Major League Soccer Power Rankings - Week 4

Well we went into the weekend with 5 teams that hadn't tasted defeat, by the end of the week there was just one left. The week started in Vancouver, and it ended with Vancouver in Houston, 4 teams got wins and that will impact the rankings:

18. Portland Timbers - even

While the season is young the Timbers got a much needed break which will let them try to figure out a way to build on their draw at Portland last week.  For the Timbers there will be no more excuses as they will open their remodeled home stadium on Thursday night by taking on the Chicago Fire.  Emotions will be and the fans will be jacked up, it should be an exciting match.

17.  Chivas USA - even

It is hard to move out of the basement with a 0-0 draw against the Columbus Crew at home, but at least it wasn't a lose at home.  Chivas created some good chances in the match but it is clear that there is a lot of pressure on Justin Braun to score goals but the team has to help out, and having just 5 shots in a match means there is still a lot of work to be done.  Their task will be much tougher on Saturday as they will head north of the border to face the very entertaining Vancouver Whitecaps at Empire Field, where the home team has pulled out some amazing performances.

more after the jump:

So this is where things get really hard as there are 4 teams that I could put in any order at the bottom of my rankings and feel comfortable with where I have put them, but nobody said this was going to be easy.

16. Toronto FC - even

I was really tempted to move the Red's up a spot or two for a spirited effort in San Jose, but the reality is that they got a got a goal by Gordon early in the match but gave their lead up 10 minutes later and really didn't look that dangerous afterwards.  I was surprised that their defense did seem to step up their game a bit this weekend, and while nothing will show up on the stat sheet Adrian Cann made some huge plays as did keeper Stefan Frei.  This week will be a tough test for TFC as they play host to the LA Galaxy on Wednesday, and then host DC United on Saturday.  They will need results at home to move up in my rankings.

15. Columbus Crew - down 2

Yeah I normally reward teams that find a way to fight their way to results on the road but the Crew looked really ugly against a not very good Chivas team, it is clear that this team doesn't know how to keep possession or create many offensive chances.  In fact just 7 shots with just 2 on goal in the entire match, it was only a couple key saves by Hesmer that kept them from losing.  Clearly they are trying to figure out how to play better defense before moving on to things like possession and scoring.  They will need great defense as the high scoring Sporting KC will visit Crew Stadium on Saturday.

14. DC United - up 1

Well two years ago it was the LA Galaxy that seemed to live off shots from the PK spot, last year early it was the Crew that did the same thing, and sure enough DC United is the team doing the same thing so far in 2011.  The big issue for DC last year was a lack of defense, and so far in 2011 only the expansion side Whitecaps have given up more goals than the 8 the DC has.  Half of their offense has come from Charlie Davies at the PK spot, and we all know that trend will end.  DC will head back to the East coast as they will head to BMO field for a Saturday match against TFC, two teams battling to move up the table and power rankings.

13. Vancouver Whitecaps - down 2

There may be no more entertaining team in MLS this year, but as many expansion teams in the past they struggle with teamwork and discipline as their collection of both yellow and red cards continues to grow.  They have some great offensive players as no team has more than their 9 goals scored but defense is an issue as they have allowed 10 goals.  They are something amazing to see at home, where you never know what you will see but it will be exciting, so when Chivas comes to town on Saturday it should be fun to watch.

12. Chicago Fire - down 2

Well the week off didn't help the Fire, they looked really dangerous with 12 shots and 5 on goal but only one of them was able to find the back of the net.  What was great about their goal was that when they gave up a 7th minute goal in Seattle, they answered right back within a minute as Diego Chaves looked amazing.  It was a really fun match to watch but in the end the Fire gave up a second first half goal, and that was the final goal of the match as they dropped a 2-1 result at Qwest Field.  They will stay in the NorthWest as they will head to Portland for a Thursday night match, and then head home for a Sunday match against the LA Galaxy, this is a big week for the Fire.

11. New England Revolution - down 4

Yeah a drop of 4 is brutal, but so was watching the Revolution get beat by the bench players of Real Salt Lake, they gave up a goal in each half and it was clear that they got very frustrated as the match went along.  The Revolution did something I am not used to seeing from them, they played undisciplined and then got mad and it showed in their play as they ended with 4 yellow cards and two straight red cards. One has to believe that their new forward Rajko Lekic wasn't impressed but hopefully he will provide them with a calming offensive influence.  The next match for the Rev's will be a trip down to Houston on Sunday.

10. Houston Dynamo - up 2

First they look good earning a draw against New York last week and then this week, then they started the scoring in their match with the Whitecaps, but when Vancouver answered right back they showed more than some would expect as they took the lead back for good within 5 minutes.  20 shots is what the Dynamo fired at the Whitecap defense and in the end they got 3 into the back of the net and the 3-1 win.  It is clear that they are still figuring things out, but they may just be a better team than I expected. Houston will get another Sunday match at home next week as they play host to the New England Revolution.

9. FC Dallas - up 5

Yes when you get your first win of the season you move up, when you dominate a match you move up, combine those two when you are facing the defending MLS Cup champs and you move up 5 spots.  This was much closer to what people expect from FC Dallas this year, a 3-0 thrashing of the Colorado Rapids. It was also what people expected from David Ferreira the 2010 MLS MVP, two goals and looking dangerous all match long.  I am not sure if was that Colorado was without Pablo Masteroeni but they couldn't possess the ball and FC Dallas took advantage of them.  Next up for FC Dallas will be a trip to the Northwest as they will face expansion side Portland on Sunday.

8. Sporting KC - even

Well a week off from their 10 match road trip to start the year may be what Sporting needed, they have been completely average so far this year 1-1-1 with 8 goals scored and 8 allowed.  This week they will head to Columbus for a showdown with the Columbus Crew on Saturday.

7. Seattle Sounders - up 2

Finally, we all knew they had it in them, and finally they showed what their fans expected, flash, offensive style and defensive grit.  A 7th minute goal by O'Brian White was quickly answered by the Fire, but before the first half was over it would be the Sounders taking the lead again in the 25th minute when Steve Zakuani found the back of the net and secured the 2-1 win.  Now that they have that first win of the year under their belt, I expect that they will continue to improve as new faces get used to how Sigi wants the team to play.  A big test this weekend as they have to head to Philly and will face the Union on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park.

6. San Jose Earthquakes - even

I thought about moving the Quakes down for just earning a draw at home against TFC, but having watched that match closely I couldn't do it.  If San Jose can find a true striker to score for them, they will be a very dangerous team, they created 16 shots but only newcomer Simon Dawkins could find the back of the net.  Clearly there is a lot of pressure on Chris Wondolowski, last years golden boot, but I think as much pressure has to be on Ryan Johnson as well, both have missed some opportunities already this year.  I have to believe that unless one of them start to step up that Frank will be looking for some help for them.  Now they will have to head to Red Bull Arena and have to face a Red Bull team that is clearly under some pressure to get some results.

5. Colorado Rapids - down 3

One of the keys to success in MLS is depth, so when one or two players go down it shouldn't impact a team as much as the Rapids were hit by the absences of Pablo and Conor Casey.  The team went from undefeated to just awful in a hurry, I was really shocked how lost the team looked without their on field leader in the lineup.  I had much higher expectations of the defending champs, and they won't have much time to lick their wounds, as they will head to Rio Tinto to face their Rocky Mountain Cup foe in this showdown of the 2009 and 2010 MLS Cup Champions.

4. New York Red Bulls - down 1

Is it time to panic yet in New York?  No but they clearly have some things to work out on the field, perhaps the team with the most collective talent in MLS, but for some reason that high powered offense has only found the back of the net twice so far this year.  Thankful for them is that their defense has been impressive giving up just 2 goals so far this year, but expectations are much higher than what has been shown so far.  You have to believe that with so much offensive talent that establishing some type of order on the pitch has got to the a priority, you can't play like a youth team with everyone just chasing the ball.  The Red Bulls were able to create chances but of their 12 shots only one was actually on goal, Juan Agudelo did hit the woodwork twice in their 1-0 loss to the Union.  Perhaps a home match is just what the Red Bulls need, they will host San Jose on Saturday.

3. Los Angeles Galaxy - up 1

The Galaxy scored early, 1 12th minute goal by Mike Magee and even without Landon Donovan in the lineup they were the better team in their 1-1 draw at RFK with DC United.  It was an interesting match to say the least with Santino Quaranta being ejected for a 2nd yellow in the 84th minute, then Charlie Davies did his best acting job of the year and drew a 90th minute PK, which he finished to tie the score at 1-1.  For LA this will be a busy week as they head to BMO field to face Toronto FC on Wednesday, then will head to Chicago for a Sunday match with the Fire, should be fun to watch.

2. Philadelphia Union - up 3

Well, if there is a real surprise this early in the MLS season it has to be the Philly Union, who sit atop the Eastern Conference with a 3-1-0 record and having given up just a single goal in their first 4 matches.  They aren't flashy but they ground out a huge 1-0 win over New York on a 68th minute goal by Roger Torres, just their 3rd goal of the year. I think the biggest surprises have to be the improvement of their defense, which is one they will want to maintain, and the second is the lack of performance of Sebastien Le Toux, which I think will turn around soon.  The Union will get a big test this weekend as they play host to the Seattle Sounders on Saturday.

1. Real Salt Lake - even

Well a historic week for RSL, first they qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League finals and then they made their way up to New England to face the Revolution, for their 3rd MLS match of the season.  I think they may have started the least experienced lineup in a long time as 6 starters had a combined 22 previous MLS starts, but that didn't slow them down.  A first half goal by defender Chris Schuler, his first MLS goal, gave them a 1-0 lead at halftime and a quick goal in the second half by Paulo Jr, sealed the 2-0 win for Real Salt Lake in a match that got very chippy and ended with 3 red cards being shown.  Next up for RSL is a huge Rocky Mountain Cup showdown with the defending MLS Cup Champions Colorado on Wednesday.  Where they will look to remain the only undefeated team in MLS, and defend their historic home undefeated streak.

There are 11 MLS matches this week, clearly some huge movement in next weeks power rankings will be likely, but can RSL keep the top spot?  Can having two matches at home finally help Portland get out of the bottom spot?

OFF MY SOAPBOX

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