By DAN KARELL
Despite the early season struggles of the New York Red Bulls and the Portland Timbers, who last year led the league’s Eastern and Western conferences, 2013 MLS Cup finalists Real Salt Lake keep chugging along.
Jeff Cassar’s side takes top spot in this week’s SBI MLS Power Rankings ahead of FC Dallas after securing a 2-2 draw at the Philadelphia Union. For the second week in a row, RSL’s depth showed as Luke Mulholland and Jeff Attinella stepped in and performed well.
Both D.C. United and the New England Revolution jumped five places in the rankings on the back of key wins against the Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo, respectively, while Toronto FC’s defeat to the Colorado Rapids dropped them out of the top five.
The Montreal Impact’s home draw kept them at the bottom of this week’s rankings.
Here are the SBI MLS Power Rankings for Week Six (as voted on by SBI staff):
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 6)
1. (Last Week- 2) REAL SALT LAKE (2-0-4)
OUTLOOK- Though Real Salt Lake were just seconds away from recording their third win of the season, they’ll still be happy with a road point against the Philadelphia Union following their 2-2 draw. Luke Mulholland and Jeff Atinella have filled in for Joao Plata and Nick Rimando tremendously, and Kyle Beckerman remains in top form.
2. (1) FC DALLAS (4-1-1)
OUTLOOK- FC Dallas drops one spot after their first defeat of the season, but can take plenty away from their 3-2 loss to the Sounders. For one, they scored twice against one of MLS’ top teams and new signing David Teixeira scored his first goal. Losing two leads is tough but outside of Clint Dempsey’s stunning free kick, a draw was probably a fair result.
3. (4) LOS ANGELES GALAXY (2-1-1)
OUTLOOK- For the second week in a row, the Galaxy recorded a clean sheet on their way to taking home all three points. This time around, Robbie Keane proved to be the only goal scorer as the Galaxy blanked the Whitecaps, 1-0. Stefan Ishizaki, who set up the goal, has been outstanding in the last two matches and looks settled playing the No. 10 role.
4. (6) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (3-2-1)
OUTLOOK- The Sounders have been riding the Clint Dempsey wave for the last two weeks and it’s earned them two huge results. Following a last-gasp draw at Portland, the Sounders traveled to Dallas and ran out 3-2 winners. The defensive issues are troubling but Dempsey, Martins, and Neagle have done more than enough to make up for it.
5. (8) COLORADO RAPIDS (3-1-1)
OUTLOOK- The Rapids had a second consecutive trip to Canada and against the odds, came out winners in both games. Against a shorthanded TFC side, the Rapids eked out a 1-0 win but still found a way to dominate the midfield thanks to the play of Jose Mari, Dillon Powers, and Nick LaBrocca.
6. (3) TORONTO FC (3-2)
OUTLOOK- Unlike a week earlier when they hit the road and defeated the Crew, Toronto FC very badly missed Michael Bradley on the field in a 1-0 defeat to the Rapids. They lacked energy, pace, and didn’t look comfortable in possession. That being said, Kyle Bekker hit the post twice on free kicks, meaning TFC was only inches from earning a draw or winning despite the performance.
7. (5) COLUMBUS CREW (3-1-1)
OUTLOOK- Teams around MLS are starting to learn how to defend against the Crew: pack the middle of the field and force them to float balls into the box. The Crew for the second week in a row sent in wild crosses for much of the game, but a rare cross on the ground from Waylon Francis ended in a goal from Federico Higuain. The Crew need to adjust to the way teams are defending them, and can do that this weekend against D.C. United.
OUTLOOK- Sporting KC enjoyed a bye week last weekend after a busy start to the year. They’ll have another week to get Chance Myers, Andy Gruenebaum, and C.J. Sapong fully fit, and they’ll need someone to step in for the suspended Uri Rosell against Montreal.
9. (9) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-2-2)
OUTLOOK- The early season promise has started to whittle away. Two consecutive losses for the Whitecaps have shown that for all the attacking prowess they hold, the balance from defense to attack still isn’t there. The Whitecaps really missed Matias Laba last weekend at the Galaxy.
10. (16) D.C. UNITED (2-2-1)
OUTLOOK- For the first time in recent memory, D.C. United is on a winning streak. Davy Arnaud’s early goal stood up for D.C. United against the Red Bulls and Andrew Dykstra held on for a clean sheet despite a number of chances from the Red Bulls to at least tie the score. Positive signs in the District.
11. (17) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (2-3-1)
OUTLOOK- The Revolution shocked critics with a 2-0 victory against the visiting Dynamo, with first goals of the season from both Kevin Alston and Jerry Bengtson. Even without Kelyn Rowe, the Revolution created chances going forward. Despite a sub-par performance from the Dynamo, this win should be a shot in the arm for the Revs.
12. (13) NEW YORK RED BULLS (1-2-4)
OUTLOOK- The Red Bulls failed to defeat their Atlantic Cup rivals, D.C. United, raising alarm bells throughout the New York Metro area. Some of those fears were eased by Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Philadelphia, with Eric Alexander’s performance standing out as a reason to feel a bit more optimistic about the Red Bulls’ rough start to the season.
13. (10) PHILADELPHIA UNION (1-2-4)
OUTLOOK- The Union’s penchant for giving up late goals is becoming more than worrying, it’s becoming a regular trend. For the fourth time this season, the Union conceded in the final five minutes plus stoppage time of a half. Only a late header goal from Maurice Edu saved a point for the Union when it looked like a loss was imminent. Wednesday’s loss to the New York Red Bulls dropped them even further.
14. (15) CHIVAS USA (1-2-3)
OUTLOOK- Chivas USA came away with an improbable point at the Portland Timbers last Saturday, thanks to Erick “Cubo” Torres. Mauro Rosales and Carlos Alvarez played well in midfield but Chivas suffered a blow with the injury of Thomas McNamara.
15. (11) HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-3)
OUTLOOK- The Dynamo have suffered three defeats in a row, mainly due to subar midfield play. Oscar Boniek Garcia’s form has dipped while Brad Davis deals with an ankle injury that has kept him off the field. Giles Barnes and Will Bruin are failing to work together up top at this point in the season.
16. (12) PORTLAND TIMBERS (0-2-4)
OUTLOOK- The Timbers are getting close to pushing the panic button as they have gone six games winless to open up the season. After scoring four against the Sounders, the Timbers couldn’t find the energy needed to overcome a much more organized Chivas USA. The Timbers didn’t connect on a single cross and missed on nearly 29 percent of their passes.
17. (14) CHICAGO FIRE (0-1-5)
OUTLOOK- For the fifth time this season, the Fire eked out a draw, this time at the Impact. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado was caught well out of position on Jack McInerney’s debut goal for Montreal, but Quincy Amerikwa, who has made the most of his time on the field this season, added another goal. The Fire don’t seem to have enough to win many games this year, however.
18. (18) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (0-2-2)
OUTLOOK- The Earthquakes saw the full return of Alan Gordon to the starting lineup against the Crew but he showed plenty of rust. The ‘Quakes managed to score a trademark set piece goal from a corner kick but were taken apart easily on the Crew’s goal by some quick passing along the sideline.
19. (19) MONTREAL IMPACT (0-3-3)
OUTLOOK- The trade to bring Jack McInerney to the Impact in exchange for Andrew Wenger paid immediate dividends as McInerney scored his first goal for the club. However, it can’t improve their defensive performances, which have let other teams back into games after the Impact take a lead.
What do you think of this week’s power rankings? Do you think any team is ranked too high? Any too low?
Share your thoughts below.