D.C. United just keep climbing up the ladder.
For the first time this season, Ben Olsen's squad has cracked the top five of the SBI MLS Power Rankings. United defeated the Houston Dynamo 3-2 on Saturday, stretching their unbeaten run to seven games and claiming consecutive wins for the first time since June 2009.
Elsewhere in the rankings, the Seattle Sounders jumped ahead of Real Salt Lake for the No. 3 position with a road win over Chicago, and the Montreal Impact shot up four spots to No. 14 with a triumph over Portland.
Here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 8)
1. (Last week – 1) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (7-1-0, 21 points)
Last week: Idle
This week: Vs. Montreal, 8:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: Kansas City enjoyed a welcome bye week following a busy stretch of games, and this weekend's home match against expansion Montreal doesn't look like it would be too stern a test. But Peter Vermes' club must be careful not to overlook the Impact, who seem to be turning a corner.
2. (2) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (6-1-1, 19 points)
Last week: Beat Philadelphia 2-1 on Saturday
This week: Vs. D.C. United, 10:30 p.m., Wednesday; at Vancouver, 7 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: Steven Lenhart saved the day for San Jose, scoring a pair of late goals off the bench to stun the PPL Park crowd and give the Earthquakes a tough road win over the Union. This week presents a pair of challenging fixtures against D.C. United and Vancouver, two clubs that, like San Jose, have grown leaps and bounds since missing the playoffs last season.
3. (4) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (4-1-1, 13 points)
Last week: Beat Chicago 2-1 on Saturday
This week: Vs. Los Angeles, 10 p.m., Wednesday; Vs. Philadelphia, 4:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC Sports
Outlook: After claiming an impressive victory on the road against the Fire, Seattle returns to CenturyLink Field for another two home fixtures. The returns from injury of Alvaro Fernandez and Mauro Rosales means we're finally starting to see what this team is truly capable of on the offensive end.
4. (3) REAL SALT LAKE (6-3-1, 19 points)
Last week: Tied Dallas 1-1 on Wednesday; Beat Toronto 3-2 on Saturday
This week: Vs. New England, 9 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: Salt Lake very nearly suffered its second embarrassing result at Rio Tinto Stadium this season, but the late-game heroics of Jonny Steele once again turned one point into three and kept Jason Kreis' side from settling for a draw against lowly Toronto. Next up? The Revolution, losers of three straight.
5. (6) D.C. UNITED (4-2-3, 15 points)
Last week: Beat Houston 3-2 on Saturday
This week: At San Jose, 10:30 p.m., Wednesday; at Toronto, 4:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: A week after dismantling New York's shaky defense in a 4-1 triumph, United picked apart Houston's renowned back line for a 3-2 win. It looks like Ben Olsen has found the right combination with forwards Chris Pontius (four goals) and Maicon Santos (six goals) playing in front of Dwayne De Rosario (one goal, five assists).
6. (7) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (4-2-2, 14 points)
Last week: Beat Columbus 1-0 on Saturday
This week: Vs. San Jose, 7 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: Vancouver just keeps grinding out results thanks to a rock-solid back line and the impressive goalkeeping of veteran Joe Cannon. Sooner or later, though, the Whitecaps will need their stable of accomplished strikers to start living up to their reputations on a consistent basis.
7. (5) HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-2-2, 8 points)
Last week: Lost to D.C. United 3-2 on Saturday
This week: Idle
Outlook: The wear and tear of a seven-game road trip to start the season was bound to catch up with Houston at some point, so it's probably not worth reading too much into a 3-2 loss at an in-form United team. On the plus side, Will Bruin's brace is an encouraging sign for the Dynamo's forward corps.
8. (9) NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-3-1, 13 points)
Last week: Beat New England 1-0 on Saturday
This week: At Los Angeles, 8 p.m., Saturday, ESPN, TSN2
Outlook: So who had the Red Bulls recording a shutout with a back line of Connor Lade, Tyler Ruthven, Markus Holgersson and Brandon Barklage? The Red Bulls deserve credit for some unexpected resiliency, though the loss of MLS leading scorer Thierry Henry (an astonishing nine goals and five assists) to a hamstring injury is a massive blow.
9. (8) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (3-3-1, 10 points)
Last week: Tied Dallas 1-1 on Saturday
This week: At Seattle, 10 p.m., Wednesday; Vs. New York, 8 p.m., Saturday, ESPN, TSN2
Outlook: After Robbie Keane missed a penalty kick, the Galaxy needed a late strike from veteran reserve Pat Noonan to salvage a point a home against Dallas. Los Angeles will have to be better than that if the club is going to get a result in its high-profile clash with Seattle on Wednesday.
10. (10) FC DALLAS (3-3-3, 12 points)
Last week: Tied Salt Lake 1-1 on Wednesday; Tied Los Angeles 1-1 on Saturday
This week: Vs. Colorado, 7 p.m., Sunday, Galavision
Outlook: It was a decent week for Dallas, which claimed a pair of draws against last year's Western Conference finalists, Salt Lake and Los Angeles. This weekend presents an MLS Cup 2010 rematch against the Colorado Rapids, who also are sitting midtable in the Western Conference with 12 points.
11. (12) COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-0, 12 points)
Last week: Beat Chivas USA 4-0 on Saturday
This week: At New England, 8 p.m., Wednesday; at Dallas, 7 p.m., Sunday, Galavision
Outlook: Well how about that for an offensive outburst from the Rapids? In a match that marked the return of Conor Casey from a long-term Achilles injury, it was Kamani Hill who came off the bench to spark the Colorado attack, scoring two goals in what abruptly became a 4-0 rout of Chivas.
12. (11) CHICAGO FIRE (2-2-2, 8 points)
Last week: Lost to Seattle 2-1 on Saturday
This week: At Chivas USA, 11 p.m., Friday, ESPN Deportes
Outlook: Marco Pappa's late strike directly off a corner kick ended up just being a consolation to the Fire, who dropped a 2-1 result to Seattle in a rematch of last year's U.S. Open Cup final. To boot, Jalil Anibaba picked up a 97th-minute red card that will sideline him Friday against Chivas.
13. (13) PHILADELPHIA UNION (2-4-1, 7 points)
Last week: Lost to San Jose 2-1 on Saturday
This week: At Seattle, 4:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC Sports
Outlook: It was heartbreak for the Union, who saw Gabriel Gomez's late equalizer go for naught when Steven Lenhart grabbed the winner for San Jose in second-half stoppage time. Danny Mwanga's lack of production and playing time thus far this season continues to be a concern for Philadelphia.
14. (18) MONTREAL IMPACT (2-5-2, 8 points)
Last week: Beat Portland 2-0 on Saturday
This week: At Kansas City, 8:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: After repeatedly letting second-half leads slip away, Montreal sealed the deal against Portland, following up Bernardo Corradi's go-ahead strike with a clincher from Sinisa Ubiparipovic. The back line of Zarek Valentin, Matteo Ferrari, Shavar Thomas and Tyson Wahl has quietly developed an impressive rapport.
15. (14) CHIVAS USA (3-5-0, 9 points)
Last week: Lost to Colorado 4-0 on Saturday
This week: Vs. Chicago, 11 p.m., Friday, ESPN Deportes
Outlook: Even with Juan Pablo Angel back in the starting lineup, Chivas' league-worst attack continued to struggle, getting shut out for the fifth time this season. As the defense collapsed, allowing Colorado to pile on three late goals, it became evident that Dan Kennedy and Co. can only do so much.
16. (15) PORTLAND TIMBERS (2-5-1, 7 points)
Last week: Lost to Montreal 2-0 on Saturday
This week: Vs. Columbus, 10:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: If the likes of Darlington Nagbe and Kris Boyd aren't scoring goals for Portland, than it has become quite evident that this team hardly stands a chance. Its back line, after all, just hasn't been getting the job done. Against Montreal, injuries to right back Steve Purdy and goalkeeper Troy Perkins certainly didn't help matters.
17. (16) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (2-5-0, 6 points)
Last week: Lost to New York 1-0 on Saturday
This week: Vs. Colorado, 8 p.m., Wednesday; at Salt Lake, 9 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: If the Revolution can't find a goal against the makeshift back line New York deployed Saturday, then it could be a long season in New England. Losers of three straight, the Revolution need to get forwards Saer Sene and Jose Moreno going if they're going to keep up in the Eastern Conference.
18. (17) COLUMBUS CREW (2-4-1, 7 points)
Last week: Lost to Vancouver 1-0 on Saturday
This week: At Portland, 10:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: On the offensive end, it looks like the Crew just don't have the pieces necessary to consistently trouble opposing back lines. Considering Columbus' only two wins have come against Montreal and Toronto, the optimism at Crew Stadium is quickly fading.
19. (19) TORONTO FC (0-7-0, 0 points)
Last week: Lost to Salt Lake 3-2 on Saturday
This week: Vs. D.C. United, 4:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: What more can be said about Toronto? Even when the team finally showed some heart, twice coming from behind to grab an equalizer on the road against a stellar Salt Lake side, it wasn't enough to end its long losing streak to start 2012. It's hard to imagine, at this point, Aron Winter lasting much longer at BMO Field.
I’ve heard it’s attitude. He doesn’t hustle in practice which Nowak is not a fan of. Nowak’s got a veritable stable of strikers. If Danny-Boy isn’t going to put in the effort I don’t think he should get rewarded with play time
Mwanga has not done much when he has been on the pitch. The Union attach has been poor all year. I blame Novak and his staff. Poor personel moves and tactics.
D.C. UNITED! clap clapclap clap clap!
Can’t wait for the cap soccer show this week.
Ching and Bruin are fine as the Fs now. I’d like to see Kandji get more PT and start some if anything so that Ching gets properly rested to try and last the season healthy. One oft-overlooked aspect of Kinnear’s lineup approach is he rarely rests his starters (other than for USOC or the like), and we have CCL in the fall. We should be rotating the lineups more with the fall in mind, when it will be two games a week several weeks.
I don’t think the sky is falling, I just think people don’t realize we’ve dropped to like 12th in the single table, and they may be overrating our ability to actually win games when the homestands start. Without changes this is a borderline playoff team at best. And I keep wanting to get back to 06 and 07 but no one seems to want to re-create those teams. I don’t think we were this obsessed with defense defense defense in the DeRo era.
Watson has become the latest in a series of make-do middies like Cameron who really aren’t up to snuff. This was once a team that started DeRo/ Clark/ Davis/ Mullan with Holden as a sub. Holden! Now you’re wanting to start Sturgis. Team has gone downhill.
I am a Dixon fan and can’t believe he’s disappeared since beating RSL last year. But Kinnear has a bad habit of disappearing young talent like him and Ownby to the reserves, where they disappear or get hurt, and meanwhile everyone grumbles that the first team needs upgrades. Every once in a while it’d be nice to see us deploy the attacking youngsters and chase some points. Instead we sub in backs and “trustworthy veterans” and gun for a point. And then when we really need a goal it’s good luck with that.
I see Moffat as a circus act worth a goal or two a season. I like Camargo but he really reminds me more of Rico and should be used defensively accordingly. In the old days we wouldn’t have used a DM to playmake for more than one makeshift weekend. Why’s that changed? Maybe it’s because we’ve become a constant stereotype of the Tie-namo.
Isn’t our tall backline essentially built for set pieces both directions? Sorry but I’ve always seen us as more vulnerable run of play because of lack of foot speed, when it spreads to set pieces why even bother with Hainault and Boswell? And I’d be leery of defending any group giving up 2-3 goals a week for a few weeks straight. Seattle, Chicago, DC. All the sort of teams one might see in the playoffs this year. In fact, we’ll see DC again for the home opener soon.
I’ll also toss out for argument’s sake that Tally Hall at 1.4 GA/game, flailing at some crossses, parrying a few too many balls, has not entirely sold me yet. Good athletic shotstopper yes and he’s finally gotten his kicks downfield but he still has some Hamid-type holes in his game.
I think Seattle is the best team in the league……….but KC average power ranking opponent is rated 10.25 with 19 teams in the league. About average, especially considering almost all have 1 loss already since they played KC.
Seattle’s offense has been hampered with injuries. They’ll need to come out fast and score 2 or 3 against the Galaxy to win.
Alonso has been terrific in midfield, winning the “Power 5 Generals – Alonso tackles top spot” at MLSnet. The winner of this game will challenge for Supporters Shield. The loser will not.
Houston’s probably a couple spots too high, but I would say it’s definitely too early to cry that the sky is falling. Not to use the SKC excuse, but Houston already has twice as many points in fewer games than SKC had before they opened Livestrong last year.
That said, I would like to see the midfield step up to the challenge. Watson has been playing better lately but seems to backpass 9 of 10 times even when Houston crowds the box. At this point, Dixon or Sturgis deserve a shot at RM.
Let’s not rule Camargo out yet either. He was unable to train all offseason after his car accident and is having to catch up pretty fast.
Aside from set piece D, our backline has been pretty good. Obviously, that’s still a big problem, but we aren’t conceding THAT many goals from the run of play.
Final point. Bruin and Ching are obviously the best two options at striker right now. Ching’s hold up play has improved from last season, and Bruin’s obviously scoring goals. I would be interested to see Calen Carr in the AM role more.
Also worth noting we had like a 2 week break, it’s not like we’ve played back to back to back….etc. The break did not return tangible results except for some claimed moral victory draws. Particularly with the home field approach to the Cup games now, the “road point” approach might not be well-suited to winning future cups. Just once I’d like to see a Kinnear team dress players and make subs like they want to chase points.
Houston hasn’t won a game or pitched a shutout in a month. I realize the road trip is some excuse and people are looking to the SKC template, but ever since the Sounders game this is a defense-first team giving up goals in droves, which looks like it needs midfield upgrades because it has trouble moving the ball upfield in a sustainable fashion. This week’s goals game off a defender’s cross (Ashe wishes he could hit a ball like Taylor) and a loose ball Bruin took and shot. Without Davis the midfield is unproductive and even with him the approach is too direct and predictable. SBI’s discussion defends the forward productivity, but with the Kandji pickup I think we have at least 4 solid MLS-level Fs, if not Henry or Santos. What’s holding this team back, dating back to the Cup drive last year, remains the lack of non-Davis play-making.
And all due respect to the mentality that Kinnear teams can succeed without much offense but I’m looking at a run of 2-0 L, 1-1 T, 2-2 T, 3-2 L, and either the defense needs to be perfect or the offensive output needs to keep going up, because it’s like 2 points in a month. I really hope Kinnear’s plan is to re-staff in the summer because we have no right mid, ineffective setup play, and a leaky defense.
HUGE game, UNITED @ QUAKES this Wednesday, 10:30pm EST. Don’t miss it!
I remember Alexi Lalas eulogizing Santos for conquering the great Toronto FC.
Philly looked way more dangerous once Mwanga came in. Not sure what he’s done to get on Nowak’s bad side.
Hey, remember when Toronto FC was good?
Yeh, me neither.
@Ken – I agree though I’m not a fan at all of McInerny. That said, he’ll hustle while giving the ball away which is more than Freddy Adu does (he just gives the ball away).
Mwanga had the assist on the goal and is far more useful to Philly than Pajoy. I’m sure Pajoy is a perfectly capable player, but Philly doesn’t play to his strengths (heading crosses, holding up the ball to combo with other foward or midfield runners) which makes him very ineffective.
Philadelphia needs to play Mwanga and Jack more. Really, what more is Pajoy giving you? Not much. Time for Pete play the young guys up top. After all, wasn’t that the reason for all the turnover the past two season?