MLS Power Rankings, Week 26: Fire Slowly Moving Up Charts

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - SEPTEMBER 08: Club Santos Laguna take on the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park on September 8, 2012 in Bridgeview, Illinois. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Despite getting the week off, the Fire moved up another spot in our MLS Power Rankings.

It was a very slow week in the world of MLS, but there were enough important games that we felt a fresh look at the Power Rankings were in order. There weren't a whole lot of surprises, but considering there were only four games, there was some movement. The Fire went up, the Galaxy went down and Chivas USA continued its assault on the Timbers and Toronto FC for the right to our version of the wooden spoon.

This week's rankings are themed by Johnny Cash (yes, some of these are covers, but you can deal).

Beautiful Life

1. San Jose Earthquakes (This week's average ranking: 1.00; Last week's average: 1.00): They didn't play and no one below them scored such a dramatic victory as to warrant any doubts that this remains the top team in all the land.

2. Sporting Kansas City (2.5; 2.6): No game, but there some extra voters this week that apparently provided them the boost to break their deadlock with the Sounders.

3. Seattle Sounders (2.75; 2.6): That nine-game winless streak now seems like a distant memory. Eddie Johnson is quietly making a bid at a dark horse MVP candidacy, as he and Fredy Montero are forming what just might be the best forward tandem in the league.

The Gambler

4. New York Red Bulls (4.44; 5.3): We'll really find out what this team is made of in the next couple weeks as they have home games against Columbus and Sporting KC coming up in the next week.

5. Real Salt Lake (5.88; 5.5): They did enough to get a result at Houston, but were done in by a late penalty. The reality remains that fighting off the Galaxy for a Top 3 spot is a bigger concern than making a run at the Supporters' Shield.

6. Houston Dynamo (6.38; 6.5): Scored a nice win at home over RSL, even if they needed two chances at penalties to get it. The race for the top 3 spots in the East is getting very interesting.

7. Chicago Fire (6.75; 7.3): Moved up ever so slightly in our rankings despite getting the week off. With a road game against Toronto and a home game against the Impact coming up, now is the time to make their move.

8. LA Galaxy (7.06; 6.7): Landon Donovan and crew got another week of rest and they'll have a new teammate the next time they take the field in Christian Wilhelmsson, a Sweden international that gives them a real attacking threat on the wing.

I Walk The Line

9. Columbus Crew (9.5; 8.2): Their momentum took a pretty big hit with a shocking 2-0 loss to the Revolution. They'll need to collect themselves quickly as they visit the Red Bulls this week.

10. D.C. United (10.13; 10.1): Got a big break when the Crew failed to secure three points against the lowly Revolution. Now they need to take care of business with their own game against the Revs.

Ring Of Fire

11. Vancouver Whitecaps (11.44; 11.9): Maybe more than any other team, they really needed the week off. They have an absolute must-win at Dallas this week that could well define their season.

12. Montreal Impact (11.63; 11.5): Their playoff hopes have been hanging by a thread, which basically means all of these games are must-win. That's doubly true against the Fire.

13. FC Dallas (12.44; 12): Despite failing to grab full points in their last game, they could pull within one point of the Whitecaps for the final playoff spot with a win.

Hurt

14. Philadelphia Union (14.88; 14.4): John Hackworth is now clearly the man in charge, but the size of the mess he has to clean up has never been more apparent. A strong finish is probably less important than identifying who needs to be back and who needs to be cut loose.

15. New England Revolution (15.5; 15.5): The enigma that is the Revs season continues to baffle. Jay Heaps has probably done enough to show he deserves to come back, but the leash will not be so long next season.

16. Colorado Rapids (15.69; 16.5): It will be interesting to see what becomes of Oscar Pareja at the end of this year, as this team was very much built by him. Big pieces like Conor Casey could be on the move, though.

17. Chivas USA (16.38; 16.5): What has to be more frustrating than the results themselves is the utter lack of identity that this team has under Robin Fraser. There are lots of interesting pieces but none of them seem to fit together in any understandable way.

18. Portland Timbers (17.88; 17.7): As if determined to take at least one step back for every step forward, their remarkably awful road record continues to be an albatross around the neck of this team that is totally incapable of winning away from Jeld-Wen Field.

19. Toronto FC (18.38; 18.5): In 25 years, MLS coaches will be thanking TFC for setting the bar for ineptitude so impressively low. Six years without a playoff appearance is really something to marvel at in a league where more than half the teams make the post season.

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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