Don't look now, but here come the MLS Cup finalists.
After spending much of the season in the middle of the SBI MLS Power Rankings pack, the Houston Dynamo and Los Angeles Galaxy have ridden unbeaten runs to the fifth and sixth positions, respectively, in this week's poll.
Houston, undefeated in six and on a three-game winning streak, now sits third in the Eastern Conference. The Galaxy, who languished in last place early in the campaign, are 3-0-1 in their last four and are seven points clear of Chivas USA for the fifth and final Western Conference playoff slot.
Here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 20)
1. (Last week — 1) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (13-5-4, 43 points)
Last week: Beat Dallas 2-1 on Wednesday; lost to Vancouver 2-1 on Sunday
This week: Saturday vs. Chicago, 10:30 p.m.
Outlook: San Jose has seemed invincible at times this year, but the Earthquakes proved they are human with a 2-1 loss at Vancouver. Their All-Star contingent of Steven Beitashour, Justin Morrow, Ramiro Corrales and Chris Wondolowski now heads to Philadelphia to take on Chelsea.
2. (5) NEW YORK RED BULLS (11-5-5, 38 points)
Last week: Beat Chicago 1-0 on Wednesday; beat Philadelphia 2-0 on Saturday
This week: Saturday at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: The Kenny Cooper who carried New York on his back during Thierry Henry's injury woes earlier this year returned Saturday, recording a brace as New York notched its second win of the week and moved into first place in the Eastern Conference.
3. (3) REAL SALT LAKE (12-7-3, 39 points)
Last week: Beat Colorado 2-0 on Saturday
This week: Friday vs. Vancouver, 9 p.m.
Outlook: Salt Lake went about business as usual on Saturday, adding to its Rocky Mountain Cup rival's misery with a well-executed 2-0 win over Colorado. Friday's match against Vancouver will be crucial to Western Conference positioning.
4. (2) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (11-6-4, 37 points)
Last week: Lost to Houston 2-1 on Wednesday; tied New England 0-0 on Saturday
This week: Saturday vs. Columbus, 8:30 p.m.
Outlook: Kansas City followed its recent surge with a disappointing week, falling at Houston before settling for a scoreless draw at home against a New England team it handled in March. With 19 goals allowed in 21 games, though, that defense remains the league's best.
5. (8) HOUSTON DYNAMO (9-5-7, 34 points)
Last week: Beat Kansas City 2-1 on Wednesday; beat Montreal 3-0 on Saturday
This week: Saturday at Toronto, 4:30 p.m.
Outlook: With two goals from Calen Carr on Wednesday and a brace from Macoumba Kandji on Saturday, it has become apparent Houston now boasts one of the league's most balanced attacks. Of course, finally getting a nice run of games at home doesn't hurt.
6. (7) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (9-10-3, 30 points)
Last week: Tied Vancouver 2-2 on Wednesday; beat Chivas 3-1 on Saturday
This week: Saturday at Dallas, 8 p.m.
Outlook: It was another productive week for the Galaxy, who earned a dramatic road draw in Vancouver before avenging their loss to Chivas earlier this season. David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane just continue to play like the big-name stars they are.
7. (4) D.C. UNITED (10-7-3, 33 points)
Last week: Lost to Columbus 1-0 on Saturday
This week: Idle
Outlook: United lost consecutive games for the time since the season's opening contests, following up a 4-0 loss at Houston with a 1-0 defeat in Columbus. Despite the team's depth, losing Andy Najar's energy on the right flank while he is with the Honduran Olympic side hurts.
8. (10) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (9-6-7, 34 points)
Last week: Tied Los Angeles 2-2 on Wednesday; beat San Jose 2-1 on Sunday
This week: Friday at Salt Lake, 9 p.m.
Outlook: Newcomers Dane Richards and Barry Robson made their influence felt with goals in Vancouver's upset win over San Jose on Sunday, and Scottish striker Kenny Miller also is working his way into the lineup. Once this team's new-look attack comes together, it could be lethal.
9. (9) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (8-5-7, 31 points)
Last week: Idle
This week: Saturday at Colorado, 9 p.m.
Outlook: Fredy Montero shined with a brace against Chelsea midweek, although the Sounders' ultimately fell 4-2 to the European champions. All-Stars Osvaldo Alonso and Eddie Johnson get another shot at the Blues on Wednesday.
10. (6) CHICAGO FIRE (9-7-4, 31 points)
Last week: Lost to New York 2-0 on Wednesday
This week: Saturday at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.
Outlook: The Fire have hung onto fifth place in the Eastern Conference, but they'll need to develop more consistency if they're going to hold off the likes of Columbus and maybe even Philadelphia. Saturday's trip to San Jose will be a tough test.
11. (13) COLUMBUS CREW (7-7-4, 25 points)
Last week: Beat D.C. United 1-0 on Saturday
This week: Saturday at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m.
Outlook: An unlikely strike by Chris Birchall and another stingy effort from Andy Gruenebaum and Co. gave Columbus a key conference win over United. Dilly Duka's return from injury has given the Crew attack a much-needed lift.
12. (11) PHILADELPHIA UNION (6-10-2, 20 points)
Last week: Lost to New York 2-0 on Saturday
This week: Sunday vs. New England, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Philadelphia's three-game winning streak was snapped at Red Bull Arena, but the Union still sit just 11 points out of playoff positioning with two games in hand. Considering this team's start, the fact that it is even in the discussion is impressive.
13. (12) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (6-9-5, 23 points)
Last week: Lost to Montreal 2-1 on Wednesday; tied Kansas City 0-0 on Saturday
This week: Sunday at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Outlook: New England did well to secure a tough draw in Kansas City after falling to Montreal midweek, but one point in two games just isn't enough for a Revolution team that is now eight points out of a postseason slot.
14. (14) CHIVAS USA (6-8-5, 23 points)
Last week: Beat Portland 1-0 on Wednesday; lost to Los Angeles 3-1 on Saturday
This week: Saturday at Portland, 11 p.m.
Outlook: Chivas continue to hang around despite a 3-6-2 record at home that would have already buried most other teams. Juan Agudelo's knee injury has taken a lot of the punch out of a Chivas attack that was beginning to find a rhythm with the teenager up top.
15. (16) MONTREAL IMPACT (7-13-3, 24 points)
Last week: Beat New England 2-1 on Wednesday; lost to Houston 3-0 on Saturday
This week: Saturday vs. New York, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: After a 3-0 loss to Houston, Montreal has surrendered a stunning 42 goals in 23 games. Alessandro Nesta can't make his MLS debut soon enough for the Impact, who have been waiting for the Italian to reach full fitness and are still dealing with injuries to centerbacks Matteo Ferrari and Nelson Rivas.
16. (15) COLORADO RAPIDS (7-13-1, 22 points)
Last week: Lost to Toronto 2-1 on Wednesday; lost to Salt Lake 2-0 on Saturday
This week: Saturday vs. Seattle, 9 p.m.
Outlook: Make it five straight losses for the Rapids, who have rapidly fallen from the middle of the Western Conference pack to near the cellar. The acquisition of left back Tyson Wahl should help reinforce the uncharacteristic mistakes in the back, but it may be too little, too late.
17. (18) FC DALLAS (5-10-7, 22 points)
Last week: Lost to San Jose 2-1 on Wednesday; beat Portland 5-0 on Saturday
This week: Saturday vs. Los Angeles, 8 p.m.
Outlook: The rift between Brek Shea and Schellas Hyndman may have stolen the headlines, but Dallas sure looked sharp in a 5-0 triumph over Portland. Having David Ferreira and Jackson in the lineup sure has made this team more dangerous going forward.
18. (17) TORONTO FC (5-11-4, 19 points)
Last week: Beat Colorado 2-1 on Wednesday
This week: Saturday vs. Houston, 4:30 p.m.
Outlook: After three straight wins, Toronto is just a point away from escaping last place in the Eastern Conference. The acquisiton of Eric Hassli gives the team a bruising target forward to fill in for the injured Danny Koevermans.
19. (19) PORTLAND TIMBERS (5-11-4, 19 points)
Last week: Lost to Chivas 1-0 on Wednesday; lost to Dallas 5-0 on Saturday
This week: Saturday vs. Chivas, 11 p.m.
Outlook: Carrying the worst record in MLS (they're below Toronto thanks to a minus-16 goal differential), the Timbers have lost four in a row and are coming off a 5-0 defeat at second-to-last Dallas. The season has officially entered "lost cause" territory.