Tuesday, April 19, 2011

MLS Week 5 Power Rankings: April 18, 2011

Parity is continuing to play havoc in MLS. Only a hand full of teams have been able to gain some continued form while others have been all over the place.

1. Real Salt Lake (2)
RSL got a late winner in the Rocky Mountain Derby. RSL is undefeated in all competitions so far this season and is preparing for the CONCACAF Champions League Final first leg against Mexico's Monterrey this week. Will the wheels come off if they suffer a bad result in the final?

2. Philadelphia Union (8)
I thought the Union was punching above its weight. But they continue to get the job done. A win against New York (though fortunate thanks to a terrible pass from Tim Ream) and a draw against Seattle Sounders is proving they belong on top of the East (for now). This team isn't creating goals, however, and can't rely on the defence to hold out every week.

3. LA Galaxy (4)
LA is having trouble putting teams away on the road. A questionable penalty in DC lead to a 1-1 draw followed by a 0-0 in Toronto. Landon Donovan's body is finally fighting back after continually playing over the past two years. They'll need his vision and leadership back to push on.

4. New York Red Bulls (3)
After some stuttering New York finally played to their potential against San Jose. Luke Rodgers got off the mark with two well taken goals. Thierry Henry showed up this week and added an assist and a goal. If they can get some consistency this team could be the best in the league.

5. Columbus Crew (13)
The Crew aren't flashy. They don't score a lot of goals. However, they seem to have ironed out their defensive problems from week 1 and they have a midfield that has bossed their last few games. Eddie Gaven and Robbie Rogers have been brilliant and the back four are doing enough.

6. Houston Dynamo (15)
Like the Crew Houston isn't flashy and they're not over powering, but eight points from five matches is impressive from a team without much talent. Dominic Kinear is a fantastic manager and he has this team doing just enough each week. Houston should at least pick up three of the next six available points. They have a bright young goalkeeper in Tally Hall who should get a USMNT look with the way he has played thus far. If they can get a goal scorer this team will be hard to beat as the defence is already in place.

7. Colorado Rapids (1)
After three straight wins the Rapids have dropped games in Dallas and Salt Lake. The first was a drubbing that they didn't show up for. The second was a heartbreaking late goal in a derby. It doesn't get any easier as they host Seattle at home on Friday. They need to get their high powered attack going again before they drop anymore points. They are still without Conor Casey, but do still have enough to take apart most teams in the league.

8. Seattle Sounders FC (11)
Seattle has gotten it going over the last few matches. They were fortunate to get a late equaliser againsts Philadelphia in a monsoon at PPL. They have all the talent, but seem to sputter with Fredy Montero up top as the focus of the team. He has no goals and one assist in five matches this season. More should expect from the team's marquee player. Freddie Ljundberg was run out of town last season for similar play. Fortunately for Montero, Sounders' fans seem to give Montero a pass.

9. DC United (14)
I said at the beginning of the season Charlie Davis would win the Golden Boot award. Through five matches he has five goals, though a few have been from the spot and not from open play. Thus far the team has been all over the place. Beating a disappointing Columbus, losing to New England (thanks to Baldomero Toledo), getting hammered by Colorado, drawing with LA Galaxy and thumping Toronto has shown us to expect the unexpected from this team. They haven't shown consistent form this season, but if they find it they will be difficult to beat. One thing's for sure: They are better than last season.

10. Portland Timbers (16)
The Timbers have come from nowhere to break the top 10! They have been led by captain Jack Jewsbury, who would be a perfect calming influence to Sporting KC right now,  and are getting contributions from other areas of the pitch. The scenes have been electric at JELD-WEN field, but can this team win away from home? They be difficult to beat at home as their home stadium is a massive advantage and they are definitely the future of MLS.

11. Vancouver Whitecaps (9)
Six points from six games is a massive positive for a first year MLS club. Much like Portland they've failed to find consistent form, despite having a more talented side than other teams around them. The Whitecaps have had the opportunity to take maximum points against less talented squads in Houston and Chivas USA, but have failed to do so. The fixtures get more difficult now and they will need Eric Hasseli to stay on the pitch and not be suspended if they are to take points from these upcoming fixtures.

12. Toronto FC (12)
Despite being embarrassed by DC United last week I don't think TFC is all that bad. Everyone continues to say they're in a re-building year. But that means they've had something to begin with. This team is building, and they have some excellent pieces in place. Some player continuity and manager continuity will do wonders for this club, and I don't think the play-offs are unrealistic looking at the teams around them.

13. San Jose Earthquakes (7)
After playing so well in their opening four matches the Earthquakes were out classed and out played by New York last weekend. Nothing was working for San Jose, and despite the torrential down pour should have put up a fight. I was surprised by their early form, but always thought last week's performance was more like the San Jose we would see this season.

14. New England Revolution (5)
Another team that has crashed down to Earth after a solid start. A draw and two losses in their last three have New England limping into a home encounter with an equally poor Sporting KC team. New England's defence continues to be solid, but there's no attack. They went down without a whimper to an RSL side with more reserves than first teamers in it and then gave up a late goal to the Dynamo. They need someone to score some goals and take the pressure off the defence.

15. Sporting KC (10)
The good news is Sporting KC only gave up one goal last week. They have given up nine goals in four matches. The bad news is their super sonic attack was non-existent. They have scored eight goals in four matches. It was a poor showing from a Sporting team that never truly looked like scoring. Sure Kei Kamara was put in on goal, but the angle was always against him. Sporting's unbalanced assembly is causing havoc with their stlye of play and I don't think Omar Bravo's absence is the cause of their current form. The midfield needs more bite and a move to a four man midfield would reduce the pressure on the back four. As in the clubs Open Cup win over Houston, last week's match shows what happens when Sporting's attack isn't firing. This team needs to give up some of its attack and grind out results with a staunch midfield.

16. Chicago Fire (6)
Chicago's bright start has burnt out. The good news is that their next three league games will be against similar teams in the table. The Fire can be forgiven for losing to Seattle, but they were completely taken out of last week's match against the Timbers by the home field advantage Portland has. They're scoring goals, but unfortunately they are conceding more goals.

17. FC Dallas (18)
Recently, FCD manager Schellas Hyndman was quoted as saying the team hadn't found a replacement to Dax McCarty in midfield. This shocked me as they had plenty of time to find one following his trade in the expansion draft. Hell, they didn't have to trade him at all. This is definitely not the team it was last season. They have slipped back to the mediocre state they previously occupied before last year. If they can get a couple of wins they will be right back in it, however, I still don't see anything special in this team.

18. Chivas USA (17)
Jesus Christ, I wish MLS had relegation. This team is bad. They have made slight defensive improvements since the beginning of the season. Chivas has been able to grind out three consecutive draws for their only points thus far. Three incredibly boring draws. What should be extremely worrying is this team has only three goals on the season. Two were by defenders and one was by striker Alejandro Moreno. If you want to see how not to be a striker watch Justin Braun's ridiculously comical attempt at finishing in their match against TFC from three weeks ago. I can't express how bad of an attacker this kids is; he isn't a kid anymore actually, he is 24-years old. His terrible play has done me a solid, however, and shut up all those crying out for him to be included with the USMNT. Unfortunately I'm sure he'll be in the team for this summer's Gold Cup. What is more worrying for the USMNT, however, is Benny Feilhaber maybe joining this band of misfits thanks to MLS' allocating player system. If Feilhaber is forced to sign with Chivas USA don't expect this team to get better or Feilhaber's career to sky rocket. There aren't the players on this team to enable Feilhaber to succeed.

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