MLS Power Rankings: Week 23

Forget the West Coast for a second, and set your watches to the Central Time Zone. That's where all the action in this week's Power Rankings is coming from, thanks to big jumps from Sporting Kansas City, Houston and even Chicago. SKC, in fact, are on the move to No. 6, a far cry from when they bottomed out in the cellar of the rankings in Week 9.

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

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The first half-hour of the Robbie Keane era was flawless, but the next 45 minutes were a study in guys trying to figure out how to play together. They picked it up again once up a man, but there will probably be some growing pains as Bruce Arena gets his team all on the same page. But none of it will knock LA off the top spot.
  • Last Week: Beat San Jose, 2-0 (HIGHLIGHTS)
  • This Week: Sunday at New York (7 pm, ESPN2/Deportes)
  • Last Five: WWLWW

 

 

 

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Message sent. The Sounders were just as dead-legged and jet-lagged as FC Dallas, but they went down to The Oven and pulled out a freshly cooked three points. It’s enough to give them even more momentum heading into a season-defining stretch, including a rematch with FCD in the US Open Cup semifinals.

  • Last Week: Beat FC Dallas, 1-0 (HIGHLIGHTS)
  • This Week: Saturday vs. Columbus (4 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: WLWTW

 

 

 

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Even with the loss to the Sounders, FCD still enjoyed a week to brag within US soccer circles. Breaking the Mexico jinx was going to take a special team, and there’s little question that’s exactly what Dallas are. They’ll regroup just fine, and they're well aware there’s plenty left to play for.
  • Last Week: Lost to Seattle, 1-0 (HIGHLIGHTS)
  • This Week: Saturday at Sporting KC (8:30 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: TWLTL

 

 

 

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The Crew are officially approaching “scary” status. Andrés Mendoza cares, Emilio Rentería is healthy and the midfield has enough depth and talent to overcome any combination of injuries, judging by the last month. They’re not getting much pub because the West is so strong, but don’t sleep on the Crew.
  • Last Week: Beat Philadelphia, 2-1 (HIGHLIGHTS)
  • This Week: Saturday at Seattle (4 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: WWLWW

 

 

 

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They were sorely disappointed in dropping points at home, especially since they’re aiming for top-three in the West and the first-round playoff bye that comes with it. They’ll want to bottle that feeling and use it in the coming weeks as they try to resume their climb and continue to show well in the Champions League.
  • Last Week: Tied Chivas USA, 2-2 (HIGHLIGHTS)
  • This Week: Saturday at Chicago (8:30 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: TWWWT

 

 

 

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Their climb up the standings continued with two more wins this week, both convincing despite some poor finishing. Sporting have a ton of good pieces, and quality coming back from injury in the form of Davy Arnaud and Jéferson, but they don’t link together quite as smoothly up top as they should.

 

 

 

 

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Jason Kreis fired a shot across his players’ bow this week, saying that offseason changes could be in store if RSL don’t pick it up. That’s a long way from the “We Are Family” vibe the Claret-and-Cobalt started the season with, and the strain is starting to show. Salt Lake need a hero or they’ll be a Western Conference afterthought.
  • Last Week: Lost at Houston, 3-2 (HIGHLIGHTS)
  • This Week: Saturday at Chivas USA (10:30 pm, Fox Soccer)
  • Last Five: LLWLL

 

 

 

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The Power Rankings Committee feels dubious about putting a team that’s yet to win on the road in the top 10, but they dominate at home and squeezed out a galvanizing win on Alex Dixon’s last-minute golazo last weekend. Will they be as good when the weather cools down, though?

 

 

 

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A young team that’s gotten a lesson in focus and composure over the last month. That’s the story of the Union. The story of the next two months has to be how they learned from their trials and came together as a unit, or an early playoff exit is their likely destiny. Peter Nowak has a lot of work ahead.
  • Last Week: Lost at Columbus, 2-1 (HIGHLIGHTS)
  • This Week: Sunday vs. New England (7 pm, Galavisión)
  • Last Five: LTTTL

 

 

 

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Sure, they’re not losing. But their only two wins since April have come at home against Toronto and New England, and without Teemu Tainio this weekend they look like sitting ducks for LA. The body language is bad as well, save for Dane Richards and Joel Lindpere. Could a bad loss doom their season?
  • Last Week: Tied New England, 2-2 (HIGHLIGHTS)
  • This Week: Sunday vs. LA (7 pm, ESPN2/Deportes)
  • Last Five: LTLTT

 

 

 

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Someone, somewhere should be writing an ode to that sweet outside-of-the-foot through ball Nick LaBrocca put on a platter for Juan Pablo Ángel. You build teams around guys with vision like that, which is what Robin Fraser has done. Even better, the Goats are a hearty 1-1-2 through game four of their five-game road swing.
  • Last Week: Tied Colorado, 2-2 (HIGHLIGHTS)
  • This Week: Wednesday at Portland (11 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: WLWTT

 

 

 

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Have they run out of gas? At this point last week, DC were charging, but they were listless for all but 20 minutes of their action this week. It’s a real concern, but they get to return to some home cooking this coming weekend. All those games they have in hand don’t mean much if they’re not turned into wins, so expect United to shoot for all three.

 

 

 

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They’re just three points out of a playoff spot with a game in hand and a week that could see them leapfrog both DC and Chivas. They took care of business nicely against the Whitecaps, and though the finishing still needs work, well, whose doesn’t? They’re still trying to find the right mix, but they’ve got guts.

 

 

 

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Finally, a win. The Fire are still at risk of tying the league mark for fewest wins in a season (four), which must be insanely frustrating since they’re clearly way, way more talented than their record indicates. Frank Klopas is right when he says they’re all playing for their jobs from here on out — that and an Open Cup title, which would salve some wounds.

 

 

 

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They didn’t have the defensive fortitude or the guts to hold onto the well-deserved 2-0 lead they took against RBNY, and didn’t have the inventiveness to find a winner in the second half. Brutal result for them, but in Benny Feilhaber, Milton Caraglio and Diego Fagundez, there’s hope for 2012.
  • Last Week: Tied Houston, 1-1 (HIGHLIGHTS), Tied New York, 2-2 (HIGHLIGHTS)
  • This Week: Sunday at Philadelphia (7 pm, Galavisión)
  • Last Five: TLLTT

 

 

 

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They’re bruised, battered and beaten, and with the loss to LA saw their chances of finding a playoff berth drop to roughly nil. The rest of the season is about finding out where Edmundo Zura fits and seeing if anyone can step up to play as the fulcrum in front of the back line, because the flat-four midfield simply doesn’t work.

 

 

 

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The Reds looked a bit worn down against the Fire on Sunday, playing catch-up-to-Oduro for most of the game. The good news is that the 3-4-3 looks like it’s provided them a bit more stability, Julian de Guzman looks better than he has since 2007, and the new arrivals are all slowly jelling. It’s a promising mix.

  • Last Week: Lost at Chicago, 2-0 (HIGHLIGHTS)
  • This Week: Saturday vs. San Jose (7 pm, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: LTTWL

 

 

 

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Getting the attacking foursome of Eric Hassli, Mustapha Jarju, Camilo and Davide Chiumiento all on the same page should be the priority for the rest of the season, since at the very least that’ll give them a foundation for 2012. They still need an answer at d-mid, and better hope that Jay DeMerit can stay healthy next season.

  • Last Week: Lost at Portland, 2-1 (HIGHLIGHTS)
  • This Week: Saturday vs. Houston (7 pm, TSN2, MatchDay Live)
  • Last Five: TLWLL