MLS Power Rankings: Week 11

You knew Real Salt Lake's first loss at Rio Tinto in what seems like ages would hurt them in the rankings, but the committee seems to think they've got bigger problems going forward. They're at their lowest point this season, while FC Dallas and Philadelphia are on the move. 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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Is this Bruce Arena’s best-ever coaching performance? He has DPs missing games for all sorts of reasons (moving into a new house, weddings, friendlies, international call-ups, injuries), no forwards who can score consistently and a packed schedule. But there’s LA at the top of the standings, one of only three teams to have won more than half their games.

  • Last Week: Beat Houston, 1-0 (RECAP/WATCH), Beat New England, 1-0 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Friday vs. D.C. United (11 pm, Fox Soccer)
  • Last Five: TWWWW

 

 

 

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The shutout streak is over, but the undefeated streak thunders on. FCD are the fastest, most athletic team in the league, and they play to that strength by putting you on your heels at every opportunity. With veteran leadership in Daniel Hernandez and Kevin Hartman, and guys in the prime everywhere else, expect them to stay near the top of the rankings throughout 2011.

 

 

 

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The Union, at 6-3-2, are one of the three teams in the league that have won more than half their games. They started the season doing it with defense, but have now hung eight goals on their last two opponents as the offense has come alive. The next two weeks — at Colorado, then hosting RSL — should paint a clearer picture for the rest of 2011.

  • Last Week: Beat Toronto, 6-2 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday at Colorado (9 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: LTLWW

 

 

 

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The Sounders have won two of their last three, have tightened up their defense and are figuring out where to get goals in the absence of a go-to striker (Fredy Montero no longer deserves that title, and hasn’t since last September). There will be more speed bumps along the way, but you can’t argue with results.

 

 

 

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At this point, it has to be asked whether the seven-goal haul against San Jose and DC in April was an aberration, as both teams immediately changed personnel and began playing better afterward. New York, on the other hand, have won just once since then and are struggling to create enough chances to put games away.

 

 

 

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RSL are miles from the juggernaut they were in March and April, and it’s almost entirely due to their lack of production up top. They’ve tallied just once in their last three matches — Nelson González’s late consolation goal against Seattle — and haven’t scored multiple goals in a single game since April 9. The defense is mostly holding firm, but for how long?

  • Last Week: Lost to Seattle, 2-1 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday vs. Vancouver (9 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: LWTTL

 

 

 

 

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The good news is that Conor Casey is back, and that the Rapids haven’t lost since the middle of April. The bad news is that they’ve only won once since then and will be without Omar Cummings for another few weeks. At times it looks like Gary Smith is holding things together with duct tape, but Colorado are still in the hunt.

 

 

 

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The Dynamo put FCD’s shutout streak to a somewhat emphatic end with two very, very nice goals this past weekend. The “Twin Towers” forward combo of Cam Weaver and Will Bruin are developing a rapport, Colin Clark is back and Brad Davis is the league MVP so far. There are still some issues with speed in defense, but that could be answered if Geoff Cameron shifts to the back line.

  • Last Week: Lost at LA, 1-0 (RECAP/WATCH), Tied FC Dallas, 2-2 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday at San Jose (10 pm, Galavisión)
  • Last Five: LTTLT

 

 

 

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Portland, like most teams that play without a pivot in front of the defense, can be exposed when their central midfielders get drawn out of position and the central defense isolated. It happened last Sunday, and you can be sure the scouting report has made its way to desks all over the league. Kenny Cooper’s scoring woes are another large concern.

  • Last Week: Lost to D.C. United, 3-2 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday at Chivas USA (10:30 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: WWTWL

 

 

 

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Has rookie Blake Brettschneider emerged as a true center forward off of whom Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff can run? He looked the part against a giant Portland back line, winning headers all over the park and picking up two assists in the process. It’s a simple formula, but for young teams, “simple” usually works best.

  • Last Week: Beat Portland, 3-2 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Friday at LA (11 pm, Fox Soccer)
  • Last Five: LWTTW

 

 

 

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Moving Emmanuel Ekpo to defensive midfielder paid immediate dividends in the goal-scoring department, as did the switch to a more traditional 4-4-2. There will be defensive struggles to endure as the team gets used to yet another tactical adjustment, but a three-goal output will at least send the fans home happy.

  • Last Week: Tied Chivas USA, 3-3 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday at New York (7:30 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: WTLLT

 

 

 

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No team relies more on one player than San Jose do on Chris Wondolowski, and he’ll be gone for most of June. How they adjust — they’re starting to find other scoring options — could tell the story of their season. The pressure’s on the vets, of course, but youngster Ellis McLoughlin may be the one who picks up the slack.

  • Last Week: Tied Chicago, 2-2 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday vs. Houston (10 pm, Galavisión)
  • Last Five: LTWWT

 

 

 

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If the first part of May showed how far the Rojiblancos have come, then Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Columbus showed how far they still have to go. They gave up the lead three times, had mistakes from youngsters and veterans both, and just weren’t able to get on the same page. A point on the road is still a good result, and it’ll be a teachable moment for Robin Fraser.

 

 

 

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They defended well throughout and only a perfectly placed Miguel López header could beat Matt Reis. They also created a double-handful of opportunities against one of the league’s best defenses, but “chances” aren’t enough. New England can’t finish right now, and it may be time to go to a two-forward set or risk plummeting down the standings.

  • Last Week: Lost to LA, 1-0 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday at FC Dallas (8:30 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: LTWLL

 

 

 

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Frank Klopas will get a chance to manage the talent he’s assembled now that Carlos de los Cobos has been dismissed. And to Klopas’ credit, there’s talent to spare all over the pitch. The key will be finding the right blend and getting everyone on the same page, as well as rebuilding the confidence of young ‘keeper Sean Johnson.

  • Last Week: Tied San Jose, 2-2 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday vs. Seattle (8:30 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: TTTLT

 

 

 

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A near-total inability to stay compact is the reason a date with the Reds provides the cure to almost any team’s scoring woes. The rotation policy at left back doesn’t help much, either (just start Danleigh Borman, already). The good news is there are some talented attackers in Toronto who could be used as trade bait for a central defender or another d-mid.

  • Last Week: Lost to Philadelphia, 6-2 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday vs. Sporting (7 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: WLTTL

 

 

 

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The attack has been fractured since Atiba Harris was hurt, the defense continues to give up untimely goals and Teitur Thordarson refused to adjust his tactics. It wasn’t a good combo, and while firing the coach may have been rash, it wasn’t entirely unwarranted. Expect more of a 4-1-3-2 or even a diamond-four midfield in the coming weeks, and maybe even some positive results.

 

 

 

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They thrashed New England 5-0 in their first “home” game of the season midweek, then went on the road to get a point at Colorado — never an easy task. If it wasn’t for a shocking Teal Bunbury miss, SKC would have walked out of Dick’s with all three points. Too early to say they’ll turn the season around completely, but this team is much better than their record indicates.

  • Last Week: Tied Colorado, 1-1 (RECAP/WATCH)
  • This Week: Saturday at Toronto (7 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: LLLLT