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Bye weeks don't get much better than the one the Los Angeles Galaxy just had.
Despite not playing a minute, the Galaxy watched its three chief competitors fail to secure wins while adding Robbie Keane to the fold. Seattle and Dallas each played to draws, and Real Salt Lake fell to Toronto, allowing the Galaxy to fortify their stronghold on the top spot in both the race for the Supporters' Shield and the SBI MLS Power Rankings.
This past week's results didn't offer too much change near the top, although Colorado is lurking on edge of the league's top tier after the team's third consecutive victory.
Here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 22)
1. (Last Week — 1) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (13-3-9, 48 points)
Last week: Idle
This week: vs. San Jose, 10:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The Galaxy didn't do a thing but managed to improve their chances after watching Seattle, Dallas and RSL struggle to come up with points. Now with the addition of Keane and no longer having the distraction of the "What's wrong with Juan Pablo Angel?" questions, the Galaxy can look forward — first to their CONCACAF Champions League match on Tuesday and then a California Clasico match with struggling San Jose this weekend.
2. (2) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (11-5-9, 42 points)
Last week: Tied Chivas USA, 0-0, on Saturday.
This week: at FC Dallas, 9 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The Sounders let a golden opportunity to creep closer to Los Angeles slip away after Alvaro Fernandez couldn't convert an early penalty against the Goats. Having a potential second penalty waved off at the end of the game didn't help Seattle, either. After the Sounders' CCL match, they play in the league's Game of the Week in a high-profile tilt at FC Dallas, with crucial playoff positioning on the line.
3. (3) FC DALLAS (12-6-7, 43 points)
Last week: Tied Philadelphia, 2-2, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Seattle, 9 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: FCD let road points slip away by yielding two penalties to the Philadelphia Union and faces a tough but potentially special week. Between going on the road and trying to win on Mexican soil in CCL play on Wednesday (no big deal, never been done by an MLS team before) and then coming home to take on the Sounders, plenty is on the line for one of the league's more consistent units.
4. (5) COLORADO RAPIDS (10-6-10, 40 points)
Last week: Beat San Jose, 2-1, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Chivas USA, 9 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: With another makeshift lineup, Colorado managed to maintain its winning ways and is right on the heels of Seattle and Dallas despite both of those teams having a game in hand on the Rapids. New players are stepping up each game for Colorado, it seems, as Caleb Folan and Jeff Larentowicz did the honors to lift the club to a come-from-behind win in California.
5. (6) COLUMBUS CREW (10-7-7, 37 points)
Last week: Beat New England, 3-1, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: After falling behind the Crew managed three unanswered goals to strengthen their lead atop the Eastern Conference. They can double that lead with a win at home (where they're 7-1-4 this season) or watch it shrink to nothing as the Union come to town for a marquee matchup.
6. (4) REAL SALT LAKE (10-6-6, 36 points)
Last week: Lost to Toronto FC, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: at Houston, 8:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The lack of consistency with RSL is somewhat troubling. After looking so good against New York, RSL couldn't put it together against a TFC side that had been leaking goals at an alarming rate. Give Toronto credit for putting together a successful gameplan, and BMO Field can still be a tough place to play for an opponent, but RSL should have done better.
7. (7) PHILADELPHIA UNION (8-5-10, 34 points)
Last week: Tied FC Dallas, 2-2, on Saturday.
This week: at Columbus, 7:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The Freddy Adu era got off to an OK start, with Sebastien Le Toux saving the Union twice from the penalty spot. While Adu gets more acclimated to his new teammates, Philadelphia has a golden chance to reclaim its post atop the conference if it can find a way to earn a road result at first-place Columbus.
8. (8) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (7-7-9, 30 points)
Last week: Idle.
This week: vs. Portland, 8:30 p.m., Wednesday; vs. D.C. United, 8:30 p.m., Sunday, Galavision.
Outlook: Sporting KC fell behind Houston in the conference standings and trails the Dynamo and Red Bulls each by a point; however, SKC has a game in hand on Houston and two on New York. The club can leapfrog both teams with a landmark week which includes two more home games and one against a team it's trying to fend off in the playoff hunt in D.C. United.
T-9. (9) HOUSTON DYNAMO (7-7-10, 31 points)
Last week: Beat Portland, 2-1, on Sunday.
This week: at New England, 8 p.m., Wednesday; vs. Real Salt Lake, 8:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Based on the early returns, Houston got the better of its recent trade with Portland. Newcomer Adam Moffat's long-distance strike helped the Dynamo top the Timbers and pull even on points with the New York Red Bulls with a game in hand in the race for the Eastern Conference's third automatic playoff bid. Houston's home game with RSL is a big one, but the team will be foolish to overlook the Revs, especially since it has yet to win on the road this season (0-4-7).
T-9. (10) D.C. UNITED (7-6-9, 30 points)
Last week: Beat Vancouver, 4-0, on Saturday.
This week: at Chicago, 9 p.m., Thursday, ESPN2; at Sporting Kansas City, 8:30 p.m., Sunday, Galavision.
Outlook: D.C.'s high-octane attack is coming together at the right time. With nine goals in their last three games, United is on a roll and faces two conference foes this week. D.C. has played the fewest games in the conference but has a chance to climb even further up the standings assuming Dwayne De Rosario, Chris Pontius & Co. maintain their form in the final third.
11. (11) CHIVAS USA (7-8-9, 30 points)
Last week: Tied Seattle, 0-0, on Saturday.
This week: at Colorado, 9 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The Goats were perhaps a bit fortunate to walk away from Seattle with a point in tow, but as the club looks forward, it appears more certain that Angel will be looked upon to be the difference that boosts the team forward in its quest for the postseason.
12. (12) NEW YORK RED BULLS (6-6-13, 31 points)
Last week: Tied Chicago, 2-2, on Saturday.
This week: at New England, 7:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: There's only so much Thierry Henry and Joel Lindpere can do at this point. Both continued their strong seasons with impressive goals against the Fire, but the club's leaky defense allowed Chicago to steal a point at Red Bull Arena. One must wonder if the sky-high expectations surrounding the Red Bulls at the season's start fostered a tension-filled environment that the team has been unable to escape.
13. (13) PORTLAND TIMBERS (7-11-5, 26 points)
Last week: Lost to Houston, 2-1, on Sunday.
This week: at Sporting Kansas City, 8:30 p.m., Wednesday; vs. Vancouver, 10 p.m., Saturday, Fox Soccer Channel.
Outlook: The Timbers face a make-or-break week, as they'll likely either have their slim playoff hopes extinguished or improved based on the results of their two matches. Neither game will be easy, though, as facing a rested SKC team on the road is a challenge, as is a Cascadia Cup rivalry match against fellow expansion side Vancouver.
14. (16) TORONTO FC (4-11-11, 23 points)
Last week: Beat Real Salt Lake, 1-0, on Saturday.
This week: at Chicago, 7 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: Aron Winter, tactical genius? The TFC coach shifted to an unconventional 3-4-3 and managed to hold RSL at bay (even though the visitors spoiled some golden chances) en route to the surprise result of the weekend. TFC faces a stacked week, with a CCL match in Panama and an away MLS match on the docket.
15. (14) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-11-9, 21 points)
Last week: Lost to Columbus, 3-1, on Saturday.
This week: vs. Houston, 8 p.m., Wednesday; vs. New York, 7:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The Revs shot themselves in the foot with some shoddy defending after Benny Feilhaber's well-taken opening goal in Columbus and now find themselves with a hill that's likely too steep to climb given the amount of games remaining in the season. Two upcoming games at home are a silver lining and an opportunity for improvement.
16. (15) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (5-9-10, 25 points)
Last week: Lost to Colorado, 2-1, on Saturday.
This week: at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m., Saturday.
Outlook: The Earthquakes let a lead against Colorado slip away and are now winless in 11 straight league matches. The prevailing hope is that incoming Ecuadorean striker Edmundo Zura can inject some life into an attack and team that sorely needs it.
17. (18) CHICAGO FIRE (2-7-14, 20 points)
Last week: Tied New York, 2-2, on Saturday.
This week: vs. D.C. United, 9 p.m., Thursday, ESPN2; vs. Toronto, 7 p.m., Sunday.
Outlook: Credit Chicago for still putting up a fight. Despite playing to its league-high 14th draw, the Fire's attack put the Red Bulls on their heels. Newcomer Sebastian Grazzini scored his first goal, and Dominic Oduro continued his surprising season, but Chicago still hasn't found a way to close out a win and will be hard-pressed to do so against an in-form, motivated D.C. side.
18. (17) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (3-12-9, 18 points)
Last week: Lost to D.C. United, 4-0, on Saturday.
This week: at Portland, 10 p.m., Saturday, Fox Soccer Channel.
Outlook: The Whitecaps turned in a woeful performance at D.C., losing all momentum they had after a stout showing against Chicago the week before. A victory in the Cascadia Cup would help save some face, and that's exactly what Vancouver is going for in its first MLS trip to the Rose City.