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Well last week was very busy and I missed posting my power rankings, that can happen with 3 matches in a week plus a busy week at work. So this is another busy week but I am going to put together my version of MLS Power Rankings for you, up first a look at the very chaotic Eastern Conference where anything can and is likely to happen.
1. Sporting Kansas City - A week off after their loss at Portland might have been the break that SKC needs to recover from that first loss, the reality is that they had stuck with their main lineup each of their first 7 matches and that physically can take a toll on players. After a weeks rest, they get to play host to expansion side Montreal, I think their top spot is probably safe another week.
2. D.C. United - DC has leapfrogged over the New York Red Bulls on the strength of their 4-1 win over those Red Bulls and then a 3-2 win over Houston. It appears that the pieces of the puzzle have started really coming together for Ben Olsen and his team, the question is where did this Maicon Santos come from? I mean he got some attention last year both at Toronto and FC Dallas, but 6 goals and 1 assist in 616 minutes of playing time is impressive. Yet before we put them in the playoffs there is a lot of soccer to be played, first up a midweek match at Buck Shaw Stadium against the San Jose Earthquakes, then off to BMO field on Saturday and a match against Toronto FC.
3. New York Red Bulls - Well they looked awful against DC, and slightly better in their 1-0 win over New England on Saturday but with Theirry Henry out for a couple weeks it will be interesting to see how the Red Bull offense can do, and if their defense can hold up. The upside for the Red Bulls is that nobody is doing much to challenge them in the Eastern Conference and with our without TH14, this is likely still a team that will be fighting for the playoffs. MLS gets their dream matchup as the Red Bulls will head out to the Home Depot Center on Saturday night and take on the LA Galaxy, the big question is who of their big names will actually be playing?
the rest of my rankings after the jump:
4. Houston Dynamo - So let me be honest I am not really surprised that as they head into their last road match of seven to start the season, that they have been fairly average 2-2-2 so far. This is a team that I still have more questions than answers about but they play really good defense and get some opportune goals. The Dynamo again are off this weekend, but are getting close to their home opener and that could provide this team with a real boost and the spark they may need to pile up points in a hurry.
5. Chicago Fire - Another 2-2-2 team after they suffered a 2-1 loss to the Sounders, I haven't watched the end of this match yet but I hear it ended with a bit of chaos. It means they will be missing a coach and player on Friday night as they head out to the HDC to take on Chivas USA. I still don't know for sure what to think about this team or their collection of midfield full of guys whose last names start with P.
6. Montreal Impact - Yeah this is how bad the East is, expansion side Montreal who are averaging less than a point per match are at number 6 after a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers last weekend. This is still a group of players that are learning how to function as a team, so their results now are very mixed, the result of great individual efforts or really bad calls by officials. A busy week for the Impact as they will start the Canadian Championship on Wednesday and then get to head to Livestrong Sporting Park to take on Sporting KC.
7. Philadelphia Union - After back to back wins the Union ran into Steven Lenhart and the San Jose Earthquakes, this is a team that has some issues and no lack of controversy this year. The big question is can they put that behind them, find someone who can score goals and get back into the playoff hunt? Well they get to head to Seattle for a Saturday afternoon match, gonna say they need a lot of help this weekend.
8. Columbus Crew - Three losses in their last 4 matches and their only wins are over Toronto and Montreal, yeah the Crew could end up the season at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Why a playoff team would go into rebuilding mode again is beyond me, but the reality of their having the lowest payroll in MLS should come as no surprise if you have seen them play. Next up will be a trip out west to take on the Portland Timbers.
9. New England Revolution - Three straight losses for the Revolution, but to be fair their schedule has been road heavy to start the year, with five of their first seven matches on the road. Jay Heaps is busy changing a roster and a style of play, and that isn't an easy task. I know they have dealt with injury issues as well as just trying to find a lineup that works. There will be little time for tinkering this week as they play host to the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday and then head to Salt Lake for a match with RSL on Saturday.
10. Toronto FC - They came so close to getting a point on Saturday, they held onto a 2-2 draw heading into stoppage time against RSL only to see their hopes dashed on a late goal by Jonny Steele. The upside is that Eric Avila showed everyone what he is capable of and that could spell danger for other opponents as the year goes along. The real question is how long can Aron Winter and his dreams of "total football" hang on in Toronto without wins? Maybe a midweek win over Canadian rival Montreal in the first of the Canadian Championship matches will buy him some time, if not they will get a chance for their first MLS points of the season on Saturday when they play host to DC United.
So there you go the East, where being decent might be good enough to make the playoffs. So on to the Western Conference:
1. San Jose Earthquakes - Well back to back wins for the Quakes who have four wins in their last 5 matches, as they pick up a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union. Two late goals by Steven Lenhart, prove that San Jose is more than just Chris Wondolowski, now the team will get a couple more chances to extend their streak as they play host to DC United on Wednesday, and then head up north to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. Can anyone slow the Quakes down?
2. Real Salt Lake - Not a great week for RSL, a loss at San Jose, a draw at FC Dallas and a hard fought win over TFC at home, still when the dust settles RSL are still a contender for the top spot in the West. At 6-3-1, you have to consider the season off to a good start when you factor in that their projected first XI still haven't started a match together. You don't want to peak too early in MLS, it is a very long season, for RSL the injury plagued start of the year is a mixed blessing as the team has been forced to get some of their young players a lot of minutes, which should pay off as the season progresses. RSL will play host to the New England Revolution on Saturday night.
3. Seattle Sounders - The Sounders have had a light schedule to start the year, having played the fewest matches in the Western Conference with just 6 so far. That might be a real blessing as the team has struggled with a number of injuries, and yet still managed to get very solid results. As they get healthier and busier we should find out a lot more about how good this Sounders team can be. They get two chances to prove it this week, as they play host to the LA Galaxy on Wednesday, and then welcome the Philadelphia Union to town on Saturday.
4. Vancouver Whitecaps - In the preseason everyone was focused on all the offensive weapons that the Whitecaps were adding to their roster, but 8 matches into the season it has been their defense that has been most impressive, only two teams have given up fewer goals than Vancouver's 6 allowed. That solid defense has kept them near the top of the West, what will happen if/when their offense starts to click? This week they open their Canadian Championship run with a Wednesday match at Edmonton FC, before hosting the West leading Quakes on Saturday.
5. Colorado Rapids - Will the real Colorado Rapids please step up? I mean are they the team that dropped 3 straight matches or the team that scored 4 goals in a 4-0 shutout of Chivas USA? A new coach, a new style and on pitch attitude, some new faces, perhaps no team is more in search of their real identity than the Rapids at this point of the season. Will they start seeing other injured players returning to boost their lineup like Conor Casey did? Well they don't get time at home to think about it, they get two road matches this week, first up are the Revolution on Wednesday, and then FC Dallas on Sunday.
6. LA Galaxy - Well have the early season issues been put behind the Galaxy? Not so sure, as neither David Beckham or Robbie Keane traveled for their midweek match, and neither was listed on Tuesday's injury report. So without them on Wednesday at Seattle can the Galaxy find a way to keep their streak of 3 straight results going? They didn't look good last weekend against FC Dallas, and have their big match with the Red Bulls on Saturday, so can the Galaxy do something to convince me they are worth moving up the rankings?
7. FC Dallas - A pair of 1-1 draws last week, first at home against RSL and then on the road against the Galaxy, I keep expecting something more from Dallas, and hopefully when they start getting healthy again we will see a team that should be contending in the West for a playoff spot. This weekend they will play host to the Colorado Rapids on Sunday.
8. Chivas USA - Wow after winning all their road matches, Chivas goes to Colorado and gives up 4 second half goals to get beat 4-0, giving them back to back losses. The issue is simple they have to learn how to score goals, only, no team in MLS has scored fewer goals than the 4 that Chivas have. I hope with Juan Pablo Angel coming back that they can find some offense because if they don't it could be a very long spring and summer. Chivas have yet to win a match at the Home Depot Center this year, they get another shot as the Chicago Fire come to town on Saturday.
9. Portland Timbers - Oh they looked so good the first two weeks of the year, but since then it has been a train wreck, 4 losses in their last 5 matches. No team in the West have given up more goals than the 13 allowed by Portland, they simply look confused on the pitch, now granted their was some questionable calls in their 2-0 loss at Montreal, plus the bad turf, but it was still Montreal. Last year it was all about Jack Jewsbury, this year not so much, can the Timbers figure it out on Saturday as they play host to the Columbus Crew?
So that brings me to my listing of the overall MLS power rankings, which of course don't mean much as the teams from the different conferences will play such completely different schedules.
1. Sporting Kansas City
2. San Jose Earthquakes
3. Real Salt Lake
4. Seattle Sounders
5. DC United
6. New York Red Bulls
7. Vancouver Rapids
8. Colorado Rapids
9. LA Galaxy
10. FC Dallas
11. Houston Dynamo
12. Chicago Fire
13. Chivas USA
14. Columbus Crew
15. Philadelphia Union
16. Montreal Impact
17. Portland Timbers
18. New England Revolution
19. Toronto FC
So that is my take on Power Rankings after 8 weeks of Major League Soccer action, what do you think?
OFF MY SOAPBOX