Favorites are beginning to emerge

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Our weekly dose of Major League Soccer quick takes, plotlines to watch and Power Rankings.

With a plethora of ties creating exciting end-game scenarios around MLS (or plaguing the sport, depending on your position), multiple teams have gone well more than a month without losing. Chicago hasn't suffered a blemish all season. Los Angeles last tasted defeat during Week 2. Houston boasts no losses in its previous six matches. Seattle is on a 1-0-4 run. However, as the Galaxy -- currently sitting on only 11 points -- have shown, tying won't get your team to the playoffs. (On the flip side, neither New England nor San Jose have won in six matches -- that won't get it done, either.) Wins are at a premium, and the Dynamo, which have zoomed up the standings (and the Free Kicks Power Rankings) with 13 points in five matches, are the perfect example.

With another international-fixture date nearly upon us, teams around the league will lose players to U.S. national-team duties. Bob Bradley called seven MLSers into camp -- Jonathan Bornstein and Sacha Klejstan (both of Chivas USA), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus), Marvell Wynne (Toronto), PabloMastroeni (Colorado), Brian Ching (Houston) and Landon Donovan (Los Angeles) -- and in the next week other talents will be leaving their clubs for CONCACAF squads and beyond. While the league's coaches are used to these departures, that doesn't make dealing with them any easier. Expect role players to be thrust into the spotlight and benchwarmers to see time they otherwise wouldn't.

After a long absence, mid-week MLS action returns, with San Jose visiting Columbus on Wednesday and Chicago battling Chivas in L.A. on Thursday. The latter fixture is arguably the week's best, although the TFC-Dynamo tilt at Robertson Stadium pits two of the league's hottest teams against each other. Elsewhere, the Crew will have their depth tested as they fly to Seattle to take on the Sounders on Saturday, while traditionalists will relish a time-tested clash of old rivals as D.C. United and the Revs unite in Foxborough, Mass.