With Real Salt Lake holding down the top spot of the Major League Soccer table while the league is idle due to the international qualifying window, it might be a good time to take a look around the league as the season approaches its official mid-point.
While several familiar faces are in expected positions, a handful of sides are in unfamiliar territory.
Perhaps no team has been more disappointing than defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles, with the Galaxy sunk to the bottom of the Western Conference table after winning the last two Supporter's Shields.
Los Angeles has been contending with injuries and absences, but the Galaxy's stunning fall from champions to an eight-match winless streak (L.A. has not gained a full result since a 2-1 win over Colorado on April 21) has been shocking.
Another team in shockingly poor form through the first portion of the season has been FC Dallas. The 2010 MLS Cup runners-up have also been hampered with injuries, as well as a three-match suspension of forward Brek Shea. Still, the Hoops are on a nine-match winless skid and haven't achieved victory since April 14 when they topped league newcomer Montreal 2-1 at FC Dallas Stadium.
Speaking of the Impact, Montreal has shaken off a dire opening to ring up 12 points in its first 13 matches, and sits in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, ahead of slumping Philadelphia and Toronto.
An argument could also be made that Real's top-of-the-table position is in itself surprising. After all, despite all the talk of the Claret-and-Cobalt's solid core of players, it's so-called first choice XI have barely played together this season, combining for just 59 minutes of total pitch time during the season's first 14 matches.
Despite it all, RSL has clawed its way to a 9-3-2 record, the best start in franchise history, and 29 points. Only one team in the league, Sporting Kansas City, has enough matches in hand on the Lions to catch them on even footing.
With the MLS set to return in full force this weekend, here is a quick look at where the league's top five stack up:
1. Real Salt Lake (9-3-2): Wins in recent weeks have hardly been pretty, but results and points count for more than style.
2. New York (8-3-2): Red Bulls have shaken off a key injury to Thierry Henry and are surging in the crowd of the East.
3. D.C. United (8-4-3): United has clicked in recent weeks and carries wins in four of its past five outings, with only a 1-0 road setback at Houston to break the streak.
4. Seattle (7-3-3): The Sounders, despite a bit of a flop heading into the break, boast the best defense in the MLS, and have yet to lose on the road (2-0-3).
5. Sporting Kansas City (8-3-1): Home result against San Jose to just prior to the break ended a four-match winless skid for Kansas City, which started the season 7-0-0.
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