MLS approaches the quarter pole this week, and the most fair question I can come up with is whether Week 8 was just one of those weeks we get from time to time, a correction of sorts, where desperate teams win a bunch of games and the sides we thought we could safely suggest are good don't play well, or if it was a sign of things to come. With a slight head nod to the former- for now- we'll note that only one team from the top five of our inaugural power rankings won last week- and try to rank them better this time around.
Without any further Freddy Adu.. Week 8 power rankings.
Last week's ranking in parentheses.
1. Toronto FC (4)- Greg Vanney's team rolled into Montreal's house and made cheese sandwiches in their kitchen. And now they can smell the stale Labatt's and overcooked brats and are ever so close to the end of what I'm dubbling Michael and Giovinco's most excellent "wait on BMO to get renovated" adventure. Speaking of Michael, he was splendid in the win at Montreal, and the team also showed its improvement in defense, locking down Didier Drogba in his first start of the year for Montreal. A big win for the league's new number one.
2. LA Galaxy (7)-- Can't spell Emmanuel Boateng without boat and the Ghanaian midfielder was integral in helping LA boatrace Real Salt Lake 5-2 Saturday night. Once again, the biggest difference is a suddenly impossible to mark Gio dos Santos, who terrorized Salt Lake on the incut all evening and has reeled off crucial performances in the absence of Robbie Keane.
3. Philadelphia Union (8) - You are rolling your eyes and muttering "The Union aren't that good, Neil" and you are half-right. But Andre Blake and Tranquillo Barnetta are just a pair of players who have been terrific and Earnie Stewart has pulled the right strings since stabilizing a front office that was a league joke less than a year ago. Charles Sapong appears to be the latest player Stewart has blessed with his "have a career year" holy water. I think this team is for real, even if they aren't ultimately the third best team in the league, and right now, I'm fine ranking them here.
4. Real Salt Lake (1)- There really isn't anything wrong with losing your first game of the season at LA. What was worrisome was that they had a lead and then crumbled as soon as LA went in front. I think it is also worth noting that the team was without Joao Plata, Stephen Sunday and for the most part, Burrito Martinez and Javier Morales Saturday evening. If they handle the Dynamo Saturday, all will be well for the Royals again.
5. Colorado Rapids (9)- Even Kevin Doyle is scoring goals all the sudden. Jermaine Jones holding down the hero fort at the number ten while the team waits on Tim Howard, who it turns out, wasn't the problem at Everton...
6. FC Dallas (2) -- I'm sorry, you don't get to get clobbered 4-0 by Houston and 3-0 by Vancouver and stay in the top five. This is the kind of stuff that would drive fans absolutely batty if MLS weren't a league where if you can tie your own shoes, you have a great chance at the playoffs. Instead, we'll hear cliches about the grind and plenty of chatter about how the Mauros and their ambitious manager will be fine come playoff time. We will see.
7. San Jose Earthquakes (11)- That's seven goals in eight games for Chris Wondolowski, if you are scoring at home. And it is another win at Avaya Stadium, where the Quakes have not lost. A trip to Philadelphia presents another nice opportunity this weekend.
8. Montreal Impact (3) - If they had lost at BMO Field I probably keep them in the top five. Instead, they drop a 2-0 at home to Toronto and Didier Drogba is largely anonymous in his first start. Still, loved the bounce back last night to go to the chilly Bronx and yank away a point through Dominic Oduro in stoppage time. That's how you fight through adversity.
10. Orlando City (6)- Orlando appeared set for three points in New Jersey Sunday evening until a late Ouimette tackle on Cyle Larin was ruled no foul, and, as such, no red card. While Adrian Heath and his team complained about officials, New York Red Bulls reeled off three goals and Orlando's answer came far too late. If the Lions want to contend, they'd do well to stop complaining about the officials every week. Soccer involves bad decisions. Mentally strong teams overcome them.
11. Sporting Kansas City (5)- Stopped the three loss bleeding last night with a draw at Vancouver, and while many fans will look forward to this weekend's tilt with LA, Kansas City's locker room will look forward to the return ofSoni Mustivar, who is their most important player, and the reason they've failed to win a game in a while.
12. Columbus Crew (15)- 1-0 wins over Houston Dynamo, even with ten men, is something Gregg Berhalter's team will accept right now. That Ethan Finlay and Kei Kamara appear to be getting things going is also a great sign.
13. Seattle Sounders (12) - I am still buying low even after the loss to the Rapids, particularly since Seattle was without the talismanic Clint Dempsey and Nelson Valdez. Another goal from Jordan Morris tells me this is a club that eventually will fix what ails it.
14. DC United (17) - Luciano Acosta scored the goal of the week and DC United once again showed that when Alvaro Saborio turns back the hands of time, they can score goals. That's not a sustainable playoff formula, unfortunately.
15. Vancouver Whitecaps (18)- A rout of FC Dallas, through the dynamic Kekuta Manneh, was a progressive step back towards what we expect from Vancouver. The 1-1 draw at home last night against a reeling Kansas City that followed it was not.
16. Houston Dynamo (13) - Lost to Columbus, who haven't been very good this season either. The Dynamo are just a big bowl of 'meh' this season with no real leaders or focal points. Maybe play some of those kids, Owen Coyle.
17. New York Red Bulls (20) - A win for the defending Supporters' Shield winners and perhaps the start of their resurgence. Bradley Wright-Phillips notched a brace and when he starts banging them in, they come in bunches. Look for the red half of New York to go on a run.
18. Chicago Fire (19) - They didn't play last week. That's enough to climb the standings in this league. Good job, Chicago.
19. NYCFC (16) - Oh, boy. The club decided to lay all the blame on Jason Kreis after their disappointing inaugural season. Here they sit with nearly an identical record after the same amount of matches to start this season under Patrick Vieira. The roster is a mess.
20. New England Revolution (14) - They got smacked by D.C. United last week 3-0. What happened to this team? They once boasted one of, if not the most, threatening attacks in the league. It's just not at all coming off for the Revs so far this season.