Sporting Kansas City beat Real Salt Lake a few weeks ago in a battle between No. 1 and No. 2, according to most of the Major League Soccer “Power Rankings” scattered around the blogosphere.
Now we're at it again.
This time it's the Seattle Sounders and RSL, in the first of three meetings that could determine the Western Conference title, Supporters' Shield and home field for the Dec. 1 MLS Cup. It's Saturday night at 7 and can be seen on the MLS Direct Kick cable/satellite package and online MLS LIVE service.
The Sounders (6-1-1), who were No. 1 in our rankings following each of the the first three weeks, vaulted back into the top spot as Mauro Rosales returned from injury to instigate the attack in impressive shutout victories over the Galaxy and Philadelphia. Previous No. 1 San Jose lost on a last-second goal in Vancouver, and No. 2 Sporting Kansas City were upset at home by expansion Montreal.
Real Salt Lake (7-3-1) has won back-to-back games after a three-game winless streak and moved up from No. 3 to No. 2.
Here are this week's power rankings:
1. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (6-1-1, 19 points), Last Week: 4
Week 9: Healthy Mauro Rosales sparks Sounders to victories over the Galaxy (2-0) and Philadelphia (1-0), setting up Eddie Johnson's winner midweek and scoring the lone goal at the weekend.
Latest: Sounders haven't conceded from the run of play since opening day, a span of 658 minutes.
Most MLS victories: 18, last year, just one fewer than the Galaxy.
Next: Wednesday at FC Dallas, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday vs. Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
2. REAL SALT LAKE (7-3-1, 22 points), LW: 3
Week 9: Alvaro Saborio nets a pair to beat New England, 2-1, despite being down a man most of the second half.
Latest: Montclair's Nick Rimando up for Save of the Week for two stops vs. New England, and he's won the award three times in the first eight weeks. Shoulder injury will send Valencia's Kyle Reynish between the pipes.
Most MLS victories: 15, each of the last two years.
Next: Wednesday at Chicago, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday at Seattle, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
3. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (7-2-1, 22 points), LW: 1
Week 9: Chris Wondolowski is MLS's Player of the Week after scoring three goals -- a pair in a 5-3 victory over D.C. United and another in a 2-1 loss at Vancouver.
Latest: Hamstring strain could keep catalyst Marvin Chavez away for nearly a month.
Most MLS victories: 19, in 1999 -- 10 of them in shootouts. The 2005 Supporters' Shield winners won 18.
Next: Sunday vs. Chivas USA, 4 p.m. (Galavision).
4. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (7-2-0, 21 points), LW: 2
Week 9: K.C. returns from a week off and suffers second straight shutout loss, 2-0 to visiting Montreal.
Latest: Disjointed Sporting concedes twice for the first time this season, players meet to break down what went wrong.
Most MLS victories: 21, in 1997, a third of them on shootouts. The Wizards also won 14 in 2004 -- and 16 in 2000, when they won the MLS Cup crown.
Next: Saturday at Chicago, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick)
5. D.C. UNITED (5-3-3, 18 points), LW: 5
Week 9: Dwayne De Rosario scored and assists Hamdi Salihi, not enough in a 5-3 loss at San Jose. Salihi and Yorba Linda's Chris Pontius tally in 2-0 win at Toronto FC.
Latest: De Rosario has seven goals, two assists and just one defeat in nine games against former teams, with Houston's stadium opener coming up.
Most MLS victories: 24, in 1998, Bruce Arena's last season before he took charge of the U.S. national team. Throw out the seven shootout wins, and 17 matches the total under Thomas Rongen (23 including shootouts) the following year.
Next: Saturday at Houston, 1:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network); Wednesday, May 16, vs. Colorado, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
6. NEW YORK RED BULLS (5-3-1, 16 points), LW: 6
Week 9: Joel Lindpere buries the only chance, and Red Bulls close off everything at the back in 1-0 win over the Galaxy at HDC.
Latest: Rafa Marquez returns from suspension, told to cut it out. “I believe Rafa will be an important player for us this season, and as long as he’s on the field, he’ll do that.” GM Erik Soler says. “But he has to be able to stay on the pitch.”
Most MLS victories: 17, in 2000, three in OT.
Next: Wednesday vs. Houston, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Sunday at Philadelphia, 9:30 a.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes).
7. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (5-2-2, 17 points), LW: 10
Week 9: Eric Hassli ends 17-game MLS drought, beating San Jose four minutes into stoppage for a 2-1 victory. He tallied three nights earlier, too, in a 2-0 Canadian Championship win at NASL's FC Edmonton.
Latest: Omar Salgado quickly evolving from questionable No. 1 draft pick to burgeoning star.
Most MLS victories: Six, in the inaugural season last year. One more matches it.
Next: Wednesday in a Canadian Championship semifinal second leg vs. FC Edmonton (NASL), 8 p.m.; Saturday at New England, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
8. HOUSTON DYNAMO (2-2-2, 8 points), LW: 9
Week 9: Idle.
Latest: BBVA Compass Stadium getting raves ahead of this weekend's opener, but Dynamo first have to conclude nine-game “road trip.”
Most MLS victories: 15, in 2007, the second title season.
Next: Wednesday at New York, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday vs. D.C. United, 1:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network); Tuesday vs. Portland, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
9. COLORADO RAPIDS (5-5-0, 15 points), LW: 8
Week 9: Jaime Castrillon's goal not enough in 2-1 loss at New England, but he and Martin Rivero finish in 2-0 win at nine-man FC Dallas.
Latest: Omar Cummings (ankle) and Marvell Wynne (hamstring) could miss the next three games.
Most MLS victories: 20, in 1999. Six were via shootout; 14 on-field wins matched 1998 total.
Next: Wednesday, May 16, at D.C. United, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
10. CHICAGO FIRE (3-2-2, 11 points), LW: 12
Week 9: Austin Berry makes up for PK with volley for equalizer, and Marco Pappa takes charge in stoppage for 2-1 win at Chivas USA.
Latest: C.J. Brown to join Bob Bradley, Peter Nowak, Frank Klopas, Chris Armas, Lubos Kubik and former president/GM Peter Wilt in club's Ring of Fire.
Most MLS victories: 20, en route to the MLS Cup title in 1998, the club's first season. Two came through shootout, and the 18 won on the field also is the club best.
Next: Wednesday vs. Real Salt Lake, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday vs. Sporting Kansas City, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
11. FC DALLAS (3-4-3, 12 points), LW: 11
Week 9: Red cards two minutes apart to Daniel Hernandez and Blas Perez costly in 2-0 loss to Colorado.
Latest: Concussion symptoms sideline Ugo Ihemelu vs. Seattle.
Most MLS victories: 19, in 1999, three by shootout. The Hoops also won 16 in 2006.
Next: Wednesday vs. Seattle, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Saturday at Columbus, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
12. GALAXY (3-4-1, 10 points), LW: 7
Week 9: Offense remains absent in 2-0 loss at Seattle, 1-0 defeat at home against New York.
Latest: L.A. has lost four of seven games at HDC while surrendering a dozen goals.
Most MLS victories: 24, in 1998. Only two of them came through a shootout.
Next: Saturday at Montreal, 1 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22).
13. MONTREAL IMPACT (3-5-2, 11 points), LW: 18
Week 9: Impact get little for their dominance in 0-0 draw with Toronto FC in Canadian Championship opener, get goals from Felipe Martins and Patrice Bernier in 2-0 upset at Sporting Kansas City.
Latest: Nelson Rivas makes an instant impact for Montreal, which is chasing Marco Di Vaio, who announced he's leaving Bologna and has an MLS offer.
Most MLS victories: Well, they've got three so far.
Next: Wednesday in a Canadian Championship second leg at Toronto FC, 5 p.m.; Saturday vs. Galaxy, 1 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22).
14. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (3-6-0, 9 points), LW: 17
Week 9: Fernando Cardenas' stunner beats Colorado as Mission Viejo's Matt Reis notches career win No. 11, early lead doesn't hold in 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake.
Latest: Cardenas' red card vs. RSL is overturned, correctly, on appeal, setting a precedent under MLS's new guidelines.
Most MLS victories: 17, in 2005, when they lost to the Galaxy in the title game for the second time.
Next: Saturday vs. Vancouver, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
15. PHILADELPHIA UNION (2-5-1, 7 points), LW: 13
Week 9: Philly offers little attack in 1-0 loss at Seattle.
Latest: Summer friendlies get an early start, with youngsters taking on German giant Schalke.
Most MLS victories: 11, last year, making the playoffs in year two.
Next: Wednesday in friendly vs. Schalke 04 (Germany), 4:30 p.m.; Sunday vs. New York, 9:30 a.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes).
16. COLUMBUS CREW (2-4-2, 8 points), LW: 14
Week 9: Winless streak hits five with scoreless draw at Portland.
Latest: Riverside's Chad Marshall sits after taking a ball in the head in training, worrisome given his concussion history.
Most MLS victories: 19, in 1999, but six of those were by shootout. The 2008 MLS Cup champs won 17.
Next: Saturday vs. FC Dallas, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
17. CHIVAS USA (3-6-0, 9 points), LW: 15
Week 9: Juan Pablo Angel converts a penalty kick, but Chivas drops to 0-5 at home with 2-1 loss to Chicago.
Latest: Goats' greatest need: A speedy difference-maker.
Most MLS victories: 15, in 2007, Preki's first season. The Goats won the Western Conference regular-season title.
Next: Sunday at San Jose, 4 p.m. (Galavision).
18. PORTLAND TIMBERS (2-5-2, 8 points), LW: 16
Week 9: Timbers shut out again in 0-0 draw with Columbus.
Latest: Futty Danso's return from a broken foot brings a presence to Timbers' backline, which included captain Jack Jewsbury at right back vs. Crew.
Most MLS victories: 11, in their inaugural season last year.
Next: Tuesday at Houston, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
19. TORONTO FC (0-8-0, 0 points), LW: 19
Week 9: Reds get off just one shot but manage a 0-0 Canadian Championship draw at Montreal, then eclipse MLS record for worst start with 2-0 loss to D.C. United.
Latest: One win in 13 games, and that back in March against the Galaxy in CONCACAF Champions League play, and two defeats from tying RSL's record losing streak. “It really does feel like a nightmare,” midfielder Eric Avila says. “It’s really hard. After the game you just want to go and cry and hide.”
Most MLS victories: 10, in 2009, finishing just below .500 (10-11-9).
Next: Wednesday in a Canadian Championship semifinal second leg vs. Montreal, 5 p.m.; Saturday, May 19 at D.C. United, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).
All times Pacific