MLS Week 10 Power Rankings...when I lose my mind...

I’m in a mood today and it’s going to affect what appears below. Yesterday’s mega project - the one in which I wrapped my head around where things are at the 1/3 point of the season - has me thinking a little differently about some Major League Soccer (MLS) teams. It’s mainly a gut thing, but I’m going to be thinking about the future as much as the present in what comes below. Anyway, that should explain some of the weirder calls I make below...

As usual, last week’s ranking appears in parentheses immediately after this week’s ranking. So as to not misrepresent my judgment as entirely first-hand, here’s a key for my viewing: “@” means I watched a given team’s most recent performance in its entirety; “$” means I caught it through Quick Kicks, which provides extended highlights; “%” means I watched only the rump highlights available through Later today, I’ll compare what I’ve got below with the other rankings I’ve found - though, as always, I compiled my rankings without reference to anyone else’s. And, wow, was this week’s viewing spotty.

In keeping with my tradition of blaming health/sleep-deprivation for any silly something that appears below, holy shit, are allergies kicking my ass. My eyes looked like fucking glazed donuts last night and I got two nosebleeds from the pressure in my head. I came across some site on the internet that matches your zip code to likely allergens; that’s where I learned that walnut trees are the likely culprit. So, if you live in the Hillsboro, Oregon area and you see a bald, alcohol-crazed dude taking an axe to a walnut tree, well, that’d be me. Motherfuckers must pay! any rate, this week got a little messy. For the record, I’m thinking #1-4 are essentially interchangeable; the same goes for #5-8...and #10-13 for that matter. I have strong feelings only for #9.

Here goes...and after the rankings, you’ll find a current listing of the standings for the permanent record.

1. (2) Red Bull New York ($ + %)
Yeah, I know, I know. Why does a team still nursing a sore ass from the last weekend actually rise in the standings? It goes back to the project mentioned at the top: I think the Red Bulls are fundamentally sound. With Angel in the mix they’re scoring steadily and they’ve got a good defense when it’s actually on the field...then again, I won’t be surprised if this one goes sideways, though.

2. (3) DC United (%)
Sadly, I couldn’t get a great sense of this game from the highlights. I only know that DC is on a very good run. I expect it will continue - maybe not to the same degree, but I do think this team has rediscovered its rhythm.

3. (1) Kansas City Wizards (idle)
Again, why? And, again, it’s the project. I can’t get the goals their defense is surrendering out of my head. And it’s not like Eddie Johnson is going to score a hat-trick every weekend; that’s low-percentage stuff. Count this another dubious call, but it’s the one I’m making.

4. (5) New England Revolution (idle)
This represents the one time I go against The Project (I think I’ve referred to it enough to capitalize): New England simply has a good balance to its team. I stand by my belief that they’ve been more lucky than good, but a good defense plus a good-enough offense equals a decent team. The only question is whether they come around.

5. (7) Chivas USA (%)
Another hat-tip to The Project: Chivas’ fourth-place looks a whole lot different when you look at the details: two games in hand and the best goal differential and best defensive record in the West suggests to me they’ll creep up the table.

6. (8) Houston Dynamo (%)
It’s not so much the three consecutive wins (against so-far decent teams no less...OK, except Columbus) as it’s the fact the charge is being led by the bench. Kinnear should force the stars to fight to regain their spots. But the controlling factor here was how Houston played even when they were losing: pretty well, overall, and they created chances. If Ching won’t score them, maybe Ngwenya will.

7. (9) FC Dallas (@)
This was one of the harder ones. For one, I think their defense is killing them; for two, one fat, possibly disgruntled, guy plus one (cruelly) injured player leads their forward line. So, why put them so high (OK, kinda high)? I suppose it’s because they’re #1 in the West for a reason. A basically solid May got lost behind two untimely, consecutive losses (5/26 and 6/3).

8. (4) Colorado Rapids (%)
It took a long time, but I’ve finally given up on Colorado - not completely, but just about. I still think they have the players, but, without that ol’ home-field magic - and 2-1-3 at home ain’t “magic” - they’re in for another roller-coaster season. They’ll kick around a team or two, but I can’t think of them as contenders any more (and can’t say why I ever did).

9. (7) Toronto FC ($)
The fact they can still slip, even at home, keeps the question marks handy with this team. They’re one home game away from a long, long road-trip that should go a good distance to pegging this team in the standings. Speaking for myself, I’ve got a feeling it’s not going to go well (I’m guessing between 6 and 10 points out of 24). I’m starting to feel a bit skittish about rating them this high.

10. (13) Columbus Crew ($)
Welcome to my biggest, dumbest longshot. I don’t know why, but I’m thinking Columbus, who only need a little confidence, will blitz a few teams and soon - quite possibly starting with New England this weekend. If I had a friendly, neighborhood sports-book, I’d go drop a wad on that game. My personal theory is that New England somehow cornered some kind of fixed quantity of luck within the Eastern Conference, and Columbus somehow lost their entire portion. They'll turn things around - to the point of respectability, at least.

11. (11) Chicago Fire (%)
I’m perfectly sincere in the view that this team is one Chad Barrett goal away from being widely viewed as worse than Columbus. And, obviously, since I placed ‘em one spot below I think they are worse.

12. (10) Los Angeles Galaxy (@)
Watching these guys over a full game was an eye-opening experience last weekend; their uninterested, disjointed second half was bad as anything I had seen in MLS all year. They’ll improve with the return of several starters (not just Donovan, but Ante Jazic and Kevin Harmse), but the total lack of depth makes me wonder how much...can’t wait to see the Western Conference Toilet Bowl this weekend (in which these hacks will meet the team immediately below).

13. (12) Real Salt Lake (idle - and, boy, did they need it)
Again, they can’t win (neither can Houston...or LA, for that matter; it just feels different). Moreover, I can’t see things improving dramatically. I want to, but I can’t.

Moving on to the standings (current official ones):

Eastern Conference
1. Red Bull New York: 20 pts. (6-3-2: 21 GF, 12 GA, +9; home, 4-1-0; away, 2-2-2)
2. Kansas City Wiz: 19 pts. (6-2-1: 19 GF, 12 GA, +7; home, 3-1-0; away, 3-1-1)
3. New England Revs: 18 pts. (5-2-3: 18 GF, 11 GA, +7; home, 2-1-1; away, 3-1-2)
4. DC United: 14 pts. (4-3-2: 14 GF, 13 GA, +1; home, 3-1-1; away, 1-2-1)
5. Chicago Fire: 14 pts. (4-5-2: 11 GF, 16 GA, -5; home, 3-2-1; away, 1-3-1)
6. Toronto FC: 10 pts. (3-6-1: 9 GF, 16 GA, -8; home, 3-3-0; away, 0-3-1)
7. Columbus Crew: 8 pts. (1-4-5: 9 GF, 15 GA, -6; home, 1-1-4; away, 0-3-1)

Western Conference
1. FC Dallas: 19 pts. (6-5-1: 17 GF, 17 GA, 0; home, 2-2-0; away, 3-3-1)
2. Houston Dynamo: 16 pts. (5-5-1: 11 GF, 10 GA, +1; home, 3-2-1; away, 2-3-0)
3. Colorado Rapids: 15 pts. (4-4-3: 13 GF, 14 GA, -1; home 2-1-3; away, 2-3-0)
4. Chivas USA: 14 pts. (4-3-2: 13 GF, 8 GA; +5; home, 3-0-1; away, 1-3-1)
5. Los Angeles Galaxy: 6 pts. (1-4-3: 8 GF, 11 GA, -3; home, 1-2-1; away, 0-2-2)
6. Real Salt Lake: 6 pts. (0-3-6: 7 GF, 14 GA, -7; home, 0-1-3; away, 0-2-3)

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