MLS Power Rankings, Week 18: Earthquakes Are All Alone Up Top, Timbers Take Over Bottom

SANTA CLARA, CA - APRIL 21: Khari Stephenson #7 of the San Jose Earthquakes celebrates after scoring a goal against the Real Salt Lake at Buck Shaw Stadium on April 21, 2012 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Earthquakes beat the stuffing out of Real Salt Lake and are justly rewarded with a spot all alone atop our MLS Power Rankings.

New rule: If you have the best record in the league and you beat the team with the second best record by at least five goals, you get to sit atop the MLS Power Rankings in a tier all to yourself. The Earthquakes may have benefitted from another red card -- as seems to happen a lot when these teams play -- but they did most of the work themselves in dismantling RSL. A tip of the hat, good sirs.

On the other end of our rankings, we have a new cellar-dweller. That brings us to another new rule: If you respond to your coach being fired by giving up more goals than you ever had in your history, you move to the bottom.

This week's rankings are themed by Wilco.

I Must Be High

1. San Jose Earthquakes (Average ranking: 1.00; Last week's average: 1.36): In case you haven't heard, Chris Wondolowski is having himself an MVP-caliber season and on pace to rewrite the MLS record books. His team is pretty good too.

Wishful Thinking

2. Sporting Kansas City (2.17; 3.86): As seems to be the case lately, the teams that get here do it almost by default. Beating the Crew on the road is not a bad win, obviously, but it wasn't like they were dominant either.

3. D.C. United (4.33; 2.57): That they didn't fall farther says more about the teams below them than themselves as that 4-0 pasting at the hands of the Dynamo was pretty ugly, red card or not.

4. Real Salt Lake (5.08; 2.79): As talented and fun to watch as this team can be, there have to be some serious questions being asked these days.

5. Seattle Sounders (5.25; 6.00): Not exactly a standout performance in a road tie against the Red Bulls, but they are starting to find their footing again.

6. New York Red Bulls (5.50; 5.79): Probably outplayed the Sounders at home, but neither of the goals they allowed were fluky and there are legitimate questions about their defense.

Shouldn't Be Ashamed

7. Houston Dynamo (7.67; 9.57): Not sure where it came from, but the defending Eastern Conference champs reminded everyone they aren't quite ready to fade into the sunset.

8. Chicago Fire (7.83; 8.57): I don't have the numbers in front of me, but no team seems to move up or down the rankings less than these guys. Holding steady again.

9. Vancouver Whitecaps (8.33; 6.57): Give Martin Rennie credit, he felt he needed to improve on a team that was already well positioned for a playoff run and he did. Not just tinkering, either, as he brought in a DP and shipped out two starters.

10. LA Galaxy (8.92; 9.64): There have been so many false dawns with this team it hardly seems shocking that when their three biggies are clicking, they are dominant. But can they do it enough?

Please Be Patient With Me

11. New England Revolution (10.83; 11.00): A loss at home to TFC was not what Jay Heaps ordered.

12. Colorado Rapids (12.42; 12.07): There are signs of progress, but you're having to squint harder and harder every week to see them.

13. Columbus Crew (13.50; 12.07): Probably outplayed Sporting KC, but also failed to get even a point. The natives are getting restless.

14. Philadelphia Union (14.17; 15.71): Well, lookie here, the new coach who actually plays the young guys the team was built around is getting results.

15. Chivas USA (15.00; 14.86): Biggest chance in their franchise's history was wasted in pretty spectacular fashion, as they fell in the U.S. Open Cup semis.

16. Montreal Impact (15.25; 14.07): Give them this, they are not a boring team to watch. Sure would be cool if people in Montreal knew that.

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

17. Toronto FC (17.00; 18.21): Has Paul Mariner turned this team around? Maybe a little, but losing Danny Koevermans certainly doesn't help.

18. FC Dallas (17.75; 18.21): A win, a win. Got a lot of digging to do, though.

19. Portland Timbers (18.00; 17.07): Gavin Wilkinson bought the groceries, now he gets to make the meal. So far, it's not looking good.

How the poll works: Each voter ranks the teams from 1-19. The teams are then ordered by average, with the lowest average going first and so on. The editor then splits the rankings into five tiers, looking for natural breaks in the averages. We then pick some kind of group of songs to theme them to.

Who participated: Jeremiah Oshan (SB Nation, soccer); Aaron Campeau (SB Nation, soccer); Ryan Rosenblatt (SB Nation, soccer); Drew Epperley (SB Nation, soccer); Jason Anderson (SB Nation, soccer); Phillip Quin (SB Nation, soccer); Martin Shatzer (Black and Red United); Scott Kessler (Brotherly Game); Denzel Eslinger (RSL Soapbox); Robert Jonas (Quake, Rattle and Goal); Daniel Robertson (Big D Soccer); Dave Clark and Josh Yockey (Sounder at Heart); Duncan Fletcher (Waking the Red), Steve Stoehr (The Bent Musket); Ben Schneider (Once a Metro); Alicia Ratterree (The Goat Parade); Brenton Walters (The Vancouver Whitecaps Offside); Geoff Gibson (Stumptown Footy); Sofiane Benzaza (Mount Royal Soccer); Alex Englen (The Daily Wiz); Rudy Gomez and Ryan Sealock (Hot Time In Old Town).

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