FOX Soccer Exclusive
MLS Power Rankings: RSL still on top
Here are the new FOX Soccer MLS Power Rankings going into week five of the new 2012 season:
1- REAL SALT LAKE (3-1)
Showed tremendous poise in battling back from 2-1 deficit to score late winner in Portland. Kyle Beckerman is playing some of the best soccer in MLS and the scary part is RSL really hasn’t had their best starting lineup together yet for a game.
2- SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-0)
Squeezed out another hard-fought road win by beating Chivas USA 1-0, with C.J. Sapong providing the game-winner yet again. Sporting KC has a perfect record, but their schedule is about to bet a lot tougher, including a date in two weeks with RSL.
3- SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (3-1)
The San Jose defense is looking miles better than last year’s group, and Victor Bernardez and Sam Cronin are key reasons for that improvement. The Earthquakes did a great job of stifling Seattle’s playmakers and Jon Busch continues to be one of the steadier goalkeepers in the league.
4- SEATTLE SOUNDERS (2-1)
The Sounders’ shutout home loss to San Jose on Saturday was the first match they clearly missed injured playmaker Mauro Rosales in. They still should have been able to muster more chances given their personnel. The Seattle defense is still working out an identity, and the injury to Jhon Kennedy Hurtado should give Jeff Parke a chance to re-establish himself as the Sounders’ defensive leader.
5- HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-1)
The bye week should help give the Dynamo some fresh legs as they continue their extended road trip. Three more road games against Eastern Conference opponents should give Houston a chance to establish credentials as a team to beat in the East. Colin Clark’s suspension will force Dom Kinnear to look at new options on the right flank, and should give the likes of Je-Vaugn Watson, Brian Ownby and Kofi Sarkodie a chance to see more minutes.
6- VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (2-0-2)
The Whitecaps continue to defend well, and have yet to allow a goal this season. That may be so, but now they’ve been shut out in two consecutive matches, though injuries have played a part in that. Getting Eric Hassli back should provide a big boost, but Vancouver can definitely use the quick and dangerous attributes Camilo brings to the lineup. Especially with a tough San Jose defense up next on the schedule.
7- NEW YORK RED BULLS (2-2)
Thierry Henry is playing out of his mind these days, but his outstanding form is also helping conceal some real flaws in the Red Bulls game. New York’s wingers have started the season flat, and the back-line looks very shaky except for Wilman Conde. A short-handed Colorado side and expansion Montreal team weren’t able to really test the Red Bulls’ flaws, but the upcoming opponents (Columbus and San Jose) should provide tougher challenges.
8- COLORADO RAPIDS (3-1)
Talk about a case of night and day. A week after being dominated by New York, the Rapids brought back Jeff Larentowicz and introduced Martin Rivero and the result was a dominating performance against Chicago. Rivero looks like a real difference maker, while the Colorado defense rebounded well from their 4-1 thrashing by the Red Bulls.
9- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (2-2)
The Revs didn’t sit and wait against the LA Galaxy. They went right after the defending champions on their own turf and the result was a quick 2-0 lead and an outstanding team effort for 90 minutes in a second straight victory. Clyde Simms has really settled in well in the lineup alongside Shalrie Joseph, while Saer Sene is starting to look like the real deal.
10- COLUMBUS CREW (2-1)
The Crew did a good job of defending well and countering Toronto FC when opportunities presented themselves. Milovan Mirosevic enjoyed another good match, while Bernardo Anor is starting to look like one of the steals of the 2011 MLS Draft. The Columbus defense hasn’t really been tested by a powerhouse yet, but that’s coming on Saturday when Thierry Henry and the Red Bulls come to town.
11- LA GALAXY (1-2)
Another nightmarish defensive performance has to have Bruce Arena worried. Truth be told, it wasn’t just the back-line, but really a complete team stinker. Juninho has been out of form all season and the void left by Omar Gonzalez is more glaring by the week. Things only get tougher, with games against Sporting KC, Portland and Colorado up next.
12- D.C. UNITED (1-2-1)
Several players stood out to help D.C. destroy FC Dallas last week, including back-up goalkeeper Joe Willis and rookie Nick DeLeon. Perhaps most encouraging for Ben Olsen was seeing Dwayne De Rosario starting to flash some MVP-caliber form. A stiff test from Seattle’s dangerous attack should tell us just how far the D.C. defense has come.
13- PORTLAND TIMBERS (1-2-1)
While there are sometimes teams who get results despite not playing well, count Portland as the one team in MLS right now playing very well, but not getting the results. Darlington Nabe is rapidly emerging as a star, but the Timbers need defenders to step up amid a rash of centerback injuries. Facing the weak Chivas USA defense should provide a respite.
14- FC DALLAS (1-2-1)
Schellas Hyndman must be shaking his head, trying to figure out how the Dallas defense has fallen apart in recent weeks after starting the season so well. D.C. United’s counterattack tore the Dallas defense to shreds, and now the Hoops will need to play without midfield captain Daniel Hernandez. Of greater concern is the news that David Ferreira will be out eight weeks. Dallas needs Brek Shea to step up and help give the offense a boost.
15- CHIVAS USA (1-3)
You have to feel for goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and the Chivas USA defense. They are playing some of the best defensive soccer in the league, but their toothless attack is making it nearly impossible to win. Juan Pablo Angel being sidelined only makes things worse and it’s looking increasingly like Chivas USA will have to settle for 1-0 wins and 1-0 losses until Jorge Vergara decides to spend some real money on attacking players.
16- CHICAGO FIRE (1-1-1)
Frank Klopas couldn’t have been happy watching the Fire get bossed in midfield the way they did by Colorado. It isn’t likely to lead to a major lineup shake-up, but it’s sure to be a topic addressed during the team’s bye week.
17- PHILADELPHIA UNION (0-3-1)
A draw at home is usually a disappointment, but avoiding a loss against Sebastien Le Toux and the unbeaten Vancouver Whitecaps is something for the Union to build on. Philly will have a bye week to sort out an offense that just hasn’t been good enough, and should give Freddy Adu a chance to re-incorporate with the team after being away with the Under-23 national team.
18- TORONTO FC (0-3)
TFC keeps on playing well in Champions League, but struggling in MLS play. They had more of the ball against Columbus, but were burned on the counterattack for the deciding goal. Once their run in Champions League ends, and they can get Torsten Frings back, Toronto should improve, but for right now Aron Winter’s side just isn’t playing well in league action.
19- MONTREAL IMPACT (0-2-1)
Defensive woes continue to plague the Impact, who sorely need Nelson Rivas to get healthy. The offense showed some good signs vs. New York, with Justin Mapp playing particularly well, but the team could still use a truly dangerous forward and it’s clear why Montreal owner Joey Saputo is throwing millions at every top aging forward in Europe.
Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the US National Team.
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