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SBI MLS Power Rankings: Week 6

Nielsen (Getty)


It may be seven months before the MLS Cup is awarded, but at this point in 2012, there is little doubt Sporting Kansas City is the top team the league has to offer.

Entering the weekend as the league's only unbeaten club, Kansas City separated itself from the pack in the SBI MLS Power Rankings with a 1-0 win over the previous No. 1 squad, Real Salt Lake, moving to 6-0-0.

The positioning otherwise held firm, more or less. The most significant moves were made by D.C. United and FC Dallas, who used late wins to slide into the No. 7 and 8 slots, respectively.

Here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings (as voted on by SBI staff):

SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 6)

1. (Last week – 2) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (6-0-0, 18 points)

SportingKClogo

Last week: Beat Salt Lake 1-0 on Saturday

This week: At Vancouver, 10 p.m., Wednesday; At Portland, 10:30 p.m., Saturday

Outlook: Kansas City has been held to a single goal in four of its six wins. But a stout back line anchored by goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen has emerged as the league's best, allowing just one tally thus far. So what happens when the offense really gets going?

2. (1) REAL SALT LAKE (5-2-0, 15 points)

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Last week: Lost to Kansas City 1-0 on Saturday

This week: At San Jose, 10:30 p.m., Saturday

Outlook: Playing without Javier Morales or Ned Grabavoy, Salt Lake went to Livestrong Sporting Park and very well could have earned a result, were it not for one set-piece lapse. Matters hardly get easier this weekend, though, with a trip to San Jose.

3. (3) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-1-1, 13 points)

SJ_Primary_COL

Last week: Tied New York 2-2 on Saturday

This week: Vs. Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m., Saturday

Outlook: Coming back from a goal down twice on the road is no easy task, but San Jose managed to do so and grab a point at New York. As long as Chris Wondolowski keeps producing, the Earthquakes will remain a surprise team to beat in the Western Conference.

4. (4) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (3-1-1, 10 points)

SEA_Primary_COL

Last week: Beat Colorado 1-0 on Saturday

This week: Idle.

Outlook: The Sounders returned to their winning ways against Colorado, riding right back Zach Scott's first career strike to victory. To record a win with midfield maestros Alvaro Fernandez and Mauro Rosales both out of the lineup was no small feat.

5. (T-5) HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-1-1, 7 points)

HOU_Primary_COL

Last week: Tied Chicago 1-1 on Sunday

This week: At Columbus, 7:30 p.m., Saturday

Outlook: Even with three-fourths of its starting midfield missing, Houston still managed to get a point on the road against Chicago in Sunday's lightning-shortened affair. Even better news? The opening of BBVA Compass Stadium is less than a month away.

6. (T-5) NEW YORK RED BULLS (3-2-1, 10 points)

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Last week: Tied San Jose 2-2 on Saturday

This week: At D.C. United, 6 p.m., Sunday, ESPN2

Outlook: Kenny Cooper's seventh goal drew him even with strike partner Thierry Henry atop the league's scoring chart. But depth up the middle is a problem for New York, with Wilman Conde and Teemu Tainio dealing with injuries and Rafa Marquez likely facing another lengthy suspension.

7. (9) D.C. UNITED (2-2-2, 8 points)

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Last week: Beat New England 2-1 on Saturday

This week: Vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday; Vs. New York, 6 p.m., Sunday, ESPN2

Outlook: How deep a team have Ben Olsen and Co. built? Well, United were able to bring Chris Pontius, a U.S. national team call-up last September, off the bench to score the winning goal against New England while leaving the likes of Andy Najar and Branko Boskovic on the bench as unused subs.

8. (10) FC DALLAS (3-2-1, 10 points)

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Last week: Beat Montreal 2-1 on Saturday

This week: At Vancouver, 10 p.m., Saturday

Outlook: With one timely, skillfully taken strike, Brek Shea seemed to bury his Olympic frustrations while giving his side its second straight last-gasp victory. And things get better for Dallas: Brazilian defender-midfielder Jackson returns from his loan stint this week.

9. (7) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-1-2, 8 points)

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Last week: Idle

This week: Vs. Kansas City, 10 p.m., Wednesday; Vs. Dallas, 10 p.m., Saturday

Outlook: After a week off from action, Vancouver gets two home fixtures in four days. The rested Whitecaps should present quite the challenge for Kansas City, which could be in danger of a let-down following its much-hyped clash against Salt Lake.

10. (8) COLORADO RAPIDS (3-3-0, 9 points)

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Last week: Lost to Seattle 1-0 on Saturday

This week: Vs. Los Angeles, 9 p.m., Saturday

Outlook: Colorado has leveled off after its hot start, falling to .500 with a loss at Seattle during which the Rapids couldn't get much going offensively. The impending return of Conor Casey from a long-term Achilles injury should be a welcome boost.

11. (11) CHIVAS USA (3-3-0, 9 points)

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Last week: Beat Toronto 1-0 on Saturday

This week: Vs. Philadelphia, 10:30 p.m., Saturday

Outlook: Chivas are now 3-for-3 on the road and 0-for-3 at home. Unfortunately for Robin Fraser's club, they play Philadelphia on Saturday at the Home Depot Center, where they still haven't scored a goal yet this season.

12. (13) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (2-3-0, 6 points)

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Last week: Beat Portland 3-1 on Saturday

This week: At Colorado, 9 p.m., Saturday

Outlook: Even with the new centerback partnership of David Junior Lopes and Tommy Meyer, it looked like the Galaxy were following the same old script when Portland struck first. But then Landon Donovan, Juninho and David Beckham reminded everyone what this Los Angeles team is capable of on a good day.

13. (14) CHICAGO FIRE (1-1-2, 5 points)

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Last week: Tied Houston 1-1 on Sunday

This week: At Toronto, 3:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC Sports

Outlook: Logan Pause against the Dynamo scored about as undeserving a goal as one will see, ducking from a Pavel Pardo free kick, only to see the shot deflect off his back and pass Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall. But they all count the same. Even better luck for Chicago? They get to play Toronto on Saturday.

14. (12) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (2-4-0, 6 points)

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Last week: Lost to D.C. United 1-0 on Saturday

This week: Idle.

Outlook: Losing Shalrie Joseph against United to a retroactive suspension was a tough blow that hindered New England's midfield control. On the plus side, Jose Moreno scored in his first start, and Benny Feilhaber logged 35 minutes off the bench in his return from injury.

15. (T-15) PORTLAND TIMBERS (1-4-1, 4 points)

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Last week: Lost to Los Angeles 3-1 on Saturday

This week: Vs. Kansas City, 10:30 p.m., Saturday

Outlook: Kris Boyd gave Timbers fans plenty of reason for optimism when he struck the opener against Los Angeles, but Portland once again fell apart late. It's a disturbing pattern for the Timbers, whose record would look a whole lot better if games were called in the 80th minute.

16. (17) PHILADELPHIA UNION (1-3-1, 4 points)

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Last week: Beat Columbus 1-0 on Saturday

This week: At Chivas USA, 10:30 p.m., Saturday

Outlook: It wasn't the prettiest affair — a 1-0 result decided by a penalty kick — but Philadelphia against the Crew happily claimed their first victory of 2012. Freddy Adu's performance was particularly encouraging, though his being lifted in the 62nd minute was quite curious.

17. (T-15) COLUMBUS CREW (2-3-0, 6 points)

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Last week: Lost to Philadelphia 1-0 on Saturday

This week: Vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m., Saturday

Outlook: Seeing as the Crew's two wins came over the only teams below them in these rankings, there is definitely cause for concern in Columbus. And losing goalkeeper Will Hesmer to hip surgery for the next six months isn't helping matters.

18. (18) MONTREAL IMPACT (1-5-1, 4 points)

Logo Impact MLS

Last week: Lost to Dallas 2-1 on Saturday

This week: At D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday

Outlook: The Impact were minutes from securing their first away point in MLS before Brek Shea intervened for Dallas. They'll get another crack at a result on the road when they travel to the nation's capital for a midweek fixture against D.C. United.

19. (19) TORONTO FC (0-5-0, 0 points)

 TOR_Primary_COL 

Last week: Lost to Chivas USA 1-0 on Saturday

This week: Vs. Chicago, 3:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC Sports

Outlook: It's truly mind-boggling to think this Toronto team was at one point three games away from competing in the Club World Cup. The squad's only hope seems to be the return of injured defender-midfielder Torsten Frings, whose stability has been sorely lacking these past few weeks.

Comments

  1. I was watching the game and reading stats. Go to any publication regarding the game and it will show you that Houston dominated in possession, passes made, etc. Chicago had more shots toward the goal but all were weak and not necessarily on target. The foul by Ching was retarded and led to a lucky goal but other than that, Houston was solid for playing an away game in bad weather. Go Dynamo!

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  2. Why? You got to give a rotating door defense credit for only giving up a Ryan Johnson wonder goal vs Toronto and a Lenhart joke of a PK call in losing to SJ, in 5 matches. Doing this without Mauro Rosales and Steve Zakuani in addition to Alvaro Fernandez and Adam Johansson is pretty impressive I’d say.

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  3. the idea is that it is a ranking for this week! sure it will change next week after they play again… and then there will be new rankings based on this weekends performance. It is going to be a fluid list which is the beauty of it!

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  4. Wrong.

    Houston controlled possession, completed a significantly larger amount of passes, won a significantly larger amount of challenges, and scored from the run of play.

    Chicago had more shots on goal, but one of those is technically Pause’s fortunate deflection (not really a shot). The only good look Chicago had was Grazzini’s rocket that Hall saved in the first half. The rest were weak, speculative efforts from distance that Hall easily handled. It was rainy, however, so I guess there was always the chance for a Robert Green. Houston’s D smothered pretty much everything Chicago mustered.

    Right before the second delay was called, Luis Camargo was subbed out. His rust showed and as the central attacking cog, he stifled many good attacks.

    Also, Houston was playing away.

    Sorry, but Chicago’s doubly lucky to earn that draw in the first place. First for the goal, and second that the game was called early.

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  5. RSL has quality backups. Velasquez, Paulo, Gil, Steele. They’ve all contributed in big ways so far this season. Especially Velasquez. If it weren’t for Sabo’s lack of concentration at one point RSL very well could’ve come out of there with a point. So what if they didn’t/couldn’t score. Some games are just like that, especially on the road. Coming out of a game with a tie on the road is a good thing. The big test for RSL now will be if they can put this behind them and go out there and win San Jose this weekend.

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  6. I’d switch Houston with NY based on power, but they shouldn’t go any lower than #6.

    Aside from the lucky deflection credited to David Estrada as a goal, Houston haven’t conceded anything from the run of play. The defense has been solid and completely nullified Chicago’s lauded offense on Sunday.

    Also, the starting striker tandem just displayed that they can indeed score goals.

    Considering that they’ve already matched their road wins total from last year (and play Columbus next), I’d say they’re pretty darn close to where they need to be in the Power Rankings.

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  7. Houston controlled much of the game against Chicago? What game were you watching? Chicago’s goal was lucky but Chicago controlled most of the game and eventually would have had another goal had it not been delayed and then cancelled due to the weather.

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  8. Houston should be lower? Really? Their first 7 games are on the road. Do you know what kind of stress that puts on players? Also, Houston controlled much of the game against Chicago. Also, the Fire only scored on a lucky deflection and if that’s the only way a team can score then they have bigger problems they need to address. Anyway, it’s still early in the season, there are several more months to go.

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  9. Fair points. I will argue one thing though. Nielsen’s experience and organization have a lot to do with the backline’s performance in my opinion. Also, hard to fault him for not making saves when he doesn’t face any shots on goal for 3.5 games. And when faced with shots, he’s as good as any keeper in the league and vastly underrated in my view. He’s a tremendous shot stopper, and at times last season was single-handedly keeping KC alive. Now he has a much more solid and cohesive back four in front of him, and I agree Besler & Collin deserve a helluva lot of credit, but Jimmy is still tremendous. Couple stops v. NE are proof.

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  10. Accurate NOW is all this list ever claimed and was meant to be. Period. People constantly complaining about this list get on my nerves. I like reading the article cuz it provides insight and feedback I didn’t know/hadn’t thought of; I like reading the comments section for the same reason. But people (sometimes the same every time) rag on this feature. If its not for you, get over it and move on ya know? I like them. It’s fun. And this list never ever once said it’s how the teams will fare come the end of the season. It’s an educated guess at CURRENT form, which we all know changes all the time. So yes in a couple weeks this list will and ought to look different.

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  11. Uh-huh. And, when it’s completely different in 6 weeks, you’ll say it’s accurate then, too. So, what does that say about the exercise of making this list?

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  12. Interesting. You guys had Olsen fired before the season started, and Frasier not too far behind. I guess that’s why they play the games. I have to admit that I’m surprised by Chivas’ good form, but I did think that DCU and SJE were the most consistently underrated teams in the preseason. Not to mention that SJE are doing this with lots of injuries and DCU is doing this with nothing from their DPs and a back line that has to shift from game-to-game. If these teams can get it all their parts pulling together, they’re gonna shake things up.

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  13. They were missing 3 starters and 2 DPs and still managed to beat a decent Colorado team. Plus Zakuani is going to start playing reserve games next week and could be back by June. This team could be scary in a few months.

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  14. EJ played one full game, and 20 some odd minutes in the other. Sounders are winning with tons of injuries, they’re ugly wins… but all count the same. I think when Sea gets healthy, they’ll be dangerous

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  15. The Sounders are rated too high. They have nearly zero attack, but still won two games 1-0. Although Alonso has been superb, I don’t think those clean sheets will continue. Montero and EJ have produced nothing in 5 games, and don’t look close to finding the goal. Without wingers and strikers this side will drop points quickly.

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  16. From a big Real fan, I can’t do anything but agree that SKC is the team to beat right now. I’d love to have a return game in SLC, but thats not to be. I also have to give it up for SKC’s back line, they play incredibly well together. The only dispute I have with what is written above is that that line isn’t anchored by Nielsen, heck, that dude is really extraneous at this point. Nielsen isn’t having some sort of career year, let’s not give him the credit that should rightly belong to the people doing the defending right now.

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  17. This isn’t the first blog or article that has mentioned injuries being a key reason a team has lost to SKC. A good coach should select quality backups, and it doesn’t look like LA or RSL have that. SKC has quality backups. Nagamura and Bunbury are on the bench.

    The only result RSL was going to have against SKC was a draw, and it would have been 0-0. RSL never threatened. SKC had nine corners in the first half alone. SKC had made LA and RSL look very ordinary. And it has more to do with the work rate than anything else.

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  18. “It’s truly mind-boggling to think this Toronto team was at one point three games away from competing in the Club World Cup”. This reminds me of points along the Snake River Canyon where you are only a mile away from a point on the other side but it would take 6 hours to drive there. 😉

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  19. As much as i want to complain, Houston is in the top five and LA is near the bottom….

    now if the Dynamo forwards can just keep scoring…

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  20. San Jose might be okay even after losing Salinas and Bernardez.

    They have solid veteran in Hernandez and young Ike Opara to replace an in-form Víctor Bernárdez and then you have Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Brad Ring, Rafael Baca, Khari Stephenson, Jean Alexandre, and Simon Dawkins to move into Salinas’s spot. How long to heal a broken clavicle?

    You have to love the depth of MLS! I can’t imagine what will happen with the depth in a non-expansion year.

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