MLS Power Rankings: Week 9
The theme of this Major League Soccer season has been penalty kicks, red cards and multi-goal games. Five more spot-kicks were awarded and three players were sent off in the ninth week.
In total, there have been nearly double the amount of penalties as usual in MLS, and referees really seem to be cracking down on infractions all over the field, not just in the 18-yard box.
At the same time, only three teams earned shutouts last weekend, and only two games featured just one goal. There have only been three goalless draws this year, the last of which came on April 19 between Philadelphia and Houston.
Here are this week's MLS power rankings:
MLS Power Rankings — Week 9
1. Seattle Sounders (6-2-1)
Last week: 2
This week: 2-1 vs. Philadelphia
Clint Dempsey wasn't involved in a Seattle goal for the first time since March 29, five games ago. In his stead, the rest of the team stepped up, showing that the Sounders are more than just one individual.
2. Real Salt Lake (4-0-5)
Last week: 1
This week: 3-2 at Chicago
It hasn't been the easiest last couple weeks, but RSL is still undefeated. It gave up a lead late against Vancouver, and then needed to reverse the storyline to avoid giving Chicago its first win of the year.
3. Sporting Kansas City (4-2-2)
Last week: 3
This week: 2-0 vs. Columbus
Kansas City used its high-pressure system to great effect against Columbus, which tried stubbornly to play through it and ended up conceding twice as a result. With the win, Sporting sits on top of the Eastern Conference with a superior goal difference.
4. New York Red Bulls (3-2-5)
Last week: 8
This week: 1-0 at Dallas
The Red Bulls struggled to get traction in Dallas despite being up a man in the first half, but Luis Robles' penalty save provided the boost they needed. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored again, off another Thierry Henry assist, to take three points on a hot Dallas day.
5. New England Revolution (4-3-2)
Last week: 10
This week: 2-1 at Toronto
Until Kansas City played the next day, New England took over the top spot in the East with its win on Saturday. After an abysmal start, the Revs have gained momentum recently, helped by steady play in midfield by Lee Nguyen and a solid backstop in Bobby Shuttleworth.
6. FC Dallas (5-3-1)
Last week: 4
This week: 0-1 vs. New York
An injury-depleted Dallas lost another player when Je-Vaughn Watson saw an early red card against New York. Still, Dallas could have won with 10 men had Blas Pérez buried his penalty kick.
7. Colorado Rapids (4-2-2)
Last week: 9
This week: 1-0 vs. L.A.
Another solid defensive performance boosted the Rapids to a win over L.A. Robbie Keane missing a penalty helped, although it was perhaps an evening-out of luck, as the call was questionable.
8. Vancouver Whitecaps (3-2-4)
Last week: 11
This week: 3-2 vs. San Jose
The Whitecaps have proven to be capable when they take the initiative to set the tempo as they did against San Jose, but it happens too seldom against the traditionally stronger teams. With players such as Pedro Morales on the ball and the speed of Kekuta Manneh and Darren Mattocks, there's no reason Vancouver shouldn't play an entertaining style every week.
9. L.A. Galaxy (2-2-2)
Last week: 7
This week: 0-1 at Colorado
The numerous bye weeks are catching up to the Galaxy, who looked sluggish at altitude against the Rapids. Three games in 14 days starting Sunday in Portland might help L.A. get into something of a rhythm.
10. Columbus Crew (3-2-3)
Last week: 5
This week: 0-2 at Kansas City
The Crew continues to show great potential and an insistence on playing sustainably, which should pay dividends later in the season. But for now, Columbus is looking at a five-game winless streak, and Wil Trapp will miss the next game after picking up two yellow cards.
11. Toronto FC (3-4-0)
Last week: 6
This week: 1-2 vs. New England
Toronto couldn't continue its heavy early pressure throughout the game, and it fell off considerably after taking the lead against the Revs. Patrick Mullins' wonderstrike reversed the game's momentum, and suddenly, Toronto has lost three in a row.
12. Houston Dynamo (3-4-2)
Last week: 14
This week: 4-1 at Chivas
A four-goal night is exactly what Houston needed to erase the frustrations of the previous six matches. Now, the Dynamo return home for three straight games and an opportunity to climb in the standings.
13. D.C. United (3-3-2)
Last week: 12
This week: 2-3 at Portland
D.C. did well to battle back twice against the Timbers, especially after conceding in the first minute of play. After going five games without losing, United came back down to earth, but not without a fight.
14. Philadelphia Union (1-4-5)
Last week: 13
This week: 1-2 at Seattle
When the Union scored on a set piece, and Zac MacMath saved his third penalty of the season, it seemed Philadelphia was headed for an improbable away win in Seattle's liquid sunshine. However, a failure to clear at the back led to Obafemi Martins pouncing to equalize, and Chad Marshall leaped to head home a late corner to win it.
15. Portland Timbers (1-3-5)
Last week: 19
This week: 3-2 vs. D.C.
Portland gave up yet another late equalizer through shaky defending, but the Timbers would not be denied their first win of the season on Saturday at home. Caleb Porter boldly moved to three in the back, and the substitute he brought on, Maxi Urruti, scored the winning goal.
16. Chivas USA (1-5-3)
Last week: 15
This week: 1-4 vs. Houston
Cubo Torres scored an early penalty, but that was about it for Chivas' offense. The Goats have had two goalkeepers sent off in two weeks, an ominous milestone that has symbolized their disarray in failing to win since the first game of the season.
17. Montreal Impact (1-4-3)
Last week: 18
This week: Off
The week after the season's first victory isn't the best time for a bye week, but the Impact need some time to prepare for a rough schedule in May. Two legs against FC Edmonton in the Canadian Championship await, as do league games against three Eastern Conference rivals and Colorado.
18. San Jose Earthquakes (1-3-3)
Last week: 17
This week: 2-3 at Vancouver
The late-game push doesn't change the fact that the Whitecaps beat San Jose comfortably on Saturday. Yannick Djaló's injury could prove to be a big blow, especially if Chris Wondolowski keeps scoring and finds himself on the United States squad for the World Cup.
19. Chicago Fire (0-2-6)
Last week: 16
This week: 2-3 vs. Salt LakeIt's hard to tell what it will take for Chicago to win a game if it can't make a two-goal lead hold up at home. The Fire are now the only MLS team without a victory in 2014.