[MLS POWER RANKINGS] Houston, FC Dallas and Seattle posted their first wins of the season, and Real Salt Lake used its backups to good effect in winning its third straight game. Still without a victory are Chivas USA and Portland, but the Timbers didn't play last week and open their home season Thursday. Here's how MLS teams stack up after Week 4 action ...
1. REAL SALT LAKE (3-0-0). Its improved depth should come as no surprise; Coach Jason Kreis and his staff have been devoting long hours to the development of players like Chris Schuler and Collen Warner. Both were rookies last year; on Saturday, Warner assisted on Schuler’s opening goal, and Warner also played the ball that Paulo Araujo Jr. – another 2010 acquisition – took downfield to score the clincher in a 2-0 win at New England. Last week: 1.
2. PHILADELPHIA (3-1-0). All four of its games have ended 1-0, which doesn’t bother Philly fans or Coach Peter Nowak at all if the ‘U’ has the ‘W.’ Danny Mwanga’s interception and pass set up Roger Torres for the only goal Philly would need to down New York in an intense I-95 encounter. Last week: 8.
3. COLORADO (3-1-0). The Rapids utterly failed their first real test of the season, crashing to a 3-0 loss against an FC Dallas team that had to shake off its malaise sooner or later. The absence of Conor Casey and Pablo Mastroeni can’t explain away such a comprehensive defeat, however, and next up is the Rocky Mountain Cup in Rio Tinto Stadium against RSL. Last week: 2.
4. LOS ANGELES (2-1-2). If not for a very shaky penalty kick awarded to D.C. United in the final minutes at RFK Stadium, the Galaxy would be atop the overall standings. Yet in its 1-1 tie, chances for a vital second goal went unclaimed after Mike Magee headed home from a David Beckham corner kick in the 12th minute. Whether Landon Donovan plays or not those misses can’t continue. Last week: 6.
5. SAN JOSE (1-1-2). For the second straight week, Simon Dawkins scored and the Quakes rallied after falling behind yet failed to win at home. TFC keeper Stefan Frei added to Chris Wondolowski’s frustration by parrying a low, hard shot that Chris Wondolowski had all the time and space he needed to deliver. San Jose has taken just two points from three home games this season. Last week: 3.
6. SEATTLE (1-2-2). A few observers, including me, believe TFC gave up on O’Brian White prematurely. He scored his second goal in a 2-1 defeat of Chicago that gave the Sounders their first win of 2011, and is now only goals three behind what Blaise Nkufo delivered in the second half of 2010. With White and Nate Jaqua as point men, Seattle’s array of playmakers can flourish. Last week: 9.
7. NEW YORK (1-1-2). Juan Agudelo hit the woodwork twice, the Red Bulls gave away the only goal of the game on a misplay by Tim Ream to lose in Philly, 1-0, and Thierry Henry – hardly a paragon of health since coming to MLS – is hobbled by an Achilles' tendon injury. He played the full 90 against the Union without much effect and newcomer Dwayne De Rosario is still finding his place. Last week: 4.
8. NEW ENGLAND (1-1-3). Against a team of many RSL backups, the Revs lost their poise – red cards to Shalrie Joseph and Pat Phelan – along with the game, 2-0. Trailing, 1-0, at halftime, Coach Steve Nicol inserted Sainey Nyassi and Ilija Stolica, but the Revs gave up a second goal in the 47th minute and seldom threatened the rest of the way. Impaired by injuries and suspensions, the Revs have yet to find consistency but are grinding it out. Last week: 5.
9. FC DALLAS (1-2-1). Two goals by David Ferreira put the hurt on the defending champion (3-0) and atoned somewhat for a 2-1 overtime loss in MLS Cup last November. A first shutout of the season for Kevin Hartman and Co. was nice, too. Road tests at expansion neophytes Portland (Thursday) and Vancouver (next week) won’t be picnics. Last week: 16.
10. CHICAGO (1-1-1). The new attacking duo of Diego Chaves and Gaston Puerari forms a potent unit with Marco Pappa and Patrick Nyarko. Chavez scored in his third straight game and only superb Kasey Keller saves thwarted both players in a 2-1 loss at Seattle. Defending is still a sometimes thing with ball-watching and missed assignments plaguing the back line and flanks. Last week: 7.
11. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (1-1-1). A weekend free of league duty gave Coach Peter Vermes time to refine his team’s transition game, which collapsed at times in a 3-3 tie at Vancouver April 2 after SKC scored the first three goals. Rookie CJ Sapong scored in a 1-0 Open Cup defeat of Houston last Wednesday. Last week: 10.
12. HOUSTON (1-1-2). Thumping an expansion team at home is to be expected, and the visitors were missing key players, yet for the Dynamo, a 3-1 defeat of the Whitecaps is a positive sign. Corey Ashe looked effective at left back, and a fine clinching goal by Will Bruin offers hopes of depth up front with Brian Ching sidelined again. Last week: 12.
13. COLUMBUS (1-1-2). A third straight shutout, albeit a 0-0 tie away to Chivas USA, put Coach Robert Warzycha in good spirits. The Crew has also blanked New York and FC Dallas so far this season. Goals have been in short supply for the Crew as well, and aside from an Eddie Gaven breakaway that was saved, the attack produced little. Last week: 13.
14. TORONTO FC (1-1-2). Alan Gordon punished a San Jose mistake to score his second goal for the club and a halftime shift in tactics and attitude yielded a solid second half that preserved a 1-1 tie on the road. Jacob Peterson moved to right back from central midfield, where halftime sub Julian da Guzman played with a hunger rarely seen since his DP move to MLS in 2009. Last week: 14.
15. VANCOUVER (1-2-2). The shorthanded ‘Caps, which went down to nine men while tying New England, 1-1, on Wednesday, just didn’t have the legs to stay with Houston in the second half. Defender Jay DeMerit suffered an injury that stranded him as Houston scored the winning goal. Rookie Jeb Brovsky started in central midfield, and Mouloud Akloul and U.S. under-18 forward Omar Salgado also made their league debuts. Last week: 11.
16. D.C. UNITED (1-2-1). The manner of the outcome notwithstanding, United held the Galaxy to a 1-1 tie that drew a colorful, noisy crowd of 26,622. Charlie Davies sparked the attack as a sub early in the second half and in stoppage time darted into the penalty area to draw a hotly protested foul call. He chipped the spot kick down the middle for his third successful conversion of 2011. Last week: 15.
17. PORTLAND (0-2-1). An off week should have the Timbers rested and raring to go against Chicago Thursday in the return of top-tier soccer to the Rose City. They also have a date with Dallas on Sunday. Fasten your seat belts for fast times at Jeld-Wen Field. Last week: 17.
18. CHIVAS USA (0-2-2). Some solid showings – Michael Lahoud and keeper Dan Kennedy in particular – brought a shutout of the Crew, but the attack didn’t do much despite the presence of Alejandro Moreno and Justin Braun. Centerback Zarek Valentin jumped right into the fray from his stint with the U.S. U-20s and came up with a vital tackle that denied Emilio Renteria a clean run at goal. Last week: 18.