Goal.com MLS Power Rankings: Week 17

San Jose brushes aside Real Salt Lake, 5-0, on Saturday night to maintain its perch atop the Goal.com MLS Rankings.
1. San Jose – The biggest conundrum in the Bay Area right now: should the Earthquakes disrupt their current group by bringing in a player to fill the ample budget space recently vacated by Tressor Moreno? (1)

2. Sporting Kansas City – Sporting will put its three-match road winning streak on the line when it travels to Houston in midweek. (4)

3. D.C. United – As United coach Ben Olsen said after the drubbing in Houston on Sunday night, his side will have to ride through a few mistakes here and there from Bill Hamid as the promising young goalkeeper develops. Managing the fallout from those errors is a whole lot easier when backup goalkeeper Joe Willis comes into the match and performs as well as he did against the Dynamo. (2)

4. Real Salt Lake – The most devastating injury no one is talking about right now: Chris Schuler's ailing left foot. (3)

5. New York – Can we all just agree that Rafa Márquez has no business lining up as a central defender for these Red Bulls? (5)

6. Vancouver – It's tough to get a read on the Kenny Miller signing straight away. The Scotland international striker runs his socks off and works hard for the team, but those qualities aren't enough to merit a DP deal by themselves. He must score on a reliable basis. If he had done so at Cardiff City last season, he likely wouldn't find himself in British Columbia in the first place. He will need to locate his shooting boots and polish off a few moves with aplomb to justify all of the upheaval associated with his expensive arrival. (6)

7. Los Angeles – It's all well and good to revel in the entertaining victory at Portland, but the Galaxy has a Júnior Lopes-sized problem in central defense and it isn't going away any time soon. (7)

8. Chicago – Four points in the past three games with just one goal scored. The math, admittedly, appears a bit funky, but the results matter above all else. (8)

9. Seattle – To start Fredy Montero or to use him off the bench? It isn't really a debate. He's too valuable to sit for any length of time, even if he doesn't produce as consistently as he should given the talent at his disposal. (9)

10. Houston – Will Bruin, 10 goal scorer. Surely, everyone had that stat pegged at the start of the campaign, right? (11)

11. Colorado – In English terms, this season looks like one of mid-table consolidation as the squad adjusts to a new manager. (10)

12. Philadelphia – This group reeks of confidence in the wake of Peter Nowak's dismissal. (14)

13. Toronto FC – No one player can replace Danny Koevermans' production. He scores too reliably to locate a like-for-like replacement in the non-DP bracket. His absence – though terrible for the team as a whole – should not distract from the importance of the club's pursuit of at least one high-priced center back during the summer transfer window. At this juncture, it makes far more sense to plan for the start of next season. The best way to follow that directive: rectify the ongoing and pervasive personnel problems in central defense instead of making a reactionary move to replace Koevermans. (15)

14. New England – Somehow, some way, the Revs have to find a way to push through the aggressive, defensive tactics that generally stifle them in the final third. (13)

15. Columbus – Andy Gruenebaum won't make a stink about his All-Star snub, but he'd have every right to do so. The Crew goalkeeper posted a fine first half to the season without receiving his due piece of recognition. (12)

16. Montréal – Saturday's late defeat at Philadelphia feels like one of those setbacks expansion sides inevitably face at one stage or another. At the moment, the Impact doesn't have the right blend of defensive options to keep teams out on a reliable basis. Even for a couple of minutes at the end of a game. (16)

17. Chivas USA – No one pays much attention to the Red-and-White, but Oswaldo Minda's shoulder separation merits significant discussion over the coming days. His imposing presence will be sorely missed in central midfield. (17)

18. FC Dallas – The win in Colorado provides a tangible sign of progress for a downtrodden side that is finally starting to get healthy in the middle third. If only Ugo Ihemelu and George John would follow suit. (19)

19. Portland – The problem with the Timbers' new 4-2-3-1: the group isn't talented enough to ensure the right mix of incisiveness and solidity in that setup. If the wingers ignore their general tendencies and play more conservatively to shore up the shape, then Kris Boyd won't receive the type of support required to make up for his poor mobility and his sluggish work rate. If the wide players push onwards as they did at times against Los Angeles, the Timbers create more chances for Boyd, but they also expose their so-so back four and their so-so central midfield against better sides. Unless the balance is absolutely perfect and Darlington Nagbe exerts his influence on matches consistently, the Timbers will likely struggle to thrive in this particular formation. (18)

Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSsoccer.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at kyle.mccarthy@goal.comand follow him on Twitter by clicking here

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