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It's no secret that West is the more dominant of Major League Soccer's two conferences. It's even more evident considering that the top four teams in the SBI MLS Power Rankings all hail from the Western Conference.
Los Angeles, FC Dallas, Seattle and Real Salt Lake occupy the top four spots in the latest rankings, respectively, after all added points to their totals this past week.
The biggest jumper in the league this week comes from the East, though, as Sporting Kansas City proved that there really is no place like home after recovering from its season-opening, 10-game road trip to continue its ascent up the actual league table and SBI's rankings.
Here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 15)
1. (Last week – 1) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (9-2-8, 35 points)
Last week: Tied San Jose, 0-0, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Seattle, 10:30 p.m, Monday, ESPN2.
Outlook: Who needs an actual goalkeeper when you've got Mike Magee? The Galaxy forward stepped up when Donovan Ricketts went down with a broken arm and backup Josh Saunders got red carded and managed to keep San Jose off the scoreboard for a whole half. He'll likely return to his natural position while Brian Perk mans the net against the Sounders, but there's no understating the value of the minutes Magee logged in net as the Galaxy pushed its unbeaten streak to 10.
2. (2) FC DALLAS (9-4-4, 31 points)
Last week: Beat Portland, 4-0, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Columbus, 9 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: FCD beat Portland at its own game, netting twice off set pieces to thrash a team to which it had lost earlier this season. Making the result more impressive is the fact that it came without DP forward Fabian Castillo, who's gone to Colombia U-20 camp in hopes of securing a spot for this summer's U-20 World Cup. FCD's next match comes against another team in good form and should be a nice test.
3. (3) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (8-4-7, 31 points)
Last week: Beat New York, 4-2, on Thursday; Beat New England, 2-1, on Saturday.
This week: at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m., Monday, ESPN2
Outlook: Seattle's three-game winning streak is the longest active streak in the league, and it will be put to the test on July 4 as the Sounders venture into the Home Depot Center in a rematch of this year's First Kick and last year's first-round playoff matchup. The Sounders are getting contributions from all over, with Roger Levesque and Tyson Wahl even finding the net. Kudos to Levesque on his scuba-dive goal celebration, too.
4. (T-4) REAL SALT LAKE (7-3-5, 26 points)
Last week: Tied Chicago, 0-0, on Wednesday; Beat Toronto FC, 3-1, on Saturday.
This week: vs. New England, 8:30 p.m., Monday.
Outlook: It's no coincidence that Alvaro Saborio's return — more notably his return to form — coincided with RSL's best result in what seems like ages. RSL will need to rely heavily on Saborio, as his strike partner, Fabian Espindola, was forced from the club's first match of the week in the opening minutes. Youngster Luis Gil could play a bigger role going forward as it's all hands on deck while the club moves forward.
5. (6) PHILADELPHIA UNION (7-4-5, 26 points)
Last week: Tied Sporting Kansas City, 0-0, on Wednesday; Beat Chivas USA, 3-2, on Saturday.
This week: at D.C. United, 7 p.m., Saturday, Fox Soccer Channel.
Outlook: The Union really should have earned six points last week, but the Jimmy Nielsen-led opposition limited Philly to a mid-week draw. The Union still has a hold on first place in the East but now has to contend with regional rival D.C. United, which will be amped after the acquisition of Dwayne De Rosario. The good news for the Union is that Danny Mwanga continues to be a late-game killer, and new signing Veljko Paunovic looks ready to contribute immediately.
6. (T-4) NEW YORK RED BULLS (5-3-9, 24 points)
Last week: Lost to Seattle, 4-2, on Thursday; Tied Chicago, 1-1 on, on Sunday.
This week: at San Jose, 10:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2.
Outlook: De Rosario being dealt to D.C. United capped a head-scratching week for the Red Bulls, for whom goalkeeping is currently a nightmare. Both Greg Sutton and Bouna Coundoul made calamitous errors that cost the team dearly this past week. The Gold Cup is over, so reinforcements are on the way; however, the injury that Rafa Marquez picked up against the United States could rule the Mexican captain out for an extended period of time. It's hardly panic time in the Big Apple, but things are far from settled.
7. (T-7) COLUMBUS CREW (6-4-6, 24 points)
Last week: Beat Colorado, 4-1, on Sunday.
This week: at FC Dallas, 9 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Columbus is in its best run of form of the season, winning two games in a row and looking pretty darn good while doing so. When DP striker Andres Mendoza is finishing his chances, the Crew's attack is a lot more potent. He'll need to be at his best again to crack FC Dallas' stout back line and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.
8. (9) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (5-5-5, 20 points)
Last week: Tied Los Angeles, 0-0, on Saturday.
This week: vs. New York, 10:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2.
Outlook: The Earthquakes can't be pleased that they failed to get one past Magee with a man advantage, but they'll hope to take advantage of New York's goalkeeping woes in a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference semifinals. With Chris Wondolowski back in the fold after the Gold Cup, San Jose could make life very difficult for whichever Red Bulls keeper is between the pipes. Like New York, San Jose also made a deal with D.C. United, dealing Brandon McDonald away for allocation money.
9. (T-7) COLORADO RAPIDS (5-5-7, 22 points)
Last week: Lost to Columbus, 4-1, on Sunday.
This week: vs. Houston, 9 p.m., Sunday, ESPN2.
Outlook: The Rapids continue to be in a funk, but perhaps Monday's meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama will rekindle the team's 2010 championship form. Despite taking an early lead against the Crew, the Rapids had Conor Casey get sent off and the wheels fall off as Andres Mendoza & Co. walked all over a defensive unit that hasn't played up to its potential.
10. (10) D.C. UNITED (4-5-6, 18 points)
Last week: Tied Houston, 2-2, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Philadelphia, 7 p.m., Saturday, Fox Soccer Channel.
Outlook: D.C. made a statement on Monday that it's trying to win now by bringing in De Rosario and McDonald. The two experienced players should help an otherwise young team with its late-game woes, as United failed to hold onto a late lead again and let home points slip away against Houston. If new-look D.C. is to make up ground in the East, there's no better way to start than by going up against the conference leader.
11. (12) HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-6-7, 19 points)
Last week: Tied D.C., 2-2, on Saturday.
This week: at Colorado, 9 p.m., Sunday, ESPN2.
Outlook: Brian Ching's late equalizer at D.C. saved Houston from a disappointing road result, but there's still something rather unsettling about this team after a promising beginning to the season. As well as Brad Davis has played, Houston is a couple of dynamic performances from goalkeeper Tally Hall away from being further down in the standings.
T-12. (14) CHICAGO FIRE (2-4-11, 17 points)
Last week: Tied Real Salt Lake, 0-0, on Wednesday; Tied New York, 1-1, on Saturday.
This week: at Chivas USA, 10 p.m., Saturday, Galavision.
Outlook: You'd think that the Fire believes ties are worth three points with the way its been playing. The club's two draws made it 10 in its last 12 games(!), but the points continue to add up nevertheless. The slow-and-steady approach to points is better than accruing none at all, but with Marco Pappa back in the lineup after the Gold Cup, it's time for Chicago's attack to show its true colors.
T-12. (15) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-6-5, 17 points)
Last week: Tied Philadelphia, 0-0, on Wednesday; Beat Vancouver, 2-1, on Saturday.
This week: at Portland, 11 p.m, Saturday.
Outlook: It's amazing what having a series of home games has done for Sporting KC, which finds itself right in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference after stumbling out of the gates to the tune of six points in its first 10 games. Unbeaten in its last seven games (3-0-4), SKC has to hit the road again to play at Portland, where winning is anything but easy.
14. (13) CHIVAS USA (4-7-5, 17 points)
Last week: Lost to Philadelphia, 3-2, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Chicago, 10 p.m., Saturday, Galavision
Outlook: All the work the Goats did to climb the Western Conference ladder has been undone by their three-game losing streak, which has them just three points clear of Vancouver at the cellar of the conference table. Making matters worse, the club turned another would-be tie into a loss by conceding a goal after the 80th minute for the second straight match.
15. (11) PORTLAND TIMBERS (5-7-3, 18 points)
Last week: Lost to FC Dallas, 4-0, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Sporting Kansas City, 11 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The Timbers are trending down in a major way after their latest loss extended their winless streak to five games (0-4-1). With a cluttered July schedule that includes three friendlies on the horizon, Portland desperately needs to regain its Jeld-Wen mojo to save some face and stay alive in the West, where it's fallen to seventh place.
16. (T-16) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (3-8-6, 15 points)
Last week: Lost to Seattle, 2-1, on Sunday.
This week: at Real Salt Lake, 8:30 p.m., Monday, ESPN2.
Outlook: Like Toronto FC found out last week, going into Rio Tinto Stadium is hardly the place to snap an extended winless streak. The Revs haven't won in seven matches (0-5-2), and they've already lost to what amounted to an RSL B team at Gillette Stadium this year. On the plus side, Benny Feilhaber returned to action against the Sounders and could provide the infusion of life the team desperately needs.
17. (T-16) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-7-8, 14 points)
Last week: Lost to Sporting Kansas City, 2-1, on Saturday.
This week: at Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday.
Outlook: The Whitecaps have likely been looking forward to this week for some time. After their Canadian championship second leg against TFC was postponed with the team leading, 1-0, in the second half, the match will be replayed in its entirety on Saturday. Prior to that, the two Canadian rivals will tussle in a league battle on Wednesday. Vancouver won at Empire Field in the season opener for both teams and will look to Eric Hassli to find the back of the net again.
18. (18) TORONTO FC (2-7-9, 15 points)
Last week: Lost to Real Salt Lake, 3-1, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Vancouver, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday.
Outlook: Toronto certainly is not hitting this all-important week on a good run of form. The question is, which match this week is more important to TFC? The Reds haven't won in their last nine league games (0-4-5), but they certainly don't want to miss out on a return trip to the CONCACAF Champions League, either, which it could earn by winning the replay of the Canadian championship on Saturday.