MLS Power Rankings: Week 8

The debate over the No. 1 spot in the Power Rankings has never been hotter, but when the votes were counted, New York couldn't quite overtake Real Salt Lake at the top of the polls. The Portland Timbers, meanwhile, are in the top 10 for the first time this season with a matchup against Seattle looming. Got an issue with ours? Vote for your own!

All match times for this week's games are ET; only MLS regular-season games reflected on schedule.

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My how things have changed. Two weeks ago RSL were an unbeatable juggernaut. Today, they’re trying to cope with defeat and the loss of their creative hub. Ned Grabavoy, Andy Williams, Collen Warner and maybe even Luis Gil will have a chance to try to replace Javier Morales’ productivity. And if there’s any team with the culture to cope with such frustration and disappointment, it’s Salt Lake.

  • Last Week: Beat Chivas USA, 1-0 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday vs. Houston (9 pm, Fox Soccer)
  • Last Five: WWWLW

 

 

 

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Saturday night at the Home Depot Center was a statement. Yeah, New York had been getting a lot of love for thrashing San Jose and DC, but lots of teams have been doing that lately. And a 1-0 win over a struggling Sporting KC side wasn’t a highlight. But going on the road to battle out a 1-1 draw at LA, and doing so against a Galaxy team that played well, officially served notice that RBNY are for real.

  • Last Week: Tied LA, 1-1 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Sunday vs. Chivas USA (7 pm, Galavisión)
  • Last Five: LWWWT

 

 

 

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The Galaxy are pretty real, too. They’re a veteran club that didn’t get flustered by Thierry Henry’s early goal, and they showed they have the creativity to get chances even when playing from behind. They didn’t, however, show much at all in the way of finishing those chances – a real concern going forward. If Juan Pablo Ángel is indeed past it, 2011 could end up being a step backward for the reigning Shield winners.

 

 

 

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The Power Rankings Committee, like many others, pegged the Crew as outsiders after their offseason overhaul. Turns out we may not have given Robert Warzycha enough credit for building an organized, solid defensive unit. There are still scoring issues to be solved, as Emilio Rentería won’t actually average a goal a game this year, but they’ll grab plenty of points based on defense alone.

  • Last Week: Tied Seattle, 1-1 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday at San Jose (10:30 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: TWTWT

 

 

 

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The Sounders have performed well in the aftermath of the Steve Zakuani injury, and now it looks like Fredy Montero may be waking up. The DP had been ice cold to start the season, but grabbed his second goal of the year this weekend – and with it an impressive point at Crew Stadium. If he goes on a scoring jag à la 2010, wins will follow for the men in Rave Green.

  • Last Week: Lost to D.C. United, 2-1 (RECAP/WATCH), Tied Columbus, 1-1 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday vs. Portland (11 pm, ESPN2/Deportes)
  • Last Five: TWWLT

 

 

 

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The Union finished 2010 with an impressive, mobile, young offense and a leaky defense. They fixed the second by bringing in veterans Brian Carroll, Carlos Valdés and Faryd Mondragón. They seem to have stymied the first by bringing in Carlos Ruiz, who just hasn’t been able to fit in with Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga and Justin Mapp. Expect changes in the coming weeks.

 

 

 

 

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Maybe Conor Casey will finally get some love now that we’ve all seen what his absence has done to a previously vibrant Rapids’ attack? The big man is scheduled to return soon, and with him, so should goals and wins. A scoreless draw on the road against an improving New England side isn’t the greatest result in the world, but clawing back against Houston took some guts and guile.

 

 

 

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Kevin Hartman hopped in the time machine and brought back a 2010 version of himself to get FCD a point at DC this past weekend. While Dallas’ other struggles have been covered, Hartman’s merely human form in net has flown under the radar through the league’s first two months. A performance like Saturday’s is a reminder of just what he’s capable of, and if he reaches those heights consistently, FCD will be just fine.

 

 

 

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If you win all your games at home and lose all your games on the road, it stands to reason you’ll be somewhere in the middle of the pack. Which is a truly great accomplishment for a first-year club. JELD-WEN is, no doubt, a fortress, and with every win the Timbers get more and more confidence. If they start translating it to road points, they could shoot themselves up this list quickly.

  • Last Week: Beat Philadelphia, 1-0 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday at Seattle (11 pm, ESPN2/Deportes)
  • Last Five: WWLWW

 

 

 

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Rough week for the Dynamo with an uncharacteristic error from Tally Hall costing them at midweek, then an uninspired performance last weekend costing them again on Saturday. A week ago at this time Houston were a trendy darkhorse pick; now they’re floundering and looking a bit directionless. Getting Geoff Cameron back to 100-percent health will be Step 1; integrating Koke will be Step 2.

  • Last Week: Lost to Colorado, 2-1 (RECAP/WATCH), Lost to Toronto, 2-1 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday at Real Salt Lake (9 pm, Fox Soccer)
  • Last Five: WTWLL

 

 

 

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So it turns out that, even with nine men, the Goats are very, very tough to break down. Robin Fraser’s got his team squared away defensively, and that’s enough to get points in any league. Offensively there are still big questions, though it’s not really fair to ask them in a week where they had just 24 minutes of 11-v-11 soccer.

  • Last Week: Lost to Real Salt Lake, 1-0 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Sunday at New York (7 pm, Galavisión)
  • Last Five: TTWWL

 

 

 

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The Revs are a tough team to peg. One week their offense is explosive and dominant; the next they’re all asleep at the wheel. It’s not for lack of talent, certainly. More likely it’s the difficulty of introducing so much new talent as the season’s already moving along, and getting them on the same page. The Revs are probably two months away from being the team they could be.

  • Last Week: Tied Colorado, 0-0 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday vs. Vancouver (7:30 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: LLWLT

 

 

 

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Scoreless home draws against expansion teams don’t really get the job done if you’re looking to climb the rankings. Carlos de Los Cobos has tinkered all year and, as a result, his team has looked fragmented and disjointed. The coach needs to pick himself a lineup and formation and stick to it. The talent’s there to get the job done, but the patience at the top has been lacking.

  • Last Week: Tied Vancouver, 0-0 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday at Toronto (7 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: LLTTT

 

 

 

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United needed to do something about their porous defense, and managed as much with 180 minutes of lock-down stuff over the past week. First was the 2-1 win over Seattle at RFK, then a scoreless draw against FC Dallas that could have been three points if not for the heroics of Hartman. DC are not out of the woods yet, but they appear to have weathered their first 2011 crisis.

 

 

 

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While the Fire will be displeased with the 0-0 draw at Toyota Park, the ‘Caps will happily take the point and move on. Injuries, suspension and international absences have cost this team the chance to build any kind of early-season chemistry. Once they get Atiba Harris back and Jay DeMerit healthy, they should look more like the side that looked so promising to start the season.

 

 

 

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A 2-1 win at home will give the locals reason to cheer – finally – and hope that the Reds can get the ship headed in the right direction. Add in Joao Plata’s Player of the Week nod, the strong performance of the fullbacks and the budding central midfield partnership of Tony Tchani and Julian de Guzman, and it’s clear that there are very real building blocks for Aron Winter.

 

 

 

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It’s tough to judge a team that’s been living out of suitcases for two months. Sporting definitely have talent, and definitely have a system that they’ve all bought into and trust, but they’ve also won just once and find new ways to cough up points at every turn. A true linking man in midfield is needed, as is a central defender who can stay upright and on the pitch.

  • Last Week: Bye
  • This Week: Saturday at LA (10:30 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: LTLLL

 

 

 

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It’s been a precipitous fall for the Quakes, who came into the season with some buzz and a collection of talent that, on paper, looked like it would be ready to compete. But it just hasn’t happened. Consistently undone by a lack of speed at the back and a lack of finishing up front, things only got worse with the loss of Simon Dawkins to compartment syndrome last week.

  • Last Week: Bye
  • This Week: Wednesday at Vancouver (10 pm, MatchDay Live), Saturday vs. Columbus (10:30 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: TTLLL