Real Salt Lake might have had the week off so how did that impact their place in the rankings. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
New teams at the top of both conferences, as well as a overall change at number 1. So as I look at both the standings and the matches over the last couple months it appears to me that their are really 3 tiers of teams (remember when SB Nation did a tiered power ranking?). There are a group of 6 teams at the top, and a group of 8 or so in the middle and a small group that simply are looking awful. So let's start to take a look at the Eastern Conference, where the surprise of DC United's climb has them closing in on the top spot in the East:
1. New York Red Bulls - 8-3-1
No team in MLS is hotter than the Red Bulls, and to think they are doing this without Thierry Henry makes it all the more impressive. This weekend they became the first team to beat Montreal at home, now granted this was an insane match with a pair of questionable handball calls, and then in the second half New York went down to 10 men but were still able to get the winning goal down a man but then able to hold on despite giving up over 60% possession and facing 20 shots. New York will play host to Chivas USA on Wednesday and then be off for the FIFA break.
2. D.C. United - 7-4-3
Two matches last week and two wins with a 2-0 win over the Rapids, and then a 3-1 win over Toronto FC and while when they are good they are really good, but we have seen them also play some flat matches this year. I think they have made some great moves with bringing in a combination of young players and others to build around Dwayne De Rosario. DC has had the busiest schedule having played 14 matches, they will get one more in before the FIFA break as they will play host to the New England Revolution on Saturday.
the rest of the rankings after the break
3. Sporting Kansas City - 7-3-1
They snap their 3 match losing streak with a 2-2 draw at Colorado on Saturday, but one has to wonder what has happened to the team that had been playing such great defense. KC took an early 2-0 lead in the first 15 minutes on two Teal Bunbury goals but then in the second half they gave up a pair of goals. It was good to see their offense sparking again but we will have to see if they can get their defensive bite back as they will play host to high scoring San Jose Earthquakes.
4. Chicago Fire - 4-3-3
The Fire lost 2-1 on Sunday at Portland but to be honest I thought the Fire were probably the better team on the night, with more possession, passing, shots and more. The Fire have only played 10 matches so far this year, only Toronto FC has played fewer matches, so they get a busy couple weeks coming up. First up this week will be hosting FC Dallas on Wednesday and then heading to Columbus to take on the Crew on Saturday. Can the Fire do something to prove that they belong in that upper tier of teams in MLS this year?
5. Houston Dynamo - 3-3-4
They Dynamo have played 10 matches so far this season with just 2 of them at home, this weekend they were back on the road at New England and were able to leave with a 2-2 draw in large part due to Luiz Camargo's first MLS goal which came in the 87th minute of the match. It is going to be interesting to see how they are able to do at home this year, with so many matches coming up this summer. Their next match will be against the LA Galaxy on Saturday as they head back to their nice new home BBVA Compass Stadium.
6. New England Revolution - 4-6-1
The Revolution continue to play close matches week in and week out, this week it resulted in a 2-2 draw at home in a match where they allowed the visiting Dynamo to control 61.9% of the possession, and the Dynamo attempted 554 passes to New England's 335. Had it not been for a pair of Saer Sene goals, the Rev's wouldn't have had a chance, going to need a much better effort this weekend as they head to RFK to take on DC United.
7. Montreal Impact - 3-6-3
Most expansion teams don't do very well their first year, of course we have seen an expansion team win it all back when the Fire joined MLS, and the Sounders made the playoffs their first year, but more often a team struggles their first year. and the Impact did that early this year, but they have just 1 loss in their last 5 matches 2-1-2, which puts them in with some of the top teams in the league. They lost 2-1 at home to NYRB last weekend, their first home loss of the season, this weekend they will look to improve on their 1-5-1 road record as they will head to Colorado to take on the Rapids.
8. Columbus Crew - 3-4-3
So close to jumping up the rankings, they dodged bullet after bullet in San Jose to hold on to their 1-0 lead until the 90th minute. Don't get me wrong they were dominated in every aspect of the match but Andy Gruenebaum was amazing making 7 saves, with at least 3 of them worthy of save of the week. The Crew still have some real issues on the pitch, and two matches this week will show if they can get and hold on to a lead, first they head to Seattle to take on the Sounders on Saturday, then they play host to the Fire on Saturday.
9. Philadelphia Union - 2-6-2
Well after trading away their captain to Chivas USA last week, they went down to Dallas and were able to battle back to get a 1-1 draw but neither side looked like they were capable of winning much, the Union tactics were simple foul, and foul often. They picked up 22 fouls to FCD's 13, they also won the yellow card battle 4-2 and they were lucky to not have more to be honest. This team is desperately looking for a leader on the pitch, the upside for the Union is that this weekend they will be travelling to take on Toronto FC, perhaps the only team in MLS with more issues than they have.
10. Toronto FC - 0-9-0
Well for the first time in a long time they looked like a 0-9-0 team as they were dominated pillar to post by DC United in a match that should have been worse than the 3-1 score line. The team has talent but it is clear that injuries to some of their on field leaders and contention within the organization have these guys being a victim of circumstances often beyond their control. They will play the first leg of the Canadian Championship on Wednesday, before hosting the Union on Saturday.
Well there you go a look at the East, now on to the West where things at the top and bottom are a bit cluttered.
1. Real Salt Lake - 8-3-2
A week off and RSL still find themselves at the top of the Western Conference but before they play their next match on Saturday when FC Dallas comes to town, RSL could be out of first place in the West and the top spot in MLS as Seattle, San Jose and New York all play on Wednesday. Real Salt Lake will have to find a way to deal with national team call ups of Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando on Saturday as they play host to FC Dallas.
2. Seattle Sounders - 7-2-2
The Sounders were able to pull off a 2-2 draw at Vancouver last weekend, thanks to a 90th minute goal by Fredy Montero, the Sounders were the better team in the match but had to come from behind twice to earn the tough road point. This week it is a pair of matches for the Sounders as they will play host to the Columbus Crew on Wednesday night, and then head to the Home Depot Center to take on Chivas USA on Saturday, two chances to pick up points as they battle for the top spot in the West.
3. San Jose Earthquakes - 7-2-3
It so looked like despite being the better team that the Quakes would not be able to get a result against lowly Columbus last weekend, in large part because of the amazing saves by Andy Gruenebaum, but Alan Gordon found the back of the net in the 90th minute to earn the draw for the Quakes. The Quakes have a busy week as they head to the HDC to take on the LA Galaxy on Wednesday night and then head to LIVESTRONG Sporting Park to take on Sporting KC on Sunday, oh and they will be doing it without Chris Wondolowski who was called up to the USMNT.
4. Vancouver Whitecaps - 5-3-3
Like a number of teams in the Western Conference I just don't know what to make of them yet, we know that the Whitecaps have some great offensive players, they played good defense to start the season, but I am just unconvinced by their work on the pitch so far. Eric Hassli, Sebastian Le Toux, and this teams seems more interested in a very rough physical style. The Whitecaps will keep up their busy schedule as leg one of the Canadian Championship will be played on Wednesday in Toronto and then they head to Portland to take on the Timbers, two big road matches.
5. Colorado Rapids - 5-6-1
Another team like Vancouver that I have more questions about than answers at this point of the season, a midweek loss to DC United and then a weekend draw with Sporting KC. How bi-polar are the Rapids? W-L-W-L-T so clearly this team has been dealing with both injuries as well as the new style of play with their new head coach Oscar Pareja and Technical Director Paul Bravo. Can the Rapids pull off a result against expansion side Montreal on Saturday?
6. Chivas USA -4-6-1
Oh for the fans of Chivas USA how sweet the 1-0 win over their landlords the LA Galaxy had to be this past weekend, but while they moved up the standings there are still some questions on how will the new players like Jose Correa. who got the game winner, defender Danny Califf, and forward Juan Agudelo help Chivas keep moving up? Well we should find out this week as they have two big tests, first on Wednesday they head to New York to take on the Red Bulls, and then on Saturday they will play host to the Seattle Sounders.
7. LA Galaxy - 3-6-2
Oh my we keep waiting for the Galaxy to step up and start playing well and winning but that just keeps avoiding them, now take away Landon Donovan, take away Robbie Keane, well sometimes you can take away David Beckham and you are left with a big question. Can the second string in LA do what the backups in New York have done? Win? They get two chances and neither of them will be easy, Wednesday they host San Jose and Saturday they will head to Houston to take on the Dynamo.
8. FC Dallas - 3-6-4
Dallas took and early lead but were unable to hold on against a very physical Philly Union team, that leaves them without a win in their last 5 matches 0-3-2. Add in the suspension of Brek Shea, and the many injuries that continues to plague them and things aren't getting any easier for FC Dallas. Wednesday they will head to Chicago to take on the Fire, and then Saturday they will be in Salt Lake to take on RSL.
9. Portland Timbers -3-5-3
While the Timbers got a 2-1 win over the Fire on Sunday, it was far from convincing and we have to wonder what is going on in Portland where a team goes from a breath away from the playoffs last year to really struggling to start this season. I don't care what anyone says, Kenny Cooper leaving left a big whole in their offense and like many others who have come from other leagues, MLS isn't a cake walk. So can they get things turned around? On Saturday they will play host to the Vancouver Whitecaps.
So there is my look at each of the conferences and of course because some of you asked and seem to like it, here is how I would rank the league as a whole. I have to put the Red Bulls up there, they have 5 straight wins, without some of their best players, and they are one of just two teams unbeaten at home.
1. Real Salt Lake
1. New York Red Bulls
3. Seattle Sounders
4. San Jose Earthquakes
5. DC United
6. Sporting KC
7. Vancouver Whitecaps
8. Houston Dynamo
9. Chicago Fire
10. Colorado Rapids
11. New England Revolution
12. Montreal Impact
13. Chivas USA
14. LA Galaxy
15. FC Dallas
16. Columbus Crew
17. Portland Timbers
18. Philadelphia Union
19. Toronto FC
So there you go my version of MLS power rankings after 11 weeks of the season are in the book. So what do you think?
OFF MY SOAPBOX