Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com
Thus far in 2012, the stars have been anything but aligned for the Los Angeles Galaxy.
After retaining the core of last year's MLS Cup championship squad while also bringing back 2010 MVP finalist Edson Buddle, the Galaxy were the clear No. 1 choice to start the year atop the SBI MLS Power Rankings.
But following Saturday's 3-1 loss to New England, Los Angeles has dropped to ninth in this week's poll. After not losing a game at the Home Depot Center in 2011, the Galaxy have already dropped two home contests this MLS season, as well as a crucial CONCACAF Champions League match against Toronto.
With the Galaxy relegated to middle-of-the-pack status, and last week's No. 1, the Seattle Sounders, coming off a loss, Real Salt Lake has climbed back to the top spot, with undefeated Sporting Kansas City right behind.
Here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 4)
1. (Last week — T-2) REAL SALT LAKE (3-1-0, 9 points)
Last week: Beat Portland 3-2 on Saturday
This week: Vs. Montreal, 9 p.m., Wednesday, vs. Colorado, 9 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: Salt Lake emerged from hostile Jeld-Wen Field with the full three points in an early contender for game of the year, as last-gasp goals from Jonny Steele and Kyle Beckerman completed a stunning comeback win over the Timbers. After facing Montreal midweek, Salt Lake's focus will turn to a Rocky Mountain Cup clash against Colorado on Saturday.
2. (T-2) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-0-0, 12 points)
Last week: Beat Chivas USA 1-0 on Sunday
This week: Vs. Los Angeles, 4 p.m., Saturday, ESPN
Outlook: The only 4-0 team MLS has to offer is Kansas City, which over the weekend grinded out its second 1-0 road win of the young season. With three goals in four games, C.J. Sapong not only seems braced to avoid a sophomore slump — at this rate, he'll blow his Rookie of the Year campaign out of the water.
3. (1) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (2-1-0, 6 points)
Last week: Lost to San Jose 1-0 on Saturday
This week: At D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: Well Seattle's perch atop the Power Rankings didn't last terribly long. Marc Burch's off-the-ball foul gifted San Jose a penalty kick, and Chris Wondolowski converted to give the visitors the game's lone goal. But there is good news for Seattle: Forward Eddie Johnson (hip) could return from injury this weekend when Seattle travels to the nation's capital.
4. (5) HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-1-0, 6 points)
Last week: Idle
This week: Idle
Outlook: In a move made to soften the impact of Houston's two-month stretch of road games to start the season, MLS granted the Dynamo back-to-back bye weeks. But Houston was still in the news plenty last week, with midfielders Adam Moffat and Colin Clark landing suspensions for their actions in a loss to Seattle on March 23.
5. (8) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (3-1-0, 9 points)
Last week: Beat Seattle 1-0 on Saturday
This week: Vs. Vancouver, 7 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: It's safe to say the Earthquakes are no longer flying under the radar. After notching an emphatic 3-0 win in Toronto, San Jose followed up that performance by stealing a 1-0 result at CenturyLink Field against the undefeated Sounders. With a penalty kick conversion, Chris Wondolowski brought his total to four goals in as many games to kick off 2012.
6. (11) NEW YORK RED BULLS (2-2-0, 6 points)
Last week: Beat Montreal 5-2 on Saturday
This week: At Columbus, 3 p.m., Saturday, Galavision
Outlook: For a while Saturday, it looked as if the Red Bulls were returning to their lackluster ways. But Thierry Henry's hat trick more than made up for some early defensive lapses, including a particularly glaring error by Markus Holgersson. The groin injury that took Rafa Marquez out at halftime will be worth keeping an eye on.
T-7. (7) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-0-2, 8 points)
Last week: Tied Philadelphia, 0-0, on Saturday
This week: At San Jose, 7 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: After playing in its second-straight scoreless draw over the weekend, Vancouver remained the only team in MLS to have not allowed a goal this season. That's good news for goalkeeper Joe Cannon and the rock-solid centerback duo of Jay DeMerit and Martin Bonjour. The bad news? The Whitecaps aren't yet getting much production out of their deep and talented forward corps.
T-7. (9) COLORADO RAPIDS (3-1-0, 9 points)
Last week: Beat Chicago 2-0 on Sunday
This week: At Salt Lake, 9 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: Newcomer Martin Rivero was as good as advertised against Chicago, as the 22-year-old Argentine playmaker stepped right into the Colorado midfield and made his presence felt, notching an assist on Omar Cummings' opener. An otherwise stellar week for the Rapids was dampened by the news that captain Pablo Mastroeni (concussion) will be out at least another six weeks.
9. (4) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (1-2-0, 3 points)
Last week: Lost to New England 3-1 on Saturday
This week: At Kansas City, 4 p.m., Saturday, ESPN
Outlook: The Galaxy in 2011 allowed well less than a goal per game, but Los Angeles this season has conceded seven goals in just three matches (plus another five in two Champions League fixtures). And for all the attacking talent the Galaxy boast, take Landon Donovan out of the lineup and it suddenly seems as if Robbie Keane has to do everything by himself — especially when Juninho is in poor form and David Beckham is mysteriously getting yanked at halftime.
10. (15) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (2-2-0, 6 points)
Last week: Beat Los Angeles 3-1 on Saturday
This week: At Dallas, 8:30 p.m., Thursday
Outlook: New England has quickly made people forget the club's slow start, following a nice home win over Portland with a shocking 3-1 triumph over Los Angeles at the Home Depot Center. So how are the Revolution getting results? Well Kelyn Rowe is looking like a strong Rookie of the Year candidate in midfield, and it looks like the team may have finally found its answer at striker in Frenchman Saer Sene.
11. (16) D.C. UNITED (1-2-1, 4 points)
Last week: Beat Dallas 4-1 on Friday
This week: Vs. Seattle, 7:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: After scoring just one goal in their first three games, United broke out for four tallies against Dallas — including three in a 13-minute span in the second half. Bench players to start the year, Maicon Santos, Nick DeLeon and Danny Cruz all found net Friday, which means the likes of Branko Boskovic, Chris Pontius and Andy Najar could struggle for minutes in the coming weeks.
12. (13) COLUMBUS CREW (2-1-0, 6 points)
Last week: Beat Toronto 1-0 on Saturday
This week: Vs. New York, 3 p.m., Saturday, Galavision
Outlook: It's hard to put too much stock in Columbus' back-to-back wins since the triumphs came over lowly Toronto and Montreal. The back line anchored by captain Chad Marshall, though, has looked steady in the two shutouts. And coach Robert Warzycha was no doubt pleased to see Bernardo Anor find net while filling in for the injured Dilly Duka.
13. (6) FC DALLAS (1-2-1, 4 points)
Last week: Lost to D.C. United 4-1 on Friday
This week: Vs. New England, 8:30 p.m., Thursday
Outlook: With David Ferreira still recovering from his ankle injury, George John sidelined by a hamstring ailment, and a physically and emotionally gassed Brek Shea not looking like his usual self, Dallas fell apart against D.C. There was one thing to build off: Forward Blas Perez continued to impress, scoring his second goal for the club.
14. (12) PORTLAND TIMBERS (1-2-1, 4 points)
Last week: Lost to Salt Lake 3-2 on Saturday
This week: Vs. Chivas USA, 10:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: The Timbers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Salt Lake, seeing three points turn into zero in four short minutes. If there is a silver lining to be found from such a gutting defeat, though, it has to be the electrifying two-goal performance from second-year player Darlington Nagbe.
15. (10) CHICAGO FIRE (1-1-1, 4 points)
Last week: Lost to Colorado 2-0 on Sunday
This week: Idle
Outlook: Goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi struggled between the posts in Chicago's first loss of the season, a development that could lead to U.S. Under-23 international Sean Johnson reclaiming the starting job. It'll be a while before we see who coach Frank Klopas goes with next, though, as Chicago is off this week.
16. (14) CHIVAS USA (1-3-0, 3 points)
Last week: Lost to Kansas City 1-0 on Sunday
This week: At Portland, 10:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: Another home game, another 1-0 for Chivas. While goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and a back line led by Heath Pearce are more than carrying their share of the burden, coach Robin Fraser's squad just doesn't have the attacking prowess to get results.
17. (19) PHILADELPHIA UNION (0-3-1, 1 point)
Last week: Tied Vancouver 0-0 on Saturday
This week: Idle
Outlook: It's doubtful Philadelphia was pleased to record a scoreless draw at home against Vancouver, but the Union at least have a point in the standings now. Now, no matter who coach Peter Nowak puts next to Lionard Pajoy up top — whether it's Chandler Hoffman, Jack McInerney, Danny Mwanga or no one at all — the Union need to start scoring goals.
18. (17) TORONTO FC (0-3-0, 0 points)
Last week: Lost to Columbus 1-0 on Saturday
This week: At Montreal, 12 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: Toronto once again last week put in an admirable Champions League performance, only to flounder in MLS play. After tying Santos Laguna 1-1 to open their semifinal series, Toronto will travel to Mexico on Wednesday for the all-important second leg. Whatever the result, the Reds won't be able to dwell on it, as they'll face Canadian rival Montreal three days later for the first time in MLS play.
19. (18) MONTREAL IMPACT (0-3-1, 1 point)
Last week: Lost to New York 5-2 on Saturday
This week: At Salt Lake, 9 p.m., Wednesday; vs. Toronto, 12 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: Goals from Sanna Nyassi and Justin Mapp gave Montreal hope in the first half against New York before the game got away from the Impact in the second half. For coach Jesse Marsch, it might be worth re-evaluating the first-choice centerback pairing of Tyson Wahl and Matteo Ferrari.
Or shouldn’t, more accurately.
Teams don’t drop seven spots in one week.
NYRB hater? sure. But I’m an Henry fan. My point was that his performance alone doesn’t warrant rating the team that high.
And thanks for your very insightful comment.
Splitting hairs is ridiculous. Quit whining all you babies. No one cares which team was 1 and which team was 2 in week 4. The bottom line is they are currently the two best teams in the league. Order is irrelevant, we’ll find out which team is better soon enough.
Good ratings. Thanks. Pretty much agree (including NYRB), and I am Rapids fan.
Fantastic comment, I definitely agree. As an SKC fan I don’t care if we are 1, 2, or 19 in these rankings. Our goal is to go out and get 3 points every time out, if we can do that, the respect will come.
West has been dominate based on the past 5 seasons. Not last season.
I have no problem with the Fire being ranked 15th, but to say that Tornaghi struggled is way too harsh. He had 2 brilliant saves and neither goal (ok maybe the last to put Philly up by 2 in the final seconds) were his fault. While expect Johnson to be between the pipes when the Fire return, to put the loss on Paulo is wrong.
Agreed. I’m no fan of New York. I hate the way they’ve put their squad together, but two good performances moves them up and this seems fine.
The east isn’t very weak. I would still give the western conference the edge, but this narrative of western dominance is based on last season rather than this one. So far we don’t really have enough information from this season to make a clear value judgement.
You guys were a man up 16 minutes into the game against the revs. You really cant use that as an argument as to how good you guys are.
I’m a little foggy on this “potential” logic people are throwing out now. In years past, these rankings were always stressed on current form. Not total points, or potential- just how the team looks right now. LA looks bottom quarter in defense with an above average offense. If you’re going to excuse them with this “potential” formula, then it really doesn’t matter how LA ever plays. They will always be put top 5 if they win or 6-10 if they lose based on their star power.
Here is why RSL is over KC. KC is the best team in the east and will probably take the Supporters Shield this year due the the new schedule. But lets face the facts RSL has out done and out classed thier opponets and the best part is they have done that for the most part with out aguably their 4 best players. Now that they are back and healthy they get even stronger. Not to mention they are one of the deepest if not the deepest team this year. That would be one reason why RSL is over KC. KC is a very good team, but with out their top 4 they be 2-2 at the best. The loss to Chivas USA was a fluke. RSL out possed and out shot Chivas. Chivas just played a great counter attack and got a goal.
From a quasi-Galaxy fan. They’re too high…and NE proved they should be above the Gal’s last week.
relax folks… It is only week 4 and of course people will have different opinions! we should have a good “feel” for the power rankings by week 10… about 1/3 of the way into the season.
Wondo had the best response to “will w in Seattle make people believe in quality of 2012 Quakes?”
“Don’t know, don’t care. They can take us seriously, they can not take us seriously. All I know is that we’re going to go out, battle and try to get three points every week.”
As a Quakes fan, I’ve kind of given up in expecting equal coverage in SBI, MLSSoccer podcast, etc. #5 for us above seems generous (and MLSSoccer moving us from #9 to #3 seems ridiculously generous). I’m on Team Wondo. Move us up, move us down, whatever. We’ll just keep plugging away in our forgotten soccer market, and we’ll see you in the playoffs.
Couldnt agree more. As an RSL fan I was a bit surprised to see them at #1, but I think most people would agree they should be 1-2 along with SKC (in either order). Assuming both teams win their games this week it makes for a great matchup on the 14th
Why so sensitive about mild criticism of the rankings, SBI? I understand exactly what you’re saying but the “spare me” remark seems a bit petulant.
You and and a gazillion other sports publications use these meaningless but fun devices (power rankings) to create discussion, comments and clicks. Surely you’re not surprised that some will interpret their meaning in a way you didn’t intend.
No doubt in my mind KC should be #1 in this week’s rankings. KC has been the only consistent team in this early season. I also recognize RSL is an outstanding team and my guess is, they’ll #1 in a lot of weekly rankings until the season ends but until KC loses, they should be on #1 until proven otherwise. Just my 2 cents.
These rankings are flawed. You’re clearly just an RSL fanboy.
Thank you for recognizing that DC is better than the Crew. Hell, who isn’t?
RSL and SKC are 1 and 2, either way, 2 or 1, or tied at 1 or tied at 2 with no 1. These teams are so close it is splitting hairs.
So, its close.
Both are good teams.
I’d put SKC at #1 and I am an RSL fan.
Hopefully they are still 1 and 2 when they meet in the near future.
Houston has a week off and goes from 5 to 4. I didn’t see that coming.
A win over LA isn’t what it used to be, and I think it would also depend on how RSL performs against their 2 opponents this week.
silly, it’s because we’re in the very weak east (even though half our victories are over Western teams, including the team that gave RSL it’s only loss and a victory over a team that just beat down LA in LA.)
If by potential, you mean potential to give up a lot of goals, we agree. Beckham didn’t get pulled at the half because his crosses weren’t good.
LA gave up 2 goals or more once at home last year. This year too many to keep track of.
Sic has only allowed one goal and has a 4-0-0 record. Someone please explain how they aren’t number one
Look, I love the Red Bulls as much as any supporter, but I don’t agree with this high ranking either. In the first half, they were almost run off the pitch by an expansion team! Where they showed their quality was coming back from that poor showing to having a stellar second half. Last year, it would have ended in a dreaded tie.
Don’t crown them yet. Let’s see how the team does on the road in Columbus first.
It’s because these rankings aren’t just about results. LA still has arguably the most talented and dangerous roster in MLS. They are lost *now* but they carry the threat of suddenly becoming really good (thus a mid-level power ranking.) Montreal, on the other hand, may beat LA if they played today, but they do not have the potential to be consistently good this year, unlike LA. So basically, if I’m an MLS coach, I’d rather play Montreal or Philadelphia b/c even though LA sucks right now, there is still a chance that the next game is the game LA becomes great again. With Montreal I’d know what I was getting. If LA continues to suck they’ll continue to drop in the rankings, but right now their potential still counts for something.
(SBI-Very good way to put it. If you asked most MLS coaches, more would rather play KC than RSL right now, and that is a reason why RSL is the top team right now.)
A win over LA should boost KC to #1 next week…..shouldn’t it? Probably only if Landycakes plays…..
LA should be at the bottom lol, weird how they are still in the top 10
A 4-1 win last week and now a 5-2 win has to say something.
*sigh* I guess we’ll have to wait 2 more weeks to see SKC in #1 where we belong.
2 stellar games… hope of the NYRB hater train
I think a large problem with most of these power rankings is the “potential” winners always have high placement. Right now, Sporting Kansas City is the most dangerous team undoubtedly. Look at RSL, a loss at home and a come behind win. SKC was in control both games. Meanwhile, LA looks lost and they are still in the top half. These rankings are always trying to say what the end result of the season will look like instead of true POWER rankings.
They are fun to look at and discuss but have issues.
(SBI-So because you don’t agree, the rankings “have issues”? Fact is while KC has gone unbeaten, the SBI staff agrees that RSL is still the stronger team and has posted some very impressive results. The rankings aren’t about “predicting the future” but results as well as form and a team’s ability. LA is struggling but the consensus opinion is they are better than their record would suggest. Want to disagree? Feel free, but spare us the “these rankings are flawed” comments. If you want rankings based purely on records then feel free to look at the MLS standings.)
Don’t get the high placement of NYRB. One stellar game by Henry shouldn’t paper over the weakness of the defense which has shown some disturbing cracks. That said, Marquez’s absence could be addition by subtraction.