By IVES GALARCEP
The New York Red Bulls may not have posted a victory in their trip to Seattle last weekend, but their performance was about as significant as a team could turn in without getting all three points.
The Red Bulls earned a valuable draw, and played some impressive soccer despite playing without Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave. A display that earned the Red Bulls the top spot in the SBI MLS Power Rankings.
We had put the Power Rankings on the shelf for a while, but with readers asking for them, and with the playoff races so tightly contested, we figured it was a good time to bring them back. They look a bit different than they used to, but hopefully it can still provide you with a good idea of how we see the league stacking up.
The rankings look much different than they did back in August, when we did them last. FC Dallas and Vancouver have plummeted while Seattle and Colorado have climbed on the strength of some impressive runs of form.
Here are the SBI MLS Power Rankings:
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 32)
1. NEW YORK RED BULLS (15-9-7)
OUTLOOK- Impressive draw at Seattle without Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave pushes the Red Bulls into the top spot. They’re unbeaten in five matches and are looking like a good bet now to grab the No. 1 seed in the East playoffs.
2. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (15-8-6)
OUTLOOK- The Sounders will feel disappointed about not taking all three points from the Red Bulls game, but they’re still unbeaten in seven matches and are still in good position to move into sole possession of first place in the West when they play their games in hand.
3. REAL SALT LAKE (15-10-6)
OUTLOOK- Trotted out a reserve team and still found a way to score an important road win. Devon Sandoval has been yet another gem of a find for RSL, while the return of Chris Schuler from injury could be very important for the stretch run. The first of as many as three trophies could come on Tuesday night in the U.S. Open Cup Final against D.C. United.
4. PORTLAND TIMBERS (12-5-13)
OUTLOOK- Posted their second win over the Los Angeles Galaxy of the season, and are now in position to put real pressure on the top teams in the West for a better playoff position. Portland’s defense has been especially tough lately, allowing just one goal in four matches.
5. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (14-10-6)
OUTLOOK- Turned in a disappointing performance in their 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union. They lacked sharpness in the final third and paid the price. Now they face a red-hot Columbus Crew side and need a win to keep pace with the New York Red Bulls.
6. COLORADO RAPIDS (12-9-9)
OUTLOOK- A week off should help energize the Rapids, who will look to erase the bad taste of their loss to Portland. As well as they have played over the past few months, their season could hinge on the outcomes of their upcoming matches vs. Seattle and San Jose.
7. COLUMBUS CREW (12-14-5)
OUTLOOK- Rolled past FC Dallas to make it four wins out of five. Dominic Oduro is really playing well and providing a perfect complement to Federico Higuain. As well as the Crew are playing, beating Sporting KC will be another proposition.
8. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (13-11-6)
OUTLOOK- The Galaxy offense couldn’t break through Portland’s defense and dropped another three points to fall out of the Supporters Shield conversation. Luckily for LA, Chivas USA is up next on the schedule, and anything short of a win will set off alarm bells. Dropping points to teams like Seattle and Portland is one thing. Doing that vs. the struggling Goats would be cause for concern.
9. HOUSTON DYNAMO (12-10-8)
OUTLOOK- Looked pretty flat against New England, but a road point is still a good haul for a Dynamo team that can now grab third place in the East with a win vs. Montreal.
10. MONTREAL IMPACT (13-9-7)
OUTLOOK- Showed some heart in fighting back to tie Chicago in a game where the Fire were the better side and created more chances. The Impact defense continues to look extremely shaky, and if it doesn’t improve, a loss to Houston is likely.
11. PHILADELPHIA UNION (11-10-9)
OUTLOOK- Impressive defensive display for the Union in handing Sporting KC a rare home loss. That result is definitely a confidence booster, but the Union attack needs to improve if Philadelphia is going to have a real chance of reaching the playoffs, and doing anything in the post-season.
12. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (12-11-8)
OUTLOOK- Won an ugly one vs. Chivas USA, but will need to play better to beat a tough Colorado team. Steven Lenhart’s latest red card could prove costly for a team with no margin for error in its race for the playoffs.
13. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (11-11-8)
OUTLOOK- Played well enough to win, but failed to convert chances, which cost the Revs two precious points in the race. Getting Juan Agudelo back into the starting lineup would provide a big boost ahead of Saturday’s showdown vs. the New York Red Bulls.
14. CHICAGO FIRE (11-12-7)
OUTLOOK- On the bright side, the Fire looked really good in creating chances and should have taken all three points vs. Montreal. The bad news is they didn’t finish enough of those chances, and had costly defensive breakdowns. The good news is their upcoming schedule is extremely cushy.
15. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (11-11-8)
OUTLOOK- Failing to beat a reserve-laden RSL side is bad enough, but to play as poorly as the Whitecaps did in what amounted to a must-win game raises serious questions about Martin Rennie’s job.
16. FC DALLAS (10-10-10)
OUTLOOK- Another flat performance from a team that looks dead in the water. On the bright side, Mauro Diaz looks like a legit player.
17. TORONTO FC (5-15-11)
OUTLOOK- Showed some good signs in routing D.C. United’s reserves, with Bright Dike flashing the qualities that made TFC want to trade for him.
18. CHIVAS USA (6-17-8)
OUTLOOK- Dan Kennedy has been a force for Chivas USA all season, keeping them in countless games, so it was pretty shocking to see him spill a shot on San Jose’s game-winning goal. The real culprit in Sunday’s loss wasn’t Kennedy though, but rather a team that created few chances and played a lackluster match.
19. (19) D.C. UNITED (3-21-6)
OUTLOOK- The blowout loss to Toronto FC wasn’t pretty, but D.C. has a chance on Tuesay night in the U.S. Open Cup Final to provide some consolation for a nightmare season.
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.