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The Money Shot: top clubs in this week’s MLS Weekly rankings

Apr 24, 2012, 1:05 PM EDT

2011 MLS Cup - Houston Dynamo Training Session Getty Images

6. Vancouver Whitecaps – Camilo’s sweet, curling ball made the difference, although the Whitecaps backed off from the accelerator way too early in the 1-0 home win over Dallas. So it’s tough to say if Martin Rennie’s lineup changes made a big difference, especially the interesting move to start Omar Salgado (whom everyone assumed was being developed as a target striker) out to the left wing.

5. Seattle Sounders – Mauro Rosales got into the Sounders most recent reserve game, so his potential return this week at Chicago might punch up Seattle’s flat attack. Sigi Schmid’s team has just one goal in three games. By the way, things are about to get seriously busy; the Sounders play nine matches over 32 days starting this weekend.

4. Real Salt Lake – A mid-week trip into Dallas without suspended starters Jamison Olave and Fabian Espindola is hardly ideal. But if Jason Kreis’ men, still presumably steaming from Olave’s iffy red card Saturday, can deal with matters in Texas, a better opportunity awaits for taking out frustration, as battered and bungling Toronto FC travels West to Rio Tinto this weekend.

3. San Jose Earthquakes – No Marvin Chavez, no Victor Bernardez, no Shea Salinas? No problem. They claimed all the points in a 3-1 win at Buck Shaw. Yes, Real Salt Lake was reduced to nine men by the end, but the Earthquakes found a way to goal and now find themselves atop the Western Conference. Besides, what’s to say the Earthquakes would not have won Saturday with the teams at even strength?

2. Houston Dynamo – Brian Ching (pictured) is into his 10th season of scoring important goals for this franchise. The veteran striker worked his way into the right spot yet again, equalizing late for a Dynamo team that keeps ticking off the points on the road. Up next: Match No. 6 in the long road adventure to open 2012. This time the Orange bus heads to D.C. to face longtime Dynamo midfield force Dwayne De Rosario. (RFK Stadium, site of Saturday’s game, is where Houston won its last MLS Cup, but the way, back in 2007.)

1. Sporting Kansas City – The high-spirited men and women of the Cauldron at Livestrong Sporting Park won’t be happy that Portland upset the perfect-mark apple cart late Saturday night along the coast. Then again, a split of two road matches strung closely together isn’t anything to be upset about. And it’s definitely nothing to knock SKC off its top ProSoccerTalk spot. Center back Aurelien Collin enjoyed yet another good week; Are we looking at the early frontrunner for Defender of the Year?

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