Weeks of non-soccer obligations and outright neglect have basically killed off my scariness rankings—at least for now, hopefully I can get them in shape in time for the playoffs. In their place, let me offer up my take on power rankings. The league splits pretty readily into 3 tiers, with some hints of movement between them. Here’s how I see it:
Up at the top of the stack are the good teams. These five clubs are pretty much assured of playoff spots and four of them should be in next years Super Liga (though there may be a surprise here).
- DC United (48 pts, 24 games, 2 ppg)—These guys are red hot at the right time. Emilio is looking unstoppable and should handily break 20 goals for the season. Several other DCU players are playing well enough to look like MVP candidates on a lot of the league. Even better, the team as a whole is just clicking. Upcoming game: RSL @ DCU
- Chivas USA (40 pts, 22 games, 1.81 ppg)—With a draw against DCU, a solid win over the Red Bulls, and a very soft schedule over the remaining eight games on their schedule the Goats are looking very good too. I expect to make a play for the Supporters Shield this year. Shoot, even their Sueno player is looking pretty good. Upcoming game: LAG @ Chivas USA
- New England Revolution (42 pts, 24 games, 1.75 ppg)—Even dropping their last game to DC United, the Revs are looking pretty good. Their remaining schedule looks pretty soft too, though they have fewer games remaining than Chivas. Upcoming game: FC Dallas @ New England
- Houston Dynamo (42 points, 25 games, 1.68 ppg)—They toughed out a win over RSL, and face RSL and the Galaxy (twice) over the rest of the season. They will be challenged by Chivas and FC Dallas games though. I don’t see them repeating as MLS cup winners. Upcoming game Dynamo @ LA Galaxy
- FC Dallas (39 pts, 23 games, 1.69 ppg)—They beat up a sinking TFC and Denilson is looking pretty good, but it doesn’t look like enough. I think they’ll settle for four points from the next five games, and probably only eight more the rest of the season. That may be enough to dump them into the second tier of teams. Upcoming game: FC Dallas @ New England
The next group of teams are battling it out for the playoffs (and a strong finish by on or two of them might even claim a spot in the Super Liga).
- Chicago Fire (29 points, 23 games, 1.26 ppg)—Nine points in their last five games and a 7-4 aggrate score in those games makes this team look a lot better than their overall standing. Wanchope and Blanco have really been a boost to this team, and could push them into the top tier with continued solid play. Upcoming game: Red Bulls @ Fire
- New York Red Bulls (36 points, 24 games, 1.5 ppg)—Injuries and recent results make this look like a team on the wane. It’s hard to count them out though with Jozy and JPA up front. Having RSL, TFC, and the Galaxy in the mix of their upcoming games should help them stack up some points though.
- Kansas City Wizards (33 points, 25 games, 1.32 ppg)—Another team that’s dropping rapidly. A scary schedule that includes Chivas, DC United, the Red Bulls, and FC Dallas doesn’t bode well either, but I think they’ll be the eighth and final playoff team (will anyone come to watch their home games though?). Upcoming game: Columbus Crew @ KC Wizards
- Columbus Crew (28 pts, 24 games, 1.16 ppg)—Three winnable games to finish out September then a tough October schedule don’t help the Crews chances of getting into the playoffs. I expect them to be on the outside looking in. Upcoming game: Columbus Crew @ KC Wizards.
- Colorado Rapids (28 pts, 24 games, 1.16 ppg)—Two games against Chivas USA, one against the Revolution, and two against a resurgent RSL, and one against lowly TFC might see the Rapids only take six more points the rest of the year (they might not even keep the Rocky Mountain Cup this year). If that happens, Clavijo might not survive the off-season. The Rapids are on the verge of falling down to the bottom tier of teams. Upcoming game: Chivas USA @ Colorado
If only the MLS and USL could work out relegation and promotion, there might be a reason to watch these guys finish out their season. These teams are just bad right now, though there may be some hope on the horizon—well at least the 2008 season.
- Real Salt Lake (18 pts, 22 games, .81 ppg)—Their horrid start doomed RSL this year, but a coaching change and a roster overhaul are starting to pay dividends. RSL will play the spoiler this year, and should compete for a playoff spot ext year. Upcoming game: RSL @ DCU
- Los Angeles Galaxy (17 pts, 20 games, .85 ppg)—Too many injuries and a terrible schedule are too much for the Galaxy to overcome. The good news is they won’t finish last in the league, but they won’t come close to being the super-team people expected. Upcoming game: Houston Dynamo @ LA Galaxy
- Toronto FC (20 pts, 23 games, .86 ppg)—Except for a brief, shining moment, these guys have looked every bit the expansion club. With an injury list that might have them starting recruits from the PDL, things don’t look to improve anytime soon. At this point, just scoring again might seem like a victory. Upcoming game: RSL @ TFC