MLS Rankings: Week 7

Every week, the New England Soccer Today crew will look beyond the standings to rank each of the 18 Major League Soccer (MLS) teams. This week Brian O’Connell and Sean Donahue contributed rankings. Comments are followed by the ranker’s name and the rank they gave that team.

1 (+1) – New York Red Bulls (4-1-2, 14 points) –There’s a new sheriff in town! Salt Lake’s CCL hangover has cost them their place at the head of the table as the Red Bulls have charged to the top  riding a three-game win streak. (Brian – 1) … Winners of three in a row and both the offense and defense are clicking. (Sean – 1)

2 (-1) - Real Salt Lake (4-1-0, 12 points) – Dropped a tough one to the expansion Timbers in the wake of their CCL lost to Monterrey. They’ll be back at the top soon, but they take a bow this week. (Brian – 2) … Dropped a tough match at Portland, but one can hardly fault RSL for needing some time to recover from their CCL journey. (Sean – 2)

T3 – Los Angeles Galaxy (4-2-3, 15 points) – Fall to the David Ferreira-less FC Dallas. Despite the loss, the Galaxy have been much better with Donovan back in the fold. (Brian – 3) … Would’ve expected better against a weakened FC Dallas side. (Sean – 4)

T3 (+1) – Philadelphia Union (4-1-1, 13 points) – It’s been tough to gauge how good the Union are given how many games they still have in hand. A 1-0 win over a non-stellar side like San Jose doesn’t make it any easier. (Brian – 4) … Philadelphia are the surprise of the season and they keep getting results. (Sean – 3)

5 (+1) – Colorado Rapids (4-3-1, 13points) – The champs have gone winless in their last four and need to start scoring goals to earn some respect. Until then, the haters will keep on hating. Not that I’m one of them. (Brian – 6) … Win over Houston on Wednesday gets the Rapids back on track after a rough patch. (Sean – 5)

6 (-1) – Houston Dynamo (3-2-3, 12 points) – Don’t look now, but Dominic Kinnear’s side is suddenly making its way up the Eastern Conference standings. Will Bruin’s been on fire, and it looks as if all the parties in the Dynamo machine are starting to click. (Brian- 5) … The Dynamo have been quietly sneaking up the standings, that is until the defending MLS Champs gave them a rude awakening on Wednesday. (Sean – 7)

7 (+2) – Columbus Crew (3-1-3, 12 points)– OK, I admit it: I’ve probably hated on the Crew more than the average MLS pundit. But, now I’m starting to come around: the Crew are legit. Undefeated in its last five, the black and yellow (or should it be yellow and black?) are back. (Brian – 7) … What’s that? The Crew are unbeaten in five? The team so many wrote off at the start of the season may not be so bad after all. (Sean – 6)

T8 (+2) – FC Dallas (3-3-1, 10 points) – This team is turning a corner. After their 3-0 shocker over Colorado last month, Dallas has finally started to resemble the team that clinched an MLS Cup berth last year. (Brian – 9)  … Dallas started the season in shockingly bad form, but wins in their past two and three of their last four has them right back in the thick of things. (Sean – 8 )

T8 (-2) – Seattle Sounders (3-3-3, 12 points) – Impressive 3-0 win over Toronto may indicate the Sounders aren’t as lost without Steve Zakuani as previously thought. Watch out for Seattle this summer. (Brian – 8 ) … The Sounders look to have been turning things around, but a tough road loss to D.C. sets them back a bit. (Sean – 9)

T10 (+1) – D.C. United (3-4-1, 10 points) – I still don’t know what to make of D.C. One week, they’re really good. Next week, they’re the worst team in MLS. Ben Olsen needs his boys to ride high longer to make a legitimate case that they should be feared. (Brian – 11)  … Inconsistent, but a win over Seattle should give them confidence. (Sean – 10)

T10  (+2) – Portland Timbers (3-3-1, 10 points) – Impressive win over RSL, the Timbers have climbed their way up the standings as their defending improves. (Brian – 10) … Portland is building quite the home field advantage, unfortunately they still can’t get results on the road. (Sean – 11)

12 (+4) – Chivas USA (2-2-3, 9 points) – After the Goats kicked around the Revs Saturday night, Chivas may be the ultimate sleeper this season. Five games unbeaten and an attack that’s finally shown some life may mean big(ger) things poppin’ in SoCal this summer. (Brian – 12) … I’m still far from sold on Chivas, but they’ve been getting it done lately. (Sean -12)

13 (-5) – New England Revolution (2-2-3, 9) – Humiliated by Chivas thanks to a surprising case of overconfidence (after beating SKC? Really, Revs?), the Revs need to reassert themselves this weekend against the rejuvenated Rapids. (Brian – 13) … Things were looking up in New England, but a crushing defeat at Chivas USA shows the Revs are far from ready for prime time (Sean – 13)

T14 – Chicago Fire (1-3-3, 6 points) – Speaking of underperforming teams – what is going on in Chi-town? Two draws kept them out of the loss column, but they’ve got to start winning some ballgames. (Brian – 15) … A road draw in Colorado is never easy, but the Fire will need more than that to break out of their slump. (Sean – 14)

T14 (-1) – Toronto FC (1-3-4, 7 points) – It’s been awhile since the Reds have found the win column. Conversely, it’ll be awhile until the Reds can honestly consider themselves more than just another underperforming team. (Brian – 14) … That Toronto is in 15th is a testament to just how atrocious the teams below them have been. With their roster it’s going to be a long season. (Sean – 15)

16 (+1) – Vancouver Whitecaps (1-4-3, 6 points) – Atrocious defending has kept the ‘Caps from proving that they’re a contender this season. (Brian – 16) … One point in their last four games and a series of dire performances has sucked the optimism out of Vancouver (Sean – 16)

17 (+1) – San Jose Earthquakes (1-4-2, 5 points)– The season is starting to slide down fast in San Jose. It’s not the defending – it’s the goal scoring, or lack thereof, that’s the problem. Chris Wondowloswki can’t do it alone, fellas. (Brian – 17) … Three losses in a row puts San Jose near the bottom. Shocking considering their solid season in 2010. (Sean – 17)

18 (-4) – Sporting Kansas City (1-4-1, 4 points) – The road’s been painfully unkind to Omar Bravo and his barnstormers. Once they settle into the state of the art LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, I fully expect them to rebound. (Brian – 18) …Three losses in a row and one point in the past five games? Weren’t people picking this team to make the playoffs? (Sean – 18)

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About Sean Donahue

Sean Donahue has been covering the New England Revolution since 2002 for various publications. He has covered four MLS Cups, in addition to covering various international matches, including World Cup Qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He has done freelance work for the AP and ESPN Boston. Sean hosted Revolution Recap, a weekly radio program covering the New England Revolution and U.S. Men's National Team from 2005-2008. He is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters. Sean can be reached at nesoccertoday@gmail.com or followed on twitter @SeanLDonahue