The Houston Dynamo keep on rolling, and keep on climbing the SBI MLS Power Rankings.
Led by hat-trick hero Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres, the Dynamo cracked the top four for the first time this season on the strength of a 4-1 thrashing of the New York Red Bulls.
The Columbus Crew continued their climb up the list as well, making it three straight wins to settle into the Top 10.
At the bottom of the rankings, we have a new team in the basement, and it’s Real Salt Lake after being manhandled by previous last-place holder Minnesota United.
Here is a closer look at this week’s SBI MLS Power Rankings:
SBI MLS PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS
1. (Last week: 1) FC DALLAS (2-0-1)
THIS WEEK: vs. Minnesota United on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The CCL elimination surely stings, but now Oscar Pareja’s men can turn their attention toward the match to a first MLS Cup title. Minnesota United should enter with some confidence after its first MLS win, but FC Dallas will be looking to take its frustrations out on the visitors on Saturday, and we could see a goal-fest.
2. (2) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (1-1-2)
LAST WEEK: Tied Atlanta United, 0-0, last Friday.
THIS WEEK: at San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: A frustrating home debut left the Sounders settling for a point, but moving a week away from the international fixture period should mean a fresher Sounders squad as top players recover from national team duty. A healthy Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris should cause problems for San Jose’s defense, though the Earthquakes are tough at home.
3. (3) PORTLAND TIMBERS (3-1-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied the New England Revolution, 1-1, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK: at Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Timbers let two points get away in their home draw against the Revs, and must now travel cross-country for a tricky test against a struggling Philadelphia side. The Timbers’ patchwork defense could see some injured starters return as Liam Ridgewell and Vytas move closer to recovery.
4. (7) HOUSTON DYNAMO (3-1-0)
LAST WEEK: Beat the New York Red Bulls, 4-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at New England Revolution on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Missing Romell Quioto to injury didn’t slow down the Dynamo attack one bit as they ran wild on the Red Bulls. They will leave the comforts of home for a visit to Gillette Stadium, where New England will offer some unique challenges for the Dynamo defense.
5. (4) TORONTO FC (1-0-3)
LAST WEEK: Tied Sporting Kansas City, 0-0, last Friday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Atlanta United on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: TFC paid the price for wasting good chances in a goal-less draw Greg Vanney’s side will feel it should have won. A different kind of challenge arrives next in an Atlanta United side that showed last week it can play a defensive game as well as the wide-open attacking game we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from Tata Martino’s men. With Miguel Almiron back, Atlanta United will test Michael Bradley and the TFC midfield.
6. (8) NEW YORK CITY FC (2-1-1)
LAST WEEK: Beat the San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at D.C. United on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Did a good job of overcoming an early-game wobble to rally and post an impressive home win, complete with a Tommy McNamara winner. A trip to RFK Stadium could allow Patrick Vieira’s men to open things up offensively against a D.C. defense that has looked shaky at times, only to be bailed out by Bill Hamid. Rodney Wallace returns to the stadium where his pro career began, and could have a field day against his former team.
7. (6) ATLANTA UNITED (2-1-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied the Seattle Sounders, 0-0, last Friday.
THIS WEEK: at Toronto FC on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Earning a road point in Seattle without Miguel Almiron or Josef Martinez in the starting lineup is an admirable accomplishment, and the ATL defense showed it can hold things down when needed. Another tough challenge awaits in Toronto, where Sebastian Giovinco will be like no challenge Atlanta’s defense has faced before.
8. (12) COLUMBUS CREW (3-1-1)
LAST WEEK: Beat Orlando City, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at Chicago Fire on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: A third straight win for the Crew, who are playing well defensively and riding the recent hot form of Justin Meram in attack. Rookie defender Alex Crognale once again stepped in for Jonathan Mensah and played well, while Zack Steffen continues to settle in as the Crew’s starting goalkeeper. The Chicago Fire, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, should offer a good test for a Crew central midfield that played very well against Orlando City.
9. (5) NEW YORK RED BULLS (2-2-1)
LAST WEEK: Lost to the Houston Dynamo, 4-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at Orlando City on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: The Red Bulls played their worst match of the year, looking generally flat and nothing like their usual energetic and dangerous selves. Orlando City won’t present the same challenges from a defensive standpoint, but Cyle Larin has had success against the Red Bulls in the past and will remain a handful against a Red Bulls central defense in a bit of an unsettled state.
10. (9) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (1-0-3)
LAST WEEK: Tied Toronto FC, 0-0, last Friday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Colorado Rapids on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: Showed well in earning a valuable road point in Toronto. Peter Vermes had to be happy with how his team started that match, though the second half left a bit to be desired. A return home to face a defensive-minded Rapids side should offer SKC’s attack a good test. Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber will need to be at their best if Sporting KC is going to break down the stingy Rapids.
11. (10) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (2-2-0)
LAST WEEK: Lost to New York City FC, 2-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Earthquakes’ road struggles continued in a loss at Yankee Stadium that San Jose never really threatened in after the first half. A return home should provide a boost, but the Sounders are a stacked team capable of causing problems for their defense, especially with Victor Bernardez suspended. Having Anibal Godoy back in the lineup will be big, but the Earthquakes will need their full attack to step up to generate chances against a tough Sounders defense.
12. (11) ORLANDO CITY (2-1-0)
LAST WEEK: Lost to the Columbus Crew, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: The Lions suffered their first loss of the season, as the concerns about being able to create chances consistently proved justified. Yes, it’s only one match, but Sunday’s match against the Red Bulls should tell us whether Jason Kreis’ squad is capable of generating goals on a consistent basis without Kaka. The addition of Luis Gil should help add some creativity to the midfield.
13. (14) COLORADO RAPIDS (1-1-1)
LAST WEEK: Bye.
THIS WEEK: at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: Traded away Sam Cronin and Marc Burch, two key starters from last season’s successful squad, in a bit of a surprise move. The logic behind the move was clearing cap space in order to boost the attack. That could take some time, but it could also mean a step back defensively while the Rapids adjust to a new starting combination. Nana Boateng should step in for Cronin, while the Rapids should settle on the fullback tandem of Mekell Williams and Eric Miller. A trip to Sporting Kansas City may not be the best thing for a team adjusting its defense.
14. (16) CHICAGO FIRE (1-1-2)
LAST WEEK: Tied the Montreal Impact, 2-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. the Columbus Crew on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Bastian Schweinsteiger looked impressive in his debut, giving Fire fans reason to feel even more optimistic about this season. Louis Solignac’s stunning equalizer also offered a glimpse of what he can bring to the table. That aside, a draw against a short-handed Montreal side was still disappointing, but Velko Paunovic’s men can make up for it with win against the red-hot Crew.
15. (18) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (1-2-1)
LAST WEEK: Beat the LA Galaxy, 4-2, last Saturday, lost to Tigres, 2-1, in CONCACAF Champions League semifinals on Wednesday.
THIS WEEK: at Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Bittersweet week as the Whitecaps beat the Galaxy, but then fell short in its CCL quest. There were plenty of positives to take from both matches, and the win against LA definitely gives Carl Robinson’s men something to build on. Can Brek Shea build on his CCL goal? The Whitecaps face an RSL side that looked atrocious last week, but will be playing for new coach Mike Petke and will be trying to impress their new coach.
16. (13) LA GALAXY (1-3-0)
LAST WEEK: Lost to the Vancouver Whitecaps, 4-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Montreal Impact on Friday night.
OUTLOOK: The Galaxy showed real promise in the first half of last week’s game against Vancouver, but then promptly fell apart. With Gyasi Zardes, Ashley Cole and Gio Dos Santos back from injury, there’s less room for excuses. A return home to take on the Impact should offer LA a chance for a reset.
17. (19) D.C. UNITED (1-2-1)
LAST WEEK: Beat the Philadelphia Union, 2-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. New York City FC on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: It wasn’t the prettiest win, but D.C. will take the triumph over Philly and look to build on it after a rough start to the season. Bill Hamid’s heroics in goal reminded us just how good he can be, but if you’re Ben Olsen you want to see fewer chances flying at him. D.C. did finally score a few goals, but the attack is still not looking as good as it did last season. There should be chances available against NYCFC, but the question is can D.C. contain the dangerous NYCFC attack?
18. (20) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (1-2-1)
LAST WEEK: Tied the Portland Timbers, 1-1, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK: vs. the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Revs defense impressed in keeping Portland’s explosive attack under wraps, with rookie Joshua Smith impressing and new signing Antonio Delamea looks like the defensive leaders the Revs badly needed. Things don’t get much easier, with Houston and red-hot striker Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres coming to town.
19. (15) MONTREAL IMPACT (0-1-3)
LAST WEEK: Tied the Chicago Fire, 2-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at LA Galaxy on Friday.
OUTLOOK: Earning a road point without Ignacio Piatti and Laurent Ciman was truly impressive, with Ballou Tabla turning heads in place of Piatti. Can Mauro Biello’s side do it again in LA? That’s a tall order, even with the Galaxy’s recent struggles.
20. (22) MINNESOTA UNITED (1-3-1)
LAST WEEK: Beat Real Salt Lake, 4-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at FC Dallas on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Historic first win for the Looons in pummeling RSL, but have the defensive questions been addressed? Trading for Sam Cronin and Marc Burch should go a long way toward tightening things up, but a trip to Dallas to take on a stacked FC Dallas side coming off an emotional loss is a very tall order.
21. (17) PHILADELPHIA UNION (0-1-2)
LAST WEEK: Lost to D.C. United, 2-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Portland Timbers on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: It isn’t time to panic in Philly, but Union fans have reason to be a little worried after watching Philly lay an egg at RFK Stadium. The first half was particularly atrocious, and something the Union can’t afford against the Timbers is a slow start like that. Can the Timbers defense hold up against a loaded Portland attack?
22. (21) REAL SALT LAKE (0-3-2)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Minnesota United, 4-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: A nightmare day in Minnesota for RSL, but perhaps that debacle provides the fitting book end to a disappointing stretch for the team, which begins the Mike Petke era this week. New coach or not, untl RSL’s defense gets healthy, wins will be tough to come by, and the Whitecaps have the attacking weapons to punish RSL’s patchwork backline.