Two-and-a-half weeks into the gig seems like an appropriate milestone to start ramping up what will become regular features on the Sounders FC blog.
Coming Friday is my weekend preview, touching on the games to watch from leagues all over the world.
Wednesday will bring my weekly Major League Soccer power rankings.
Here is the first edition:
1. Seattle Sounders (41 points) – They’ve been far from convincing since I took over the beat — coincidentally, I swear, though my Twitter followers disagree – even in the victory over Houston. But the table doesn’t lie.
2. L.A. Galaxy (34 points) – Don’t read too much into the home draw against San Jose, a match the Galaxy commanded for long stretches. With games in hand and a favorable upcoming schedule, L.A. could close the gap quickly.
3. Sporting Kansas City (39 points) – It’s hard to imagine a serious challenge arising from anybody else in the East, and KC is still well-placed in the Supporter’s Shield standings. But Sporting certainly didn’t look like an MLS Cup contender in Vancouver.
4. Real Salt Lake (39 points) – Withhold your judgment on RSL until mid-September: Salt Lake faces first-place Seattle and third-place Dallas two times apiece in the coming weeks.
5. F.C. Dallas (36 points) — It may lack the big names of the sides sandwiching it in the standings, but Dallas hasn’t lost in the league since May. Continue overlooking it at your own risk.
6. D.C. United (37 points) – DCU’s second-place-solidifying rout of Toronto feels a lot longer than two weeks ago. The 3-0 loss in Salt Lake City felt more a referendum of the quality of the conferences than anything else.
7. Vancouver Whitecaps (32 points) – Every time I watch Vancouver play, I wonder why it isn’t higher in the standings. Saturday’s comprehensive takedown of SKC was no exception.
8. Toronto F.C. (32 points) – Two straight wins for Toronto, but both came against teams (Montreal and Columbus) that are fading fast. A weekend trip to Sporting Park is a whole different kind of test.
9. New York Red Bulls (28 points) – With only three points separating fourth-through-eighth places in the East, games against fellow playoff contenders could make all the difference. That 1-0 loss in Chicago was one of those games.
10. Portland Timbers (30 points) – See: the Whitecaps section. If the back line can even approach the quality of play in the midfield and up front, Portland could rise in a hurry.
11. Colorado Rapids (30 points) – Even more worrying than their own uneven form is the recent improvement of all the teams around it in the Western Conference playoff chase.
12. Philadelphia Union (27 points) – Philadelphia is currently occupying the fifth and final postseason slot in the East and gets to host U.S. Open Cup final. Not bad for a team that managed just two wins in April and May combined.
13. San Jose Earthquakes (24 points) – It may be too late for the ‘Quakes to make a meaningful push this season, but that new-look attack has been humming in August.
14. Columbus Crew (27 points) – Columbus was oh-so-close to making it four matches unbeaten in the league, only for Toronto to steal all three points late. Still, this run has been encouraging.
15. New England Revolution (26 points) – We’ve reached the ‘Hey, at least you’re in the East’ section of the power rankings. New England is still, somehow, hanging around.
16. Houston Dynamo (22 points) – Houston held its own against the league’s top team in Seattle and is bolstered by a strong summer transfer window. But time is running out.
17. Chicago Fire (25 points) – The Fire ride into Wednesday night’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal at Starfire having just sparked their league campaign, too, with that narrow win over NYRB.
18. Chivas USA (23 points) – Much has been written about Chivas’ continued ineptitude, little of it flattering, much of it deserved.
19. Montreal Impact (14 points) – Did you just double-take on that points total? I did, too. Montreal has lost six straight MLS matches.