Welcome to the top spot, Houston.
Riding a five-game winning streak and six shutouts in their past seven matches, the Dynamo have climbed to No. 1 in this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings. Houston's latest triumph, a 2-0 result against the New York Red Bulls, put the Dynamo on top of the Eastern Conference as well.
The Los Angeles Galaxy, meanwhile, experienced the week's biggest fall, dropping three slots to No. 8 after a 4-0 defeat at the Seattle Sounders, who jumped two positions to a tie for sixth.
Here are this week's SBI MLS Power Rankings (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 22)
1. (Last week — 3) HOUSTON DYNAMO (11-5-7, 40 points)
Last week: Beat New York 2-0 on Friday
This week: Friday at New York, 8 p.m.
Outlook: The combination of Oscar Boniek Garcia's introduction, the effective switch to a 4-3-3 and a slew of home games has made Houston unbeatable in recent weeks. And the Dynamo are getting U.S. World Cup veteran Ricardo Clark back in the fold to somewhat negate the loss of Geoff Cameron.
2. (1) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (13-5-5, 44 points)
Last week: Idle
This week: Saturday vs. Seattle, 10:30 p.m.
Outlook: The Earthquakes lost their grasp on the top spot during a week off, but they'll have a compelling case to get right back to No. 1 if they can get a win over a surging Seattle team Saturday. Scoreless in three games, Chris Wondolowski is due to get back on the board.
3. (2) REAL SALT LAKE (13-8-3, 42 points)
Last week: Lost to Colorado 1-0 on Saturday
This week: Saturday at Vancouver, 7 p.m.
Outlook: After opening Champions League play with a tough loss to Herediano in Costa Rica, Salt Lake dropped a 1-0 result at rival Colorado. Centerback Jamison Olave's hamstring strain is a tough blow for a team that already is without Chris Schuler (foot).
4. (6) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (12-7-4, 40 points)
Last week: Beat New England 1-0 on Saturday
This week: Saturday vs. D.C. United, 8:30 p.m.
Outlook: It wasn't pretty, but Kansas City gladly took the three points at New England thanks to an opportunistic Teal Bunbury strike. Now the focus is on Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup final against Seattle at what is sure to be an electric Livestrong Sporting Park.
5. (4) NEW YORK RED BULLS (11-7-5, 38 points)
Last week: Lost to Houston 2-0 on Friday
This week: Friday vs. Houston, 8 p.m.
Outlook: Well that probably wasn't how Tim Cahill imagined his debut. For as many attacking pieces as New York has acquired, the defense remains suspect. The back line will get a mulligan of sorts against the Dynamo, though, as New York will play host when the two sides meet for second straight Friday night at Red Bull Arena, where the club is 7-0-3.
T-6. (7) D.C. UNITED (11-7-3, 36 points)
Last week: Beat Columbus 1-0 on Saturday
This week: Saturday at Kansas City, 8:30 p.m.
Outlook: An inspired run from Nick DeLeon to set up Chris Pontius' 10th goal of the season snapped United's first losing streak since March as they were able to grind out a 1-0 win over Columbus. In his first appearance since April, centerback Emiliano Dudar turned in a steady defensive performance.
T-6. (8) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (10-5-7, 37 points)
Last week: Beat Los Angeles 4-0 on Sunday
This week: Saturday at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.
Outlook: With Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero both in fine goal-scoring form, the Sounders are not a team anyone wants to face right now. After opening the Champions League with a 3-1 win over Caledonia this past week, Seattle will try to win its fourth straight Open Cup crown before facing San Jose in a marquee Western Conference match on Saturday in a massive stretch spanning all fronts.
8. (5) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (10-11-3, 33 points)
Last week: Lost to Seattle 4-0 on Sunday
This week: Sunday at Chivas USA, 11 p.m.
Outlook: A 5-1 loss to Real Madrid midweek hardly came as a surprise as the Galaxy pulled their entire starting 11 at halftime. But losing by four goals at Seattle was a disturbing setback for a team that seemingly was clicking on all cylinders and ready to make its early-season struggles a distant memory.
9. (9) CHICAGO FIRE (10-7-5, 35 points)
Last week: Beat Toronto 2-1 on Saturday
This week: Sunday at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Austin Berry's late winner gave the Fire a crucial three points and bolstered the centerback's Rookie of the Year odds. The match also marked the debuts of new DPs Alvaro Fernandez and Sherjill MacDonald, who could help make the Fire a dark-horse contender in the East come playoff time.
10. (10) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (9-7-7, 34 points)
Last week: Idle
This week: Saturday vs. Salt Lake, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The week off came at a good time for Vancouver, which has had a lot of new attacking pieces join the fold and not much time in training to get them acclimated. The coming weeks will be key for the Whitecaps, who are teetering between a top-three spot in the Western Conference and falling out of the playoff field entirely.
11. (11) COLUMBUS CREW (8-8-4, 28 points)
Last week: Lost to D.C. United 1-0 on Saturday
This week: Saturday vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: The death of midfielder Kirk Urso early Sunday morning sent shock waves through MLS and left the Crew organization in mourning. Coach Robert Warzycha now faces the toughest challenge of his career as he tries to regroup his club ahead of matches that, in the grand scheme of things, are quite trivial.
12. (14) MONTREAL IMPACT (9-13-3, 30 points)
Last week: Beat Philadelphia 2-0 on Saturday
This week: Sunday at New England, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Nelson Rivas' headbutt stole the headlines from a sound performance for Montreal, as the Impact secured a rare shutout by flanking Rivas and Alessandro Nesta with left back Matteo Ferrari and right back Hassoun Camara. But with Rivas facing a suspension, we likely won't be seeing that unit again for a while.
13. (12) PHILADELPHIA UNION (7-11-2, 23 points)
Last week: Lost to Montreal 2-0 on Saturday
This week: Sunday vs. Chicago, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The Union have done well to rally from a slow start and make a push in the Eastern Conference. But they just can't string together enough results to make a legitimate bid for a playoff slot. Perhaps Bakary Soumare's impending debut will give the club the boost it needs.
14. (13) CHIVAS USA (7-8-5, 26 points)
Last week: Idle
This week: Sunday vs. Los Angeles, 11 p.m.
Outlook: Chivas may have had the week off from league play, but they still made a splash when they acquired Shalrie Joseph from New England. The midfield anchor will look to spark attacks from his deep-lying position for a club that has remarkably scored just 14 goals in 20 games.
15. (16) COLORADO RAPIDS (8-14-1, 25 points)
Last week: Beat Salt Lake 1-0 on Saturday
This week: Saturday at Dallas, 9 p.m.
Outlook: Joseph Nane's first MLS goal and a sound defensive effort were enough for Colorado to end a six-game losing streak in satisfying fashion: with a win over rival RSL. If the Rapids grab a victory over a vulnerable Dallas side, they might be back in the playoff conversation.
16. (15) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (6-11-5, 23 points)
Last week: Lost to Kansas City 1-0 on Saturday
This week: Sunday vs. Montreal, 7 p.m.
Outlook: New England's first game in the post-Shalrie Joseph era wasn't terribly inspiring, with the Revolution getting shut out at home. The return of Jerry Bengtson after the Honduran's attention-grabbing Olympic performance should give that attack a welcome jolt.
17. (17) FC DALLAS (5-11-8, 23 points)
Last week: Tied Portland 1-1 on Sunday
This week: Saturday vs. Colorado, 9 p.m.
Outlook: Brek Shea marked his return to the lineup with an assist, but it wasn't enough to get the full three points as Dallas settled for a draw in Portland. For Dallas, the emphasis now might be on getting Shea and David Ferreira back in top form as the club looks to build momentum heading into 2013.
18. (18) TORONTO FC (5-13-4, 19 points)
Last week: Lost to Chicago 2-1 on Saturday
This week: Saturday at Columbus, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: The new forward partnership of Ryan Johnson and Eric Hassli got off to a splendid start when Johnson scored early against Chicago, although Toronto eventually was once again let down by its defense. The Reds did get off to a good start in Champions League play, though, rolling to a 5-1 win over C.D. Aguila.
19. (19) PORTLAND TIMBERS (5-12-5, 20 points)
Last week: Tied Dallas 1-1 on Sunday
This week: Idle
Outlook: A point at home against a team like Dallas would hardly be considered a moral victory for most clubs. But considering the Timbers entered Sunday night's contest on a five-game losing streak, the 1-1 draw was a welcome development for Gavin Wilkinson and Co.