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SBI MLS Power Rankings: Week Nine

TimbersHuddle (USATodaySports)


The Los Angeles Galaxy climbing back to the top of the latest SBI MLS Power Rankings shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but the other Western Conference team moving up the charts quickly is a bit more of a surprise.

The Portland Timbers moved up to the No. 4 spot after their impressive win against Sporting Kansas City, yet another comeback for Caleb Porter’s squad, which has made the transformation from awful road team to veritable road warriors.

The lone Eastern Conference representative in the Top Four is a team few would have pegged to hold the spot before the season began. The Montreal Impact emerged from a bye week to post another impressive home victory, with Marco DiVaio once again leading the attack.

The basement continues to be a graveyard of slow-starting Eastern Conference teams, with D.C. United digging a deeper and deeper hole at the bottom of the rankings. New England’s win vs. Philadelphia helped them climb out of the very bottom, but Toronto FC slipped closer to the bottom after their latest 90th-minute meltdown.

Here are the latest SBI MLS Power Rankings:

SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week Nine)

1. (Last week- 2) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (4-1-2)


LAST WEEK– Beat Real Salt Lake, 2-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– at Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday.

OUTLOOK– No Designated Players in the starting lineup on the road? No problem. Bruce Arena has made a habit of results like these. Where he starts a bunch of reserves and manages a result. This time around he unveiled a gem in goalkeeper Brian Rowe, while the debut of rookie forward Gyasi Zardes should not be overlooked.


2. (1) FC DALLAS (6-1-2)


LAST WEEK– Tied Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-2, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– Bye Week.

OUTLOOK– Blowing a two-goal lead certainly didn’t make the league leaders look like a juggernaut, but losing George John and Andrew Jacobson to injury clearly took its toll on the squad. A bye week comes at a perfect time for the squad to get healthy, but it could also mean a chance for the Galaxy to close the gap atop the West.


3. (5) MONTREAL IMPACT (5-1-1)

Logo Impact MLS

LAST WEEK– Lost to Toronto FC, 2-0 (Canadian Championship); Beat Chicago Fire, 2-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– vs. Toronto FC on Wednesday (Canadian Championship); at San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.

OUTLOOK–  Another solid home win for the Impact, who looked like a team that benefited from its bye week. It will be interesting to see what head coach Marco Schallibaum does with his lineup on Wednesday in the second leg of the Canadian Champonship against Toronto FC. With a tough trip to San Jose looming, you could understand why he’d want to rest starters again.


4. (6) PORTLAND TIMBERS (3-1-4)


LAST WEEK– Beat Sporting Kansas City, 3-2, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– vs. New England Revolution on Thursday.

OUTLOOK– The Timbers just keep on climbing, and are starting to earn the label of road warriors. They have yet to lose on the road this year, and their victory in Kansas City was a true statement game. Rodney Wallace and Ryan Johnson are flourishing as reclamation projects, but the Timbers clearly need to address their centerback depth with a signing soon after losing Futty Danso to injury.


5. (3)  SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-3-2)


LAST WEEK– Lost to Portland Timbers, 3-2, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– vs. Chivas USA on Sunday.

OUTLOOK– Giving up three goals in a home loss for the first time since 2011, Sporting KC are suddenly in a two-game skid with a tricky match against Chivas USA awaiting. The team’s play in midfield is a cause for concern, and you have to wonder if the team is finally feeling the absence of Roger Espinoza and Kei Kamara.


6. (4)  HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-2-2)


LAST WEEK– Tied Colorado Rapids, 1-1, last Sunday.

THIS WEEK– at Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday.

OUTLOOK– Dom Kinnear has to be worried about his team turning in a second straight flat performance. Not having a fully sharp Oscar Boniek Garcia hasn’t helped, and the team missed Jermaine Taylor, but there’s still no excuse for looking so mediocre against an injury-ravaged Colorado team at home. If they don’t wake up, they could be in for an ugly loss when they face the LA Galaxy in an MLS Cup Final rematch.


7. (11) NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2)


LAST WEEK– Beat Toronto FC, 2-1, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– at Columbus Crew on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– Tim Cahill picked a good game to have a breakout performance. Not only did he deliver the goals, Cahill also helped the team make up for the absence of Dax McCarty in midfield with his work rate. Roy Miller turned in another strong showing at left back while Markus Holgersson has settled in nicely at centerback, which is keeping Heath Pearce on the bench and in the crosshairs of teams that need defensive help.


8. (12) COLUMBUS CREW (3-2-3)


LAST WEEK-Beat D.C. United, 3-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– vs. New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– The scoreboard fire before Saturday’s game turned out to be a good omen as the Crew’s attack played their best game of the season Jairo Arrieta was outstanding while Josh Williams continues to be one of the best fullbacks in MLS not many people talk about. Columbus has to be thrilled with what Dominic Oduro has brought to the attack. His speed element has really been key to the Crew’s good start to the season, and will be vital in their attempt to knock off the Red Bulls on Saturday.


9. (9) CHIVAS USA (3-3-2)


LAST WEEK– tied San Jose Earthquakes, 2-2, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.

OUTLOOK– There is no denying that the Goats miss the injured Juan Agudelo, but they showed some heart in battling back to tie San Jose. Jorge Villafana played very well, providing the service that set up both goals, while defender Joaquin Velasquez led the back-line in the absence of suspended centerback Bobby Burling. A much tougher test awaits on Sunday against a Sporting KC side intent on halting a two-match losing skid.


10. (7) REAL SALT LAKE (3-4-2)


LAST WEEK– Lost to Los Angeles Galaxy, 2-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– vs. Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– Real Salt Lake has played games like this before, where they dominate possession and create more chances only to see their opponent take the victory. Not having Alvaro Saborio was tough, but RSL still did enough to win the game and simply couldn’t. Some credit goes to Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe for an outstanding game, but the RSL attack needs to finish chances more regularly if they are going to snap their offensive funk (two goals scored in four matches).


11. (8)  PHILADELPHIA UNION (3-3-2)


LAST WEEK– Lost to New England Revolution, 1-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– vs. Seattle Sounders on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– Whether it was some overconfidence coming off their road win at D.C. United, or just the case of running into an inspired opponent, the Union started poorly and never really recovered in their loss to New England. The Revs didn’t score until the second half, but their strong start, and the Union’s flat start, set the tone for the match. With a match vs. Seattle looming, we can’t help but wondering just when Kleberson will be ready for a start.


12. (10) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (2-3-4)


LAST WEEK– Tied Chivas USA, 2-2, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– vs. Montreal Impact on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– Shea Salinas enjoyed his second straight solid game and the pairing of Salinas and Chavez on the wings helped provide a boost to the attack. Their speed on the flank is vital to helping the San Jose attack flow, and it makes you wonder whether Ramiro Corrales will be able to see consistent starts going forward. One player who struggled was Steven Beitashour, who is still working out the kinks after a long injury layoff.


13. (13) COLORADO RAPIDS (2-4-2)


LAST WEEK– at Houston Dynamo on Sunday.

THIS WEEK– vs. Toronto FC on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– You have to feel for the Rapids. They keep turning out impressive performances only to keep losing key players to injury. Hendry Thomas was the latest, though it is still unclear just how serious his injury is. Dillon Powers continues to impress and is quietly putting together a pretty solid Rookie of the Year candidacy, while young centerback Shane O’Neill is earning some valuable experience. The Rapids might find it tough sledding against TFC if Thomas is out for any length of time.


14. (16) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-3-3)


LAST WEEK– Beat FC Edmonton, 2-1, last Wednesday (Canadian Championship); Tied FC Dallas, 2-2, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– at Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– The Kekuta Manneh show stole the headlines with his strong second-half performance, but the real question is whether Martin Rennie will give the rookie a run of starts or keep using him as a change-of-pace off the bench. The tandem of Nigel Reo-Coker and Gershon Koffie really took control of the match in the second half and look like a pairing capable of helping the Whitecaps snap their winless streak. At least as soon as some consistent forward play develops.


15. (14) CHICAGO FIRE (2-5-1)


LAST WEEK– Lost to Montreal Impact, 2-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– Bye Week.

OUTLOOK– The absence of Arne Friedrich, and the revolving door at right back, have the Fire defense looking very shaky at times. Offensively, Chicago continues to be faced with the harsh reality that Sherjill MacDonald simply isn’t good enough to have lead your attack. Until the Fire can address the need for a marquee forward, and until Friedrich returns, the Fire will be doomed to inconsistent performances.




LAST WEEK– Beat Philadelphia Union, 2-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– at Portland Timbers on Thursday.

OUTLOOK– A week after a forgettable showing vs. the Red Bulls the Revs showed that they do have reason to believe this season can offer something special. Lee Nguyen is enjoying a solid run of form that has some wondering whether he should be receiving U.S. Men’s National Team consideration. The better question for Jay Heaps is when will he partner Saer Sene and Jerry Bengtson in the starting lineup?


17. (17) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (1-3-2)


LAST WEEK– Bye Week.

THIS WEEK– at Philadelphia Union on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– The week off should help, and if the Sounders can get Eddie Johnson back on the field they stand a good chance of getting a road result against a Philadelphia side that won’t be a pushover, but could struggle to contain a healthy Sounders attack.


18. (15) TORONTO FC (1-3-4)


LAST WEEK– Beat Montreal Impact, 2-0, last Wednesday (Canadian Championship); Lost to New York Red Bulls, 2-1, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– at Montreal on Wednesday (Canadian Championship); at Colorado on Saturday.

OUTLOOK– If MLS matches were 89 minutes then Toronto FC might be in the Top Ten. Unfortunately for Ryan Nelsen’s bunch, another 90th-minute meltdown cost them points. Getting Richard Eckersley or Darel Russell back will help because it was clear Ryan Richter isn’t a viable right back option. The arrival of young Designated Player Matias Laba is big news, and it will be interesting to see what Nelsen does to his starting lineup and who makes way for the young Argentine.


19. (19) D.C. UNITED (1-6-1)


LAST WEEK– Lost to Columbus Crew, 3-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK– Bye Week.

OUTLOOK– Brandon McDonald had one of those games you probably should hire a hypnotist to help erase from his memory. The D.C. United defense is in shambles, which makes it a perfect match to go with the toothless attack. The bye week comes at a perfect time because Ben Olsen clearly needs some time to try and sort out a new plan, and find a new combination of players because it’s clear the current one isn’t working.


What do you think of this week’s power rankings? Think anyone is rated too highly? See anyone being too low?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Ives, per your note on the Timbers: Futty practiced today and Porter said after practice that he expects Futty to play Thursday. (per Stumptown Footy.)

  2. The problem with DPs is this:

    LA has won twice in a row now and is favored to do it again. Attendance at losing teams has suffered…
    …Dillon Powers is putting on the rookie of the year season, while Zardes and Villereal sit.
    Yedlin would be sitting too, behind a DP, but the RB DP stunk so Seattle didn’t want him anymore. These players, like DP, are talented and should be playing.

    I am not completely opposed to DPs, I love having Landon in the league, obviously, just bringing up a very valid point.

    • Zardes has been injured for months and Villareal is out with a current injury.

      They weren’t sitting, we’ve had one young forward play every single game this years except maybe the one vs. Dallas.

  3. Die hard Red Bulls fan here! If anyone has been reading/listening to comments recently by Cahill and Henry then you’ll know that this team has a core foundation. Leaders. Grit. And they are playing as one for one another. This guarantees nothing but a unit without disruptions (I.e. Rafa) and a full team performances is a beautiful thing. I love the 2013 squad!!

    • Ha! Made me look. LA at LA. That’ll be a good match up. LA’s reserves are the second best team at the Home Depot Center.

      • I love the preferential treatment argument because it is so true. The league makes other teams’ DPs re busts. The league makes sure the Galaxy draft quality players. And the league makes sure the Galaxy have quality local talent.

      • The “LA gets preferential treatment argument” is hogwash. The LA Galaxy get better players because Bruce Arena and staff are much better than other teams in identifying and acquiring quality players. The LA Galaxy “get around the salary gap, because the MLS lets them” is also hogwash. The LA Galaxy are just better in using exemptions afforded any other team.

        Carlo Cudicini has a deal in place that lets him eat into the LA salary cap margin when the third DP is not present. That deal only lasts until they sign another DP and then his salary reverts to a hard figure.

        If there is one area that LA can out gain it’s opponents is in the roster back end. The LA Galaxy, because they make money, can spend more on the non-salary cap players., ie the roster spots from 20-30. The Galaxy can spend more money and get quality reserves. Other teams can do this too, and some do, but none make the effort as much as the Galaxy. These players are good enough to step in and be MLS competitive, be they either a home-grown, or academy player, a college draftee, or a supplemental or waiver draft pickup.

        Add to that the climate, the location and the facilities and you have built-in benefits that few other teams in the MLS have. But it is entirely legal and no MLS magic want or favor by the MLS is given to the Galaxy.

        The Galaxy are just better in acquiring and managing talent, be it the top player or a reserve player. They know exemptions and how and when to use them, they know to put money and VALUE into all thirty roster spots. None of them are “throw-aways” or just afterthoughts. This is the way Bruce Arena has built championship teams in the NCAA with Virginia, with DC United, the USMNT and now with the Galaxy.

        No magic or preferential treatment outside of being able to throw more money at a problem, than any other MLS team.

      • Just my two cents: that was an awesome comment. I am not saying I agree or disagree because I don’t know all the byzantine rules of MLS rosters and salary caps. However, the content, the facts, the tone, and the lack of hyperbole make this a comment I enjoyed reading and also one that will cause me to go research some aspects of MLS rules.


  4. RBNY are overr-rated, but I’ll take it. It’s not the absolute ranking that’s important, it’s the distance between RBNY and DCU that makes me happiest.

  5. DC United played over the weekend? I would not have known with no local TV coverage.

    I was expecting a 2-0 loss, so a 3-0 loss is right in line with my expectations of zero offense and shaky defense. Might be time to open up that Indonesian pocket book and buy some MLS-caliber players.

    • Why do that when you can sign more no-name indonesian players as your ownership directly interferes in player selection for personal and political gain?

      • Babam!

        I hadn’t thought about it for a while, but this is one of those sad but true statements…

  6. Sene is not fully back from his injury(or so we’re being led to believe). I think we’ll see that pairing in a couple of weeks.

    • He’s recovered & training, just not quite back to full game fitness yet – hence why he’s only been getting 30 or so minutes of run the last few games. Your timetable of couple of weeks before he’s starting should be accurate

  7. I want to cry as a Fire fan……Our ownership is pathetic. We needed a goal scorer in the off season and management failed to do that and now we are paying the price. We need to sign a guy who has a Keane type of impact, I know that’s hard to do but we need a goal scorer on this team.

    • I have no idea what the Fire have on their roster because nothing registers in my mind. Dumbfounded with such a large market Chicago does not have a player or players to build around on the field and for marketing? MLS is big on parity and salary caps but tips their hat to large markets for the sake of marketing with DP signings. Is it the Chicago ownership or MLS not working with ownership? Does the Fire sell out games?

      Podolski would be a great signing for the Chicago demo and including his skill.

      The MLS should have a goal to be a top four or five league in the world and that only happens with talent and then coaching.

      • It’s our owner…he’s a joke, he just sits back in his LA place and acts like he cares for the team. He said last year he’d be willing to spend Keane type of money if the player fit our team….lol any Keane type of player would fit our team…We needed a striker who can score goals and we got Maicon Santos…If we are talking market, it wouldn’t be so much a Polish guy anymore, it’d be more to fit the Mexican crowd like a Blanco and that way it can sell out games for us. We don’t sell out, and our team has been shit since we got this guy. We use to go to the playoffs every year and now we struggle to even make it.

    • Trading Oduro was a bad move in my opinion. Despite his issues with finishing, his game-changing speed was an asset to that team. Him and Nyarko were a handful for a lot of teams last year.

    • I agree with you. It seems alot of MLS teams are making wrong decisions or not wanting to spend the cash. Its a bummer.

  8. 1) who is really performing for Dallas? They seem to have some strong Colombian talent, as well as Central America 2) What mls teams have development academies?

      • USSDA is an elite national/regional youth league with a lot more than 15 teams, including traditional clubs. 15 of the MLS academies participate. That’s not the same thing as there being precisely 15 MLS academies, although I’m not sure what the number is on that.

        I have generally considered the USSDA as proof the academies are not “there” yet, inasmuch as you can look at the standings and see how the pro academies are interspersed among the traditional clubs. If my local MLS academy loses to club teams it’s not yet to the point where I should presume upon its developmental brilliance.

      • I mostly agree with that, but looking at some of the non-MLS affiliated pro clubs (Arsenal, Tottenham, Man U, Chelsea, PSG, Inter, etc.), the caliber may be higher than you give credit for.

      • That’s not quite what I am saying. What I am saying is that the various academies and traditional clubs are intermingled in the standings in such a way that neither one has established dominance over the other.

        I’m not saying the overall quality is good or bad, I’m saying the MLS academies are not so good relative to the traditional clubs that they have displaced them. That is my response to the people who act like the academies are the solution to everything, and should even get the trickle down from a theorized Bradenton tear-down. If the Dynamo is not better than traditional clubs like the Dallas Texans or Solar, why do they have superior right to the players, and how can we say it’s better for the people to be in the academies? Until the academies are uniformly better than the clubs, I don’t buy it.

        I think you might be reading a tad into the pro affiliations appearing in the club names. Solar Chelsea for instance. Solar is a long-established Dallas club, I once had a hat trick on them in a tournament. But the “Chelsea” bit reflects the occasional sponsorship, odd training session, and the opportunity for exchange. It’s a slight add on to a traditional club. It’s not like CFC set up an academy that is training people U10 up in the CFC manner…’s a light hookup with a big name.

        One thing that struck me as interesting is if you look at the USSDA standings is both the IMG teams are way down their standings. Bradenton was the impetus for the turn of century US team with Donovan and Beasley and Gooch and such. If that is faltering then we’re back to a de-centralized apparatus.

    • Honestly it’s not about one or two standouts right now, the whole squad has just gelled, to be rather cliche about it, but that’s what has happened. 8 different goal scorers right now, out of the 10 men on the field, that’s solid in any league. Our D has been anchored by John and second year man Hedges, with Loyd and Benitez out wide. 3 of the 4 have been together for a few years now, that kind of cohesion is difficult in this league; especially with the amount of player movement via trades.

      We had a stable of strikers for once, versus having 1 for the past two year. The sale of Brek Shea really filled some key pieces that have been shallow on depth. Add to that, the guys have been healthy!!! Last year FCD players accumulated almost 150 games missed due to injury, that is huge. I recall at one point last year having 7 starters out for suspension/injury/national team duty – MLS teams do NOT have the financial means to sustain good results with that kind of player loss.

  9. It was obvious during the winter that my DC would falter. But Benny has us in a tailspin and I’m not confident anymore that he has the tactical grit to get us out of it in time. His, and the front office’s, transfers have been absolutely dreadful.

    • Ben’s tactics include being physical and running a lot. The front office and Ben have constructed this roster to be a bottom feeder team. So, like you said they are living up to their potential.

      The defense was decent, but now has fallen apart in recent weeks. The summer transfer window cannot get here soon enough. There needs to be a major signing or we can look forward to another historically terrible year.

    • I would hope they would give him the rest of the season at least. 3 of 4 midfield starters are injured. They sold Najar and all their forwards that have been known to score actual goals. Olsen is certainly at least partially responsible for the moves. We need to see if he learns his lesson about forwards. I am more than willing to stick with him.

      Last season everyone was certifying him as a genius for getting the performance he did out of the squad that he had. So when he doesn’t do as well with a much weaker squad, now it’s suddenly his fault as a coach? I don’t buy it. Let someone else pick some forwards for him, but keep him on as coach.

    • He has this season left until he is gone. I don’t think the fault is on him as much as it should be on the front office, who made terrible decisions in the offseason and put Ben in this hell hole. Although, the season is basically over all ready. They need a major impact signing this summer — like someone who will score 10+ goals in the 2nd half of the season — to salvage anything from this season. I’m thinking Drogba, or maybe Messi or Robin van Persie, or fat Ronaldo, or El Diablo, anybody who will score goals.

  10. Houston needs another attacking option. Bruin needs help and Barnes seems out of position, or lost. Why do they refuse to sign a solid DP at that position. Also, Boswell is slowing down….the team is slowing down. It kind of sucks to see these guys falling apart.

    Also, during the podcast…any time Ives talks about Portland, the podcast should play this..

    • I agree with your basic thesis. The goal Barnes scored is almost more a midfielder’s goal, and if he went backwards we’d have more midfield options and not have to sub in DMs when we need attack.

      But then you get into the difficulties posed by the Houston offseason. Cummings was the main outside acquisition, and he’s been hurt. Carr remains out. The new kid hasn’t played. Kinnear foolishly re-signed Ching (5 G in 2012) and Weaver (0 goals since May 2011), who are both slow as molasses these days. So there’s not much of a second forward, I agree.

      The problems I see are Cummings, Carr, Ching, and Weaver are all CBA-guaranteed types. So you can’t just cut them and use cap room for a healthy second forward. We could do a trade, but who would want these guys? Maybe you could trade or release midfielders, but then that would put pressure on middie depth in a tough season with callups and CCL. Kinnear has often made summer signings that help, but he’s tied his own hands a little this year. I think we do need help and the quality of that help will determine if we are also rans again this year, but this year might be particularly challenging because of the Ching, Weaver, and Cummings unforced errors.

      I don’t see the team as falling apart, I just think it lacks punch most nights. It’s a veteran and professional bunch capable of churning out results, but the forward issues are holding back a team that actually has an interesting midfield now.

      • As a DC Fan having a shameful start to the season 🙁 I’d gladly trade our forwards for those in Houston…minus the young DP.

      • Ching I’m sure could be convinced to retire to the FO or something. Do we get his cap space if that happens before some date? I think when Cummings and Carr are healthy this team becomes completely different. If that ever happens.

      • Cummings already played in a game…..What happened? Was it a reinjury for Cummings? Or lack of fitness?

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