[MLS POWER RANKINGS: WEEK 12] Western Conference teams fill the top four slots in the weekly power rankings as the league heads into the middle third of its season. An imbalance between the conferences has grown acute; of the nine Western teams, only last-place Vancouver is below .500; true, the 'Caps are way below sea level at 1-6-7. Yet in the East, five of nine teams have more losses than wins. Locked in a run of ties, New York and Colorado have slid down the standings in recent weeks.
1. LOS ANGELES (8-2-6). The Galaxy’s winning streak ended at four games, yet its shutout string reached that length in a disappointing 0-0 tie with D.C. United at Home Depot Center. With Landon Donovan on U.S. duty and Juan Pablo Angel injured there wasn’t much for David Beckham to aim at. Last week: 1.
2. FC DALLAS (7-3-4). Speaking of streaks, how about nine in a row unbeaten? Marvin Chavez justified his decision to pass up the Gold Cup with a swooping dribble from the sideline to the goalmouth that he punctuated with a near-post blast that downed New England, 1-0. Keeper Kevin Hartman posted his league-record 100th career shutout. Last week: 2.
3. SEATTLE (5-4-6). A gritty 0-0 tie in Chicago earned the Sounders their eighth point in the last five matches. With Steve Zakuani sidelined and Fredy Montero out of sorts, keeper Kasey Keller and his backline are carrying a lot of the burden. Last week: 4.
4. REAL SALT LAKE (6-2-2). For the second straight game, Coach Jason Kreis pushed midfielder Jean Alexandre up front to bolster his depleted forward corps, and this time the Haitian international scored the first goal and assisted on the second in a 2-0 defeat of Vancouver. RSL posted its seventh shutout in 10 games. That’s ridiculous. Last week: 6.
5. PHILADELPHIA (6-3-3). After scoring the last two Philly goals in a 6-2 rout of Toronto a week earlier, Danny Mwanga came up with a vital goal by which the Union extracted a 1-1 tie out of Colorado. He powered home a feed from Sebastien Le Toux midway through the second half, just three minutes after a PK had put the Union behind. Last week: 5.
6. NEW YORK (4-2-7). The Red Bulls squandered two points by surrendering a stoppage-time goal to the Crew to tie their fourth straight game. That streak and the method of the 1-1 result typify a malaise in which the team is mired, which is why they drop, even with five players on international duty. Last week: 3.
7. COLORADO (4-3-7). A 1-1 tie at Red Bull Arena is a creditable result, but it tied a league record of six straight even-Stevens. A banged-up attack isn’t generating much, and with the forwards struggling, maybe there’s a midfielder on the roster? Just sayin’. Actually, Omar Cummings hopes to be healthy enough to face the Timbers this weekend. Last week: 7.
8. CHIVAS USA (4-4-5). Before an incredibly stupid and clumsy tackle wiped out Javi Morales, Marcos Mondaini had brought life and vision to the attack. He got back on the field after a four-game suspension to score a wonderful goal that punched out Portland, 1-0. Coupled with a midweek 1-1 deadlock against Vancouver, the four points edged Chivas USA into the playoff slots. Last week: 9.
9. D.C. UNITED (4-4-4). Rather than bunkering in grimly against the Galaxy at HDC, United played some spirited if not very polished stuff in tying, 0-0. Rookie forward Blake Brettschneider tested the Galaxy back line and Chris Pontius might have been the best attacker on the field. Nine points in the last five games is berry, berry good. Last week: 10.
10. SAN JOSE (4-4-4). The Quakes are even better in their last five; by beating Houston, 2-0, for their third straight home win, they have compiled 11 points in that span. Steven Lenhart and returnee Simon Dawkins, back after missing a month due to surgery, were the scorers, and the wild and crazy Jon Busch earned his third shutout. Last week: 13.
11. PORTLAND (5-5-2). The Timbers huffed and puffed yet fell short against Chivas USA at HDC. The 1-0 loss, which would have been worse if not for the sharp work of goalkeeper Troy Perkins, dropped their record away from Jeld-Wen Field to 0-4-2. In those six games they’ve scored only three goals. Last week: 8.
12. COLUMBUS (3-3-6). Defender Rich Balchan scored in stoppage time to grab a 1-1 tie at Red Bull Arena, but that was only the Crew’s third point in the last five games. Unbeaten (3-0-3) at home and winless (0-3-3) on the road, the Crew has dropped to fifth in a very tepid Eastern Conference. Last week: 12.
13. HOUSTON (3-5-6). The Dynamo battled for more than an hour goalless at Buck Shaw Stadium before conceding a pair to lose its second of the last three games, 2-0, to the Quakes. Cam Weaver nearly equalized twice in the final minutes against his former team but sharp saves thwarted his efforts and a stoppage-time goal guaranteed the winless streak would extend to seven games. Last week: 11.
14. NEW ENGLAND (3-6-4). The Revs lost their third straight game, 1-0 in Dallas, on a goal squeezed between keeper Matt Reis and the near post. Still, if not for Reis (eight saves) the margin would have been greater. Benny Feilhaber will pass up the Gold Cup to rehab a sprained ankle; something must be done soon to a team with a league-low 10 goals. Last week: 14.
15. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (1-6-3). The longest road swing in league history ended with a 0-0 tie in Toronto earned without four players called away for international duty. SKC gets its first taste of home cookin’ at Livestrong Sporting Park Thursday against the Fire. Last week: 15.
16. VANCOUVER (1-6-7). The ‘Caps earned one point from its first two games under replacement coach Tom Soehn by tying Chivas USA, 1-1, Wednesday with a Camilo equalizer just two minutes after they’d fallen behind. Less encouraging but not surprising was a 2-0 loss at RSL, and Soehn’s job is not made easier by the Gold Cup-absence of Terry Dunfield. Up next is a border blowout in Seattle. Last week: 16.
17. CHICAGO (1-4-7). Another new man on the job, Frank Klopas, had much to observe and a few elements to savor in a 0-0 home tie with Seattle. Daniel Paladini and Diego Chaves took cracks at goal that required good saves; his counterpart, Sean Johnson, contributed big stops of his own. But a winless streak of 10 games may require major surgery. Last week: 17.
18. TORONTO FC (2-6-7). Fans at BMO Field have seen it much too often; TFC’s home record is 2-2-5 after it labored to a 0-0 tie with Sporting Kansas City. Substitute Doneil Henry nearly scored in stoppage time with a sharp header that forced a good save; the result left TFC without a win in the last five games. Last week: 18.