Nowhere to hide now. With teams back at full strength after a week of international friendlies, there were a handful of MLS that needed to justify their position in the top half of the Countdown.
Results were mixed.
1. New York Red Bulls (1) - Somehow had another week off. The Red Bulls look good. Can't say so much for the schedulers..
2. Vancouver Whitecaps (4) - It felt like the Whitecaps had been living on borrowed time the previous three weeks with last-minute victories over Chicago, Orlando City, and Portland. Saturday’s 2-0 drubbing of LA Galaxy is proof of life, however, leaving Vancouver not far from the top spot.
3. Seattle Sounders (3) - The result itself against a poor Houston team wasn’t inspiring, but the return of Ozzie Alonso is. As for Saturday’s underwhelming performance, it is mostly explained by a Gonzalo Pineda red card. Sunday’s visit to the Stub Hub Center will give us a little bit better look of where the Sounders are right now.
4. D.C. United (5) - For all their injury and suspension issues, United sits atop the East on 9 points after four games. That’s a good sign for D.C. with Fabian Espindola’s return coming closer. This weekend’s rematch with the Red Bulls will be very interesting.
5. New England Revolution (10) - They did last week what no team could do before them: beat the Colorado Rapids. The Revs are getting closer to the team we thought they were, though they probably won't be firing on all cylinders until Jermaine Jones returns. Those secondary kits, though? Ugh.
6. FC Dallas (3) - The Hoops get a little bit of a pass for falling to the Timbers without Mauro Diaz and with Blas Perez starting on the bench. Although he’s said to be nearing a return, if Diaz’s health turns into a longterm issue, the Burn will suffer.
7. Portland Timbers (12) - Good performances turned into a good result on Saturday. The road ahead is still difficult for the Timbers with Diego Valeri looking to be on the shelf for another month or so, but a win against Orlando City on Sunday would put the Timbers in a position to survive this period without their playmaker.
8. Columbus Crew (6) - The Crew face a huge test at Vancouver on Wednesday. They look the part, but only one win in three games hardly affirms their on-paper prowess.
9. Real Salt Lake (13) - One of two unbeatens in MLS, but perhaps nobody in the league has faced a more favorable early schedule than the Claret-and-Cobalt.
10. Sporting Kansas City (7) - As wins go, SKC’s triumph over Philadelphia this past weekend is as weak as you’ll find. Needing two stoppage-time goals to beat a team that barely cracked 100 passes completed? Not impressive. The Wizards look very mortal without Zusi.
11. New York City FC (14) - This week’s big off-week movers benefit mightily from stumbles above them. But now NYCFC is the envy of MLS: How much would everybody else give for a home-and-home with the Union right now?
12. LA Galaxy (9) - Lifeless in their 2-0 loss to Vancouver. This happens almost every year to the Galaxy, but there are real questions about whether they have the talent on the roster to make their normal summer move. What if Steven Gerrard is gassed when he arrives in LA? The playoffs aren’t a lock for the reigning champions.
13. Toronto FC (8) - Had the most to lose in Week Five and, with a full-strength team, they lost it. Falling to Chicago isn’t a good look.
14. Chicago Fire (16) - Signs of a pulse from Shaun Maloney suggest the Fire may not be the bottom dwellers we thought. The schedule remains favorable for the Fire in the next couple weeks, so it’s possible they’ll keep this run of form going until things get a bit hairier in May.
15. San Jose Earthquakes (11) - Remember that win in Seattle? That’s looking more and more like a fluke, as the Quakes looked awfully Quakey in falling to RSL at home.
16. Houston Dynamo (15) - Didn’t embarrass themselves in Seattle, but given their man-advantage the Dynamo also did little to prove they deserve to be outside the bottom four. Is Cubo here yet?
17. Montreal Impact (18) - Advanced to the CCL Final! That feat is all the more impressive considering the Impact’s league form still looks pretty abysmal.
18. Orlando City (17) - Another week, another stoppage-time loser. Injuries and a lack of depth up front raise serious doubts about OCSC’s finishing ability. The Lions desperately need Cyle Larin or Bryan Rochez to come into form to finish off the chances Kaka creates for them.
19. Philadelphia Union (20) - Flattered to be 19th, the Union were fortunate to go 2-1 up on SKC by way of a couple set plays, and then were horrendous in the run of play throughout the game. And now there are questions in Philly about whether Rais M'Bolhi might be finished. The only way things could be worse in the City of Brothery Love is if...
20. Colorado Rapids (19) - Six hundred (600) minutes without a goal.