SBI MLS Power Rankings: Week 24

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Photo by David Bernal/ISIphotos.com

The postponements caused by Hurricane Irene actually did a couple of teams a favor when it comes to the MLS standings and SBI MLS Power Rankings.

Teams like Philadelphia and D.C. were forced to sit idly by watching their competition for postseason berths do battle, and in the end, they had to be happy with the results.

The top tier of teams in the Eastern Conference all fell over the weekend, allowing the Union and United to each improve their positioning and shift up a spot without playing a game. Out of the teams that did manage to play, Real Salt Lake benefitted the most, knocking off postseason contender Chivas USA to rise back into the top five.

Here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings (as voted on by SBI staff):

SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 24)

1. (Last Week — 1) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (14-3-9, 51 points)

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Last week: Match at New York was postponed.

This week: at Sporting Kansas City, 5 p.m., Monday, Fox Soccer Channel.

Outlook: The Galaxy might have benefitted from the postponement as well, as it allowed Bruce Arena to play more starters during their CONCACAF Champions League match last week while not worrying about spreading minutes around against the Red Bulls. The Labor Day matchup won't be an easy one, but the Galaxy won't be dealing with fatigue, either.

2. (2) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (13-5-9, 48 points)

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Last week: Beat Columbus, 6-2, on Saturday.

This week: Idle.

Outlook: Lamar Neagle's hat trick paved the way for a pasting of the supposed best team in the Eastern Conference. After a win in Mexico over defending CCL champion Monterrey and now a six-goal output, things can't get much better for Seattle. Of course, a semifinal win in the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday would certainly add to the wave of success.

3. (3) FC DALLAS (13-7-7, 46 points)

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Last week: Beat Sporting Kansas City, 3-2, on Saturday.

This week: Idle.

Outlook: Brek Shea continues to improve his candidacy for MLS MVP. His carbon-copy crosses from the left led to both FC Dallas goals in the final minutes against SKC, helping his team rescue three road points and stay in the mix for the Supporters' Shield. The news got even better for the club with the word that centerback George John's transfer to Blackburn fell through, meaning that he'll return to bolster the defense.

4. (8) REAL SALT LAKE (11-7-6, 39 points)

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Last week: Beat Chivas USA, 1-0, on Saturday.

This week: vs. Philadelphia, 9 p.m., Saturday.

Outlook: RSL held on for an important road victory despite being reduced to 10 men early after Nat Borchers was sent off against the Goats. Salt Lake turns its attention to the Union in a game that was supposed to be played during the club's run to the 2010-2011 CCL final but got rescheduled.

5. (4) COLORADO RAPIDS (10-7-11, 41 points)

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Last week: Lost to Chicago, 2-0, on Saturday.

This week: Idle.

Outlook: Just when the Rapids were finding their top form, they lay a stinker in Chicago. Granted, the Fire are playing a more-improved brand of soccer, and winning on the road in MLS is no sure thing, but few would have expected the in-form Rapids to drop all three points to Chicago. The loss was the first for the club since Conor Casey's season-ending injury.

6. (5) COLUMBUS CREW (11-8-7, 40 points)

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Last week: Lost to Seattle, 6-2, on Saturday.

This week: Idle.

Outlook: The good news: Jeff Cunningham became MLS' all-time leading goal scorer with his penalty kick against Seattle. The bad news: The 6-2 loss not only hurts from a pride standpoint, but it also shrunk the club's goal differential to +1, which could come into play with the conference race looking like it'll go down to the wire.

7. (6) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (9-8-9, 36 points)

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Last week: Lost to FC Dallas, 3-2, on Saturday.

This week: vs. Los Angeles, 5 p.m., Monday, Fox Soccer Channel.

Outlook: For the second time this season, Sporting KC let sure points slip away in the waning minutes against a Western Conference contender. The club's two home losses to Seattle and now Dallas both were a result of late-game collapses, which won't help the team's mental state in similar situations as meaningful games litter the schedule from this point on.

8. (9) PHILADELPHIA UNION (8-6-10, 34 points)

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Last week: Match vs. New England was postponed.

This week: at Real Salt Lake, 9 p.m., Saturday.

Outlook: The Union saw their three chief competitors in the Eastern Conference all drop points and have to like their vantage point now that they have at least two games in hand on Columbus, Kansas City and Houston while remaining in striking distance. All that could change in a heartbeat, though, as a tough road trip to Rio Tinto Stadium beckons.

9. (7) HOUSTON DYNAMO (8-8-11, 35 points)

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Last week: Lost to Vancouver, 1-0, on Saturday.

This week: Idle.

Outlook: No team has been as erratic as the Dynamo. That quality was on display over the weekend as Houston again failed to secure its first road victory of the season despite playing the worst team (points-wise, anyhow) in the league. Handed a tremendous opportunity to climb the conference table, Houston instead has to be thankful that its slip-up didn't sting too much considering the other results.

10. (11) D.C. UNITED (7-7-10, 31 points)

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Last week: Match vs. Portland was postponed.

This week: Idle.

Outlook: While D.C. would have liked to have had a crack at Portland, the club certainly won't complain with how things unfolded for Chivas USA, a team that D.C. is competing with for the final wildcard berth and happens to face twice in the next three weeks. The game against the Timbers was rescheduled for Oct. 19, meaning that D.C. has three home games in the season's final week.

11. (13) PORTLAND TIMBERS (9-12-5, 32 points)

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Last week: Beat Chivas USA, 1-0, on Wednesday; Match vs. D.C. United on Saturday was postponed.

This week: Idle.

Outlook: Portland was another team to do itself a favor this week, taking a result over a direct competitor for the 10th and final playoff spot. Eric Brunner's goal against Chivas was all John Spencer's side needed to seal a crucial result, as the Timbers continue to be pests for opposing defense on set pieces.

12. (10) CHIVAS USA (7-10-10, 31 points)

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Last week: Lost to Portland, 1-0, on Wednesday; Lost to Real Salt Lake, 1-0, on Saturday.

This week: Idle.

Outlook: The Goats may look back on last week as the time when their chance to snag a playoff spot slipped away. The two 1-0 defeats are hard to swallow, especially considering that RSL was reduced to 10 men for the final 66 minutes of their match. Proficiency in the final third was lacking, and an even greater stress is placed on Chivas' two upcoming matches with D.C. United.

13. (12) NEW YORK RED BULLS (6-6-14, 32 points)

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Last week: Match vs. Los Angeles was postponed.

This week: Idle.

Outlook: For all of the players on the Red Bulls dealing with knocks and fatigue, the impromptu bye week probably did more to help the team's chances at righting the ship. It's safe to say that the club's next game, Sept. 10 at home against Vancouver, is a must-win, though, considering the current state of affairs at Red Bull Arena.

14. (14) CHICAGO FIRE (4-7-15, 27 points)

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Last week: Beat Colorado, 2-0, on Saturday.

This week: Idle.

Outlook: Well look who's rounding into form? The Fire put together consecutive victories for the first time all season, repeating their 2-0 win over Toronto with a result over a Colorado team that had been playing extremely well. New midfield acquisitions Sebastian Grazzini and Pavel Pardo have made an impact in their brief time with the club, and Dominic Oduro continues to find success. There's hope for the future in the Windy City after all.

15. (15) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-11-11, 23 points)

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Last week: Match vs. Philadelphia was postponed.

This week: Idle.

Outlook: Toronto's tie with San Jose actually dropped the Revolution to last place in the Eastern Conference, although the club has two games in hand on the Reds. In order to make use of those games, the Revs will have to find a way to surprise the Union, though, as their postponed game will still be the next match they play (Sept. 7).

16. (16) TORONTO FC (4-12-12, 24 points)

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Last week: Tied San Jose, 1-1, on Saturday.

This week: Idle.

Outlook: Individual players continue to step for for TFC even if the overall results aren't there, as newcomer Eric Avila scored for the first time since joining the Reds from FC Dallas. As has been the case for most of the season, though, Toronto let the opposition salvage points at its expense. Focus remains solely on the CCL and the 2012 season.

17. (17) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (5-10-11, 26 points)

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Last week: Tied Toronto, 1-1, on Saturday.

This week: Idle.

Outlook: The summer swoon continues for the Earthquakes, who were saved from complete embarrassment by Chris Wondolowski's late equalizer against Toronto. San Jose is going on three months without a victory — a span of 13 games — and is all but assured of missing out on the postseason after such a promising 2010.

18. (18) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (4-13-9, 21 points)

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Last week: Beat Houston, 1-0, on Saturday.

This week: Idle.

Outlook: The Whitecaps came up with the surprise result of the week by taming the Dynamo at home on the strength of Shea Salinas' late goal, but there's still a rather large mountain to climb in Vancouver. The club can still relish in its role of spoiler though, as another victory in its next game, which is at New York, would certainly turn more heads.

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15 Responses to SBI MLS Power Rankings: Week 24

  1. A wise man once says:

    Wow, I really thought Seattle would be in first. They deserve it. Oh well I won’t complain :D

  2. giaco says:

    Colour me a bit ungrateful, but the Fire beat the defending MLS champs, the 4th (now 5th) placed team on your rankings, but they fail to jump a team that has been on the slide (NY), and a team that took 2 league losses (CUSA)……..seems a bit silly really, doesn’t it?

  3. bobby says:

    Hey did anyone else hear that Jeff Cunningham broke the all time MLS goal record? Not sure if I got the info right, just waiting for Ives to break the news

  4. A wise man once says:

    The MLS website’s rankings are even worse…

  5. A wise man once says:

    Yup he did. Never thought he’d take that long though.

  6. bobby says:

    I know, I was hoping that Ives would put something up on his site. I know he is not in love with Jeff, but as a journalist he should not be biased.

  7. JJ says:

    We don’t deserve it until we beat LA, or they plummet, or we win the SS or MLS cup.

  8. abc says:

    Cue the “my team should be higher” comments…

  9. Emerald_City_Jason says:

    Everyone does their Power Rankings a little differently, but this late in the season the previous championship is rarely given much, if any, weight.

    Seattle has been the hottest team in the league for so long now it’s fair for “wise man” to argue they deserve the top spot even if they’re a few points off the lead. See it all the time.

    Not that it matters.

  10. Kyle says:

    If only Ike Opara ever played for the quakes.

  11. Matt says:

    Whoa… I’m an RSL fan, but from 8th to 4th over that win. A little crazy i’d say.

  12. RB says:

    Not if you take into account the persistent downplaying of Colorado’s performance this season. Nobody really thinks they’re as good as their record. And anyway, as you can see in the article, they are viewed as having surprisingly lost the match more than Chicago is viewed as having won it in convincing fashion.

  13. RB says:

    You noticed that, too, did you?

  14. WK says:

    I suspect the Quakes could go winless the rest of the way and the team ownership still wouldn’t fire Yallop & Doyle. That would mean they’re actually paying attention.

    Moneyball is a sackfull of s#%t.

  15. Matt says:

    I guess the Crew getting hammered, and Rapids dropping to Chicago didn’t help them stay above RSL. Still strange.