Bye Week (vs. Seattle Sounders on May 29th).
Outlook: The Rapids will take their road win vs. DC, but the strikers go goal-less again. The promising note was Mehdi Ballouchy's strong performance as he solidifies his starting role.
6 (4). NEW YORK RED BULLS (5-3)
Last Week– Lost to Seattle Sounders, 1-0, last Saturday.
Next Week– vs. Columbus Crew on Thursday.
Outlook: How much is New York's offense struggling? The Red Bulls have the second most points in the league but the third fewest goals. Thierry Henry isn't coming for a while so the key will be getting Juan Pablo Angel more involved. Columbus' defense is tough, but the Crew will be seriously short-handed for their Thursday showdown.
7 (5). HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-1)
Last Week- Lost to Real Salt Lake, 3-1, last Thursday.
Next Week– vs. D.C. United on Saturday.
Outlook: Adrian Serioux endured a nightmare night against RSL, leaving us to wonder if he's really a viable option in the back. Brad Davies continues to carry the attack, but it's becoming clear the Dynamo need to hit the transfer market hard this summer if the Dynamo will be able to go beyond simply qualifying for the playoffs.
8 (9). TORONTO FC (3-4-1)
Last Week- Tied Los Angeles Galaxy, 0-0, last Saturday.
Next Week– vs. New England Revolution on Saturday.
Outlook: Preki's defense held firm against the potent LA Galaxy attack, though it was with the help of a standout effort from Stefan Frei. While the defense is playing very well, the attack continues to be inconsistent, with Chad Barrett once again struggling with finishing chances.
9 (13). SEATTLE SOUNDERS (3-3-3)
Next Week- vs. San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
Outlook: As crucial as Fredy Montero's great game-winning goal was, the real story for the Sounders last Saturday was how the defense held up despite the absence of injured midfielder Osvaldo Alonso. Patrick Ianni did very well in his place, while Sanna Nyassi performed well in place of Montero in the lineup. We will see if the attack can create chances at home against a stingy San Jose defense.
10 (8). CHIVAS USA (3-5-1)
Last Week- Lost to Columbus Crew, 1-0, last Saturday.
Next Week- vs. Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Outlook: As if having to face a tough RSL squad after losing to Columbus, the Rojiblancos must cope with the absence of offensive catalyst Sacha Kljestan, who's improved form led to his national team call-up. Who will pick up the offensive slack? Jesus Padilla needs to stop being so inconsistent and must step up.
11 (10). KANSAS CITY WIZARDS (2-3-2)
Next Week- vs. Columbus Crew on Sunday.
Outlook: Kei Kamara has shaken off the miss of the century (in MLS anyway) to prove himself to be the Wizards go-to goal scorer. Perhaps just as promising for KC was the performance by Ryan Smith, who had been in a bit of a funk lately. The Wizards defense remains a question mark, with a tough challenge coming on Sunday from Columbus.
12 (12). CHICAGO FIRE (2-3-3)
Last Week– Tied Kansas City Wizards, 2-2, last Saturday.
Next Week– Bye Week (vs. FC Dallas on May 27th)
Outlook: Patrick Nyarko continues to enjoy a great season, but the FIre continue to be one of the most inconsistent and underachieving teams in the league. Carlos De Los Cobos will have a chance to try out some new faces in the team's upcoming exhibition matches, while also looking for the right midfield combination from his variety of options.
13 (11). FC DALLAS (2-1-5)
Last Week- Tied Philadelphia Union, 1-1, last Saturday.
Next Week- vs. Los Angeles Galaxy on Thursday.
Outlook: FC Dallas can play well in stretches, but putting together complete performances on the road continues to be an issue. Schellas Hyndman will face deserved criticism for having his team go into a defensive shell late against Philadelphia.
14 (14). NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (2-5-2)
Last Week– Tied San Jose Earthquakes, 0-0, last Saturday.
Next Week- at Toronto FC on Saturday.
Outlook: When all else fails, Stevie Nicol's team's can defend well. Preston Burpo enjoyed another strong performance, but the offense can't get going. A match-up against a revitalized Toronto FC awaits, and getting a point against the conference rival is vital.
15 (15). PHILADELPHIA UNION (1-5-1)
Last Week– Tied FC Dallas, 1-1, last Saturday.
Next Week– Bye week (at Houston Dynamo on May 29
Outlook: A home draw is usually disappointing but having rookie Danny Mwanga score such a vital goal could have meaning well beyond that match. Peter Nowak is working to develop his younger players, but the question remains whether the Union will spend this summer to bring in some marquee players.
16 (16). D.C. UNITED (1-7)
Last Week- Lost to Colorado Rapids, 1-0, last Saturday.
Next Week– at Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
Outlook: The defense is playing better but the offense is cold again, and there doesn't look to be help on the way until July (though getting some players back from injury should provide a boost eventually). Bill Hamid continues to impress, but there is little else to feel good about heading into a tough match in Houston.
What do you think of this week's rankings? Who do you feel is ranked too highly? Who isn't ranked high enough?
Share your thoughts below.