Well by the schedule we are at the 1/4 mark of the Major League Soccer season and the teams at the top continue to show that they belong there, while the teams at the bottom also show that they do as well. Two teams had the week off and both probably needed the break worse than anyone as San Jose and Sporting KC both sit rock bottom of their respective conferences. So let's get the fun started:
18. Vancouver Whitecaps - down 1
You would think a draw on the road would be a good thing in the power rankings but after a couple of good results to start their season, the Whitecaps look very much like a MLS expansion team. Talent on the field but a lack of consistency and far too many mistakes. The upside is they figured out how to keep the struggling Chicago Fire from scoring, but they couldn't find the back of the net themselves. This week will be a busy one for the Whitecaps, they go home to face the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday, then off to the East coast to face the New England Revolution on Saturday, can they do enough to get out of the basement?
17. Chicago Fire - down 2
Well when you can't get a win at home it hurts but when you can only manage a 0-0 draw against a team that had given up 14 goals in their previous 7 matches, well you have some issues. Each time I watch the Fire play, I see the talent level is there for this to be a decent team, but I fail to see them working together as a team. Disjointed and unorganized is the only way I can describe their efforts of late, a real shame. Next up for the Fire is a trip to BMO Field on Saturday to face TFC.
16. Toronto FC - up two
I am not comfortable moving TFC up but it is more based on other teams looking worse than the fact that they pulled out a 2-1 win at home. I still think that there is some great talent on the TFC roster but it will take time for them adjust to playing together and there are still a couple pieces missing. This will be a big week for TFC as they head to Pizza Hut Park to face FC Dallas on Wednesday, and then back home to host the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
15. Sporting KC - down one
Despite having the weekend off SKC drop a spot, because teams that were below them did better this week. The never ending road trip for SKC makes stop #7 on Saturday as they will head to the Home Depot Center to face the LA Galaxy. I actually think they match up well against LA, so maybe a huge upset?
14. San Jose Earthquakes - down one
Like Sporting KC, the Quakes find themselves dropping a spot despite not being in action. If you want to know why, you just have to look at DC United who found a way to get 4 points last week with a win over Seattle and a draw against FC Dallas. The week off could be just what San Jose needs after 3 straight losses, they have two matches this week that they should be able to get results from, first they head to Empire Field to face Vancouver on Wednesday and then will be at home against the Crew on Saturday. With Simon Dawkins out for at least a month or longer, they will need to find a way to get results without him.
13. DC United - up three
I still don't know about DC United, they actually looked like the better team against Seattle on Wednesday but not by much, and on Saturday they held their own against FC Dallas. They still have allowed a league worst 17 goals, but as I have pointed out before at least this year they are able to score as well. Well at least they know that Charlie Davies can score for them. Should be interesting to see how they do on Saturday against Colorado, their 3rd straight home match against Western Conference foes, so far they are 1-0-1.
12. Chivas USA - down two
The temptation to put them all the way at the bottom for was strong, but the reality is that despite some awful plays that left them down two men, they found a way to bunker in and withstand a barrage of 17 shots by RSL and only gave up a goal. Next up for them is a Sunday trip to New York, where if they play the same way expect more red cards and awful tackles.
11. New England Revolution - up one
Normally getting a draw at home would hurt you in my ratings but the reality is that New England needed a result and got one against the defending MLS Cup champs. I still think this team will be moving up as the season goes along the combo of Sharlie Joseph and Benny Feilhaber will figure out how to team together and that will be a dynamic duo. They should have a good chance at getting a win on Saturday when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps.
10. Houston Dynamo - down four
Well the Dynamo had looked really good until last week then a pair of 2-1 losses, first at home to Colorado and then on the road at Toronto and now they need to quickly regroup before getting to Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night. This is a team with some talent but with a lot of new faces as well and inconsistency may be the norm for them as the year progresses. Young keeper Tally Hall has looked a lot more like a guy with under 20 starts in goal, but I still think he may be one of the real surprises of 2011.
9. Portland Timbers - up two
4-0-0 at home is impressive for any team, perhaps a bit more for an expansion team like the Timbers but I think the most impressive thing the last couple weeks is their ability to finally show that they can play some defense. After giving up 13 goals in their first 6 matches they have not gotten back to back clean sheets. Next up will be perhaps their biggest challenge of the year as they will head north to Seattle for a match at Qwest Field, and to say these two organizations don't like each other is an understatement.
8. FC Dallas - up one
After pulling out a win over LA last weekend, the Hoops got a 0-0 draw at RFK this weekend as they seem to be finding out what lineup will work best for them. I think they are a better team with Brek Shea in the midfield than they are with him on defense. Still some questions about their forwards who simply haven't lived up to expectations yet. Two matches at home this week, first up is Toronto FC on Wednesday and then the Philly Union come to town on Saturday.
7. Columbus Crew - up one
Slowly the Crew have been doing the grind out results thing, a win here, then a draw, then a win, then a draw and sure enough they have wormed their way into the 3rd spot in the Eastern Conference. This week their 1-1 come from behind draw was courtesy of a questionable PK call that allowed the Crew to even the match up. Next up for the Crew will be a trip to the West coast to face the San Jose Earthquakes, so far the Crew have 0 wins away from Crew Stadium.
6. Colorado Rapids - up one
A good midweek result at Houston with the 2-1 win and then a 0-0 draw on Saturday at New England to get 4 road points in a week. This team still has some injury issues and will be better if they can get healthy. They do have a huge road match again this weekend as they will face DC United, a result in this one could see them move into the top 5.
5. Seattle Sounders - down one
Two road matches but only 1 point to show for it, they dropped a 2-1 loss midweek to DC United and then had a shot at the win at Crew Stadium but had to settle for the 1-1 draw. Their 1.3 points per match would see them end the year with 44 points, I think they will need to pick up the pace if they want to stay in the top 5 of my rankings. The Cascadia rivalry will get kicked off for the Sounders this weekend as they will play host to the Timbers who have the same number of points as the Sounders in two fewer matches. A win is a must for the Sounders on Saturday night.
4. Los Angeles Galaxy - up one
I thought for sure the Galaxy would be in trouble when they gave up the early goal to New York, but they battled back to get a great goal by Landon to even the match at 1-1 and while I would say New York was a slightly better team on Saturday night, it was only a couple of huge saves that kept LA from scoring more. This week should tell us a lot about the Galaxy, they will head to Philly to face the Union on Wednesday and then head home to host Sporting KC on Saturday. They will need a couple of solid matches to keep their spot in the rankings.
3. Philadelphia Union - down one
Yeah I dropped them a spot for losing at Portland, but again they have another match with a 1-0 scoreline. While their defense is among the top of the pile in MLS, their offense has simply been non-existent since Carlos Ruiz joined the team. I am sorry but why for the love of goals would you put him up top and not Sebastian Le Toux? If they don't find a way to score more goals it will be hard for them to get more wins, this week they host the Galaxy on Wednesday and then head to FC Dallas for a Saturday match.
2. New York Red Bulls - up one
Well the Red Bulls find themselves at the top of the Eastern Conference with 15 points from their 8 matches and have to think that just an unlucky bounce off the post is what kept them from a win on Saturday night, but to be honest while they were the better team overall, it was the keeping of Bouna Coundoul that kept them in the match. There is too much talent on this team, but too often they are left to play like individuals instead of a team, they should have been able to dominate LA on Saturday but they didn't and in the end it cost them points. They should have no problem on Sunday when Chivas USA comes to Red Bull Arena.
1. Real Salt Lake - even
Yes they only could manage a 1-0 win over Chivas USA despite a two man advantage for more than 45 minutes, and yes they just lost their offensive playmaker and MVP candidate as Javier Morales will likely be gone at least 4 months, but RSL are the only team out there who are averaging more than 2 points per match. It will be a tough week for them as they try to deal with the lose of Javi, but the depth of this side should allow them to continue to play well. Up next for RSL is another home match on Saturday as Soccer Night in America via FSC comes to town to cover the match against the Houston Dynamo.
Well another week in the books and another set of power rankings, the teams at the top are really starting to show their class and the teams at the bottom, well are at the bottom.
OFF MY SOAPBOX