Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com
A few weeks into the season, two of the league's expected powerhouses are playing at an extremely high level.
After falling off the pace slightly, the Los Angeles Galaxy and New York Red Bulls each put forth overwhelming results while posting clean sheets to reclaim their hold on the Nos. 2 and 3 spots, respectively, in the SBI MLS Power Rankings behind undefeated Real Salt Lake.
There's a newcomer in the Top 5, as the Seattle Sounders, coming off a bittersweet victory at Colorado, continue to find a way to get results. As for those on the downward slope, look no further than the San Jose Earthquakes, Sporting Kansas City and Vancouver Whitecaps.
Here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 6)
1. (Last week – 1) REAL SALT LAKE (4-0-0)
Last week: Idle in league play (Tied Monterrey, 2-2 in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final).
This week: Second leg, CONCACAF Champions League final, 10 p.m., Wednesday, Fox Soccer Channel; at Portland, 10:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: If there were ever a time for RSL to be tripped up in league play, it'd be this weekend at Portland. Consider that win, lose or draw on Wednesday, the squad should have a natural emotional hangover (either good or bad) heading into the weekend. That said, RSL's reserves, who could see the bulk of the playing time on Saturday and have proven to be no pushover, which should make for an entertaining bout at the House of Pane.
2. (2) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (4-1-3)
Last week: Beat Portland, 3-0, on Saturday.
This week: at FC Dallas, 7 p.m., Sunday, Galavision.
Outlook: With Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Juninho back in the fold, the Galaxy blitzed the in-form Timbers from the onset. Donovan snapped his goalless drought, Donovan Ricketts came up huge in goal and Chad Barrett came through with a tremendous goal. Things are looking good for the Galaxy.
3. (T-4) NEW YORK RED BULLS (3-1-2)
Last week: Beat D.C. United, 4-0, on Thursday.
This week: vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Look out, MLS: The Red Bulls are hitting their stride. With seven goals in their last two matches, New York's high-octane attack is hitting on all cylinders and happens to face the league's worst defensive unit at home next. Thierry Henry's scoring woes are a thing of the past, and newcomers Teemu Tainio and Jan Gunnar Solli continue to impress.
4. (T-4) PHILADELPHIA UNION (3-1-1)
Last week: Idle.
This week: vs. San Jose, 4 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Two weeks removed from letting a win turn into a draw against Seattle, the Union is well-rested and ready to roll against a San Jose team that is on the ropes. Philadelphia idly watched as the Red Bulls overtook first place in the Eastern Conference, but the Union has a game in hand and bragging rights until their next meeting.
5. (7) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (2-2-3)
Last week: Beat Colorado, 1-0, on Friday.
This week: vs. Toronto FC, 10 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The win at Colorado was nice, but what a hollow feeling it must have been, with the points being secured in the aftermath of Brian Mullan's tackle on Steve Zakuani that broke the star winger's leg. Fortunately for Seattle, Mauro Rosales has been a stud since joining the team, Fredy Montero broke his goal drought and there are pieces in the midfield that can perform in Zakuani's absence.
6. (3) COLORADO RAPIDS (3-3-0)
Last week: Lost to Seattle, 1-0, on Friday.
This week: vs. Chicago, 9 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: With three losses in a row, things are not going the champions' way. What makes the loss to Seattle even worse is that it came at home against a gutted side that had its star suffer a horrific injury, and Pablo Mastroeni made his return to the lineup and that couldn't halt the team's losing ways. A home win against the Fire is a must.
7. (6) HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-1-3)
Last week: Tied Chicago, 1-1, on Saturday.
This week: vs. D.C. United, 8:30 p.m., Friday, Fox Soccer Channel.
Outlook: Credit the Dynamo for coming up with yet another draw on the road, but the goal yielded to Chicago's Diego Chaves was definitely avoidable. With new pieces Sergio Koke and JeVaughn Watson being added to the mix, expect Houston — unbeaten in its last five matches — to give D.C. all it can handle Friday night.
8. (9) COLUMBUS CREW (2-1-3)
Last week: Tied Toronto FC, 1-1, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Vancouver, 7:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The Crew's shutout streak ended at 413 minutes, but Emilio Renteria's header rescued a point for the club at BMO Field, keeping the team's unbeaten run in the Trillium Cup alive and well. The team is also unbeaten in its last five matches and catches the Whitecaps without striker Eric Hassli, who is suspended because of card accumulation.
9. (13) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (2-2-3)
Last week: Beat Sporting Kansas City, 3-2, on Saturday.
This week: at Chivas USA, 10:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Benny Feilhaber's introduction to the team was an all-around success, as he set up the opening goal and was an influence throughout the chippy match with SKC. Now he'll get a crack at the first team that passed on his rights as the new-look Revs look to build on their momentum at the Home Depot Center.
10. (12) FC DALLAS (2-3-1)
Last week: Beat Vancouver, 2-1, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Los Angeles, 7 p.m., Sunday, Galavision.
Outlook: FC Dallas immediate response to losing league MVP David Ferreria (fractured ankle) was strong one. The club scored an equalizer on the ensuing corner kick after he was taken off the field, and substitute Eric Avila scored an impressive winner to cap off the come-from-behind victory. With its leader out for an extened period of time, FCD needs Avila to maintain a high level of play while everybody else picks up the slack in Ferreria's absence.
11. (8) D.C. UNITED (2-3-1)
Last week: Lost to New York, 4-0, on Thursday.
This week: at Houston, 8:30 p.m., Friday, Fox Soccer Channel.
Outlook: After an embarrassing loss at home to the rival Red Bulls, United needs to find a way to turn the page. The mid-week U.S. Open Cup qualifier against New England will be a good buffer before another nationally televised match, this one coming against the surging Dynamo at Robertson Field. The good news for D.C. is that Designated Player Branko Boskovic looked sharp in his cameo off the bench — the team could use his service and set-piece potency.
12. (11) PORTLAND TIMBERS (2-3-1)
Last week: Lost to Los Angeles, 3-0, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Life away from JELD-WEN Field was not too kind to the Timbers, who never got going against the Galaxy. They'll return to the friendly confines of its home park only to face RSL. Finding a way to beat Salt Lake is a daunting task, but perhaps a doable one considering RSL will be coming off the final leg of its CCL championship matchup. Look for DP Diego Chara to get more involved after playing the final 45 minutes against the Galaxy.
13. (10) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (1-3-2)
Last week: Lost to Chivas USA, 2-1, on Saturday.
This week: at Philadelphia, 4 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: It's a little early for panic time, but the Earthquakes are not playing anywhere close to their potential. A home loss to previously winless Chivas is a terrible result, especially when the Quakes held a 1-0 lead. Two points from four home matches won't get the job done, and going into PPL Park and getting a pick-me-up result won't be an easy feat.
14. (16) CHICAGO FIRE (1-3-2)
Last week: Tied Houston, 1-1, on Saturday.
This week: at Colorado, 9 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The Fire let points slip away at home by yielding a goal to Bobby Boswell. On the plus side, Diego Chaves continues to look like a bright signing, after he scored his fourth goal of the season. Will we see Sean Johnson return to goal at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, or is he still in Carlos de los Cobos' doghouse?
15. (18) CHIVAS USA (1-2-3)
Last week: Beat San Jose, 2-1, on Saturday.
This week: vs. New England, 10:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Kudos to the Goats for getting on the board in the W column. Justin Braun up top was influential in the comeback, and more is needed from him as a true forward — and not a winger — as the season progresses. New England's Feilhaber-led attack will be a challenge for Heath Pearce and the rest of Chivas' stout defense.
16. (15) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (1-3-1)
Last week: Lost to New England, 3-2, on Saturday.
This week: at New York, 7:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Another game, another three goals yielded by the SKC defense. The road warriors' defense is setting a troubling early trend, and they'll be hard-pressed to break that at Red Bull Arena against Henry & Co. The forwards keep producing, and the addition of Ryan Smith to the lineup should help the team keep pace in their high-scoring matches.
17. (14) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (1-3-3)
Last week: Lost to FC Dallas, 2-1, on Saturday.
This week: at Columbus, 7:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Tough result for the Whitecaps, who led and saw Ferreira exit with his injury only to blow the lead at home. The attack could suffer going into Columbus without Hassli, although Davide Chiumiento continues be a consistent playmaking threat.
18. (17) TORONTO FC (1-2-4)
Last week: Tied Columbus, 1-1, on Saturday
This week: at Seattle, 10 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Just when things started to look up for TFC, Tony Tchani gets sent off for celebrating a go-ahead goal. Now the Reds have to go into Qwest Field and try to get a result with while hoping that O'Brian White doesn't do any damage aside the in-form Montero and Rosales.