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Major League Soccer

Week 7 Power Rankings: Dallas Looking Dominant

Starting now and continuing throughout the season, American Soccer Now will rank the top 10 MLS clubs and provide a bit of insight into our thinking. This is Kyle Sennikoff's first piece for ASN.
BY Kyle Sennikoff Posted
April 24, 2014
6:37 PM

10. Toronto FC (3-3-0)

When both Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe are in the lineup, get out of the way—Toronto is a juggernaut. And when the two designated players are missing from action, as they have been three times this season, well, the Reds look very beatable.

And on Saturday, FC Dallas beat Toronto, 2-1. “We have to be honest with ourselves tonight and just say we weren’t good enough," Bradley said. "Obvious [Dallas is] a good team. It’s a difficult place to play. We just didn’t have enough about us, we weren't really able to go after them. We were never able to really go for it.”

9. D.C. United (2-2-2)

There's no two ways about it: Eddie Johnson and Fabian Espindola immediately transformed D.C. United's culture. Counterattacks like this one, which put D.C. ahead of Columbus, are now a constant threat.

But D.C. didn't put the game away when it should have, settling for a draw. The club's next challenge: Learning how to win rather than just trying not to lose.

“I don’t think we managed well. I would say we managed it well if we get the second goal. If you’re down, it doesn’t matter if you have five men on the field you are going to push and get a goal,” United coach Ben Olsen said.

8. Vancouver Whitecaps (2-2-3)

Kekuta Manneh and Darren Mattocks, two of the fastest players in Major League Soccer, can put any defense on its heels. And when you add in the ability to score on a shot like this one, well, it spells trouble for a lot of defenses.

The one thing that really stood out last weekend against Los Angeles? The Whitecaps’ lack of awareness to pick up the Galaxy’s wide players. Vancouver was constantly hit on the counter and just did not get back on defense quickly enough.

7. Colorado Rapids (3-1-2)

It's Pablo Mastroeni’s first year as manager and he has a very talented, very young team—so expect the Rapids to move up, down, and potentially even off this Top 10 list as the year progresses. Dillon Powers, Deshorn Brown, Shane O'Neill and Chris Klute will bring a sense of excitement to Dick's Sporting Goods Park all season long, and Edson Buddle knows his way around the penalty area. But the jury is still out on whether this team is a contender or a pretender in 2014.

6. Columbus Crew (3-1-2)

Columbus has the right infrastructure, starting with new coach Gregg Berhalter. Add in a veteran sniper (Federico Higuain), a top U.S. national team defender (Michael Parkhurst), and a U.S. youth starlet (Wil Trapp) and all of a sudden it's easy to see the Crew making a deep run into the playoffs. And if Hector Jimenez keeps doing this, all bets are off.

5. Los Angeles Galaxy (2-1-2)

Landon Donovan. Robbie Keane. Juninho. Marcelo Sarvas. Nobody would ever question the versatility and firepower of the Los Angeles Galaxy offense.

But that defense? Scary.

Exhibit A: The club's recent 2-2 draw again Vancouver, in which Galaxy central defender Leonardo and goalkeeper Jaime Penedo failed to communicate, gifting Whitecaps striker Darren Mattocks with a goal.

So far this season Omar Gonzalez and Leonardo are good for a defensive mistake or five every week. Bruce Arena needs to figure it all out, and something tells us he will.

4. Seattle Sounders (4-2-1)

As the club got off to a slow start to the 2013 season, you could almost feel a tinge of panic in the air. Despite a loaded roster and tremendous fan support, would the Seattle Sounders underachieve yet again?

Clint Dempsey's return to form changes the entire dynamic of the team. When the U.S. captain brings his snarl and grit and goal-scoring acumen to the game, Seattle becomes unpleasant to play against and is very hard to stop. If Obafemi Martins can build on his strong performance against the Sounders look to remain among the upper echelon of MLS.

3. Sporting Kansas City (3-1-2)

The 2013 MLS Cup champions have not gotten off to the best of starts, securing just three wins in its first six matches. SKC lost badly to Cruz Azul in CONCACAF Champions League action, 5-1. Since that lopsided defeat, however, the defense has stepped up its intensity a notch or two.

After defeating Montreal 4-0, coach Peter Vermes discussed the need for more clean sheets going forward: "It’s something that we’ve prided ourselves on for the last so many years. It’s an important aspect of being successful throughout the season. When you don’t give up many goals and you have the kind of players we have in our attack, you can defend and keep clean sheets and get a lot of points over the course of the season.”

2. Real Salt Lake (3-0-4)

Real Salt Lake has faced one of the hardest schedules in the early going so far, squaring off against talent-laden Los Angeles twice as well as Sporting Kansas City. To be only three points from the top of the league is not too shabby. By all accounts, first-year coach Jeff Cassar has done a remarkable job.

What's the secret? It’s hard to say. But it doesn't hurt to have a lineup that features young, ambitious stars-in-waiting, seasoned veterans, and a decent goalkeeper.

Cassar had this to say after SKC's 1-0 victory over Portland: “It feels good. I felt that we did a lot of the right things to win the game today. It was an awesome feeling in the stadium today with a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd. You could feel that we were building up to score a goal when Ned put that in. The energy in the stadium was unbelievable.”

1. FC Dallas (5-1-1)

Who would have thought that after seven weeks Dallas would still be atop the overall MLS standings? In his first year as coach Oscar Pareja has Dallas looking like a world-beater, winning five of its first seven matches while boasting 2.29 points per game average—highest in the league.

Veteran forward Blas Perez leads his club in goals with three on 11 shots, while Mauro Diaz is among league assist leaders, with three.

The club is particularly strong in dead-ball situations, scoring both goals in this fashion in a 2-1 victory over Toronto. Steven Caldwell had this to say about Dallas’ set pieces: “Michel puts in a phenomenal ball. It’s one of the best I’ve ever faced probably. It’s real pace and quality and it’s on the button every single time. And even when he hits the back post with such pace, it takes the keeper out of the game and it’s very difficult for the men on the back to deal with.”

Do you agree with Kyle's rankings? What would you change? Tell us in the Comments below.

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