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MLS Power Rankings: RSL leads the pack

Published April 21, 2014 2:29 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

1. Real Salt Lake (3-0-4)

The Jeff Cassar Era is off to a screaming start. Real Salt Lake managed through arguably the toughest first seven games of any team in MLS and remains undefeated despite battling as many as 14 early-season injuries.

2. FC Dallas (5-1-1)

Oscar Pareja again seems to be working magic. After leading a young Colorado squad to the playoffs in 2013, the former Dallas player has his new squad soaring out of the gates. FC Dallas leads the league with 16 points in seven matches and has league-high 17 goals.

3. Sporting Kansas City (3-1-2)

The defending MLS Cup champions have rebounded from being bounced in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal and just rolled over the Montreal Impact 4-0 at home. Sporting remains the best defensive team in MLS having allowed just four goals in six matches.

4. Seattle Sounders (4-2-1)

Clint Dempsey's lackluster 2013 season in Seattle is now a distant memory. The U.S. national team star has six goals and three assists in the Sounders' first seven matches and his partner up top, Obafemi Martins, leads the league with four assists. But the question remains: Can Seattle shore up its defense?

5. Columbus Crew (3-1-2)

Gregg Berhalter has his Crew playing well and above early-season expectation. Federico Higuain, Hector Jimenez and Wil Trapp are pacing Columbus in a fairly wide-open Eastern Conference behind Sporting Kansas City. The Crew could continue be the surprise team in MLS in 2014.

6. L.A. Galaxy (2-1-2)

Landon Donovan hasn't scored a goal in five matches, leaving his pursuit of the league's all-time goal record of 135 in limbo. Robbie Keane is heating up, but L.A.'s central midfield and back line has struggled to maintain leads early on this season.

7. Toronto FC (3-3-0)

The star-studded Reds have struggled after it's 2-0-0 start. It's 3-0 thumping at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 29 brought Toronto down to earth and Jermain Defoe hasn't appeared in the last three matches after suffering a hamstring injury against RSL. Michael Bradley will be asked to guide the club through waves if Defoe continues to miss matches.

8. Colorado Rapids (3-1-2)

The awarding of penalty kicks eventually started to wane and the Rapids are struggling to generate goals. They've scored eight goals in six matches and failed to put San Jose away at home Saturday, which resulted in a 0-0 draw.

9. Houston Dynamo (2-3-1)

Offensively, the Dynamo are searching. Brad Davis and Will Bruin can only do so much, leaving the club in a bind. Houston has scored seven goals in six matches, conceding eight.

10. Philadelphia Union (1-2-5)

The tools are there for the Union to make a run at a playoff spot in 2014, that much is certain. The addition of Maurice Edu solidifies the midfield and Philly has a flurry of talented forwards, but the Union must figure out how to turn some of these early-season draws into wins.

11. Vancouver Whitecaps (2-2-3)

The Whitecaps roll into Rio Tinto Stadium this Saturday on the heels of a 2-2 draw at home with L.A. Young emerging star Kekuta Manneh scored a gorgeous equalizer to earn a point against the Galaxy and seems to be the eventual heir apparent to the departed Camilo.

12. New England Revolution (2-3-2)

The definition of impressive is managing to earn eight points in seven matches scoring just five goals. But the road toughens big time. The Revs face Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC and Seattle in the next three weeks. Better score more goals.

13. D.C. United (2-2-2)

Former RSL star Fabian Espindola scored his second goal of the season in United's draw with Columbus. He'll be leaned upon, along with Eddie Johnson, to keep D.C. in the playoff picture as the season progresses.

14. New York Red Bulls (1-2-4)

Last year's Supporters' Shield winners are floundering early on. Stars Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill have missed matches due to injury and it looks like the Red Bulls simply haven't been able to figure it out. How long before Mike Petke slams the panic button?

15. Portland Timbers (0-3-4)

Sophomore slump? Who knows. The lack of any consistent threat up top seems to have plagued Portland this year. Caleb Porter's 4-3-3 formation essentially features three midfielders up top and Portland's back line doesn't look good at all. Timbers better figure it out and fast.

16. Chicago Fire (0-1-6)

Hey, give Frank Yallop's boys credit: They know how to draw. The Fire have six points — all on draws — and haven't been able to capitalize on crucial late-game awarded penalties that could have given them more than a point per outing. But Quincy Amarikwa's emergence has been big.

17. Chivas USA (1-3-3)

The Goats have looked good in 2014 and bad in 2014. But they look remarkably better than 2013, which is good news for the league and Chivas supporters. Erick Torres is tied with Clint Dempsey for the league lead in goals scored at six, but rookie Thomas McNamara will miss the year with a torn ACL.

18. San Jose Earthquakes (0-2-3)

The Goonies haven't been much fun to watch in 2014. Aside from rallying to a 3-3 draw with RSL at home on March 15, the Quakes aren't fashioning many chances offensively and that will be a problem if/when Chris Wondolowski goes to Brazil this summer.

19. Montreal Impact (0-4-3)

The Impact were walloped by Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park 4-0. Marco Di Vaio doesn't look like the 2013 version of himself and the defense has given up a league-high 14 goals. Could be a long season in Montreal.

— Chris Kamrani