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MLS Power Rankings: Sporting top dogs
Sporting Kansas City had been stealing all the MLS headlines in recent weeks thanks to a 6-0 start to the season, but their Week 7 loss to Portland allowed some other Eastern Conference teams to share the spotlight.
D.C. United, Houston and Philadelphia all earned good results this past weekend, with United’s 4-1 thrashing of the New York Red Bulls pulling them into sole possession of second place in the East.
The Houston Dynamo’s lengthy road trip ahead of the opening of BBVA Compass Stadium saw them earn a hard-fought point in Columbus, with Brian Ching providing the winner and Will Bruin looking good in his one-goal, one-assist effort.
Philadelphia pushed their shutout streak to three straight matches with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Chivas. Freddy Adu’s back-heel goal and Philly’s stingy defense helped offset two red cards. The Union’s defensive will face its toughest test of the season to date against San Jose next week.
Out West, San Jose scored two late goals to knock off Real Salt Lake and grab first place in the conference, along with the No. 2 spot in the FOX Soccer MLS Power Rankings. And don’t look now, but here comes the LA Galaxy, winners of two straight to pull back into the pack in the West.
Here are the FOX Soccer MLS Power Rankings after Week 7:
Lost perfect record in Portland, but still the clear-cut top team in the league right now. A week off should help provide some fresh legs heading into a favorable stretch in the Sporting KC schedule.
Opposing fans and players may hate him, but Steven Lenhart’s antics have helped Earthquakes earn four extra points and first place in the West. More credit to Frank Yallop for shuffling around his defense and finding a combination to stop Real Salt Lake.
Highly-questionable red card on Jamison vs. San Jose cost RSL a road point, but his team is still playing good soccer despite injuries. Getting Javier Morales on the field soon should help RSL stay right on San Jose’s tail for top spot in the West.
A week off should allow Mauro Rosales to get closer to returning to action. Sounders are struggling without him.
5- D.C. UNITED
Followed up a lackluster effort vs. Montreal with a masterful showing vs. the Red Bulls. Chris Pontius is really rounding into form while Nick DeLeon is looking like a runaway Rookie of the Year pick.
Another precious road point keeps Dynamo on solid ground. Seeing Will Bruin and Brian Ching combine so well has to make Dom Kinnear happy, especially with Brad Davis sidelined.
After surrendering six goals in their previous two matches, Whitecaps defense regained their stingy ways with a vital shutout win against a tough FC Dallas attack.
8- LA GALAXY
Two wins in a row for the Galaxy since Bruce Arena traded for David Junior Lopes and plugged him into the lineup. Just as important as the defense stabilizing is the fact the offense is starting to generate chances consistently.
9- CHICAGO FIRE
The defense is still sorting some things out, but the Fire attack looked good in beating TFC (no, that’s not saying much). Dom Oduro looks poised for another standout season, while Patrick Nyarko is playing extremely well.
Thierry Henry is still the best player in the league, but a raft of injuries coupled with the poor play of Markus Holgersson threatens to cost the Red Bulls major points in the coming weeks.
11- FC DALLAS
The Hoops saw their recent two-match winning streak ended as the offense showed its inconsistent side again in the shutout loss to Vancouver. Blas Perez will miss the RSL match on Wednesday due to suspension.
The Union defense isn’t missing a thing without injured veteran Danny Califf, posting another shutout victory. The two red cards they drew were ugly and deserved, but that shouldn’t take away from a gutsy effort against Chivas USA.
13- CHIVAS USA
Robin Fraser must be racking his brain trying to figure out how his team is winless at home and perfect on the road. Failing to even get a point against nine-man Philadelphia is sad, but getting Juan Pablo Angel back should push the Goats attack in the right direction.
14- COLORADO RAPIDS
The Rapids have lost four of five and the team’s recent offensive struggles make it more glaring than ever that they need Conor Casey back. He is on the verge of returning, which will lead to a sorely-needed midfield shake-up.
15- PORTLAND TIMBERS
A result finally goes the Timbers way as Portland finally shows an ability to hold on to a lead. John Spencer knows his team must get better, and the win against Sporting KC should provide a boost of confidence the team sorely needed.
A week off to regroup from that tough loss to D.C. should help Jay Heaps figure out which starting lineup should work best now that all hands are on deck. Forwards Jose Moreno and Saer Sene should have a field day vs. New York.
17- COLUMBUS CREW
Eddie Gaven showed why he is still the Crew’s best attacking player with his two-goal performance against Houston, but the defense continues to miss Julius James badly.
18- MONTREAL IMPACT
Jesse Marsch probably felt like his team should have taken all three points vs. D.C. United last week, but the fact is as close as Montreal is getting to better results, they are still not exactly playing good soccer. There is still an attacking spark missing.
19- TORONTO FC
A 0-6 start, tied for the worst in league history, isn’t stopping Aron Winter from insisting TFC will still make the playoffs. The Eastern Conference may be weak, but it’s not THAT weak.
Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the US National Team.