Each week, Ives Galarcep takes inventory of the contenders and pretenders in Major League Soccer. And it's a familiar face atop this week's MLS Power Rankings.
Rank Team Record (W-L-D) 1. Los Angeles Galaxy 12-2-9 Landon Donovan was in top form in the Galaxy's 4-0 thrashing of Vancouver. Beating the Whitecaps isn't exactly difficult to do these days, but seeing Donovan play at his high level is encouraging considering he hadn't done so since before the Gold Cup. On another note, Sean Franklin scored yet again, quietly boosting his case for MLS Defender of the Year consideration. 2. FC Dallas 12-5-6 Marvin Chavez continues to shine and Dallas strengthens its hold on second place in the West with its win against Chivas USA, but it was the win at mid-week in CONCACAF Champions League action against Alianza of El Salvador that showed us a tough Dallas team capable of competing on multiple fronts. 3. Columbus Crew 9-6-7 The Crew move up to their highest position of the season after a strong 2-0 road win against Real Salt Lake that helped move them into sole possession of first place in the East. Columbus plays with toughness and while it isn't the most beautiful soccer around, the Crew keep racking up the points. 4. Seattle Sounders 10-5-8 Hard to argue against the Sounders' loss to Houston being their worst performance of the season. The mid-week trip to Panama definitely didn't help matters, but you can't help but wonder if Seattle is ready to hit another late summer slump. The Sounders are supposed to have some of the better depth in MLS, but early signs suggest Seattle's bench may not be as strong as originally believed. 5. Real Salt Lake 9-4-6 RSL definitely missed suspended forward Alvaro Saborio against the Columbus Crew, but that alone wasn't enough of an excuse for RSL's worst home performance of the season. With the Galaxy showing no signs of slowing down, Real Salt Lake's chances of a late push for the Supporters Shield aren't looking good. 6. Colorado Rapids 8-6-10 Sanna Nyassi's move to forward continues to look like one of the smartest moves made all season and the Rapids look every bit like a team capable of another post-season run. Sheanon Williams' red card helped Colorado post a vital road win, but the Rapids deserve credit for winning in a stadium no visitor had won in all year. 7. Philadelphia Union 8-5-7 Not a good weekend for the Union, watching the Crew grab first place as their own unbeaten home record was tarnished and Carlos Ruiz's departure became news. The good news for Philadelphia is that it still has games in hand on the Crew and can regain first place with a good run. Just how the Union will make up for the loss of Ruiz remains to be seen. 8. Sporting Kansas City 6-6-9 Snatched a late equalizer courtesy of Teal Bunbury (remember him?) to push their unbeaten streak to 13 games. As much as the unbeaten streak is impressive, Sporting KC needs to start turning road draws into road wins if they're going to have any chance of a late season push for first place in the East. 9. New York Red Bulls 6-5-12 Won the 2011 Emirates Cup with a victory against Paris St. Germain and a draw against Arsenal at the Emirates. Yes, it's just pre-season for teams like PSG and Arsenal, but the Red Bulls deserve credit for holding their own. It could be just the confidence booster the struggling Red Bulls needed. 10. Houston Dynamo 6-7-9 Call them the Houston Jekyll-and-Hydes, because once again Dom Kinnear's side gives you an unexpected performance opposite of the previous week's. Colin Clarke is making the Dynamo look pretty smart for acquiring him when they did and if he keeps it up the Dynamo could boast the best set of wingers outside of Los Angeles. 11. DC United 6-6-8 Dwayne DeRosario was the star once again as D.C. is looking like geniuses for stealing him from the Red Bulls for a player (Dax McCarty) barely getting minutes. The Canadian playmaker looks motivated yet again, while the young D.C. defense and goalkeeper Bill Hamid showed us more signs of eventually being among the best in the league one day. 12. Chivas USA 6-8-8 Fought hard in blistering heat in 1-0 loss to FC Dallas. The Goats remain a team to watch for down the stretch, but the question lingering now is if and when Chivas USA will add some reinforcements via the transfer market. Getting Blair Gavin back helps, but Chivas USA needs a player or two to become a serious threat for the post-season. 13. Portland Timbers 6-10-4 The underachieving Timbers dropped points at home to Toronto FC, something that would have seemed impossible two months ago, but that's the state of John Spencer's squad these days. At times you feel like Portland is capable of finding that early-season form, but then you watch them blow a two-goal lead and realize how fragile the Timbers are. 14. New England Revolution 4-9-9 Just when it looked like the Revs might be putting on a nice run, they surrender a late equalizer against Sporting Kansas City and drop two precious points. You get the sense New England is figuring some things out and playing some better soccer, but you also feel like the Revs are a few player additions away from being a real playoff threat. 15. Chicago Fire 2-6-12 A week off comes at a good time as the Fire looks to get its new midfielders acclimated to the squad. Pavel Pardo's arrival should help, but we'll stop short of saying just how much until the Mexican veteran actually gets in shape and shows us just how much he has left. It will be interesting to see how Frank Klopas uses Pardo, and what his arrival means for someone like Logan Pause. 16. San Jose Earthquakes 5-7-9 The Earthquakes are in full free-fall mode, something that wouldn't have been expected considering Chris Wondolowski's return from the Gold Cup. Frank Yallop tried shaking things up with some recent trades, but as it stands the Eartquakes look doomed to miss the playoffs unless the defense sorts itself out and the team's new additions start contributing. 17. Toronto FC 3-11-10 It was a promising week for TFC, posting a CONCACAF Champions League victory before securing a comeback road draw against Portland. Battling back from two goals to tie the Timbers has to provide a confidence boost, and the infusion of new players is starting to show signs of helping. It might not be enough to salvage the season, but things are looking up (for now) in Toronto. 18. Vancouver Whitecaps 2-11-9 There was a point where Saturday's match against Los Angeles looked like it could be a turning point for the Whitecaps, a match that could have started Vancouver on the way to a turnaround. Four unanswered goals later and the Whitecaps remain in last place in MLS and looking very much like a lost team. Vancouver has the look of the 2009 Red Bulls, a team that played decent soccer early only to fail to get results, which eventually turned into one of the worst seasons in league history.