SANTA CLARA, CA - JULY 28: Steve Lenhart #24, Sam Garza #19 and Shea Salinas #6 of the San Jose Earthquakes celebrates after Lenhart scored a goal against the Chicago Fire during the second half of an MLS Soccer game at Buck Shaw Stadium on July 28, 2012 in Santa Clara, California. The game ended in a 1 to 1 tie. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
It's starting to look like destiny that the Earthquakes will be the top team in MLS.
There's still a bit of shuffling going on in our rankings, which makes sense, but the voters do seem to have settled on same vague pecking order. The Earthquakes continue to be a near unanimous pick as our top team, with RSL, the Red Bulls and Sporting KC regularly slotting in just behind. Then there's the group of the Dynamo, Sounders, United, Galaxy and Whitecaps that are hanging round. Of course, there's a rather enormous middle section and the rear is now being pulled by the Portland Timbers, who have impressively cemented themselves as the worst team in the league.
Of course, as we're reminded each week, none of this seems to make much difference in individual games as anyone seems capable of knocking off anyone else on any given match.
This week's ranking are themed by Queen.
1. San Jose Earthquakes (Average ranking: 1.07; Last week's average: 1.11): Took the "Never Say Die" thing to it's rather preposterous extreme last week, finding the equalizer in the third minute of stoppage time of stoppage time. In English, that means the 98th minute.
2. Real Salt Lake (2.6; 3.33): Weren't necessarily dominant at home against the Whitecaps, but they needed a win badly and came through against a pretty good team.
3. New York Red Bulls (3.6; 3.11): Might be the most talented team on paper, but what's new? Somehow managed to lose to the Impact, who might not be as bad as we sometimes think.
4. Sporting Kansas City (4.4; 3.44): Tell me if you've heard this one before: KC dominates, but can't quite finish and loses to inferior opponent. Repeat.
5. Houston Dynamo (4.67; 6.44): Beating TFC on the road is no big task, but the Dynamo sure look like a team capable of defending their Eastern Conference crown after some impressive transfer window dealings.
7. D.C. United (6.67; 6.56): At the start of July, there was realistic talk about making a run at the Supporters' Shield. Now, not so much. They are still dangerous, but you have to wonder if some other teams moved past them as United pretty much stuck to their guns during the transfer window.
8. Vancouver Whitecaps (7.73; 6.33): Lots of moves that were good for headlines, but it remains to be seen if all the lineup shuffling will yield results. So far, the results are very mixed.
9. LA Galaxy (8.33; 8.67): Well, looky here. Left for dead on a couple occasions, they are in the thick of the playoff race and playing as well as anyone.
10. Chicago Fire (10.47; 10): Every time you start to get a little excited, they throttle back expectations with a frustrating result. Should be a playoff team, but that spot seems less secure each week.
11. Columbus Crew (11.27; 11.44): Made a couple of potentially important moves during the transfer window. If they can start scoring, that defense could make them very dangerous.
12. Chivas USA (13.27; 13.44): A little shocking to see them this high, which is more a commentary on what's happening beneath them.
13. Montreal Impact (13.4; 14.89): Still not a team we'd consider a real playoff contender, they are at least an interesting team to watch. If Marco Di Vaio and Alessandro Nesta are playing at the same level next year, they could be a team worth watching.
15. Philadelphia Union (14.53; 15.56): Credit John Hackworth for doing a lot more with comparable talent than Peter Nowak could. Unfortunately, the cupboard was pretty bare and the hole was very deep.
16. Colorado Rapids (16.3; 15.44): It's nice what Oscar Pareja is trying to do, but totally transforming a team's personality with almost identical personnel was always going to be very difficult.
17. FC Dallas (16.67; 16.22): The awful winless run is at least over. Now, if they can only get their best players on the field together...
18. Toronto FC (16.73; 16): The battle for the Wooden Spoon is at least a lot more compelling now than it was a month or so ago.
19. Portland Timbers (19; 19): Not to pick on the guy, but does Gavin Wilkinson really belong atop an organization with championship aspirations? His coaching suggests, no.
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).