MLS Power Rankings Entering Week 8

Peter Galindo@@GalindoPWFeatured ColumnistApril 23, 2015

MLS Power Rankings Entering Week 8

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    Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

    MLS is already seven weeks old and teams are beginning to demonstrate their potential.

    The New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps lead the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively, with D.C. United, the New England Revolution and FC Dallas hot on their tails.

    The MLS Power Rankings will determine how strong every team is so far in 2015. Criteria is mainly based on every game played this season, but recent form is also taken into account.

    If a particular club has had a better run of form than its opposition, it will be higher in the rankings.

    Here is the first installment of the MLS Power Rankings after Week 7.

20) Montreal Impact

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    The Montreal Impact have only played four games due to their CONCACAF Champions League commitments, but they've failed to win any of their matches. 

    Montreal is also last in goals scored and haven't won a regular-season away game since September 8, 2013, per Yahoo Sports.

    The Impact face Club America in the CONCACAF final, becoming the first MLS side to reach this stage since Real Salt Lake accomplished this in 2011. However, Montreal has a lot of work to do when they get back to business in the league.

    Next up: vs. Portland Timbers on May 9

19) Colorado Rapids

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    The Colorado Rapids were humbled by the Seattle Sounders a week after a convincing 4-0 win at FC Dallas. Their sudden scoring outbreak must have been a relief considering how poor the Rapids were in front of goal.

    Their loss came against the Sounders, a team that's expected to compete for the MLS Cup this season. However, the Rapids look bereft of attacking ideas and are in desperate need of a striker.

    Colorado's defense was stingy up until this weekend, so head coach Pablo Mastroeni can be proud of that, but unless the Rapids get a true goalscorer, they'll continue to sit at the bottom of the standings.

    Next up: vs. FC Dallas on April 24

18) Philadelphia Union

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    Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    The Philadelphia Union appeared to be en route to their second win of the season on Sunday versus the New England Revolution, but let a 1-0 lead slip and ended up losing the match.

    The lack of quality service to Fernando Aristeguieta is holding back the Union. Apart from its win against New York City FC, Philadelphia hasn't been able to produce a consistent 90 minutes.

    Next up: at Columbus Crew on April 25

17) New York City FC

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    Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    New York City FC has been unlucky in some games, especially when it hasn't had David Villa and Mix Diskerud. However, it doesn't excuse some of the poor defending and lackadaisical finishing. 

    Youngsters Khiry Shelton and Kwadwo Poku have shown glimpses of their potential, but it hasn't resulted in any wins since the home opener on March 15.

    NYCFC has attempted the second-highest amount of shots, but have scored just five goals, per the official MLS website. This area has to improve if the club is to make the playoffs.

    Next up: at Chicago Fire on April 24

16) Toronto FC

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    If it wasn't for injuries, Toronto FC might be higher in both these power rankings and in the MLS standings. However, even when first-choice players started, the team looked disorganized.

    The match against the Chicago Fire on April 4 was a prime example. Sebastian Giovinco produced one of his best games in a TFC shirt, but the defense and goalkeeper Joe Bendik committed some horrendous errors.

    The same mistakes have been recurring during the Reds' four-game losing streak. Due to Toronto's lack of games played, they're at No. 16, but that could change if this form continues.

    Next up: at Orlando City SC on April 26

15) Chicago Fire

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    Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

    The Chicago Fire were mind-numbing to watch in their first few games. Chicago started the season with three losses, but have since earned back-to-back wins.

    The Fire dealt with a few injuries to start the year. Since those players returned, they look like an entertaining side, but defending was still an issue against Toronto FC.

    If Chicago can produce the same attacking flair versus TFC and improve their positioning on defense, the Fire can rise up the standings.

    Next up: vs. New York City FC on April 24

14) Orlando City SC

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    Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    Orlando City SC are bursting with potential, but the team's wasteful finishing and unforgivable individual mistakes have cost them several points this season.

    Rafael Ramos' red card against the Columbus Crew is the latest example. Conceding late against the Vancouver Whitecaps and D.C. United was unlucky, but Orlando had several chances to put those games away.

    The lack of a true goalscoring striker has been an issue. Cyle Larin is the solution until Bryan Rochez and Pedro Ribeiro are fit, but in order for Orlando to improve, it has to be more disciplined on both sides of the pitch.

    Next up: vs. Toronto FC on April 26

13) Sporting Kansas City

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    Gary Rohman/MLS/USA TODAY Sports

    Sporting Kansas City added several players to its squad this past winter. Injuries have since put a wrench in head coach Peter Vermes' plans, but SKC is slowly improving.

    The defense is still an issue, but the injury to Ike Opara gives them a pass for now. Those defensive frailties are the reason why Sporting KC is ninth in the Western Conference.

    Goalscoring has also been inconsistent, but since Benny Feilhaber moved into a more advanced role, it's led to two wins, one draw and a loss. If that form continues, SKC will improve in these power rankings.

    Next up: at Houston Dynamo on April 25

12) Portland Timbers

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    Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    The Portland Timbers have been haunted by poor defending this season, especially on set pieces. Scoring has also dried up. The Timbers have produced just two multi-goal games in 2015.

    Despite those problems, Portland has two wins and one defeat this month. The most emphatic result was the 3-1 win against FC Dallas at home on April 4.

    There's too much attacking talent for the Timbers to be below No. 12. The defense is the only area that's affecting Portland's ranking. The full-backs, mainly Alvas Powell, cannot give away the ball so cheaply as they did at Yankee Stadium last Sunday.

    Next up: at Seattle Sounders on April 26

11) San Jose Earthquakes

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    The San Jose Earthquakes have played better than expected so far this season, but have regressed recently.

    San Jose was thoroughly dominated by the New York Red Bulls on the road. It was only a 2-0 defeat, but this score is misleading.  

    The Earthquakes defense has looked slow and the attack has dried up since March. They've scored just once in April, but their lone win was against the league-leading Vancouver Whitecaps.

    Next up: at Real Salt Lake on May 1

10) Houston Dynamo

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    The Houston Dynamo have been wildly inconsistent, yet they're sixth place in the Western Conference with nine points. The Dynamo have earned points against the Columbus Crew and LA Galaxy, which is quite impressive.

    Houston's defense has also been incredible, conceding just four goals, level with the New York Red Bulls. However, the Dynamo have only scored six goals in 2015 with only the Colorado Rapids having less. 

    Regardless, Houston has performed well under new head coach Owen Coyle. Once Erick Torres arrives, the Dynamo might be a threat in the West.

    Next up: vs. Sporting Kansas City on April 25

9) Real Salt Lake

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    Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    Real Salt Lake is on the outside looking in at a playoff position in the Western Conference, but have one game in hand and only two points adrift of the third-placed LA Galaxy.

    Up until last week versus the Vancouver Whitecaps, RSL did not lose a single game in 2015. Salt Lake finished that match with nine men and only conceded after Sebastian Saucedo was sent off.

    Javier Morales is still excelling, even in a revamped system, and RSL still looks like a threat in the West. Salt Lake has recorded a league-high three clean sheets, and, even though it has only scored six goals, hasn't hit its stride yet.

    Next up: at New England Revolution on April 25

8) LA Galaxy

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    The LA Galaxy started the season with a 2-0 win against the Chicago Fire, but did not record another win until April 12 versus the Seattle Sounders. The Galaxy earned three more points the following week thanks to a late Omar Gonzalez header at home to Sporting Kansas City.

    Now LA is in third place in the Western Conference. However, the Galaxy still don't look like they're in top form. Injuries and international duty have played a factor, but this is exactly what the defending champions have done the past few seasons.

    However, the Galaxy will always be a threat with Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes and Omar Gonzalez. Add the emergence of Jose Villarreal and Stefan Ishizaki, and LA is slowly coming together.

    Next up: at New York Red Bulls on April 26

7) Columbus Crew

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    Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    The Columbus Crew will likely challenge for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Crew are in fourth place at the moment after six games and are one of the more entertaining teams to watch in MLS.

    Columbus leads the league in shots per game and is second in pass completion, per, but has dealt with a key absentee. Midfielder Wil Trapp has been in and out of the lineup due to a concussion and international duty, which has forced head coach Gregg Berhalter to rotate.

    The Crew demonstrated their attacking prowess by capitalizing on Orlando City's mistakes last week in a 3-0 win. However, one win in the last four matches—including a devastating 2-1 defeat versus the New York Red Bullsleaves the Crew lower in the power ranking.

    Next up: vs. Philadelphia Union on April 26th

6) Seattle Sounders

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    The Seattle Sounders have been without Clint Dempsey, Osvaldo Alonso, Chad Marshall, Obafemi Martins and Gonzalo Pineda for at least one game this season. Despite this, the Sounders are in fourth place and have one to two games in hand over the top three teams in the Western Conference. 

    Seattle is below the Galaxy in the standings, but they have scored more goals and conceded fewer with only six matches played to LA's seven.

    The Sounders lost to the Galaxy on April 12 without Pineda, Dempsey and full-back Leo Gonzalez, and if it wasn't for LA goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, Seattle would've secured a draw or even a victory.

    It's clear that when everyone is healthy, as they were last week versus the Colorado Rapids, the Sounders are virtually unstoppable. If the squad is fully fit, they'll be near the top of the power rankings very soon.

    Next up: vs. Portland Timbers on April 26

5) D.C. United

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    D.C. United has slightly overachieved in the first few weeks of the MLS season. Striker Fabian Espindola was suspended to begin the campaign and midfielder Luis Silva was hurt. That hasn't stopped D.C. from moving into a three-way tie for first place in the Eastern Conference. 

    The Chicago Fire is the only Eastern team in a playoff position that has scored fewer goals than D.C.'s six, but the four-time MLS Cup champions have still earned points versus the LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls.

    D.C.'s position in the standings and outstanding defensive displays (Red Bulls aside) helped solidify its spot in the top five.

    Next up: at Vancouver Whitecaps on April 25

4) New England Revolution

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    Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    The New England Revolution began the campaign without A.J. Soares (now in Norway), Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen (injury). The Revs lost their opening two games and failed to score in either of them.

    Since then, Andrew Farrell has gained confidence as a center-back, plus Nguyen and Jones have returned to action. New England is currently riding a five-match unbeaten streak with three wins. The Revolution have outscored their opponents 6-2 in that span.

    New England has played more games than D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls, who are tied with the Revs for first place in the Eastern Conference. However, D.C. has earned two victories, scoring five goals with five conceded in their last five games.

    Next up: vs. Real Salt Lake on April 25

3) FC Dallas

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    Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    FC Dallas is second in the Supporters' Shield standings with 13 points, but were emphatically beaten by the Portland Timbers and lowly Colorado Rapids before defeating Toronto FC last week.

    Regardless, Dallas is still the joint-highest scoring team in MLS and have four wins, second only to the Vancouver Whitecaps' five. If they hadn't been beaten twice, the Hoops would be in the top two, but this is not the case.

    Dallas has a shot at redemption and a chance to move up the power rankings when they face the Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

    Next up: at Colorado Rapids on April 24

2) Vancouver Whitecaps

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    The Vancouver Whitecaps have more points and wins than any other team in MLS, but they've also played more games. 

    However, the Whitecaps have the most balanced attack with Pedro Morales, Mauro Rosales, Kekuta Manneh, Nicolas Mezquida, the newly added Cristian Techera and MLS' leading scorer Octavio Rivero.

    The defense is also one of the strongest in the league with Kendall Waston anchoring the back line and David Ousted in goal. 

    The only recent blemish on the Whitecaps record is the loss in San Jose on April 11. Overall, Vancouver has two defeats. The other came against Toronto FC at home on opening weekend.

    Those two losses are preventing the Whitecaps from occupying the No. 1 spot.

    Next up: vs. D.C. United on April 25

1) New York Red Bulls

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    Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

    The New York Red Bulls are the only undefeated team in MLS. New York has only played six games, but it doesn't diminish the zero in the loss column.

    Even when the Red Bulls weren't producing, they managed to come away with at least a point. New York was outplayed by the Columbus Crew, but capitalized on the Crew's mistakes and walked out of MAPFRE Stadium with a 2-1 win. 

    New York also erased a 2-0 deficit versus D.C. United to tie 2-2 on April 11. The Red Bulls also have one of the best midfield trios in MLS, which has contributed to their early-season success.

    Suffice to say, the Red Bulls are the team to beat right now.

    Next up: vs. LA Galaxy on April 26

    Peter Galindo covers MLS and U.S. soccer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @GalindoPW.

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