By IVES GALARCEP
The Seattle Sounders hit rock bottom in last week’s SBI MLS Power Rankings, but after recording their first win of the season the Sounders look poised to start their climb toward the top.
The Sounders defeated the Colorado Rapids to not only erase the zero from their win column, but also to help open the account for Nigerian forward Obafemi Martins, who scored his first Seattle goal on Saturday. With Eddie Johnson still sidelined, Martins picked a good time to start showing a return on Seattle’s considerable investment.
There was no change at the very top of the power rankings, with FC Dallas continuing to roll. Schellas Hyndman reached a milestone, becoming Dallas’ all-time winningest coach, and Dallas continues to boast a sizable lead on the rest of the Western Conference.
One team that looks poised to start chasing down FC Dallas is the Los Angeles Galaxy. An impressive 2-0 win over Sporting Kansas City helped the Galaxy climb into the No. 2 spot in the power rankings, and now with Landon Donovan rounding into form, the Galaxy look ready to go on a strong run.
Here are the latest SBI MLS Power Rankings:
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week Eight)
1. (Last week- 1) FC DALLAS (6-1-1)
LAST WEEK- Beat Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- Another solid outing for the top team in the league and now FC Dallas has to travel north to face the same Whitecaps team they just beat. David Ferreira is looking like his old MVP self while Michel Garbini continues to be one of the best signings of the off-season.
2. (3) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (3-1-2)
LAST WEEK- Beat Sporting Kansas City, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- With Landon Donovan looking like Landon of old, and Robbie Keane starting to resemble the 2012 force who helped lead the Galaxy to an MLS Cup title, LA might be set to go on a long run of positive results.
3. (2) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-2)
LAST WEEK- Beat New York Red Bulls, 1-0, last Wednesday; lost to Los Angeles Galaxy, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Portland Timbers on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- Their defensive dominance came to an end against the Galaxy, but it was pretty clear that fatigue took its toll after a mid-week game across the country. They return home to face a very good challenge from the Portland Timbers, who should give their midfield a good test.
4. (4) HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-2-1)
LAST WEEK- Tied Toronto FC, 1-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Colorado Rapids on Sunday.
OUTLOOK- It was an ugly game, and one they were thoroughly out-played in, but the Dynamo will still come away from their draw at Toronto FC feeling good about earning a point after going down a man and losing Brad Davis. At some point Dom Kinnear needs to get his team to play better on the road though.
5. (5) MONTREAL IMPACT (4-1-1)
LAST WEEK- Bye Week
THIS WEEK- vs. Chicago Fire on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- The week off had to help the veteran Impact squad, and could allow them to field their first-choice back-line for the first time in a month. Marco DiVaio was starting to show signs of breaking out before the bye week. The Chicago Fire should be a team he can find chances against.
6. (6) PORTLAND TIMBERS (2-1-4)
LAST WEEK- Tied San Jose Earthquakes, 1-1, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- Knocked the ball around well, but weren’t effective enough in the final third to take full advantage. Valeri is a special player, but you can tell he’s still adjusting to the organized passing system because he spends more time freelancing and floating out of position than he should. Once he adapts to the system though, Valeri could be an all-star.
7. (9) REAL SALT LAKE (3-3-2)
LAST WEEK- Beat Chivas USA, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- You already knew Nick Rimando was one of the best goalkeepers in MLS, if not the best, but Olmes Garcia is fast becoming a young forward you have to keep an eye on MLS. The young Colombian has the qualities to be a star.
8. (10) PHILADELPHIA UNION (3-2-2)
LAST WEEK- Beat D.C. United, 3-2, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- at New England Revolution on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- Jack McInerney continues to steal the show, as he should, but the Union’s surprising early-season success isn’t just because of him. Conor Casey has shown he still has some tread on the tire and workhorse midfielder Danny Cruz is the type of relentless presence who helps set a good tone for the squad. One question lingering around the Union is how Kleberson isn’t getting playing time yet.
9. (7) CHIVAS USA (3-3-1)
LAST WEEK- Lost to Real Salt Lake, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- A second straight week of looking flat for Chelis’ squad, and it’s clear the team misses Juan Agudelo’s presence as the target forward leading the attack. The midfield hasn’t been clicking of late, and now they face a good test against a physical Earthquakes side that might actually be a good match-up for them.
10. (11) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (2-3-3)
LAST WEEK- Tied Portland Timbers, 1-1, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- at Chivas USA on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- Adam Jahn’s stoppage-time equalizer earned San Jose a draw and left a good vibe at Buck Shaw Stadium, but lost in that late-goal hype is the fact San Jose still didn’t play all that well. Shea Salinas looked good in a starting role, and with Marvin Chavez working closer to a full return to action, the Earthquakes should start creating more chances for Chris Wondolowski.
11. (14) NEW YORK RED BULLS (3-4-2)
LAST WEEK- Lost to Sporting Kansas City, 1-0, last Wednesday; beat New England Revolution, 4-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Toronto FC on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- The Red Bulls attack came alive against a normally-stingy Revolution defense, and putting four goals on the board has to give the team a boost of confidence. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of last week’s matches was the improved play of Roy Miller, who really has responded well to being re-inserted into the lineup. Now they have to show they can get a result on the road.
12. (8) COLUMBUS CREW (2-2-3)
LAST WEEK- Lost to Chicago Fire, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK-vs. D.C. United on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- Turned in a thoroughly disappointing performance against the Fire, and once again the Crew attack fails to find some consistency. They now play host to a D.C. United side that is ripe for the beating. Federico Higuain hasn’t had one of his BIG games in a while. This could be the week.
13. (12) COLORADO RAPIDS (2-4-2)
LAST WEEK- Lost to Seattle Sounders, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- No team has been more ravaged by injuries than the Rapids, and their bad luck on the injury front has really started to take its toll. The disappointing thing for Colorado is that, despite all the injuries, they could have definitely taken at least a point against Seattle if they had finished their chances.
14. (16) CHICAGO FIRE (2-4-1)
LAST WEEK- Beat Columbus Crew, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Montreal Impact on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- Don’t look now but the Fire are making a strong climb up the rankings on the backs of a solid run of performances. They have won two of three, and their loss was a good showing at Houston. The defense needed a shutout badly to instill some confidence after a rough start to the season, and while the team still clearly misses Arne Friedrich, and still need a go-to striker, the Fire are starting to look more like a playoff team.
15. (15) TORONTO FC (1-2-4)
LAST WEEK- Tied Houston Dynamo, 1-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Montreal Impact on Wednesday (Canadian Championship); vs. New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- It’s been a bittersweet month for TFC. They have played well enough to win as many as four or five matches, but they have seen late-game collapses cost them on three occasions in matches they looked destined to win. Ryan Nelsen deserves some credit for the team showing considerable improvement from 2012, but he needs to sort out the late-game defending if TFC is going to have any sort of success this year.
16. (13) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-3-2)
LAST WEEK- Lost to FC Dallas, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at FC Edmonton on Wednesday (Canadian Championship); vs. FC Dallas on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- A five-match winless skid has to make you wonder whether we should really take them seriously as a contender in 2013. Yes, they made the playoffs last year, but they were terrible down the stretch. Getting Kenny Miller back should help them, but they need to figure out what is wrong with Darren Mattocks.
17. (19) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (1-3-2)
LAST WEEK- Beat Colorado Rapids, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- Bye Week.
OUTLOOK- Here come the Sounders. Okay, so maybe we shouldn’t get too worked up about a 1-0 victory against a relatively weak team decimated by injuries, but sometimes that first win is all a team needs to turn things around. They hit a much-needed bye week to get healthy and get Eddie Johnson back healthy, but the schedule that awaits them in May is BRUTAL. We will really find out then just how good this Sounders team really is.
18. (17) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (1-3-2)
LAST WEEK- Lost to New York Red Bulls, 4-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- The scoreline didn’t offer a real indication of just how competitive the Revs were in their loss to the Red Bulls, but ultimately a stagnant offense and some late-game defensive breakdowns doomed them. Until Saer Sene is fit enough to start, we aren’t likely to see too much from the Revs attack.
LAST WEEK- Lost to Philadelphia Union, 3-2, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- at Columbus Crew on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- The good news? D.C. United finally created some chances? The bad nes? Their defense played their worst game of the season. Getting Dwayne DeRosario back clearly helped D.C., but there are starting to be questions raised about the form of winger Chris Pontius, who hasn’t looked anywhere close to the standout who won MLS Comeback Player of the Year in 2012.