Sometimes I like to play the guessing game: Where will media outlets rank the Red Bulls this
week? Personally I couldn't see how the first place team in the Eastern Conference could rank any lower than No. 5, but was more than open to the possibility of them ranking even higher than that.
Two wins in one week, coupled with the Red Bulls' current four-game win streak, should be enough to raise a few eyebrows and, ultimately, the team a few spots in the power rankings. Right?
That is definitely the case as you look across the board at MLS, Soccer By Ives, ESPN and Sports Illustrated rankings.
Let's kick things off with MLSsoccer.com
, who last week placed the Red Bulls at No. 7 but now promote them to No. 4:
Four wins in a row, mostly done without Thierry Henry. You're lying if you said you thought that was possible. Now what remains to be seen is how Hans Backe can work Rafa Márquez back into the mix. It's worth noting that when he came back, the shutout streak ended.
(Editor's Note: While I appreciate the League's assumption that the Red Bulls can maintain an endless shutout streak, the soccer fan in me accepts the reality of it all and knows that is impossible for any club. While no one would like to see a shutout streak come to an end, they failed to look at Marquez's instrumental play on what amounted to the match's game-winning goal
; a pivotal one that helped improve New York's win streak to four straight.)
Soccer By Ives ranked the Red Bulls at the same spot as MLS
after also positioning them at No. 7 in last week's rankings:
After grinding out a 1-0 win over Houston, the Red Bulls traveled down Interstate 95 and dropped Philadelphia in a 3-2 shootout. Two games, two distinctly different wins. The common denominator? Kenny Cooper, who just keeps scoring goals -- even without Thierry Henry in the lineup.
Keeping with the trend, Sports Illustrated (who, similar to MLS and SBI, ranked the Red Bulls at No. 7 last week) ripped a page out of the same rankings book and placed the Red Bulls at...No. 4
Somehow, this team is looking down on the rest of the Eastern Conference. As more players become available off the extensive injured list, Hans Backe's personnel decisions become even more important considering how well the club's unheralded lineup has done.
ESPN may be a bit more critical in its commentary, but the New York makes a jump from No. 9 to No. 4 this week
Rafa Marquez returned to the lineup against Philly, and while possession was better, the defense was worse. It still proved a winning formula, as the Red Bulls won their fourth in a row by beating 10-man Philadelphia 3-2.
So there you have it. According to each and every Power Rankings page included in this list, the same ones we've been running with since Week 1, the Red Bulls rank exactly at the No. 4 spot across all of them.
What do you think about this week's rankings? Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts below.