CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 15: Chris Wondolowski #8 of the San Jose Earthquakes and Shalrie Joseph #18 of Chivas USA vie for position to the ball during the MLS match at The Home Depot Center on September 15, 2012 in Carson, California. The Earthquakes defeated Chivas USA 2-0. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Sure, MLS is still a league driven by parity but the results are starting to become at least reasonably predictable.
What is happening this season is really somewhat remarkable. For the first time in a long time, MLS results are almost predictable. The good teams are mostly beating the bad teams and the home teams are winning with alarming regularity. Parity is still a very real force, but there is a noticeable gap starting to develop and that is not a bad thing.
This week's power rankings are themed by Stone Roses.
1. San Jose Earthquakes (Average ranking: 1.0; Last week's average: 1.0): The Supporters' Shield is not mathematically locked up, but with the way the Quakes are playing right now it's just about impossible to see anyone catching them. They could win just half of their final six games and still be reasonably assured to lifting it for the first time since 2005.
2. Sporting Kansas City (2.87; 2.5): Have quietly not lost a competitive match since July 28 and are doing just enough to hang around the race for the Shield. Their closing stretch should be tough, though.
2. Seattle Sounders (2.87; 2.75): Did not get the result they wanted on the road against the Timbers, but the tie kept them in strong playoff position. Big test this week against the Earthquakes.
5. Chicago Fire (5.13; 6.75): I can guarantee people are still going to complain about their spot in the ranking, but it's pretty clear they are a contender in the East. Looking at their final six games, they might well be the favorite to win it.
6. LA Galaxy (6.47; 7.06): Charging up the rankings and looking very much like the team that we expected to see at the start of the year. Couldn't come at a better time.
7. Real Salt Lake (6.67; 5.88): A week off will hopefully do them some good as they are going through one of those stretches where the breaks don't seem to be going their way.
8. Houston Dynamo (6.87; 6.38): Doing just enough to hang around in the discussion for who will win the East. Their midfield hasn't quite gelled like we had expected, but there's still some time to fix that.
9. Columbus Crew (8.93; 9.5): Momentum stopped. The head-long charge of the standings has been put on hold after a pair of frustrating losses and now we'll see just what this team can do with their backs against the wall.
10. D.C. United (10.4; 10.13): Not the most convincing win, but it was enough to vault them back into playoff position. The odds still seem to be stacked against them, though, as the absence of Dwayne DeRosario is sure to be felt.
11. FC Dallas (11.13; 12.44): Needed to beat the Whitecaps and did just that. Still have a bit more ground to make up, but the amount of help they'll need is not so significant anymore.
12. Vancouver Whitecaps (12.2; 11.44): Five straight losses in which they've been outscored 9-1 have left them on the precipice of one of the bigger collapses of all time. Whether it was poor personnel moves or just luck catching up with them, it's remarkable how bad it has turned.
12. Montreal Impact (12.2; 11.63): We can go ahead and put a fork in their playoff hopes. They made a nice run, but they've just run out of road.
14. Philadelphia Union (15.0; 14.88): After putting together a nice run in the middle of the season, there are going to be some very tough questions being asked this offseason.
16. Colorado Rapids (15.87; 15.69): Oscar Pareja is surely discovering that shortness of breath is not just about being a mile above sea level as calls for his head are growing increasingly loud.
17. Portland Timbers (16.87; 17.88): Their last vestige of hope was winning the Cascadia Cup. That's still a possibility, but now they'll have to do it on the road where they've had some historical struggles.
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).