SBI MLS Power Rankings: Week Six

Jimmy  Nielsen g.

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP 

Sporting Kansas City started the 2013 season slower than most would have expected, but they have started to hit their stride and are looking every bit like the title contender they were expected to be when the season began.

Claudio Bieler’s game-winning goal helped Sporting KC beat D.C. United and push their unbeaten streak (and shutout streak) to four matches. Their latest win helped push them closer to the top of the

SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week Six)

1. (Last week-1)  LOS ANGELES GALAXY (2-0-2)

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LAST WEEK- Lost to Monterrey, 2-1, last Wednesday (CONCACAF)

THIS WEEK- at Monterrey on Wednesday (CONCACAF); at FC Dallas on Saturday.

OUTLOOK- Their CONCACAF Champions League loss was a gut punch last week, and this week they face a very tough road swing that includes a trip to Monterrey and a meeting with surprising FC Dallas. Now would be a good time for Landon Donovan to find his form and shake off the rust.

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2. (4)  SPORTING KANSAS CITY (3-1-2)

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LAST WEEK- Beat D.C. United, 1-0, last Friday

THIS WEEK- Bye Week.

OUTLOOK- Claudio Bieler’s latest goal has him looking like an outstanding Designated Player signing, but it is the play of Matt Besler as the anchor of the Sporting KC defense lately that deserves the headlines. The team is really finding a good rhythm, but they’ll need C.J. Sapong to get going if they’re really going to challenge for the top spot.

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3. (5) MONTREAL IMPACT (4-1)

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LAST WEEK-  Bye

THIS WEEK- vs. Columbus Crew on Saturday.

OUTLOOK- A week off can’t hurt an older team like the Impact, and facing the Crew at home is a good way to ease back into things.

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4. (6) CHIVAS USA (3-1-1)

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LAST WEEK- Bye

THIS WEEK- vs. Colorado Rapids on Saturday.

OUTLOOK- The Goats probably didn’t need the bye week, but another week to let his team bond can’t be a bad thing for ‘Chelis’. A very good test awaits when the Rapids come to the Home Depot Center.

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5. (3) FC DALLAS (4-1-1)


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LAST WEEK- Tied Toronto FC, 2-2, last Saturday

THIS WEEK- vs. Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday.

OUTLOOK- Their second-half collapse vs. Toronto FC was a bit troubling, but in the end they did get a road point despite losing defensive leader George John at halftime. The team’s toughest test of the season awaits on Saturday vs. the Galaxy.

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6. (2)  HOUSTON DYNAMO (3-2)

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LAST WEEK- Lost to Portland Timbers, 2-0, last Saturday

THIS WEEK- vs. Chicago Fire on Sunday.

OUTLOOK- The Dynamo aren’t really known as a great road team, but their flat showing vs. Portland was disappointing even by those standards. They clearly missed the energy and attacking threat of Oscar Boniek Garcia, but even his absence couldn’t justify just how poorly they played in Portland.

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7. (15) PORTLAND TIMBERS (1-1-3)

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LAST WEEK- Beat Houston Dynamo, 2-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK- vs. San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday.

OUTLOOK- After surrendering early leads on multiple occasions only to pull off stirring comebacks, the Timbers finally got a taste of what life can be like when they avoid early mistakes. The result was a dominant performance that could be the start of a strong run for Caleb Porter’s squad.

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8. (9) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (2-2-2)

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LAST WEEK- Tied Vancouver Whitecaps, 1-1, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK- at Portland Timbers on Saturday.

OUTLOOK- The Earthquakes were the better side against the Vancouver Whitecaps, but the shoe-change fiasco ultimately cost them two points in a match they should have been able to run away with. Having Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart back is a major step toward having the Earthquakes back to full strength, and they’ll need them when they face a tough trip to Portland.

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9. (8) COLUMBUS CREW (2-1-2)

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LAST WEEK- Tied Philadelphia Union, 1-1, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK- at Montreal Impact on Saturday.

OUTLOOK- Dominic Oduro looked very dangerous against the Union, showing the qualities that helped him enjoy a career season with the Fire in 2011. The rest of the attack left a little to be desired, and Columbus will need more than Oduro playing well if they are going to garner any points from their trip to Montreal.

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10. (7) REAL SALT LAKE (2-3-1)

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LAST WEEK- Lost to Colorado Rapids, 1-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK- at Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.

OUTLOOK- It isn’t often Alvaro Saborio has as poor a game as he had against the Rapids, but he wasn’t alone in lacking some quality in the final third. His pairing with rookie Devon Sandoval didn’t really work. Javier Morales continues to work his way back  to full strength, and once he is ready, you can expect RSL to take things up a notch.

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11. (12)  PHILADELPHIA UNION (2-2-1)

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LAST WEEK- Tied Columbus Crew, 1-1, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK- vs. Toronto FC on Saturday.

OUTLOOK- The Union’s defense continues to impress, but the attack is still failing to put away dangerous scoring chances. John Hackworth went with the Jack McInerney-Conor Casey forward tandem, which did help generate one goals, but not having Michael Farfan and Sebastien LeToux in the starting lineup resulted in little creativity in midfield. It remains unclear when Kleberson will become a part of the rotation, but the Union could certainly use his quality.

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12. (11) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-2-1)

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LAST WEEK- Tied San Jose Earthquakes, 1-1, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK- vs. Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

OUTLOOK- The Whitecaps held a considerable edge in possession, and touches, vs. San Jose, but still managed to muster close to half as many chances. That shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering the Whitecaps were without Darren Mattocks and Kenny Miller.   Vancouver’s defense still shows some signs of vulnerability and the visit from Real Salt Lake should let us know whether the Whitecaps defense has settled down since the loss of Jay DeMerit.

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13. (13) TORONTO FC (1-2-2)

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LAST WEEK- Tied FC Dallas, 2-2, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK- at Philadelphia Union on Saturday.

OUTLOOK- TFC showed some promise in their second-half comeback vs. FC Dallas, but there are certainly still question marks about their defense. If FC Dallas had finished their chances, Toronto would have been blown away. Gale Agbossoumonde turned in a solid first start for the club, and it will be interesting to see if he can force his way into a regular starting role eventually. Darel Russell struggled defensively yet again, but his outstanding equalizer will probably ensure he remains in the lineup.

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14. (18) COLORADO RAPIDS (1-3-2)

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LAST WEEK- Beat Real Salt Lake, 1-0, last Saturday.

THIS WEEK- at Chivas USA on Saturday.

OUTLOOK- The Rapids played their best game of the season in knocking off rival RSL, and their young players like Dillon Powers and Clint Irwin continue to impress. Having Edson Buddle in the mix is encouraging as he works to shake the rust off, and Atiba Harris looked more like the player who played well for FC Dallas rather than the one who struggled in Vancouver. A road trip to face a rested and dangerous Chivas USA side will let us know if the Rapids are to be taken seriously.

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15. (19) CHICAGO FIRE (1-3-1)

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LAST WEEK- Beat New York Red Bulls, 3-1, last Sunday.

THIS WEEK- at Houston Dynamo on Sunday.

OUTLOOK- Maicon Santos scored the winning goals for the Fire, but the play of Daniel Paladini was the real bright spot for the Fire. Perhaps even more encouraging was the performance turned in by a patchwork Chicago defense, that played without Arne Friedrich and Gonzalo Segares. The Fire still need Friedrich back to really make a push back up the standings, and the offense still has some question marks even after scoring three goals vs. the Red Bulls, such as whether Sherjill MacDonald is ever going to get going.

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16. (10) NEW YORK RED BULLS (1-3-2)

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LAST WEEK- Lost to Chicago Fire, 3-1, last Sunday.

THIS WEEK- at D.C. United on Saturday.

OUTLOOK- The Red Bulls defense turned in their worst performance of the year, which can also be said for goalkeeper Luis Robles, who may not be long for the starting job at this rate. On the forward front, the Red Bulls need Thierry Henry and Fabian Espindola healthy and starting ASAP. He hasn’t had many games, but the early prognosis on Peguy Luyindula is that he simply can’t finish.

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17. (14) D.C. UNITED (1-3-1)

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LAST WEEK- Lost to Sporting Kansas City, 1-0, last Friday.

THIS WEEK- vs. New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

OUTLOOK- So maybe that beautiful goal from Rafael two weeks ago wasn’t a sign of big things to come. It’s still early, and he’s young, but the reality is D.C. United need him to really step up because Lionard Pajoy just doesn’t look like he will be all that productive. The absence of Nick DeLeon and Dwayne DeRosario obviously hurt their ability to generate chances against Sporting KC, but

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18. (16) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (0-3-1)

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LAST WEEK- Lost to Santos Laguna, 1-0, last Tuesday (CONCACAF)

THIS WEEK- Tied Santos Laguna, 1-1 on Tuesday (CONCACAF); vs. New England Revolution on Saturday.

OUTLOOK- The Sounders fell short in CONCACAF Champions League, but they don’t have much time to mourn that failure considering they are sitting in last place in the West. The big bright spot from Tuesday was Mauro Rosales’ play late in the second-leg vs. Santos Laguna. They definitely need Rosales back to his dominant self, especially with the rest of the midfield struggling recently.

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19. (17) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (1-2-1)

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LAST WEEK- Bye.

THIS WEEK- at Seattle Sounders on Saturday.

OUTLOOK- The Revs have struggled since their season-opening win, and it starts with their impotent attack, which just isn’t generation many chances. The team is now also dealing with the unsettling news of Kevin Alston’s leukemia diagnosis, which has to weigh on them mentally. Losing Alston on the back-line will also hurt a defense that has been the lone bright spot so far this season for the Revs.

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30 Responses to SBI MLS Power Rankings: Week Six

  1. Fred says:

    Started from the bottom and staying at the bottom. Sick new hashtag though #NEREVS and #GetWellKA

  2. PD says:

    How on earth can you rank the Timbers so high?

    • Chance says:

      Yeah, even as Timbers fan I’m a little confused. 10-12 I’d understand, but 7, with only 1 win under our belts seems a tad high. Maybe if we put on a good show in our two games against SJ the next 2 weeks.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Only one loss (to a tough Montreal team), three impressive comebacks (including two multi-goal comebacks), and a thorough beating of a top team. It is pretty high but I’ll stick by it.

    • Eurosnob says:

      Porter’s possession-oriented system is more choreographed than what most coaches use in MLS so I expect that Timbers will improve significantly as the players get more comfortable in the new system and more disciplined playing their roles.

  3. ThaDeuce says:

    I miss the little blurbs of reasoning behind each ranking, that was a nice touch I hope comes back.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      That’ll be up shortly. Site crashed and erased most of them before it was set to post and I had to do a phone interview so I couldn’t update. Will be updating soon.

  4. ThaDeuce says:

    I don’t like either team being so low, but I am not surprised they are ranked next to each other, talking bout red bulls and d.c.

    At least the rivalry continues on the bottom and this week’s game should be one to get up for!

  5. The Imperative Voice says:

    LA is taking the right approach with Landon, no shortcuts, steadily improve his fitness, steadily increase minutes. Compare to Houston losing Bruin to a hammy vs. Dallas, then they put him out there for long periods his first two games back, second game vs. SJ he re-does the hammy and he’s back out. To me you want the player ready long term as the season progresses and not with any nagging issues. LA might be giving up better results now but they have their eye on the prize and I think they brightly realize if you keep winning every year you get back to CCL again, there’s always another chance.

    KC is building an increasingly interesting team, but I’m not sure about Nagamura. And the consensus wisdom on KC has been that they like SJ are something of a regular season creature that runs into an organized Houston brickwall each postseason. I still don’t know if their 433 is a winner, or whether they need to be more tactically flexible to win silverware. But my theory has also been that a 433 team needs as high quality of players as possible and they have a lot of talent.

    I think Montreal and Chivas will be competitive but I think they are above their long term standing spot. Dallas I think is the dark horse. Houston did them a tactical favor in the rivalry game by backing off at a critical point when we tied, but I think they did a good job of signing some F talent like Cooper to fix a need area on their team. I’m a little iffy on their defense, but they could be a NY-type team from recent years that scores a lot and gives up a lot too. If you keep that GD positive you probably make the playoffs going that way, and have the firepower to scare some people.

    • PD says:

      it’s a classic argument in every league: does skill and pretty football beat organization stout defending, which is often more “ugly”. what will make SKC (or any possession oriented team be it Arsenal, Bayern, Barcalona or McGillicuddy’s Pub Local League team) a truly great team is how they rise above those kinds of challenges. I for one am rooting for them, even though I’ma Philly fan. I like pretty football much more than I like effective football, but effective football usually winds up with the hardware.

  6. Charles says:

    18th and no comment. Ouch, this isn’t the way I hoped the season would start.

    • Gnarls says:

      It’s safe to assume they’ll get it in gear sooner than later. Remember it took LA until July before they looked like a contender for anything. Seattle has been plagued by injuries and questionable personnel moves by Schmid. Once the normal starting XI are playing together, things will turn around.

  7. G.Bean says:

    I figure it wouldn’t take long for Houston to plummet once that they reached the top of the chart. Some things never change.

    • Brent says:

      Like being in the MLS Cup every year?

      • G. Bean says:

        The Dynamo are usually terrible until after the summer transfer window, and then they go into playoff mode. Like I said–some things never change.

  8. Wasibye Otya says:

    Fire say: We’re NOT number 19. Hooray!

  9. It would be nice to see the Union start to pick up some respect, while it was only a draw, they were on the road where they have never received a point before. Seems like we’ll finally be on that upward swing that seemed like it was coming following the 2011 season.

    • PD says:

      as a Phellow Philly fan, all I can say is “woh, Simba”. The “run” they are on now is what was expected. The only real upset so has been snatching three points on the road from Columbus. But be honest, losing to NY and KC and wins against two very thin clubs in Colorado and NE (at home no less) is far from barn-burning. If they start June with more than 11 points to the good then you can start crowing (and so will I), but for right now I’m not gonna pat them on the head for any of this.

      • I would say starting June with more than 11 points is a little too low for expectations. They have 7 points already plus 8 games till June and winnable ones at that against Toronto, DC and New England. The May schedule is rough but survive that and I think we’re looking at around 16 or 18. I know its a tiny bit optimistic but possibly the inclusion of Kleberson can be of help to the team too. OH and the “American Chicharito” comparisons that were made to Jack Mc are completely ridiculous.

  10. OneLegged says:

    The Sounders are too high.

  11. Tweaked says:

    Saturday night at RFK will show case a Pajoy who can’t finish v. a Peguy who can’t finish. Why did I get season tickets again?

  12. Go Jimmy Nielsen! Keep saving us from goals(: