By IVES GALARCEP
The Los Angeles Galaxy climbing back to the top of the latest SBI MLS Power Rankings shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but the other Western Conference team moving up the charts quickly is a bit more of a surprise.
The Portland Timbers moved up to the No. 4 spot after their impressive win against Sporting Kansas City, yet another comeback for Caleb Porter’s squad, which has made the transformation from awful road team to veritable road warriors.
The lone Eastern Conference representative in the Top Four is a team few would have pegged to hold the spot before the season began. The Montreal Impact emerged from a bye week to post another impressive home victory, with Marco DiVaio once again leading the attack.
The basement continues to be a graveyard of slow-starting Eastern Conference teams, with D.C. United digging a deeper and deeper hole at the bottom of the rankings. New England’s win vs. Philadelphia helped them climb out of the very bottom, but Toronto FC slipped closer to the bottom after their latest 90th-minute meltdown.
Here are the latest SBI MLS Power Rankings:
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week Nine)
1. (Last week- 2) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (4-1-2)
LAST WEEK- Beat Real Salt Lake, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday.
OUTLOOK- No Designated Players in the starting lineup on the road? No problem. Bruce Arena has made a habit of results like these. Where he starts a bunch of reserves and manages a result. This time around he unveiled a gem in goalkeeper Brian Rowe, while the debut of rookie forward Gyasi Zardes should not be overlooked.
2. (1) FC DALLAS (6-1-2)
LAST WEEK- Tied Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- Bye Week.
OUTLOOK- Blowing a two-goal lead certainly didn’t make the league leaders look like a juggernaut, but losing George John and Andrew Jacobson to injury clearly took its toll on the squad. A bye week comes at a perfect time for the squad to get healthy, but it could also mean a chance for the Galaxy to close the gap atop the West.
3. (5) MONTREAL IMPACT (5-1-1)
LAST WEEK- Lost to Toronto FC, 2-0 (Canadian Championship); Beat Chicago Fire, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Toronto FC on Wednesday (Canadian Championship); at San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- Another solid home win for the Impact, who looked like a team that benefited from its bye week. It will be interesting to see what head coach Marco Schallibaum does with his lineup on Wednesday in the second leg of the Canadian Champonship against Toronto FC. With a tough trip to San Jose looming, you could understand why he’d want to rest starters again.
4. (6) PORTLAND TIMBERS (3-1-4)
LAST WEEK- Beat Sporting Kansas City, 3-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. New England Revolution on Thursday.
OUTLOOK- The Timbers just keep on climbing, and are starting to earn the label of road warriors. They have yet to lose on the road this year, and their victory in Kansas City was a true statement game. Rodney Wallace and Ryan Johnson are flourishing as reclamation projects, but the Timbers clearly need to address their centerback depth with a signing soon after losing Futty Danso to injury.
5. (3) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-3-2)
LAST WEEK- Lost to Portland Timbers, 3-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Chivas USA on Sunday.
OUTLOOK- Giving up three goals in a home loss for the first time since 2011, Sporting KC are suddenly in a two-game skid with a tricky match against Chivas USA awaiting. The team’s play in midfield is a cause for concern, and you have to wonder if the team is finally feeling the absence of Roger Espinoza and Kei Kamara.
LAST WEEK- Tied Colorado Rapids, 1-1, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- at Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday.
OUTLOOK- Dom Kinnear has to be worried about his team turning in a second straight flat performance. Not having a fully sharp Oscar Boniek Garcia hasn’t helped, and the team missed Jermaine Taylor, but there’s still no excuse for looking so mediocre against an injury-ravaged Colorado team at home. If they don’t wake up, they could be in for an ugly loss when they face the LA Galaxy in an MLS Cup Final rematch.
7. (11) NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2)
LAST WEEK- Beat Toronto FC, 2-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Columbus Crew on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- Tim Cahill picked a good game to have a breakout performance. Not only did he deliver the goals, Cahill also helped the team make up for the absence of Dax McCarty in midfield with his work rate. Roy Miller turned in another strong showing at left back while Markus Holgersson has settled in nicely at centerback, which is keeping Heath Pearce on the bench and in the crosshairs of teams that need defensive help.
8. (12) COLUMBUS CREW (3-2-3)
LAST WEEK-Beat D.C. United, 3-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- The scoreboard fire before Saturday’s game turned out to be a good omen as the Crew’s attack played their best game of the season Jairo Arrieta was outstanding while Josh Williams continues to be one of the best fullbacks in MLS not many people talk about. Columbus has to be thrilled with what Dominic Oduro has brought to the attack. His speed element has really been key to the Crew’s good start to the season, and will be vital in their attempt to knock off the Red Bulls on Saturday.
9. (9) CHIVAS USA (3-3-2)
LAST WEEK- tied San Jose Earthquakes, 2-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
OUTLOOK- There is no denying that the Goats miss the injured Juan Agudelo, but they showed some heart in battling back to tie San Jose. Jorge Villafana played very well, providing the service that set up both goals, while defender Joaquin Velasquez led the back-line in the absence of suspended centerback Bobby Burling. A much tougher test awaits on Sunday against a Sporting KC side intent on halting a two-match losing skid.
10. (7) REAL SALT LAKE (3-4-2)
LAST WEEK- Lost to Los Angeles Galaxy, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- Real Salt Lake has played games like this before, where they dominate possession and create more chances only to see their opponent take the victory. Not having Alvaro Saborio was tough, but RSL still did enough to win the game and simply couldn’t. Some credit goes to Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Rowe for an outstanding game, but the RSL attack needs to finish chances more regularly if they are going to snap their offensive funk (two goals scored in four matches).
11. (8) PHILADELPHIA UNION (3-3-2)
LAST WEEK- Lost to New England Revolution, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- Whether it was some overconfidence coming off their road win at D.C. United, or just the case of running into an inspired opponent, the Union started poorly and never really recovered in their loss to New England. The Revs didn’t score until the second half, but their strong start, and the Union’s flat start, set the tone for the match. With a match vs. Seattle looming, we can’t help but wondering just when Kleberson will be ready for a start.
12. (10) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (2-3-4)
LAST WEEK- Tied Chivas USA, 2-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Montreal Impact on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- Shea Salinas enjoyed his second straight solid game and the pairing of Salinas and Chavez on the wings helped provide a boost to the attack. Their speed on the flank is vital to helping the San Jose attack flow, and it makes you wonder whether Ramiro Corrales will be able to see consistent starts going forward. One player who struggled was Steven Beitashour, who is still working out the kinks after a long injury layoff.
13. (13) COLORADO RAPIDS (2-4-2)
LAST WEEK- at Houston Dynamo on Sunday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Toronto FC on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- You have to feel for the Rapids. They keep turning out impressive performances only to keep losing key players to injury. Hendry Thomas was the latest, though it is still unclear just how serious his injury is. Dillon Powers continues to impress and is quietly putting together a pretty solid Rookie of the Year candidacy, while young centerback Shane O’Neill is earning some valuable experience. The Rapids might find it tough sledding against TFC if Thomas is out for any length of time.
14. (16) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-3-3)
LAST WEEK- Beat FC Edmonton, 2-1, last Wednesday (Canadian Championship); Tied FC Dallas, 2-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- The Kekuta Manneh show stole the headlines with his strong second-half performance, but the real question is whether Martin Rennie will give the rookie a run of starts or keep using him as a change-of-pace off the bench. The tandem of Nigel Reo-Coker and Gershon Koffie really took control of the match in the second half and look like a pairing capable of helping the Whitecaps snap their winless streak. At least as soon as some consistent forward play develops.
15. (14) CHICAGO FIRE (2-5-1)
LAST WEEK- Lost to Montreal Impact, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- Bye Week.
OUTLOOK- The absence of Arne Friedrich, and the revolving door at right back, have the Fire defense looking very shaky at times. Offensively, Chicago continues to be faced with the harsh reality that Sherjill MacDonald simply isn’t good enough to have lead your attack. Until the Fire can address the need for a marquee forward, and until Friedrich returns, the Fire will be doomed to inconsistent performances.
16. (18) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (2-3-2)
LAST WEEK- Beat Philadelphia Union, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Portland Timbers on Thursday.
OUTLOOK- A week after a forgettable showing vs. the Red Bulls the Revs showed that they do have reason to believe this season can offer something special. Lee Nguyen is enjoying a solid run of form that has some wondering whether he should be receiving U.S. Men’s National Team consideration. The better question for Jay Heaps is when will he partner Saer Sene and Jerry Bengtson in the starting lineup?
17. (17) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (1-3-2)
LAST WEEK- Bye Week.
THIS WEEK- at Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- The week off should help, and if the Sounders can get Eddie Johnson back on the field they stand a good chance of getting a road result against a Philadelphia side that won’t be a pushover, but could struggle to contain a healthy Sounders attack.
18. (15) TORONTO FC (1-3-4)
LAST WEEK- Beat Montreal Impact, 2-0, last Wednesday (Canadian Championship); Lost to New York Red Bulls, 2-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Montreal on Wednesday (Canadian Championship); at Colorado on Saturday.
OUTLOOK- If MLS matches were 89 minutes then Toronto FC might be in the Top Ten. Unfortunately for Ryan Nelsen’s bunch, another 90th-minute meltdown cost them points. Getting Richard Eckersley or Darel Russell back will help because it was clear Ryan Richter isn’t a viable right back option. The arrival of young Designated Player Matias Laba is big news, and it will be interesting to see what Nelsen does to his starting lineup and who makes way for the young Argentine.
19. (19) D.C. UNITED (1-6-1)
LAST WEEK- Lost to Columbus Crew, 3-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- Bye Week.
OUTLOOK- Brandon McDonald had one of those games you probably should hire a hypnotist to help erase from his memory. The D.C. United defense is in shambles, which makes it a perfect match to go with the toothless attack. The bye week comes at a perfect time because Ben Olsen clearly needs some time to try and sort out a new plan, and find a new combination of players because it’s clear the current one isn’t working.
What do you think of this week’s power rankings? Think anyone is rated too highly? See anyone being too low?
Share your thoughts below.