MLS Power Rankings: Unbeaten RSL still atop the mountain
BY cHRIS KAMRANI
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published May 19 2014 12:32PM
1. Real Salt Lake (6-0-5)
Seattle may lead the league in points with 25, but RSL has a match in hand on its Western Conference rival and has yet to get blown out on the road 5-0 at full strength. RSL will go for a shot at history Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium in an attempt to tie the longest-unbeaten streak to start an MLS season since the L.A. Galaxy’s 12-0-0 start in 1996 in the MLS shootout era.
2. New England Revolution (6-3-2)
Hard to think of a hotter team in MLS than RSL, but the Revolution are certainly right there. The Revs have scored 10 goals — yes, 10 — in their last two outings, including a 5-0 stomping of Seattle two weeks ago. Jay Heaps’ young attacking core is shining as New England is atop the Eastern Conference table through 11 weeks. Lee Nguyen is playing at an MVP level early on.
3. Seattle Sounders (8-3-1)
The Sounders may be without Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans and DeAndre Yedlin, but Obafemi Martins is taking his snub by Nigeria for this summer’s World Cup to another level. The 29-year-old striker has scored five goals and six assists in 12 matches as the Sounders have the most points and wins in MLS.
4. Sporting Kansas City (5-4-2)
It’s been an odd two weeks for the defending MLS Cup champions. Rare to see back-to-back losses by SKC, especially to two struggling opponents. Lowly Philadelphia went into Sporting Park and topped SKC 2-1, then minus Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, Sporting fell to the Chicago Fire 2-1 on the road. Sporting will be tested minus its two best players for an extended period of time.
5. Houston Dynamo (5-5-2)
Well, Houston certainly bounced back from its 5-2 trouncing at home via RSL. The Dynamo beat the L.A. Galaxy 1-0 at home and currently sit tied for second place in the East with Sporting KC. Houston will miss its leader Brad Davis, but could make a run in the East over the next few weeks. Three straight road matches at D.C. United, San Jose and Colorado wait, however.
6. Vancouver Whitecaps (4-2-4)
The Caps ditched Kenny Miller up top and have gone very, very young. Kekuta Mannaeh, Darren Mattocks, Erik Hurtado are just a trio of names that will continue to pop up on the MLS radar for quite some time. Credit to first-year coach Carl Robinson, who has his group playing well and in the middle of a rough Western Conference early on. Home fixture with rival Seattle will be interesting as the Sounders are without three stars.
7. Toronto FC (4-4-0)
One of the more intriguing teams MLS this year, Toronto continued its up and down start with a 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls over the weekend. Jermain Defoe rifled home a tremendous shot to give the Reds the lead and the eventual win. Question remains: Can TFC survive without Michael Bradley until at least early July?
8. D.C. United (4-3-3)
D.C. United already has more wins through 10 matches than it did through all of 2013. Which means Ben Olsen’s side is doing something right. Eddie Johnson and Fabian Espindola have formed a decent striker corps up top for D.C., but not being able to earn three points against the struggling Montreal Impact is frustrating.
9. Colorado Rapids: (4-4-3)
They still have the look of trying to figure out what style of team they are, but the Rapids are at 15 points through 11 matches under first-year coach Pablo Mastroeni. Without injuries to key attackers such as Vicente Sanchez and Gabriel Torres, Colorado nearly stole another three points from RSL Saturday night. Rapids need more production out of Deshorn Brown and Edson Buddle.
10. FC Dallas (5-5-2)
What a start Oscar Pareja’s new group had. What a thud it’s been since. Dallas hasn’t won since April 19 and is 0-4-1 in its last five matches. The most recent result was a 1-1 draw at home against Chivas USA in which Dallas needed to rally to earn a point. Hoops miss Mauro Diaz immensely and Saturday’s trip to Rio Tinto Stadium is yet another opportunity to turn things around. But with the way Dallas has been playing, possibilities are endless.
11. Columbus Crew (3-4-4)
The Crew’s fiery start has fizzled. Up a man for the majority of the match at Providence Park, Columbus couldn’t protect two late leads against the Timbers as a wild outing finished in a 3-3 draw. Federico Higuain pulled a Javier Morales with a fantastic chip of Donovan Ricketts, but the Crew must figured out how to play with a lead - and protect it.
12. L.A. Galaxy (2-3-3)
The Galaxy may have four matches in hand of West-leading Seattle, but they’re also 17 points behind West-leading Seattle 11 weeks into the MLS season. L.A. is struggling to score. Landon Donovan wasn’t able to put one away before he left for USMNT duty and Robbie Keane is alone in terms of real threats for the Galaxy. Bruce Arena better start racking up the points soon because without Donovan and Omar Gonzalez, postseason hopes could fade sooner than later.
13. New York Red Bulls (3-4-5)
The defense is a mess, Thierry Henry hasn’t found a rhythm and outside of Bradley Wright-Phillips, the start to 2014 has been lackluster for last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners. Next three minus Tim Cahill will be tough as the Red Bulls take on Portland, SKC and New England.
14. Chivas USA (2-5-4)
Who would have thought Chivas would have more points than the Galaxy at juncture of the season? Not many. The Goats have earned back-to-back road results with a 3-1 win at Colorado two weeks back and a 1-1 draw at FC Dallas this weekend. If Chivas can get its offense rolling — the acquisition of Marvin Chavez could help - maybe the Goats can challenge for a postseason spot as the season wears on? Maybe?
15. Chicago Fire (2-2-6)
Since a total collapse in a 3-2 home loss to RSL on May 3, the Fire have bounced back. They just beat a short-handed Sporting KC side at home and have jumped from zero wins to two in consecutive weeks. Mike Magee and Quincy Amarikwa have been hot, but rookie Harrison Shipp has a lead on MLS Rookie of the Year. The Notre Dame product has been a revelation for the Fire.
16. San Jose (2-4-4)
No Chris Wondolowski or Clarence Goodson for at least another three weeks could mean more trouble for the Quakes. The rough start was made even more rough in its 1-0 loss at Seattle Saturday. Jon Busch kept San Jose in it, but offense isn’t even close to being up to par. The Quakes have scored 10 goals in 10 matches and without its their best forward for the next few weeks, things won’t be easier.
17. Portland Timbers (1-3-7)
Is Caleb Porter on the hot seat? There’s no doubt his seat is warm, but hard to see the front office making a move as the Timbers continue to struggle mightily in their quest to return to the playoffs — and win the West. Portland, like it did in 2013, is stacking up the draws — seven in all — but it has had to claw back to earn points more often than not.
18. Philadelphia Union (2-6-5)
John Hackworth’s side went into Sporting Park and beat the defending champs. Then John Hackworth’s side hosted the New England Revolution and were railroaded in a 5-3 loss. The Union’s big signings have failed to deliver and Maurice Edu is in Palo Alto, Calif., trying to earn a seat on that plane to Brazil. Someone needs to fix that back line, because it’s just not very good.
19. Montreal Impact (1-5-4)
Seven points in 10 matches, no Marco Di Vaio and not much else going. Newly-acquired Jack McInerney is trying to hold down the fort, but help isn’t anywhere to be seen. The Impact nearly stole three points at D.C. United, but Eddie Johnson ensured Montreal would not have its second win of 2014.