By IVES GALARCEP
The Pacific Northwest is known for having some of the best, if not the best, fan following in Major League Soccer, but now the Cascadia region is also starting to take control of the SBI MLS Power Rankings.
All three teams from the Pacific Northwest are in the top seven of this week’s rankings, with the Portland Timbers holding onto the top spot despite having a bye week in MLS play. The Vancouver Whitecaps continue to surge up the charts, moving up to sixth this week after recording their fourth win in five matches.
The Chicago Fire haven’t quite evened their record out after their terrible start to the season, but their outstanding run of form since the arrivals of Mike Magee and Bakary Soumare have helped them slowly climb up the charts, and this week the break into the Top Ten for the first time since March.
One team continuing to slide in the opposite direction is the Houston Dynamo. Dom Kinnear’s squad made it seven straight matches without a win, and just two goals scored in those seven matches, after their 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls. That skid has dropped Houston down to 16th in the latest power rankings, though they are still holding onto fifth place in the East, and the playoff spot that goes along with it.
Here are the SBI MLS Power Rankings for Week 18:
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 18)
1. (Last Week- 1) PORTLAND TIMBERS (7-1-9)
LAST WEEK- beat FC Dallas, 3-2, last Wednesday (U.S. Open Cup).
THIS WEEK- at Columbus on Sunday.
LAST FIVE- W-T-W-T-W
OUTLOOK- Very impressive comeback to beat FC Dallas in the Open Cup, setting up a juicy semifinal vs. Real Salt Lake. The week off should help the Timbers get refreshed, but losing captain Will Johnson (among others) to the Gold Cup will definitely hurt.
2. (2) REAL SALT LAKE (10-5-3)
LAST WEEK- beat Carolina Railhawks, 3-0, last Wednesday (U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal); beat Toronto FC, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Philadelphia on Wednesday.
LAST FIVE- W-W-W-W-T
OUTLOOK- It wasn’t the most impressive win ever, but RSL turned in a solid effort in recording a road win in Toronto. Four straight wins have RSL in first place in the West, with a home game against a Jack McInerney-less Philadelphia Union side looming on Wednesday. A win there could open up a six-point gap on the Portland Timbers and FC Dallas atop the West.
3. (4) FC DALLAS (8-3-6)
LAST WEEK- lost to Portland Timbers, 3-2, last Wednesday (U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal); tied Philadelphia, 2-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Chivas USA on Thursday; at Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday.
LAST FIVE- T-T-L-T-W
OUTLOOK- Collapsed in the second half in their U.S. Open Cup loss to Portland, but showed great heart to overcome a red card and questionable no-goal ruling to earn a late draw vs. the Philadelphia Union. Walker Zimmerman is looking good as a rookie centerback, while Raul Fernandez continues to state his case for a place on the MLS All-Star Team.
4. (3) MONTREAL IMPACT (9-4-2)
LAST WEEK- lost to Colorado Rapids, 4-3, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Toronto FC on Wednesday; vs. Chivas USA on Sunday
LAST FIVE IN MLS- L-W-L-W-W
OUTLOOK- Another bye week, and another awful showing coming off of a bye week. Montreal’s defense looked worse than it has all season in being picked apart for four goals by Colorado. The remedy for a bad loss is on its way in the form of matches against TFC and Chivas USA. If the Impact can’t manage a minimum of four points from those matches you have to start questioning their status as a title contender.
5. (6) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (7-5-5)
LAST WEEK- beat Columbus Crew, 3-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Vancouver on Wednesday; at Chicago on Sunday.
LAST FIVE- W-T-L-T-T
OUTLOOK- Kei Kamara broke through with his best game since returning from England, though you have to think Peter Vermes wasn’t happy with seeing his defense surrender two goals at home. A very tough week awaits as SKC battles two of the hottest teams in MLS right now in Vancouver and Chicago. Match-ups that should provide a good chance for Graham Zusi and Matt Besler to show how much they have learned from their USMNT exploits.
6. (7) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (7-5-4)
LAST WEEK- beat D.C. United, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday; vs. Seattle on Saturday.
LAST FIVE- W-W-W-L-W
OUTLOOK- Remember when Martin Rennie seemed like he might be in danger of losing his job? The Whitecaps don’t, and this week we should find out how real the Whitecaps really are when they take on a stacked week, with matches against the teams on either side of them in the power rankings.
7. (5) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (6-5-3)
LAST WEEK- Bye
THIS WEEK- vs. D.C. United on Wednesday; at Vancouver on Saturday.
LAST FIVE- L-W-W-L-W
OUTLOOK- With a week off to regroup, get healthy, and forget about their loss to Real Salt Lake, the Sounders should come out flying on Wednesday. They will be heavily favored against a D.C. side that has showed signs of life lately, followed by a rematch against the same Vancouver side they beat in Seattle last month. The Whitecaps will be a much tougher out this time around though.
8. (9) NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-6-4)
LAST WEEK- beat Houston, 2-0, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- at Colorado Rapids on Thursday.
LAST FIVE - W-L-L-T-W
OUTLOOK- What a surprise. Tim Cahill and Jamison Olave return, and the Red Bulls suddenly look like a much better team. You can’t ignore the fact that the Houston Dynamo looked awful, but Sunday’s win provides a big confidence boost heading into what has long been a brutal road trip for the Red Bulls, their annual July 4th visit to the Colorado Rapids.
9. (8) PHILADELPHIA UNION (7-5-5)
LAST WEEK- tied FC Dallas, 2-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Real Salt Lake on Wednesday; at Houston on Saturday.
LAST FIVE- T-W-W-T-L
OUTLOOK- Tying a top team shouldn’t feel bad, but the Union had to come away from Saturday’s draw vs. FC Dallas feeling like they lost the match. Dropping two points in stoppage time is a gut punch, and now the Union face the daunting task of enduring a road swing through Real Salt Lake and Houston without Gold Cup-bound Jack McInerney.
10. (12) CHICAGO FIRE (5-7-3)
LAST WEEK- beat Orlando City, 5-1, last Wednesday (U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals).
THIS WEEK- vs. San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday; vs. Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
LAST FIVE- W-W-T-W-T
OUTLOOK- What’s the only way to stop Mike Magee from scoring these days? Give the Fire a bye week in MLS play. Things are looking up in Chicago as they ride Magee’s incredible goal-scoring streak up the East standings, but this week will present two good tests in visits from suddenly re-awakened San Jose, and the always dangerous Sporting KC.
11. (11) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (5-5-6)
LAST WEEK- lost D.C. United, 3-1, last Wednesday (U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal); tied Chivas USA, 1-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
LAST FIVE- T-L-T-W-W
OUTLOOK- A pretty disappointing week put a serious halt to the Revs recent strong run. They crashed out of the Open Cup, and then dropped points against a Chivas USA team that hadn’t recorded a point since April.
12. (10)LOS ANGELES GALAXY (7-7-3)
LAST WEEK- lost to San Jose Earthquakes, 3-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Columbus Crew on Thursday; vs. FC Dallas on Sunday.
LAST FIVE- L-W-T-L-L
OUTLOOK- Another terrible result, and another awful end to a match for Omar Gonzalez, who continues to deliver mental breakdowns at crucial times. The blown lead overshadowed what was a truly masterful performance from Robbie Keane.
13. (13) COLORADO RAPIDS (6-7-5)
LAST WEEK- beat Montreal, 4-3, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. New York Red Bulls on Thursday; vs. D.C. United on Sunday.
LAST FIVE- W-L-L-L-T
OUTLOOK- The Rapids showed outstanding heart and determination, as well as some good midfield quality, in battling back twice to beat Montreal on the road, handing the Impact their first loss of the season at Stade Saputo. Now the Rapids face a Red Bulls team they traditionally own on July 4th, followed by a visit from D.C. team they should be able to beat. A six-point week could boost them into a playoff spot.
14. (16) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (5-7-6)
LAST WEEK- Beat Los Angeles Galaxy, 3-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at New England on Saturday.
LAST FIVE- W-L-W-L-L
OUTLOOK- The Earthquakes are alive. Yes, you have to say that after their latest dramatic comeback, and second win in three matches. They are not that far out of the playoff places, and the impending arrival of Clarence Goodson should only help boost the San Jose defense.
15. (14) COLUMBUS CREW (5-7-5)
LAST WEEK- lost to Sporting Kansas City, 3-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Los Angeles Galaxy on Thursday; vs. Portland Timbers on Sunday.
LAST FIVE- L-L-W-L-T
OUTLOOK- The good news for the Crew is that they were able to generate some goals on the road. The bad news is their defense collapsed.
16. (15) HOUSTON DYNAMO (6-6-5)
LAST WEEK- lost to New York Red Bulls, 1-0, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
LAST FIVE- L-T-L-T-T-L
OUTLOOK- The Dynamo aren’t going to score, let alone win, without Brad Davis AND Oscar Boniek Garcia missing from the lineup. Without those two, the Dynamo attack is simply toothless.
17. (17) TORONTO FC (2-8-6)
LAST WEEK- lost to Real Salt Lake, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Montreal Impact on Wednesday.
LAST FIVE- L-T-W-T-L
OUTLOOK- Didn’t play terribly in their loss to RSL, but simply didn’t do enough to win, giving the team yet another close-but-no-cigar result.
18. (19) CHIVAS USA (3-10-3)
LAST WEEK- Tied New England Revolution, 1-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at FC Dallas on Thursday; at Montreal Impact on Sunday.
LAST FIVE- T-L-L-L-L
OUTLOOK- Earned a point, their first since April, and signed Carlos Bocanegra, so yes, that qualifies as a great week for the Goats. Even better news is the impending arrival of a pair of talented young Mexican forwards to help an attack that desperately needs reinforcements.
19. (18) D.C. UNITED (2-12-3)
LAST WEEK- Beat New England Revolution, 3-1, last Wednesday (U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal); lost to Vancouver Whitecaps, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at Seattle Sounders on Wednesday; at Colorado Rapids on Sunday.
LAST FIVE- L-W-L-T-L
OUTLOOK- Didn’t deserve the penalty that handed Vancouver the 1-0 win, and once again played better than they had earlier in the year. That said, you wonder if D.C. United can recover from the latest disappointment and turn in a respectable week as they face a brutal road trip to Seattle and Colorado.
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.