MLS Power Rankings, Week 23: Earthquakes' Hold On Top Weakening

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 4: Teal Bunbury #9 (L) is congratulated by Kei Kamara #23 of Sporting KC after scoring against the New England Revolution during the first half at Gillette Stadium on August 4, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

The Earthquakes remain the top team in our MLS Power Rankings, but Sporting KC is starting to close.

What fun would SB Nation's MLS Power Rankings be if we simply responded to the results every week? Actually, don't answer that, just know that our voters have given the Earthquakes the benefit of the doubt this week. Their loss to the Montreal Impact was a bit of a shocker, especially since they got such a huge break early on when Steven Lenhart managed to both get red carded and draw a penalty on the same play.

The gap is clearly starting to close though and the general consensus seems to be building around Sporting KC, who have now won three straight to move to within a point of the the Supporters' Shield lead.

This week's rankings are themed by Primus.

Professor Nutbutter's House Of Treats

1. San Jose Earthquakes (Average ranking: 1.15; Last week's average: 1.17): Was the loss to the Impact a sign that the magic has run out or simply the result of running into what has become the hottest team in the league?

2. Sporting Kanas City (2.92; 3.58): Still seem to be riding the high that came with their first trophy since 2004. Suddenly looking very much like a contender for the Supporters' Shield, which would mark a very rare brand of "double."

Wynona's Big Brown Beaver

3. New York Red Bulls (4.38; 4.17): Was Thierry Henry being upset following Sunday's win a sign that this team holds itself to an unbelievably high standard or a signal that this is all about to go crooked?

4. Seattle Sounders (4.62; 5.25): Bounced back from a tough week with a convincing win over the Whitecaps. Christian Tiffert looking like a solid addition.

5. Houston Dynamo (4.69; 4.00): Needed a bit of luck to hold off the Crew at home, but are still very much a team to contend with.

6. Real Salt Lake (5.00; 3.83): Something has gone horribly wrong on the Good Ship Kreis. They are 3-7-2 in their past 12 and appear to have lost their way.

Is It Luck?

7. Chicago Fire (7.15; 8.92): Quietly making moves up the table to the point that they almost worth considering as darkhorse candidates for the Supporters' Shield.

8. D.C. United (8.46; 8.08): Participated in one of the strangest officiated games in MLS this year, and that's really saying something. Suddenly in a fight for the playoffs.

9. Vancouver Whitecaps (8.92; 7.42): A pair of losses leaves their playoff position in jeopardy. Did Martin Rennie over think this thing?

10. LA Galaxy (9.08; 8.75): Took the weekend off, but tied the Crew on Wednesday. They are 5-1-1 in their past seven, which is kinda crazy.

Sinister Exaggerator

11. Columbus Crew (11.15; 11.75): No wins to show for a couple solid performances. The recent acquisitions have clearly helped the attack.

12. Montreal Impact (11.69; 12.08): They have still allowed the most goals in the league, but their defense has clearly improved over the start of the year. Could make the East's playoff race very interesting.

13. FC Dallas (13.38; 15.33): David Ferreira looks no worse for wear and suddenly the Toros appear capable of making a run at the playoffs.

14. New England Revolution (13.46; 13.92): Our voters are clearly wowed by how nice their passing looks ... or they really don't like any of the other teams below them.

My Name is Mud

15. Chivas USA (14.92; 14.67): Do you realize they've scored 15 goals this year? Fifteen!

16. Colorado Rapids (15.54; 15.00): They tied Chivas at home. At home!

17. Philadelphia Union (16.08; 16.00): Are they better than they were at the start of the year? Probably. Are they going to make the playoffs? No.

18. Toronto FC (17.85; 17.33): They were a lot more interesting when they were clearly awful. Now, they are just forgettable.

19. Portland Timbers (18.69; 18.75): Gavin Wilkinson is magic. Unfortunately he's using his powers to convince Merritt Paulson he's the right man for the job and not for making the team better.

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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