By DAN KARELL
Even last year’s Western Conference Champions were no match for this year’s Real Salt Lake
For the second straight week, RSL is topping this week’s SBI MLS Power Rankings after vanquishing the Portland Timbers last Saturday, 1-0, at Rio Tinto Stadium. Ned Grabavoy scored his side’s goal late but the clean sheet was preserved by an outstanding performance from goalkeeper Nick Rimando, keeping the Timbers off the board.
FC Dallas, the Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, who moved up four places, and the LA Galaxy, who dropped two places, make up the top five in this week’s Power Rankings.
Outside of Sporting KC and the LA Galaxy, there wasn’t a ton of movement in this week’s rankings, though D.C. United’s draw at the Columbus Crew moved them into the top ten. The San Jose Earthquakes and Montreal Impact remain the bottom two in the rankings.
Here are the SBI MLS Power Rankings for Week Seven (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 7)
1. (Last Week- 1) REAL SALT LAKE (3-0-4)
OUTLOOK- Real Salt Lake remain the top team in the SBI MLS Power Rankings after a complete performance against the Portland Timbers. Though the Timbers haven’t won a game this season, they’re clearly better than their record, and RSL relied on a superb performance from Nick Rimando and a well-timed late goal from Ned Grabavoy to remain the lone unbeaten team in the league. Things are continuing just as they were in the Jason Kreis era.
2. (2) FC DALLAS (5-1-1)
OUTLOOK- FC Dallas returned to winning ways against a once-again weakened Toronto FC side last weekend. Matt Hedges has continued to impress after a down week against Seattle and looks to be the next big young defender in MLS, while Blas Perez’s late winner was just what the team needed from the big Panamanian.
3. (4) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (4-2-1)
OUTLOOK- The Seattle Sounders took advantage of a huge blunder from Dan Kennedy and a red card from Marco Delgado to top Chivas USA. Obafemi Martins combined very well with Clint Dempsey in the match and the duo’s chemistry has this team looking like they can compete for a title.
4. (8) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (3-1-2)
OUTLOOK- Sporting KC had no problems dispatching the defensively weak Montreal Impact, with Dom Dwyer scoring twice in the 4-0 rout. Everyone on the team’s confidence is sky high, Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler had another clean sheet, and the team returns Uri Rosell to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension. Having Claudio Bieler on the bench is a huge for this team’s depth.
5. (3) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (2-1-2)
OUTLOOK- No one seems to figure out how to defend Stefan Ishizaki as he scored for the second consecutive game against the Vancouver Whitecaps, but LA Galaxy settled for a 2-2 draw on the road at BC Place. The Galaxy back line struggled to keep up with the Whitecaps’ forwards speed, but not many run as fast as Kekuta Manneh and Darren Mattocks so it shouldn’t be too big of a problem.
6. (5) COLORADO RAPIDS (3-1-2)
OUTLOOK- Following two improbable road wins, the Colorado Rapids battled to a scoreless draw with the hapless San Jose Earthquakes. Dillon Powers and Jose Mari are looking like rocks in the midfield but consistent scoring needs to improve from Deshorn Brown, Gabriel Torres, and Edson Buddle. The trio are being rotated early in the season by head coach Pablo Mastroeni.
7. (6) TORONTO FC (3-3)
OUTLOOK- Toronto FC have spent the last three weeks without their star forward Jermain Defoe and have taken just three points from the available nine. Considering the injuries they’ve been dealing with, the depth players have stepped in and done solid jobs, but there’s just no replacement for a goal-scorer like Defoe, even from another Designated Player in Gilberto.
8. (7) COLUMBUS CREW (3-1-2)
OUTLOOK- Only a brilliant defensive play and then outlet pass from Wil Trapp prior to Hector Jimenez’s curling goal in the 90th minute saved what had been a disastrous evening for the Crew last Saturday in their 1-1 draw with D.C. United. The Crew struggled to break down the D.C. defense and were caught after a turnover in the midfield by none other than Federico Higuain, who had a down game. Bernardo Anor’s red card was deserved and Giancarlo Gonzalez could be suspended by the league as well.
9. (10) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-2-3)
OUTLOOK- With Matias Laba back in the lineup, the Vancouver Whitecaps looked like a much more dangerous team. It showed in their 2-2 win, despite some defensive mistakes from the aging backline of Jay DeMerit and Andy O’Brien. Both are usually positionally astute but on Ishizaki’s goal he was free in the box and on Keane’s goal, Rob Friend was able to win a header in the box and perfectly found Keane in space to slot home.
10. (11) D.C. UNITED (2-2-2)
OUTLOOK- D.C. United looked a completely different team from the one that was routed by the Columbus Crew, 3-0, on opening night. D.C. worked hard defending the Crew’s attacks and Fabian Espindola took advantage of a counter-attack to score. However, D.C. had many chances to win the game, including two golden chances by Espindola that he couldn’t finish, leaving the Crew to come back and tie their match. If Espindola finishes better, D.C. wins easily and moves up the rankings even more.
11. (11) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (2-3-2)
OUTLOOK- New England still aren’t pulling away from teams as they’re expected to, and Bobby Shuttleworth had to play the hero just to save a point for the Revolution. Shuttleworth’s saved penalty kick ended a wild game with two red cards and a goal for either side. Losing Kevin Alston will hurt the team but perhaps more importantly, they were able to tie on the road even without Jose Goncalves and a mis-firing Diego Fagundez finding the scoresheet.
12. (12) NEW YORK RED BULLS (1-2-4)
OUTLOOK- The New York Red Bulls finally won their first game of the season, and it’s no surprise that it came with Eric Alexander playing back on the wing. Though he lacks Lloyd Sam’s speed, Alexander’s passing ability helped set up both goals for the Red Bulls and gave them another added dimension on the left side with an overlapping Roy Miller. Mike Petke’s side need Tim Cahill to return in order to shore up the midfield though.
13. (13) PHILADELPHIA UNION (1-2-5)
OUTLOOK- Despite showing flashes of their potential, the Philadelphia Union still haven’t figured out a way to put it all together into complete, consistent 90 minute performances. The club lacks a real center forward with after trading Jack McInerney and the Aaron Wheeler/Amobi Okugo partnership in central defense is not working. Having Sheanon Williams and his booming throw-ins back in the lineup are a plus, however.
14. (15) HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-3-1)
OUTLOOK- The Houston Dynamo earned a solid point on the road at the Philadelphia Union but are clearly missing the impact of Brad Davis in the lineup. Will Bruin and Giles Barnes continue to put up zeros in the scoring department. It might be time for Omar Cummings to start a match. The Dynamo will be interested to see if Kofi Sarkodie’s questionable second yellow card for time wasting is rescinded.
15. (14) CHIVAS USA (1-3-3)
OUTLOOK- Chivas USA are beginning to revert to their form from 2013. Errors from Dan Kennedy and a red card from Marco Delgado left the Goats down a man and eventually down two goals as the team lost at home. After losing Thomas McNamara for the season, the club now will lose his replacement for a game. Erick Torres scored again, but he’s the lone bright spot for now.
16. (17) CHICAGO FIRE (0-1-6)
OUTLOOK- The Chicago Fire are still searching for their first win but they tied for the sixth consecutive game. The aging but experienced back line has held up well enough for Quicy Amerikwa to produce more breakthrough performances and score his fourth goal of the season. However, the Fire now will be without their top goalscorer after he picked up a red card, meaning that Mike Magee must carry the load in the Fire’s next match on his own.
17. (16) PORTLAND TIMBERS (0-3-4)
OUTLOOK- Despite some solid performances, the Portland Timbers are still winless seven weeks into the Major League Soccer season. Fans are beginning to push the panic button but if not for Nick Rimando in goal for RSL, the Timbers may have scored three or four goals. Portland’s chances of getting their first win are greater this week as they’re going up against the Dynamo, who will be playing on three days rest.
18. (18) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (0-2-3)
OUTLOOK- San Jose’s goal-scoring struggles have continued despite Chris Wondolowski playing up top with a fully fit Alan Gordon. Victor Bernardez and Clarence Goodson have formed a solid partnership in central defense but the rest of the team hasn’t really impressed much this season, except on set pieces.
19. (19) MONTREAL IMPACT (0-4-3)
OUTLOOK- The woeful Montreal Impact continue to embarrass themselves early this season with a 4-0 rout at the hands of Sporting KC. To make matters worse, both Marco Di Vaio and Justin Mapp are doubts for this weekend’s match against the Philadelphia Union. If the Impact don’t find a way to win soon, Frank Klopas will quickly be placed on the hot seat.
What do you think of this week’s power rankings? Do you think any team is ranked too high? Any too low?
Share your thoughts below.