The Seattle Sounders are back on top.
On the strength of shutout wins over the Los Angeles Galaxy and Philadelphia Union, Seattle vaulted to the top slot in this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings, a position the club held for one week earlier this season. Things are certainly looking up for the Sounders, as Mauro Rosales continues to build toward 90-minute fitness and Alvaro Fernandez nears his return from a quad strain.
Last week's No. 1 side, Sporting Kansas City, dropped to fourth after suffering a 2-0 home loss to the expansion Montreal Impact. With the triumph, Montreal continued its slow but steady climb up the ladder, moving into a tie for the 11th position.
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) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (6-1-1, 19 points)
Last week: Beat Los Angeles 2-0 on Wednesday; beat Philadelphia 1-0 on Saturday
This week: At Dallas, 8:30 p.m., Wednesday; vs. Salt Lake, 10 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: Fredy Montero and Mauro Rosales grabbed the headlines this week for their offensive exploits, but let's give some credit to the Sounders back line, which strung together back-to-back shutouts despite losing goalkeeper Michael Gspurning to a hip injury midway through Wednesday's win over Los Angeles.
2. (2) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (7-2-1, 22 points)
Last week: Beat D.C. United 5-3 on Wednesday; lost to Vancouver 2-1 on Saturday
This week: Vs. Chivas USA, 7 p.m., Sunday, Galavision
Outlook: After exploding for five goals in a midweek win over D.C., San Jose's potent offense couldn't again bail out its defense during Saturday's loss at Vancouver. With another three goals this week, Chris Wondolowski has started building a case for back-to-back MLS Player of the Month honors.
3. (4) REAL SALT LAKE (7-3-1, 22 points)
Last week: Beat New England 2-1 on Saturday
This week: At Chicago, 8:30 p.m., Wednesday; vs. Seattle, 10 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: With Jason Kreis' first-choice starting 11 together for the first time all season, Salt Lake conceded an early goal before rallying to victory behind Alvaro Saborio's brace. On the schedule for next weekend is a highly anticipated playoff rematch against Seattle. Make sure to buckle in for that one.
4. (1) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (7-2-0, 21 points)
Last week: Lost to Montreal 2-0 on Saturday
This week: At Chicago, 8:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: After looking invincible for seven matches, Kansas City has been brought back to reality, suffering back-to-back losses against teams toiling toward the bottom of the standings. With the offense stalled, might Teal Bunbury return to the starting lineup?
5. (6) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (5-2-2, 17 points)
Last week: Beat San Jose 2-1 on Saturday
This week: At New England, 7:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: When substitutes Davide Chiumiento and Eric Hassli combined for the winner against San Jose deep into stoppage time, Vancouver finally saw its ballyhooed offensive depth pay dividends. Jay DeMerit and the Whitecaps back line, however, did well to hold their own against San Jose's prolific attack.
6. (5) D.C. UNITED (5-3-3, 18 points)
Last week: Lost to San Jose 5-3 on Wednesday; beat Toronto 2-0 on Saturday
This week: At Houston, 4:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC Sports
Outlook: After United's makeshift back line was torn to shreds by San Jose midweek, the unit — including Andy Najar at right back — rebounded with a shutout performance against Toronto. After scoring in back-to-back appearances off the bench, it looks like Designated Player striker Hamdi Salihi is finally getting into a rhythm.
7. (8) NEW YORK RED BULLS (5-3-1, 16 points)
Last week: Beat Los Angeles 1-0 on Saturday
This week: Vs. Houston, 7 p.m., Wednesday; at Philadelphia, 12:30 p.m., Sunday, ESPN2, TSN2
Outlook: The Red Bulls, missing a slew of players including Designated Players Rafa Marquez and Thierry Henry, traveled across the country to take on the defending MLS Cup champion Galaxy, who rested most of their regulars ahead of the contest. But New York beat the odds, grinding out a 1-0 win. It looks like this team might have some fight after all.
8. (7) HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-2-2, 8 points)
Last week: Idle
This week: At New York, 7 p.m., Wednesday; vs. D.C. United, 4:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC Sports
Outlook: After a week off, Houston only has a midweek trip to New York separating it from its long-awaited debut at BBVA Compass Stadium. For the Dynamo, Saturday's home opener against United will be the culmination of years of work for the organization off the field, as well as a welcome return to Houston following a seven-game road trip to start 2012.
9. (11) COLORADO RAPIDS (5-5-0, 15 points)
Last week: Lost to New England 2-1 on Wednesday; beat Dallas 2-0 on Sunday
This week: Idle
Outlook: After dropping a midweek contest to New England, Colorado bounced back Sunday, taking advantage of a pair of Dallas red cards to claim three points on the road. With a 45-minute shift against Dallas, striker Conor Casey continued to work his way back from a long-term Achilles injury.
10. (12) CHICAGO FIRE (3-2-2, 11 points)
Last week: Beat Chivas USA 2-1 on Friday
This week: Vs. Salt Lake, 8:30 p.m., Wednesday; Vs. Kansas City, 8:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: After snatching a late win against Chivas thanks to Marco Pappa's dramatic strike, Chicago will now set its sights on back-to-back home games against two of the league's top teams: Salt Lake and Kansas City. It's time to really see what this Fire team is made of.
T-11. (10) FC DALLAS (3-4-3, 12 points)
Last week: Lost to Colorado 2-0 on Sunday
This week: Vs. Seattle, 8:30 p.m., Wednesday; at Columbus, 7:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: Matters against Colorado on Sunday were already tough with Brek Shea out of the lineup. Tack on first-half red cards to Daniel Hernandez and Blas Perez, and getting a result became a near-impossible task. With a match against Seattle on Wednesday, things hardly get easier for Dallas.
T-11. (14) MONTREAL IMPACT (3-5-2, 11 points)
Last week: Beat Kansas City 2-0 on Saturday
This week: Vs. Los Angeles, 4 p.m., Saturday, TSN
Outlook: After some growing pains, the Impact have won back-to-back games. Expansion side or not, traveling to Livestrong Sporting Park and securing a shutout win over Kansas City is quite the accomplishment. This week, we'll see if Montreal can make it three in a row with a win at home over the struggling Galaxy.
13. (9) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (3-5-1, 10 points)
Last week: Lost to Seattle 2-0 on Wednesday; lost to New York 1-0 on Saturday
This week: At Montreal, 4 p.m., Saturday, TSN
Outlook: Even after resting the likes of David Beckham and Robbie Keane for a midweek trip to Seattle, the Galaxy still couldn't get anything going against the depleted Red Bulls on Saturday, dropping another home game and walking away from the two-game stretch with no points. Is it officially time to panic?
14. (17) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (3-6-0, 9 points)
Last week: Beat Colorado 2-1 on Wednesday; lost to Salt Lake 2-1 on Saturday
This week: Vs. Vancouver, 7:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: After recording a 2-1 win over Colorado on Wednesday, New England looked like it could be in for a banner week when Blake Brettschneider's superb strike gave the club an early lead at Salt Lake. Alas, the Revolution couldn't hold onto the result. But there are signs of encouragement for Jay Heaps' squad.
15. (13) PHILADELPHIA UNION (2-5-1, 7 points)
Last week: Lost to Seattle 1-0 on Saturday
This week: Vs. New York, 12:30 p.m., Sunday, ESPN2, TSN2
Outlook: After again getting shut out, the Union have a league-low five goals in eight games played. For as well as goalkeeper Zac MacMath and the Philadelphia defense have played in recent weeks, this team will need to start finding the net if it's going to keep up in the Eastern Conference.
16. (15) CHIVAS USA (3-6-0, 9 points)
Last week: Lost to Chicago 2-1 on Friday
This week: At San Jose, 7 p.m., Sunday, Galavision
Outlook: The good news for Chivas was that the club, in its fifth game at the Home Depot Center, finally gave the home fans a goal to cheer about. The bad news was that Juan Pablo Angel's penalty kick wasn't enough, as Marco Pappa's stoppage-time tally dropped Chivas to 0-5-0 at home.
17. (16) PORTLAND TIMBERS (2-5-2, 8 points)
Last week: Tied Columbus 0-0 on Saturday
This week: Idle
Outlook: Settling for a scoreless draw at home against a struggling Columbus team was not an acceptable result for the Timbers, who continue to underachieve. Coach John Spencer has tried rolling the dice — he slid captain Jack Jewsbury to right back against the Crew — but not much seems to be working.
18. (18) COLUMBUS CREW (2-4-2, 8 points)
Last week: Tied Portland 0-0 on Saturday
This week: Vs. Dallas, 7:30 p.m., Saturday
Outlook: Giving rookie Ethan Finlay just his second start didn't spark the Crew attack, which was shut out for the third time in four games. On the plus side, goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum continues to show well while filling in for the injured Will Hesmer.
19. (19) TORONTO FC (0-8-0, 0 points)
Last week: Lost to D.C. United 2-0 on Saturday
This week: Idle
Outlook: It's hard to see Toronto as anything other than a lost cause at this point. With eight losses in as many games, including five defeats at BMO Field, Toronto is off to the worst start in league history. And Torsten Frings had to exit Saturday's match with a shoulder injury. Talk about salt in the wound.