Major League Soccer Power Rankings

Last week’s MLS action saw the L.A. Galaxy continue their fine form of late with a 3-1 thumping of the Red Bulls.

Houston continued their recent wobbly play with a draw at Toronto, while Chivas USA and Colorado both fell to disappointing defeats.

Out in the east, the top three sides all picked up wins to stay close at the top, while the Revs finally picked up a victory to kickstart their own campaign.

The race for playoff spots is heating up and so is the fight for top spot in the power rankings …

MLS POWER RANKINGS – JULY 23, 2009
Rk
Team
Last Wk
Rise/Fall
High/Low
Comment
1.
Seattle Sounders

(1st)
(–)
1st/15th


The Sounders spent their bye week taking on English Premier League side Chelsea and, although they fell to defeat, it gave Sigi Schmid a chance to give the majority of his squad a run out against quality opposition. Seattle seems to have overcome their midseason blip in form and has all the tools in place to win their battle with Houston for Western Conference supremacy.


Key Man: The experience of Tyrone Marshall will be key as Seattle try and solidify their playoff spot with a strong end to the season.

2.
Columbus Crew

(3rd)
(+1)
1st/14th


The Crew proved that they are not a one-man team as they picked up a win over RSL without their MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Robert Warzycha was honest enough to admit that his side did not play well but were strong enough defensively over the first 50 minutes to keep RSL at bay. It was nice to see Duncan Oughton get a rare start and the veteran actually did quite well, although I don’t expect to see him in the lineup much more this year.


Key Man: Jason Garey hasn’t had the best of seasons but Crew fans will be hoping he can build on his goal-scoring performance last weekend against RSL.

3.
Chicago Fire

(4th)
(+1)
1st/5th


The Fire is now alone at the top of the east after a very efficient 2-0 victory over San Jose. Chicago kept its second consecutive clean sheet as it looks like they are finally becoming the strong defensive unit that Denis Hamlett has been asking them to be. The only problem for the Fire is that they will now have to do without Brian McBride for the rest of the campaign and his experience would have been vital come playoff time.


Key Man: Patrick Nyarko made the most of his start against San Jose and continues to show that he is worthy of a regular place in the Fire’s starting lineup.

4.
Los Angeles Galaxy

(5th)
(+1)
4th/15th


The Galaxy produced their best performance of the season as they thumped New York 3-1 to announce their arrival in the playoff race. We all know the Galaxy has improved defensively this year, but this was the first time we have seen Bruce Arena’s men play with a real freedom going forward. Landon Donovan is approaching the best form of his career, while rookie’s Omar Gonzalez and AJ De La Garza are maturing game by game. Ladies and gentlemen, the L.A. Galaxy is a contender again.


Key Man: The Galaxy midfield welcomed back David Beckham last week but it is the strong play of Stefani Miglioranzi that continues to catch the eye.

5.
Houston Dynamo

(2nd)
(-3)
1st/12th


The Dynamo needed a late goal from the inspirational Bobby Boswell to salvage a point from their clash with Toronto at BMO field. Houston has spent a long time on the road and their recent results are that of a tired team that is relishing the opportunity to return home. It hasn’t helped the Dynamo that some of their key players have been on international duty, but this squad should be more than capable of making up for those big name absences.


Key Man: Bobby Boswell showed against Toronto why he is such a valuable member of this Houston squad.

6.
D.C. United

(8th)
(+2)
2nd/12th


D.C. United continued their push for an Eastern Conference crown with a come from behind victory over the Colorado Rapids last weekend. D.C. didn’t start too brightly but their class told as the game wore on with Jaime Moreno particularly impressive. Tom Soehn will be disappointed that his side again failed to produce a solid performance over 90 minutes, but at this stage of the season all that really matters is the end result.


Key Man: Marc Burch has played well recently and is one of the reasons that D.C. is right in the mix for top spot in the Eastern Conference.

7.
Chivas USA

(6th)
(-1)
1st/9th


What on earth has happened to Chivas USA? Just a couple of weeks ago they were sitting pretty at the top of the standings but have now gone completely off the boil and find themselves behind bitter rivals L.A. in the standings. Preki has added Marcelo Saragosa to his squad and, while I believe he is a decent pick-up, he doesn’t exactly address the Goats’ goal-scoring problems. This team may have peaked way too soon and will now struggle to make the playoffs.


Key Man: No game this week.

8.
Toronto FC

(9th)
(+1)
3rd/12th


Toronto missed a real opportunity to pick up a victory over the Dynamo as they conceded a second half equalizer to allow the visitors to escape with a point. It was another solid performance from a Toronto side that is finally showing some consistency for the first time in their MLS history. They still struggle in the offensive third, but the return of rookie O’Brian White might just give this team the cutting edge it needs. If he can produce than this team might just be able to compete for an MLS championship.


Key Man: Nick Garcia has been an excellent addition to the Toronto defense and his form has helped add some much needed consistency to Chris Cummins’ side.

9.
Colorado Rapids

(7th)
(-2)
3rd/14th


The Rapids were just 45 minutes away from a big victory at D.C. but produced a woeful second half display to fall further behind in the race for playoff spots in the Western Conference. The loss of Cory Gibbs at the start of the second half was a real blow as the Rapids failed to adjust to the loss of their veteran defender. Despite their recent wobbles, the Rapids are still only four points out of second place in the west, although they will have to improve dramatically if they are to climb the Western Conference.


Key Man: Jacob Peterson played well at D.C. last week and he needs to continue to play at that level to be considered a solid starter for this team.

10.
New England Revolution

(13th)
(+3)
4th/14th


“We couldn’t head it, we couldn’t pass it, we couldn’t challenge. You name it, we couldn’t do it.” That was Steve Nicol’s assessment of his side’s first half performance, but whatever he said at half time seemed to work as the Revs came out strong in the second half and picked up a huge win over Chivas USA. The Revs are still a long way off competing at the top of the east again, but at least they are on the winning track.


Key Man: The Revs improved performance against Chivas last week was helped by the combative play of Jeff Larentowicz. The experienced midfielder’s form will be key for the Revs as they try and put their bad start to the season behind them.

11.
Real Salt Lake

(10th)
(-1)
3rd/14th


RSL actually played quite well against the Crew last weekend but still fell to a defeat that further dents their hopes of returning to the playoffs. The absence of key players like Kyle Beckerman meant it was never going to be easy to pick up a result at Crew stadium, but RSL at least showed enough fight to suggest that they are not going to give up in the chase for playoff places. The only problem is if there is enough quality in this squad for them to overtake the teams above them in the Western Conference.


Key Man: If Ned Grabovoy is to keep his place in the RSL lineup then he must play a lot better than he did against Columbus last week.

12.
FC Dallas

(11th)
(-1)
9th/15th


Dallas used their bye week to make a trade, swapping Marcelo Saragosa for Atiba Harris. I’m not sure what the thinking was behind this move because I have watched Atiba Harris closely over the last year and I have not seen anything to suggest that he can be a top performer in this league. Schellas Hyndman obviously has his own ideas on what makes a top player, but judging by their current league position, he hasn’t exactly gotten it right yet.


Key Man: Dario Sala may have returned to training but I believe that Ray Burse has done enough over the last few weeks to keep his place in the side.

13.
Kansas City Wizards

(12th)
(-1)
3rd/14th


The Wizards return to MLS action this week needing to go on a winning run to close the gap on the teams at the top of the Eastern Conference. K.C. face a tough game this week as they welcome a resurgent L.A. Galaxy to town, and their cause is made all the more difficult when you consider that they have to play without Jimmy Conrad and Davy Arnaud. It really is hard to see a way back into the playoff mix for this team.


Key Man: Aaron Holbein was impressive against the Revs a couple of weeks ago and his solid defensive displays are one of the plus points of K.C.’s otherwise disappointing season.

14.
San Jose Earthquakes

(14th)
(–)
6th/15th


San Jose’s season just goes from bad to worse as they fell to yet another defeat at Chicago last week. Frank Yallop has been one of the best coaches in MLS over the last ten years, but he has made some strange personnel decisions this season and the team has suffered because of them. I’m sure any decision on players now is made with next season in mind because this season is officially over for the Earthquakes.


Key Man: Antonio Ribeiro was brought in to make San Jose a better team but so far I haven’t seen anything to suggest that will happen.

15.
New York Red Bulls

(15th)
(–)
4th/15th


The Red Bulls are quite simply the worst MLS team I have ever seen. Their first half performance against the Galaxy was abysmal and they only improved in the second half because L.A. took their foot off the gas. Juan Carlos Osorio has been a disaster and New York needs major changes throughout their organization because this season has simply not been good enough.


Key Man: I have completely given up on this team and, by the looks of things, so have the players.

Fox Soccer Channel’s Keith Costigan writes about American soccer for FOXSoccer.com, and contributes his blog to interact with his fans.