Photo by ISIphotos.com
The once-struggling Houston Dynamo is back in business with the return of Brian Ching and Stuart Holden reviving an offense that faltered badly without them.
The Dynamo scored four goals in its 4-3 win vs. D.C. United on Saturday, one more goal than Houston scored in the month of July in MLS play (three in four games). Ching and Holden combined for three of Houston's four goals to help the Dynamo extend its lead atop the Western Conference.
Houston still doesn't have the top spot in the SBI MLS Power Rankings. That honor stays with the Columbus Crew, which won its third straight by beating Colorado on Saturday. The three-game winning streak is made even more impressive by the fact that all three wins came without injured MLS MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto.
Here is how this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings shake out:
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 20)
1 (Last Week-1). Columbus Crew (8-3-9)
Last week- Beat Colorado Rapids, 1-0, last Saturday.
This week- at San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
Last Five (in MLS) - 3-0-2 in last five (W-W-W-T-T), unbeaten in last six.
Outlook - Chad Marshall shows that he can score with his feet while the Crew defense shuts down a dangerous Rapids attack.
2 (3). Chicago Fire (8-3-8)
Last week- Beat Real Salt Lake, 1-0, last Saturday.
This week- vs. Tigres on Wednesday (SuperLiga final); at Houston on Sunday.
Last Five - 3-0-2 (W-T-W-W-T), four straight shutouts.
Outlook - No Wilman Conde or Cuauhtemoc Blanco? No problem for a deep Fire team that looks to have finally figured out how to win at Toyota Park.
3 (4). Houston Dynamo (10-5-5)
Last week- Beat D.C. United, 4-3, last Saturday
This week- at FC Dallas on Thursday, vs. Chicago Fire on Sunday.
Last Five - 2-2-1 (W-L-T-L-W)
Outlook - With Ching and Holden back, the Dynamo stand poised to run away with the West. A tough pair of games this week will test Houston's defense that hasn't posted a shutout in a month.
4 (6). Los Angeles Galaxy (6-3-10)
Last week- Lost to FC Barcelona, 2-1, last Saturday.
This week- at New England Revolution on Saturday.
Last Five - 4-0-1 (T-W-W-W-W)
Outlook - With Landon Donovan and David Beckham on form, the Galaxy can solidify its playoff positioning with a win in New England, but LA needs goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts back ASAP.
5 (2). Seattle Sounders (7-4-8)
Last week- Lost to San Jose Earthquakes, 4-0, last Sunday.
This week- vs. FC Barcelona tonight (friendly); at Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Last Five - 2-1-2 (L-T-W-W-T), winless in seven straight on the road (0-3-4).
Outlook - Sounders drop yet another road game and have a troubling 0-3-3 record on grass this season. A visit to Rio Tinto Stadium looms large as a loss to Real Salt Lake could put Seattle's playoff bid on shaky ground.
6 (5). DC United (6-4-10)
Last week- Tied Luis Angel Firpo, 1-1, on July 30 (CONCACAF Champions League); Lost to Houston, 4-3, last Saturday; tied Luis Angel Firpo, 1-1, last Tuesday.
This week- vs. Real Madrid on Sunday (friendly).
Last Five - 1-2-2 (L-T-W-T-L)
Outlook - Winning Champions League series is impressive, but one has to wonder whether qualifying for the group stage could ultimately hurt DC United's MLS playoff prospects.
7 (7). Colorado Rapids (7-6-6)
Last week- Lost to Columbus Crew, 1-0, last Saturday.
This week- vs. Chivas USA on Saturday.
Last Five - 2-3 (L-W-L-W-L)
Outlook - Ugo Ihemelu's red card didn't cost the Rapids the loss vs. Columbus, but it sure didn't help. If Conor Casey can return from his groin injury, Colorado will have a good chance of knocking off Chivas USA and creating some distance in the West standings.
8 (8). Chivas USA (8-6-3)
Last week- bye
This week- vs. Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
Last Five – 1-4 (L-L-L-L-W)
Outlook – Will the time off help Preki figure out what happened to the Goats' early-season form? The better question is can Dan Kennedy fill in well for injured starter Zach Thornton?
9 (9). Real Salt Lake (6-8-5)
Last week- Lost to Chicago Fire, 1-0, last Saturday.
This week- vs. Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
Last Five - 2-2-1 (L-W-L-T-W).
Outlook - Can RSL keep Seattle's road woes going? Salt Lake's defense has been better, but the attack needs to find some consistency.
10 (11). New England Revolution (6-5-6)
Last week- vs. Toronto FC on Saturday.
This week- vs. Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday.
Last Five - 2-1-2 in last five (T-W-W-T-L), unbeaten in four.
Outlook - The Revs are the forgotten team in MLS these days, but they are slowly awakening and have games in hand on the rest of the playoff field.
11 (10). Toronto FC (7-7-6)
Last week- Lost to Puerto Rico Islanders, 1-0, last Wednesday (CONCACAF Champions League); tied New England Revolution, 1-1, on Saturday.
This week- at Puerto Rico Islanders tonight (CONCACAF Champions League); vs. Real Madrid on Friday (friendly).
Last Five - 1-2-2 (T-L-T-W-L)
Outlook - With Champions League over, TFC can now focus on its first MLS playoff spot. You still have to worry about why Toronto couldn't manage one goal in two games vs. Puerto Rico.
12 (13). FC Dallas (5-9-5)
Last week- Beat Kansas City Wizards, 6-0, last Saturday.
This week- vs. Houston Dynamo on Thursday.
Last Five - 2-2-1 (W-L-L-W-T)
Outlook - Jeff Cunningham's four-goal barrage was impressive, but goals will be tougher to come by against Geoff Cameron and Houston.
13 (12). Kansas City Wizards (5-7-6)
Last week- Lost to FC Dallas last Saturday.
This week- Bye
Last Five - 1-2-2 (L-T-T-L-W)
Outlook - Curt Onalfo is out, Peter Vermes is in and he has two weeks to organizing a team capable of making a playoff run.
14 (14). San Jose Earthquakes (4-10-5)
Last week- Beat Seattle Sounders, 4-0, last Sunday.
This week- vs. Columbus Crew on Saturday.
Last Five - 1-2-2 (W-T-L-L-T)
Outlook - You could see the upset of Seattle coming after San Jose's stirring comeback vs. DC United. So are the Earthquakes for real? We'll find out when the champs come to town.
15 (15). New York Red Bulls (2-15-4)
Last week- Tied W Connection, 2-2, on Thursday (CONCACAF Champions League); Bye in MLS
This week- vs. W Connection on Wednesday (CONCACAF Champions League).
Last Five - 0-5 (L-L-L-L-L), winless in 12 straight.
Outlook - Dead team walking in MLS, Red Bulls can find some new life if they can beat W Connection tonight and qualify for the Champions League group stage.
What do you think of this week's rankings? Share your thoughts below.