Editor's note: After each weekend's action, senior staff writer Ives Galarcep ranks Major League Soccer's 18 teams in FOX Soccer's Major League Soccer Power Rankings. Here is Ives's order after the ninth weekend of the 2011 Major League Soccer season:
Rank (LW) Team Record (W-L-D) 1 (3). Los Angeles Galaxy 5-2-5 Last Week: Tied Philadelphia, 1-1, last Wednesday; beat Sporting Kansas City, 4-1, last Saturday.
This Week: at Chivas USA on Saturday.
Outlook: The Galaxy has the look of title favorite now that Landon Donovan is red hot and the defense is settling in. If Juan Pablo Angel's goal is a sign of things to come then Los Angeles reaally could get rolling. Standing in the way though is a very tough test against arch-rival Chivas USA.
2 (1). Real Salt Lake 5-1-1 Last Week: Tied Houston, 0-0, last Saturday.
This Week: at FC Dallas on Sunday.
Outlook: Maybe life without Javier Morales will be tougher than we thought? Houston deserves some credit for making things tough, but RSL looked to be missing a beat. There are creative players capable of carrying the playmaking load, but it might take some time to really get rolling. Things don't get easy though against a red-hot FC Dallas squad playing some very stingy defense lately.
3 (2). New York Red Bulls 4-2-3 Last Week: Lost to Chivas USA, 3-2, last Sunday.
This Week: at Houston on Saturday.
Outlook: Whether it was the hangover of having played an intense match against Los Angeles, or the fatigue of a mid-week friendly, the Red Bulls came out flat, particularly in defense. On the bright side, the offense continued to produce, and will need to do so again vs. a Houston side that gave the Red Bulls all they could handle in an early-season match at Red Bull Arena.
4 (5). Portland Timbers 4-3-2 Last Week: Tied Seattle Sounders, 1-1, last Saturday.
This Week: vs. Columbus on Saturday.
Outlook: The Timbers defense puts together another good defensive performance, and proved dangerous on set pieces yet again. John Spencer's squad has to come away from its draw with confidence, and more importantly, the Timbers rolled through a tough stretch in their schedule unbeaten.
5 (9). FC Dallas 5-3-2 Last Week: Beat Toronto FC, 1-0, last Wednesday; beat Philadelphia, 2-0, last Saturday.
This Week: at Real Salt Lake on Sunday
Outlook: With Fabian Castillo finding his rhythm in the attack and Kevin Hartman looking like last year's unbeatable version, Dallas has responded extremely well since losing David Ferreira. We'll find out just how real the recent run is when Dallas travels to Rio Tinto Stadium.
6 (4). Philadelphia Union 4-3-2 Last Week: Tied Los Angeles Galaxy, 1-1, last Wednesday; Lost to FC Dallas, 2-0, last Saturday.
This Week: at Chicago Fire on Saturday.
Outlook: Fighting back to earn a point against the Galaxy was impressive despite dropping points at home, but the performance against Dallas had to leave Peter Nowak wondering if his offense is capable of producing enough scoring chances. An easier opponent awaits in Chicago, as Nowak returns to his old stomping grounds.
7 (8). Seattle Sounders 3-3-5 Last Week: Tied Portland, 1-1, last Saturday.
This Week: vs. Sporting Kansas City
Outlook: Dropping points at home is never good. Doing so against an arch-rival like Portland is unacceptable, regardless of injuries and weather. The Sounders have the perfect opportunity to rebound against a struggling Sporting KC side. If they drop points at Qwest Field again, it'll be time to start wondering if they can realistically challenge the league's elite.
8 (7). Colorado Rapids 4-3-3 Last Week: Tied D.C. United, 1-1, last Saturday.
This Week: vs. Toronto FC on Sunday.
Outlook: A road point at D.C. was a fair result, but Gary Smith's side needs all three at home against a Toronto team that traditionally struggles on the road.
9 (10). Houston Dynamo 3-3-4 Last Week: Tied Real Salt Lake, 0-0, last Saturday.
This Week: vs. New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
Outlook : Dom Kinnear had to be happy with his team's defensive performance against RSL, but will the offense regain the rhythm it enjoyed in April? Houston played well in tying New York at Red Bull Arena earlier in the season, and could take some notes from Chivas USA's recent win against the Red Bulls.
10 (11). Chivas USA 3-3-3 Last Week: Beat New York Red Bulls, 3-3-3, last Sunday.
This Week: vs. Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday.
Outlook: Robin Fraser's team is for real. When Chivas USA made Real Salt Lake fight for a 1-0 win despite having a two man advantage you got the sense something was going on. The win in New York makes it clear that Fraser's reconstruction project is producing results. Up next is arch-rival Los Angeles, in what could be the best edition of the Super Clasico in years.
11 (6). Columbus Crew 3-2-4 Last Week: Lost to San Jose, 3-0, last Saturday.
This Week: at Portland on Saturday.
Outlook: If this seems like a steep drop after just one result, it is, but the reality is Columbus feasted in a weak schedule and was due to regress, but doing so before the tough games even started, against a struggling San Jose side, is tough to ignore. Robert Warzycha did well to rack up results early on, but now the Crew will face some serious challenges, starting with a trip to Portland.
12 (12). D.C. United 3-4-3 Last Week: Tied Colorado Rapids, 1-1, last Saturday.
This Week: Bye
Outlook: Losing Charlie Davies to a hamstring injury hurt, but another solid game from the defense has to be a consolation for Ben Olsen. The week off should help with some injury concerns, but D.C. will need to start clicking offensively if it is going to really challenge for a playoff berth.
13 (14). New England Revolution 3-3-4 Last Week: Beat Vancouver Whitecaps, 1-0, last Saturday.
This Week: at San Jose on Saturday.
Outlook: A close win against a Vancouver team that hasn't won since March doesn't seem too impressive, but the Whitecaps gave the Revs a good test and a victory was sorely needed by Steve Nicol's side. An interesting match-up awaits as New England tries to become just the second team (Chivas USA being the first last week) to travel cross-country and record a win. Won't be easy against a San Jose riding high off a big blowout win.
14 (15). Toronto FC 2-4-5 Last Week: Lost to FC Dallas, 1-0, last Wednesday; Tied Chicago Fire, 2-2, last Saturday.
This Week: at Vancouver on Wednesday (Canadian Club Champion); at Colorado on Sunday.
Outlook: TFC is taking baby steps, but there's some semblance of progress. Beating good teams is probably still a step too far, but defending home turf and beating teams lower on the totem pole can still make this a salvageable season for Toronto, even of the playoffs are probably a long-shot.
This Week: vs. New England on Saturday.
Outlook: It took a while, but the Earthquakes finally showed the form many expected after last year's playoff success. The question now is was the 3-0 win over Columbus a blip, or a sign that Frank Yallop's squad is ready to climb out of the bottom half of the Western Conference.
16 (13). Chicago Fire 1-3-5 Last Week: Tied Toronto FC, 2-2, last Saturday.
This Week: at Philadelphia on Saturday.
Outlook: Another week, another couple of dropped points for the Fire. The signing of Colombian striker Cristian Nazarit is welcome news, but how much longer before Chicago takes a serious look at whether to keep Carlos De Los Cobos on? If the Fire can't win a game in May, you could, or at least should, see a new head coach by June.
17 (18). Vancouver Whitecaps 1-5-5 Last Week: Tied San Jose Earthquakes, 1-1, last Wednesday; Lost to New England Revolution, 1-0, last Saturday.
This Week: vs. Toronto FC on Wednesday (Canadian Championship); bye in MLS.
Outlook: So how do the Whitecaps move up after another winless week? The fact is Vancouver is playing some better soccer, and as Jay DeMerit returns to health Vancouver should become a tougher team to deal with. A week off from MLS play should help the team get healthier, but beating Toronto in the Canadian Club Championship has to be a priority.
18 (14). Sporting Kansas City 1-5-1 Last Week: Lost to Los Angeles Galaxy, 4-1, last Saturday.
This Week: at Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
Outlook: Losing big to a top team on the road isn't generally cause to press the panic button, but when you haven't won in two months, there's added worry. Omar Bravo is making his way back, but will that be enough to help? It should be noted that KC has played just seven matches, but Peter Vermes' squad needs to start picking some points up in a hurry, and doing so in Seattle won't be easy.
Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FoxSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the U.S. national team.