- Jason Davis

Keith just posted his weekly power rankings, and you might have noticed the absence of a top ranked team. It doesn't take an Oxford don to reason out that there's no number one listed because the league's top team is just that obvious; as Jared DuBois said on the American soccer show by way of Luis Bueno, the rankings might as well be 1. Real 2. Salt and 3. Lake. That's how big the perceived gap between the Royals and the rest of the MLS appears to be.

The accepted fact that it's RSL and everyone else has me wondering what it might take to knock them off the perch. Real Salt Lake has maximum points through four games (12) enough to have them sitting top of the single table alongside Western Conference rivals LA. Except LA has played three more games than RSL, and it's going to be awhile before the Claret-and-Cobalt catch up. The league moved their weekend tilt with Philadelphia to aid in the CONCACAF Champions League Final effort, meaning they won't play another MLS match until April 30th, when they visit the Timbers in Portland. The Timbers can obviously score at home, but the good odds will be on RSL.

So what would it take to knock RSL down a notch? Keith ranked the Red Bulls number two, and while Hans Backe's club appears to be on their way up (especially if Henry keeps scoring) I'm not sure anyone believes they're within shouting distance of Real Salt Lake, even if they run off a good string of results. New York plays away to DC on Thursday. That won't be an easy match by any means.

LA at three? Okay, but Donovan is dealing with injury, Beckham is on pace for a full deck of yellow cards, and Bruce Arena's team is eminently unconvincing from week to week. LA hosts Portland, a game they should win, on Saturday, then goes to Frisco to face FC Dallas. There's really nothing they could do in those two games to make up the gap.

Honestly, I'm wasting my time talking about April anyway. RSL isn't going to lose their so-good-it's-not-even-worth-stating top ranked status this month. May doesn't look promising for usurpers either; RSL plays at home three times (I don't know if you heard this, but they don't lose at home, and of the clubs in question, none seem obvious candidates to break the streak) and goes to Dallas. That looked like a tough task when the season started, but as we've seen to this point, FCD has taken a step back. There's going to be payback on RSL's mind after last year's playoff disappointment as well.

Finally, I'm to the point. A scan of the schedule and of the rest of the league, while considering even a less-than-stellar stretch for RSL in the future doesn't portend any change at the top. Keith's statement - that RSL is beyond reproach as the number one team in everyone's power rankings - could be extended to this very possible bit of reality: no one is going to get close, at least not any time soon. If RSL can go to New England (who, while not great, is still a reasonably difficult MLS team to beat at home) and win with a second-choice lineup, what's to keep them from running roughshod over everyone into the dog days of the summer? They don't lose at home. After next week, they won't have the CCL to distract them (though the Open Cup is still out there, but it's hard to imagine RSL will sweat much with their depth). In other words, if RSL is top of the rankings now by measure of whole ladders and not mere rungs, why wouldn't they remain at the top for...well...a really, really long time?

Question time: What would it take for someone to knock RSL off the top spot? How long will Mr. Hickey be starting his rankings at #2?

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