By IVES GALARCEP
Real Salt Lake, the team that was supposed to be enduring a rebuilding season after so many off-season departures, apparently didn’t get the memo that this was supposed to be a down year.
RSL hit the mid-way point of the 2013 season not only sporting the best record in Major League Soccer, but also the top spot in the latest SBI MLS Power Rankings. Even an awful red card decision that left them down to 10 men against a tough Philadelphia Union side could defeat them, as they rallied late for a well-earned draw that pushed their unbeaten streak to five matches.
RSL knocked Portland off the top spot after the Timbers saw their 15-match unbeaten streak snapped by the Columbus Crew.
Here are the SBI MLS Power Rankings for Week 19:
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 19)
1. (Last Week-2) REAL SALT LAKE (10-5-4)
LAST WEEK- tied Philadelphia, 2-2, on Wednesday (7/3)
THIS WEEK- at FC Dallas on Saturday.
LAST FIVE- T-W-W-W-W
OUTLOOK- Might be missing players due to Gold Cup, but their impressive depth looks more than capable of picking up the slack. Tough test awaits in Frisco though.
2. (1) PORTLAND TIMBERS (7-2-9)
LAST WEEK- lost to Columbus, 1-0, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday
LAST FIVE- L-W-T-W-T
OUTLOOK- The streak had to end some time, and considering the early red card, they actually played really well in their loss to the Crew. Taking on the Galaxy without Will Johnson and Rodney Wallace won’t be easy, but their home edge at Jeld-Wen Field should help.
3. (5) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (8-5-6)
LAST WEEK- tied Vancouver Whitecaps, 1-1, last Wednesday (7/3); beat Chicago Fire, 2-1, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Toronto FC on Saturday.
LAST FIVE- W-T-W-T-L
OUTLOOK- This is looking more and more like the Sporting KC side we expected when the season began. Benny Feilhaber scoring a goal and getting back into the mix is big considering he had fallen out of favor.
4. (6) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (8-5-5)
LAST WEEK- tied with Sporting Kansas City, 1-1, last Wednesday (7/3); beat Seattle Sounders, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Chicago Fire on Sunday.
LAST FIVE- W-T-W-W-W
OUTLOOK- Taking four points from last week’s pair of games is the best evidence yet that this Whitecaps team is legit. Kenny Miller has stepped his game up to provide a good complement to Camilo Sanvezzo, and having Darren Mattocks find the net could provide major dividends going forward.
LAST WEEK- tied Chivas USA, 0-0, last Thursday; lost to Los Angeles Galaxy, 2-0, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
LAST FIVE- L-T-T-T-L
OUTLOOK- Winless in six, so how are they still in the Top Five? It’s easy to forget the amazing run they had to start the season. Even with the lack of recent wins, Dallas hasn’t exactly looked terrible. That said, anything short of a win at home vs. RSL could cause them to seriously slip in the West standings.
6. (4) MONTREAL IMPACT (9-4-4)
LAST WEEK- tied Toronto FC, 3-3, last Wednesday (7/3); tied Chivas USA, 1-1, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- at New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
LAST FIVE IN MLS- T-T-L-W-L
OUTLOOK- Remember when Montreal had a tough defense? Don’t worry, if you can’t you’re not alone. Not sure what the deal is, but Marco Schallibaum needs to tighten things up in the back-line because better teams will tear Montreal apart if they keep playing at their recent level. The Red Bulls could have a field day if Alessandro Nesta doesn’t step it up.
7. (12)LOS ANGELES GALAXY (9-7-3)
LAST WEEK- beat Columbus Crew, 2-1, last Thursday; beat FC Dallas, 2-0, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- at Portland Timbers on Saturday.
LAST FIVE- W-W-L-W-T
OUTLOOK- Two wins and suddenly the Galaxy have gone from panic mode to right back in range for the top spot in the West. They miss Landon Donovan, but Robbie Keane is playing amazingly, and Marcelo Sarvas has been one of the season’s truly unsung heroes. Winning in Portland won’t be easy though, and could give us one of the best games of the year.
8. (7) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (7-6-3)
LAST WEEK- beat D.C. United, 2-0, last Wednesday (7/3); lost to Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
LAST FIVE- L-W-L-W-W
OUTLOOK- Did what they had to do in beating D.C. United at home, but their lack of finishing cost them in the loss to Vancouver. Seattle created plenty of chances, but couldn’t solve Brad Knighton. A trip to San Jose will present a tough test, but they need to win if they are to still be taken seriously as a top contender. Getting Osvaldo Alonso back should provide a major boost.
9. (8) NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-7-4)
LAST WEEK- lost to Colorado Rapids, 2-0, last Thursday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Montreal Impact on Saturday.
LAST FIVE - L-W-L-L-T
OUTLOOK- If you were surprised by their loss in Colorado you don’t pay much attention to history. The Red Bulls need to regroup because they face a very vulnerable opponent they have a chance to catch in the East standings. Thierry Henry should have a field day.
10. (11) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (6-5-6)
LAST WEEK- beat San Jose Earthquakes, 2-0, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
LAST FIVE- W-T-L-T-W
OUTLOOK- That defense just keeps on shutting opponents down, but how about Saer Sene? The Revs need Sene to step up badly with the injury absence of Juan Agudelo. Houston’s defense should pose a good challenge, but Diego Fagundez and Co. need a big game to ensure three points instead of one at home on Saturday.
11. (13) COLORADO RAPIDS (7-7-6)
LAST WEEK- beat New York Red Bulls, 2-0, last Thursday, tied D.C. United, 0-0, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- Bye Week
LAST FIVE- T-W-W-L-L
OUTLOOK- Looked very sharp vs. the Red Bulls, like a playoff team really, but their attack was lacking in the draw vs. D.C. United. Those are the kind of dropped points that can really hurt a playoff push. A week off should only help the Rapids get some players healthier, and others a rest after a tough stretch.
12. (9) PHILADELPHIA UNION (7-6-6)
LAST WEEK- tied Real Salt Lake, 2-2, last Wednesday (7/3); lost to Houston Dynamo, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Chivas USA on Friday.
LAST FIVE- L-T-T-W-W
OUTLOOK- Another blown late lead has to drive John Hackworth crazy. Much more than the flat showing vs. Houston, which was to be expected after the grueling recent schedule. Up next is a Chivas USA that has been much tougher lately. Conor Casey and Sebastien LeToux need to step up their game if the Union are going to snap their short winless slide.
13. (10) CHICAGO FIRE (6-8-3)
LAST WEEK- beat San Jose Earthquakes, 3-2, last Wednesday (7/3); lost to Sporting Kansas City, 2-1, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- at Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday.
LAST FIVE- L-W-W-W-T
OUTLOOK- Might seem a harsh drop after their first loss since Mike Magee’s arrival, but the reality is there’s not much separating teams 10-13. If the Fire can get a result against a red-hot Vancouver, and on the road, you can rest assured they will resume their climb up the rankings.
14. (15) COLUMBUS CREW (6-8-5)
LAST WEEK- lost to Los Angeles Galaxy, 2-1, last Thursday; beat Portland Timbers, 1-0, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- Bye Week
LAST FIVE- W-L-L-L-W
OUTLOOK- Talk about a team that came very close to an amazing week. Deserved a point from their loss to the Galaxy, and held on to beat a 10-man Portland side that hadn’t lost since March. Bernardo Anor has really stepped up his game in recent weeks, helping pick up the slack for the injured Eddie Gaven.
15. (16) HOUSTON DYNAMO (7-6-5)
LAST WEEK- beat Philadelphia Union, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- at New England Revolution on Saturday.
LAST FIVE- W-L-T-L-T
OUTLOOK- The return of Oscar Boniek Garcia helped provide a boost to the attack, as did Ricardo Clark’s efforts to get further into the attack. A trip to New England should tell us whether their latest win is a sign of things to come, or a false alarm. Getting Brad Davis back would certainly help.
16. (14) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (5-9-6)
LAST WEEK- lost to Chicago Fire, 3-2, last Wednesday (7/3); lost to New England Revolution, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK- vs. Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
LAST FIVE- L-L-W-L-W
OUTLOOK- The good vibes of that win vs. the Galaxy disappeared after a pair of losses that left the team deflated yet again. That said, the recent additions to the roster, and the fact they aren’t that far out of the playoff race, mean you just can’t write them off yet. The Seattle match will tell us plenty.
17. (17) TORONTO FC (2-8-7)
LAST WEEK- tied Montreal Impact, 3-3, last Wednesday (7/3)
THIS WEEK- at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
LAST FIVE- T-L-T-W-T
OUTLOOK- Giving up a two-goal lead was a gut-punch, even for a team that has mastered the art of the blown lead. You see signs of improvement, but not nearly enough for their to be a good feeling about this season. Help is apparently on the way, and while that may be, you can write down right now that a few years ago we will look back on their trade of Luis Silva and wonder just what they were thinking.
18. (18) CHIVAS USA (3-10-5)
LAST WEEK- tied FC Dallas, 0-0, last Thursday; tied Montreal Impact, 1-1, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- at Philadelphia Union on Friday.
LAST FIVE- T-T-T-L-L
OUTLOOK- The Goats have become a very tough team to break down under their new head coach, and the arrival of Mexican striker Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres should only help boost the attack. Gabriel Farfan gets to face the team that traded him away when Philadelphia visits Stub Hub Center in a match that could really go either way.
19. (19) D.C. UNITED (2-13-4)
LAST WEEK- lost to Seattle Sounders, 2-0, last Wednesday (7/3); tied Colorado Rapids, 0-0, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK- Bye Week.
LAST FIVE- T-L-L-W-L
OUTLOOK- Two games, two shutouts for the attack, which is back to struggling badly. A bright spot for D.C.? The recent form of young centerback Ethan White, who has the look of a player. The recent additions of Luis Silva and Jared Jeffrey are positive steps for the future, but there is little reason to believe things are going to get better in 2013.
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.