Photo by David Bernal/ISIphotos.com
For the first time all season, there's a change at the top of the SBI MLS Power Rankings.
The Los Angeles Galaxy has snatched the top spot from Western Conference rival Real Salt Lake after a convincing win on Saturday night made L.A. the first to reach 20 points this season.
Another riser from the Western Conference is FC Dallas, which won twice this past week to climb all the way to No. 4.
The Galaxy's victim this weekend, Sporting Kansas City, finds itself in the cellar, while the Galaxy's rival and next opponent, Chivas USA, made its way into the top 10 after an impressive road victory over the New York Red Bulls.
Here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 9)
1. (Last week – 3) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (5-2-5, 20 points)
Last week: Tied Philadelphia, 1-1, on Wednesday; Beat Sporting Kansas City, 4-1, on Saturday.
This week: at Chivas USA, 10 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes.
Outlook: The team's three Designated Players all got on the board against SKC, and Bruce Arena's decision to sit David Beckham for its midweek game at Philadephia looked to pay off. With L.A. and Chivas both coming off nice victories, this weekend's Superclasico is all the more intriguing.
2. (1) REAL SALT LAKE (5-1-1, 16 points)
Last week: Tied Houston, 0-0, on Saturday.
This week: at FC Dallas, 7 p.m., Sunday.
Outlook: It's tough to drop Salt Lake when it didn't lose, but the team's overall form has been under par (by its own high standard) since its CONCACAF Champions League bid ended and while the team copes without Javier Morales. There would be no better way for RSL to get back on track than by defeating the team that knocked it out of the playoffs a season ago.
3. (2) NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-2-3, 15 points)
Last week: Lost to Chivas USA, 3-2, on Saturday.
This week: at Houston, 8:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Blame it on the midweek friendly against the Montreal Impact, blame it on the set pieces. Either way, the Red Bulls' loss at home to Chivas was pretty unexpected, especially the manner in which it happened. On the plus side, Dwayne De Rosario opened his account with the team and Thierry Henry scored yet again.
4. (9) FC DALLAS (5-3-2, 17 points)
Last week: Beat Toronto FC, 1-0, on Wednesday; Beat Philadelphia, 2-0, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m., Sunday.
Outlook: Kevin Hartman is in the zone. In the midst of another one of his trademark shutout streaks, the FC Dallas goalkeeper is at the heart of the team's latest run of form. Fabian Castillo and Brek Shea, he of the recent contract extension, are stepping up in David Ferreira's absence as well, as the Red Stripes seem to have found their way.
5. (5) PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-3-2, 14 points)
Last week: Tied Seattle, 1-1, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Columbus, 11 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: The Timbers showed nice resolve in coming back to take a point at the home of their hated rivals. The team's execution on set pieces continues to be paramount to its success, and centerback Futty Danso is looking like one of the nicer finds of the season so far. Next up: a game at JELD-WEN Field, where the Timbers are 4-0.
6. (7) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (3-3-5, 14 points)
Last week: Tied Portland, 1-1, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Sporting Kansas City, 10 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The Sounders have to be kicking themselves for letting the Timbers come back and force a draw on a goal that Kasey Keller probably should have prevented. The injuries keep piling up, but facing the league's leakiest defense at Qwest Field is next on the docket.
7. (6) COLORADO RAPIDS (4-3-3, 15 points)
Last week: Tied D.C., 1-1, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Toronto FC, 7 p.m., Sunday.
Outlook: Another team plagued by injuries, the Rapids are hanging tough. They were a bit unfortunate to have left D.C. with just a draw after an extremely questionable penalty call yielded United the equalizer, but five points off a three-game road swing is a pretty decent haul.
8. (4) PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-3-2, 14 points)
Last week: Tied Los Angeles, 1-1, on Wednesday; Lost to FC Dallas, 2-0, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Chicago, 8 p.m., Saturday, Galavision.
Outlook: The Union gets a bit of an unfair shake, tumbling four spots after conceding more than one goal in a match for the first time all season. Philadelphia hasn't scored more than one goal in a match all season either, and it hasn't won in three matches. The Union returns to the friendly confines of PPL Park, though, where it hasn't lost all season and faces a Fire team ripe for the picking.
T-9. (10) HOUSTON DYNAMO (3-3-4, 13 points)
Last week: Tied Real Salt Lake, 0-0, on Saturday.
This week: vs. New York, 8:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: After securing a point at RSL's fortress, the Dynamo turns its attention to its second meeting with the Red Bulls in seven weeks. The Corey Ashe-at-left-back experiment started against New York, and Ashe will again be a key part of Houston's gameplan against the Red Bulls, who love to attack that side of the field with Jan Gunnar Solli and Dane Richards.
T-9. (12) CHIVAS USA (3-3-3, 12 points)
Last week: Beat New York, 3-2, on Sunday.
This week: vs. Los Angeles, 10 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes
Outlook: The win of the week goes to the Goats. Justin Braun's hat trick led the way as Chivas turned plenty of heads with its result at Red Bull Arena. Braun, a breakout striker in 2010, hardly got the chance to build off that campaign until Sunday night, but he's more than proven that he should be a starter for the foreseeable future. Saturday's Superclasico couldn't come at a better time.
11. (8) COLUMBUS CREW (3-2-4, 13 points)
Last week: Lost to San Jose, 3-0, on Saturday.
This week: at Portland, 11 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The Crew had scraped by with some less-than-aesthetic results thanks to its stingy defense prior to Saturday, but that gameplan went out the window in the middle portion of its game against the Quakes. Making matters worse, former Crew striker Steven Lenhart, who was traded during the MLS SuperDraft, was involved in the scoring for San Jose. Chad Marshall & Co. will need to be at their best in order to salvage a result at Portland.
12. (13) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (3-3-4, 13 points)
Last week: Beat Vancouver, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: at San Jose, 10:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Benny and the Revs secured an important victory to get back in the W column, and Feilhaber was a key figure in earning that result. The Revs have proven they can succeed at home against inferior competition, but can they improve on their 0-2-2 road record? We'll find out Saturday night.
13. (11) D.C. UNITED (3-4-3, 12 points)
Last week: Tied Colorado, 1-1, on Saturday.
This week: Idle (friendly vs. Ajax, 5 p.m., Sunday).
Outlook: D.C. was the beneficiary of another generous penalty call that allowed the team to rescue a point, but the club's attack was dealt a bit of a blow when Josh Wolff and Charlie Davies both went down with injuries against the Rapids. The silver lining is that there's two weeks off between league games for those on the mend to heal.
14. (17) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (2-4-3, 9 points)
Last week: Tied Vancouver, 1-1, on Wednesday; Beat Columbus, 3-0, on Saturday.
This week: vs. New England, 10:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The Earthquakes deserve some credit for bouncing back after letting points slip away in their first game of the week only to turn around and take it to a Columbus team that hadn't been conceding a whole lot of goals. We'll see if San Jose has really turned the corner from its abysmal start when it hosts New England this weekend.
15. (15) TORONTO FC (2-4-5, 11 points)
Last week: Lost to FC Dallas, 1-0, on Wednesday; Tied Chicago, 2-2, on Saturday.
This week: at Vancouver (Canadian championship), 10 p.m., Wednesday; at Colorado, 7 p.m., Sunday.
Outlook: A touch of misfortune cost the Reds some points on Wednesday and a failure to hold a two-goal lead at home cost some more over the weekend. It won't get any easier, as TFC ventures into the house of the defending league champions after a midweek Canadian championship game that's sure to be an intense battle.
16. (14) CHICAGO FIRE (1-3-5, 8 points)
Last week: Tied Toronto FC, 2-2, on Saturday.
This week: at Philadelphia, 8 p.m., Saturday, Galavision.
Outlook: The Fire remains a bit of an enigma. Chicago hasn't won in seven matches, but it's also tied its last four, including its come-from-behind effort at BMO Field. Is this stretch a sign of mediocrity, or a sign of a team that refuses to wilt when facing a deficit? Regardless, Chicago is losing ground in the Eastern Conference by the week and needs to start turning these draws into wins before the pressure really gets cranked up.
17. (18) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (1-5-5, 8 points)
Last week: Tied San Jose, 1-1 on Wednesday; Lost to New England, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: Idle (hosts first leg of Canadian championship vs. TFC, 10 p.m., Wednesday).
Outlook: The Whitecaps needed more late-game heroics from Davide Chiumiento to snatch a draw at home against San Jose before trotting out a less-than-full-strength lineup against the Revolution and succumbing on the road. Captain Jay DeMerit is back from injury, though, and the Caps turn their attention to the Canadian championship, where they'll look to create a turning point in their season.
18. (16) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (1-5-1, 4 points)
Last week: Lost to Los Angeles, 4-1, on Saturday.
This week: at Seattle, 10 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Three games remain on the Sporting KC road tour, and they can't come and go any faster. SKC is in desperate need of some home cooking, which it won't get until Livestrong Sporting Park's grand opening on June 9. With a league-low four points, SKC needs to follow in Portland's footsteps and at least gather a draw out of its match at Seattle.