MLS Power Rankings: Ch-ch-ch-changes

Peter Nowak, who won an MLS Cup as a player in 1998, was fired as Philadelphia coach on Wednesday. Mike Stobe/Getty Images/New York Red Bulls

The first coaching changes of the Major League Soccer have come down, neither all that surprising, although one of them is disappointing.

Philadelphia on Wednesday cut ties with Peter Nowak, who took the Union to the playoffs in year two, then dismantled the team piece by piece, infuriating the club's supporters and puzzling the youngsters on the roster.

Nowak, a Polish star who captained Chicago to the 1998 MLS Cup title, coached D.C. to the 2004 crown, served as Bob Bradley's chief assistant with the U.S. national team and guided the U.S. men at the Beijing Olympics four years ago, had dumped fan favorites Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Califf, then last week traded Danny Mwanga -- which the club took with the first pick in its first collegiate draft -- to Portland for Jorge Perlaza, a deal that made a lot of sense tactically.

The other moves, not so much, but the furor had become deafening. Assistant coach John Hackworth steps in as interim coach.

Toronto FC last week made the first change of the year, dismissing former Dutch superstar Aron Winter and giving the reins to director of player development Paul Mariner, the former English star and New England assistant coach. Mariner's first move was to simplify things, dumping Winter's 4-3-3 formation for a traditional 4-4-2.

Winter was ousted after the Reds lost their first nine league games, a mystifying run given the quality in the team. TFC has never been close to a success, but Winter in the past year had brought it to respectability, and many observers -- here, too -- predicted playoffs, especially after the CONCACAF Champions League triumph over the Galaxy. He delivered in the Canadian Championship, guiding the Reds to their fourth straight title and another Champions League berth.

Winter was the victim of circumstances and a management group that has repeatedly made poor decisions, at least until hiring Winter. We would have given him the rest of the season. Nowak? The right move.

Who's next to go? Chivas USA fans were out for Robin Fraser's head earlier this season, but he's going nowhere -- and Goats supporters should be very happy about that. Chivas is going to be very, very good soon.

Toronto had the worst record (1-9-0) in MLS, and Philly's (2-7-2) was No. 2. After that, it's the Galaxy (3-8-2). Should Bruce Arena be worried? We don't believe so, but L.A. has made five of its six head-coaching dismissals (or, in the parlance, agreed mutually to part ways) in midseason. Only two off those fired (Lothar Osiander in 1997 and Steve Sampson in 2006) had worse records than the Galaxy's current mark.

Here are this week's power rankings:

1. REAL SALT LAKE (9-3-2, 29 points), Last Week: 1

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: Alvaro Saborio's hat trick for Costa Rica has him brimming with confidence for Chivas USA clash.

On the All-Star ballot: G Nick Rimando, D Nat Borchers, D Jamison Olave, M Kyle Beckerman, F Alvaro Saborio, F Fabian Espindola.

Next: Saturday vs. Chivas USA at Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket and KWHY/Channel 22); Wednesday, June 20, vs. Galaxy, 6 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22).

2. NEW YORK RED BULLS (8-3-2, 26 points), LW: 2

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: Thierry Henry back on the mend, missing training with a calf injury. Joel Lindpere and Rafa Marquez return from international duty with knocks.

On the All-Star ballot: G Ryan Meara, D Heath Pearce, M Joel Lindpere, M Dane Richards, F Thierry Henry, F Kenny Cooper.

Next: Sunday at Chicago, 2 p.m. (NBC Sports Network); Wednesday, June 20, at Vancouver, 8 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

3. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (8-3-1, 25 points), LW: 3

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: Emergency appendectomy sidelines defender Matt Besler.

On the All-Star ballot: G Jimmy Nielsen, D Aurelien Collin, M Roger Espinoza, M Graham Zusi, F Kei Kamara, F C.J. Sapong.

Next: Saturday vs. Toronto FC, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, June 20, at Seattle, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

4. SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (8-3-3, 27 points), LW: 4

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: Quakes lose starting goalkeeper Jon Busch for their next game after Jon Busch is suspended a game for, yes, “aggressively retrieving a ball.” Translation: He did something wrong taking a ball from, likely, a ball boy. NBC Sports missed the incident.

On the All-Star ballot: G Jon Busch, D Steven Beitashour, M Marvin Chavez, M Rafael Baca, F Chris Wondolowski, F Steven Lenhart.

Next: Wednesday, June 20, at Colorado, 6:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

5. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (7-3-3, 24 points), LW: 5

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: Breakout star David Estrada, a UCLA product, breaks his left foot in training, is expected to miss 8 to 12 weeks.

On the All-Star ballot: G Michael Gspurning, D Jeff Parke, M Osvaldo Alonso, M Mauro Rosales, F Fredy Montero, F David Estrada.

Next: Saturday at Montreal, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, June 20, vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

6. D.C. UNITED (8-4-3, 27 points), LW: 6

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: Yorba Linda's Chris Pontius ready to return from monthlong sitdown with a gluteal injury.

On the All-Star ballot: G Bill Hamid, M Dwayne De Rosario, M Nick DeLeon, M Perry Kitchen, M Chris Pontius, F Maicon Santos.

Next: Saturday at Philadelphia, 4 p.m. (Galavision).

7. COLUMBUS CREW (5-4-3, 18 points), LW: 8

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: Huntington Beach's Mike Lapper in charge while Robert Warzycha is in his native Poland for Euro 2012.

On the All-Star ballot: G Andy Gruenebaum, D Chad Marshall, D Sebastian Miranda, M Eddie Gaven, M Milovan Mirosevic, F Emilio Renteria.

Next: Saturday at New England, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

8. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (6-3-4, 22 points), LW: 11

Week 14: Two fine goals by rookie Darren Mattocks lifts 'Caps past Houston, 3-1.

Latest: Long Tan sent home after tweeting, “You don't give me time to playing. You don't want let me go. What do you want?? I do not understand! Keep me of win PDL Champion?”

On the All-Star ballot: G Joe Cannon, D Jay DeMerit, D Lee Young-Pyo, M Davide Chiumiento, F Camilo, F Sebastien Le Toux.

Next: Saturday vs. Colorado, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, June 20, vs. New York, 8 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

9. COLORADO RAPIDS (6-6-1, 19 points), LW: 9

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: Defender Drew Moor signs a multiyear extension.

On the All-Star ballot: G Matt Pickens, D Drew Moor, M Jaime Castrillon, M Jeff Larentowicz, M Martin Rivero, F Omar Cummings.

Next: Saturday at Vancouver, 4 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, June 20, vs. San Jose, 6:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

10. HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-4, 16 points), LW: 7

Week 14: Mac Kandji halves the deficit in 3-1 loss at Vancouver.

Latest: Brian Ching makes his 200th league appearance for the Dynamo.

On the All-Star ballot: G Tally Hall, D Bobby Boswell, D Geoff Cameron, D Andre Hainault, M Brad Davis, F Will Bruin.

Next: Saturday vs. FC Dallas, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes); Wednesday, June 20, vs. Toronto FC, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

11. CHIVAS USA (4-6-3, 15 points), LW: 10

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: Ben Zemanski's return from a knee sprain boosts midfield depth. Is he MLS's most undersung player?

On the All-Star ballot: G Dan Kennedy, D James Riley, M Nick LaBrocca, M Oswaldo Minda, F Juan Pablo Angel, F Alejandro Moreno.

Next: Saturday vs. Real Salt Lake at Home Depot Center (Carson), 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket and KWHY/Channel 22); Wednesday, June 20, vs. Montreal at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket).

12. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (5-7-1, 16 points), LW: 12

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: Sainey Nyassi sees his first action in four months during reserve match, almost ready to return.

On the All-Star ballot: G Matt Reis, D A.J. Soares, M Benny Feilhaber, M Shalrie Joseph, M Lee Nguyen, F Saƫr Sene.

Next: Saturday vs. Columbus, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

13. CHICAGO FIRE (5-5-3, 18 points), LW: 13

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: Bridgeview homeowners suffer from weight of Toyota Park debt.

On the All-Star ballot: G Sean Johnson, D Gonzalo Segares, M Sebastian Grazzini, M Marco Pappa, M Pavel Pardo, F Dominic Oduro.

Next: Sunday vs. New York, 2 p.m. (NBC Sports Network).

14. MONTREAL IMPACT (3-7-3, 12 points), LW: 14

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: Marco di Vaio trains with Impact for the first time, then returns to Italy to testify in the match-fixing investigation. He is not under suspicion in the latest calcio scandal.

On the All-Star ballot: G Donovan Ricketts, D Matteo Ferrari, D Nelson Rivas, M Davy Arnaud, M Felipe Martins, F Bernardo Corradi.

Next: Saturday vs. Seattle, 4:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, June 20, vs. Chivas USA at Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m. (Prime Ticket).

15. PORTLAND TIMBERS (3-5-4, 13 points), LW: 15

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: Owner Merritt Paulson admits trading Jorge Perlaza away hit home -- he was “my mom's favorite Timbers player,” he tweeted -- but Danny Mwanga ought to be a better fit with Portland's game.

On the All-Star ballot: G Troy Perkins, D Eric Brunner, M Diego Chara, M Jack Jewsbury, F Kris Boyd, F Darlington Nagbe.

Next: Saturday vs. Galaxy at Home Depot Center, 4 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22).

16. GALAXY (3-8-2, 11 points), LW: 16

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: How important in Josh Saunders' return? Galaxy won in his last game before entering MLS's SABH program, went 0-6-3 across all competitions without him, won in his first two games back (Reserve League triumphs at Portland and Vancouver).

On the All-Star ballot: G Josh Saunders, D Todd Dunivant, M David Beckham, M Landon Donovan, M Juninho, F Robbie Keane.

Next: Saturday vs. Portland at Home Depot Center, 4 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22); Wednesday, June 20, at Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m. (KDOC/Channel 56 and KWHY/Channel 22).

17. FC DALLAS (3-8-4, 13 points), LW: 17

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: Ricardo Villar returns to full training after two months off with a foot injury, but Brek Shea and David Ferreira aren't to that point yet, and Blas Perez is hospitalized while playing for Panama.

On the All-Star ballot: G Kevin Hartman, D George John, D Ugo Ihemelu, M Brek Shea, M Daniel Hernandez, F Blas Perez.

Next: Saturday at Houston, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes).

18. PHILADELPHIA UNION (2-7-2, 8 points), LW: 18

Week 14: Chandler Hoffman and Jack McInerney score in a 3-2 friendly win at PDL side Reading United AC; Jorge Perlaza gets his first Union goal in a 3-2 loss a friendly at Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL Pro, like Reading a Union affiliate.

Latest: Decision to dump Peter Nowak has nothing to do with trading away club leaders and fan favorites but rather philosophical differences, brass says.

On the All-Star ballot: G Zac MacMath, D Carlos Valdes, D Sheanon Williams, M Freddy Adu, M Gabriel Gomez, F Lionard Pajoy.

Next: Saturday vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m. (Galavision).

19. TORONTO FC (1-9-0, 3 points), LW: 19

Week 14: Idle.

Latest: Aron Winter is out, Paul Mariner is in. Reds believed a move had to be made, waited until Winter won -- but the real problem is in the MLS&E front office.

On the All-Star ballot: G Milos Kocic, D Ashtone Morgan, M Torsten Frings, F Danny Koevermans, F Ryan Johnson, F Joao Plata.

Next: Saturday vs. Toronto FC, 5:30 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick); Wednesday, June 20, at Houston, 6 p.m. (MLS Direct Kick).

All times Pacific