For anyone that feels as though every league needs to have a clear top, bottom and middle, MLS is finally playing along. The Earthquakes really seem to be playing on a level above everyone else -- and are back to being unanimous No. 1 -- while a handful of teams are falling over one another to claim the wooden spoon. In between are a bunch of teams that are fighting for the scraps. It's not necessarily the most becoming look, but it sure does make for an interesting spectacle.
This week's rankings are themed by the Black Keys.
1. San Jose Earthquakes (Average ranking: 1.0; Last week's average: 1.07): What's left to say about the "Goonies" at this point? They've already scored more goals than any team since 2005 and are on pace to become the first team since 2000 to average at least 2.0 goals per game.
2. Sporting Kansas City (2.6; 2.47): They don't win in ways that make you take notice like the Earthquakes do, but they keep finding ways to get results nonetheless. Luckily, there are no style points.
2. Seattle Sounders (2.6; 2.93): Not the most convincing result, but earning a tie in the 100-degree heat of Dallas is certainly not a bad thing. They also got a bit of a boost with the return of Steve Zakuani to the staring lineup.
4. New York Red Bulls (5.3; 4.4): Took the weekend off after pulling out a tie with a late goal against D.C. Are looking less and less like a threat to catching Sporting KC, though.
5. Real Salt Lake (5.5; 6.47): Picked up a hard-earned win against D.C. to solidify their Top 3 standing in the West. Seem to be on a collision course with the Sounders, again.
6. Houston Dynamo (6.5; 4.73): At the close of the transfer window, they looked like they could be the team to beat the East, but the parts have not quite come together. The loss to the Fire was hardly something that inspires confidence.
7. LA Galaxy (6.7; 7.67): Just when you figured they might be content to throw it into cruise control and be satisfied with just making the playoffs, here they are making a run at a Top 3 spot. And now they are doing it without Landon Donovan.
8. Chicago Fire (7.3; 7.0): Honestly not sure what to say here. Despite a resounding victory over the Dynamo, our voters just don't want to give the Fire much respect. They could easily end up with the second best record in the conference and could even make a run at the top spot.
9. Columbus Crew (8.2; 10.53): Since Federico Higuain made his debut, the Crew have been literally unbeatable. They are now 4-0-1 with the Argentinian in the lineup and suddenly look like they might be the most dangerous team in the East.
10. D.C. United (10.1; 9.4): What happened here? A couple months ago they were making a run at the Supporters' Shield. Now, they are making a run at putting together one of the biggest collapses in MLS history.
11. Montreal Impact (11.5; 11.33): Their start was so bad and their improvement took too long, but it's still fun to see these guys shaking it up. Should be an interesting team next year.
12. Vancouver Whitecaps (11.9; 10.6): Oy vey. If not for United, we'd be talking a lot more about how huge of a collapse they've been going through. They should still be able to hold off Dallas, but they seem intent on making it interesting.
13. FC Dallas (12.0; 12.53): Really needed to win against the Sounders this week but could only manage a tie. This week's home game against the Whitecaps is as much of a must-win as there is in the regular season.
14. Philadelphia Union (14.4; 15.47): At least they know who their coach will be next year. As for right now, it appears that Peter Nowak's personnel decisions were just too much of a hill to climb.
15. New England Revolution (15.5; 15.8): All the aesthetic improvement in the world doesn't mean anything if the team on the field is actively getting worse. Facing two of the worst teams in the league this week, they came away with a pair of ties and are basically right where they were a year ago.
16. Chivas USA (16.5; 15.47): It's gone from bad to horrific in the span of about a month as they've been outscored 17-5 in their past four games. You really need to wonder if Robin Fraser will be the coach much longer.
16. Colorado Rapids (16.5; 15.87): Another new coach who's learning the ropes in the hardest way possible. It's mildly impressive that they are still ahead of the Timbers in our power poll.
18. Portland Timbers (17.7; 18.2): Maybe Gavin Wilkinson was right and this team is improving. Of course, beating the Rapids at home is not exactly a huge accomplishment, but they can now at least claim upward momentum.
19. Toronto FC (18.5; 18.13): Poor, poor TFC. The characters may change, but the plot remains perpetually depressing. The wooden spoon may have to be renamed in their honor.
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).