Heading into an international break, several teams made major statements as the MLS playoff race intensifies
The Philadelphia Union were the week’s big winners with a six-point week. Meanwhile, D.C. United continued up to reassert their status as contenders as they tied the Montreal Impact on Wednesday before traveling home to secure a 6-2 rout of the Chicago Fire on Saturday. The results see them seize the sixth and final playoff spot in the East. The conference leaders, Toronto FC, suffered a shock defeat, falling to the 10-man Impact over the weekend.
The Western Conference action was headlined by part two of a Cascadia rivalry as the Portland Timbers avenged their loss to the Seattle Sounders last week by claiming a 4-2 victory in Portland.
Here’s a closer look at this week’s SBI MLS Power Rankings:
SBI MLS Power Rankings (Week 26)
1. (Last week-1) FC DALLAS (14-7-6)
LAST WEEK: Tied Real Esteli, 1-1, on Wednesday (CCL), Beat Houston Dynamo, 3-1, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: vs. Portland Timbers on Saturday
OUTLOOK: FC Dallas covered a ton of ground this week as they opened their action in a CCL match in Nicaragua against Real Esteli. After securing the draw in that match, they traveled back to Texas to take on the Houston Dynamo. Though the Dynamo would seize an early lead, Mauro Diaz would convert a penalty and Michael Barrios would back him up with a brace to secure the 3-1 FCD victory.
2. (6) NEW YORK RED BULLS (11-9-7)
LAST WEEK: Beat New England Revolution, 1-0, on Sunday
THIS WEEK: at Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday
OUTLOOK: Another home match, another home win for the New York Red Bulls. Bradley Wright-Phillips elevated himself to 16 goals on the year, tied for the Golden Boot lead, as he banged in a rebounded Alex Muyl shot to record the only goal of the match. The win gives the Red Bulls their 10th home win of the year, best in MLS, and sees them maintain their place among the Eastern conference elite. They’ll face a challenge this week as they travel on the road to visit the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Red Bulls will have to work out their road woes to continue their winning ways, as they’ve only recorded one road victory this year.
3. (7) REAL SALT LAKE (12-8-7)
LAST WEEK: Beat Colorado Rapids, 2-1, on Friday
THIS WEEK: BYE
OUTLOOK: Real Salt Lake continues their assault on the top of the Western Conference. A week after ascending to third in the conference, they took second place over the weekend with a strong 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids. Shkelzen Gashi gave the visitors the lead early in Friday’s match, but a brace from Yura Movsisyan was enough to overcome the deficit and leave RSL victorious. It could’ve been much worse as RSL had two penalties late in the match that were missed wide and saved by Tim Howard respectively. Still, Real Salt Lake won’t be complaining, as the win puts them in great position as teams enter the stretch run of the season.
4. (2) COLORADO RAPIDS (11-4-10)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Real Salt Lake, 2-1, on Friday
THIS WEEK: at New England Revolution on Saturday
OUTLOOK: The Colorado Rapids were fortunate to play only a single match last week, but couldn’t keep pace with FC Dallas as they fell to Real Salt Lake, 2-1, in Friday’s lone match. Shkelzen Gashi put the Rapids ahead after only five minutes, but the visitors couldn’t hold on as they were buried by a Yura Movsisyan brace. It could’ve been even worse, but RSL’s two second-half penalties were left wanting as the first went wide and Tim Howard stepped up to save the second.
5. (3) TORONTO FC (12-8-7)
LAST WEEK: Beat Orlando City SC, 2-1, on Wednesday; lost to Montreal Impact, 1-0, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: BYE
OUTLOOK: It was a mixed bag for the Eastern conference leaders last week. On Wednesday they secured their ascendance to the top in a 2-1 victory over Orlando City, catapulting them into first place over New York City FC. Saturday was a much different story as they fell to the 10-man Montreal Impact due to an Ignacio Piatti goal, leaving the door open for NYCFC to seize back the East. Luckily for TFC, Orlando City defeated their Eastern conference rivals, keeping them on top of the East for another week.
6. (4) NEW YORK CITY FC (11-8-8)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Orlando City SC, 2-1, on Sunday
THIS WEEK: vs. DC United on Thursday
OUTLOOK: New York City FC found themselves on the receiving end of a milestone on Sunday, as Kaka recorded his first MLS brace against the visitors to secure a 2-1 victory for Orlando City. Kaka streaked past Jefferson Mena and knocked in his own rebound to put the Lions up 1-0 early. Steven Mendoza answered back in the 55th minute by finishing a Frank Lampard rebound to even the score, but Orlando City would find the lead for good in the 63rd minute as Maxime Chanot gave away a penalty that Kaka converted to earn three points for his side. NYCFC sits in second behind Toronto FC among the Eastern conference leaders and continues their quest for the playoffs this Thursday against D.C. United.
7. (5) LA GALAXY (9-4-13)
LAST WEEK: Tied Chicago Fire, 2-2, on Wednesday; tied Vancouver Whitecaps, 0-0, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: vs. Columbus Crew on Saturday
OUTLOOK: The LA Galaxy had an opportunity to seize a set of crucial playoff points with winnable matches on Wednesday and Saturday, but failed to capitalize either opportunity as they could only record two draws in their action. A second-half Giovanni dos Santos goal allowed the Galaxy to come back against the Chicago Fire and secure a point on the road. The Galaxy pressed hard and dominated possession and most other measurables against the Vancouver Whitecaps, but were stymied by the visitors staunch defensive efforts and neither team could get on the board. Bruce Arena will have to wait until this weekend to seek his 200th victory and will have to do so without Gyasi Zardes, who will miss the rest of the season with a broken foot.
8. (11) PHILADELPHIA UNION (11-9-7)
LAST WEEK: Beat Columbus Crew, 2-1, on Wednesday; beat Sporting Kansas City, 2-0, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: at Chicago Fire on Saturday
OUTLOOK: The Philadelphia Union had one of the best weeks of all, earning six out of six points via a midweek victory over the Columbus Crew and a weekend win over Sporting Kansas City. A Crew goal squeezed between two Union goals, one from each of the Union’s star rookies Fabian Herbers and Keegan Rosenberry, wasn’t enough to overcome the visitors as they returned home with three points. It’s the third win on the road for the Union, with two of those coming against the Crew. The Union then returned home to face Western Conference playoff contenders Sporting Kansas City and completed their weekly sweep. Roland Alberg and Tranquillo Barnetta provided the goals for the Union as they dominated their opponents throughout the match. The two wins put the Union right in the thick of the Eastern conference race, just three points off leaders Toronto FC.
9. (10) MONTREAL IMPACT (9-7-10)
LAST WEEK: Tied D.C. United, 1-1, on Wednesday; beat Toronto FC, 1-0, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: BYE
OUTLOOK: It was a solid week for the Montreal Impact. A draw against D.C. United in the midweek match maintained their five point cushion over the final playoff spot in the East. The hosts had to battle back against DCU after a Lamar Neagle penalty gave the visitors the lead, but constant pressure from the Impact eventually led to Hassoun Camara leveling the scoreline in the 77th minute. The weekend saw the Impact put a halt to rivals Toronto FC’s hot streak with a surprise 1-0 victory. Reduced to 10 men shortly after halftime because of a midfield altercation, the Impact managed to snatch a 73rd minute goal courtesy of Ignacio Piatti and hang on for the win. They now find themselves six points off the top spot in the East with a match in hand over all teams above them.
10. (13) PORTLAND TIMBERS (9-10-8)
LAST WEEK: Beat Seattle Sounders, 4-2, on Sunday
THIS WEEK: at FC Dallas on Saturday
OUTLOOK: The Portland Timbers had an opportunity to make up for their dreadful 3-1 defeat last week at the hands of the Seattle Sounders, and did so in a 4-2 thrashing of their rivals this Sunday in the rematch. Four goals from four players capped off the best half of soccer the Timbers have played this season and proved enough to hold off two later Sounders goals for a nice victory. The win sees the Timbers hold that last playoff spot in the West and extend their lead to three points over the San Jose Earthquakes. They’ll need those points as they travel to Texas to take on Supporters’ Shield leaders FC Dallas this weekend.
11. (9) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (11-12-5)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Vancouver Whitecaps, 3-0, on Tuesday (CCL), lost to Philadelphia Union, 2-0, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: BYE
OUTLOOK: If the Philadelphia Union had one of the best weeks, Sporting Kansas City had one of the worst. They faced off against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Tuesday in CCL play, just three days after defeating them in MLS action the previous weekend. The result couldn’t have been more different, as the Whitecaps thrashed the visitors while seizing control of their CCL group and putting Sporting KC in a pressured situation to advance. It didn’t get any better on Saturday, as Sporting KC traveled to play the Philadelphia Union and held their own until Jimmy Medranda was sent off in the 59th minute. The Union went on to score two goals and secure Sporting KC’s second loss of the week.
12. (8) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (9-13-4)
LAST WEEK: Tied Houston Dynamo, 1-1, on Wednesday; Lost to Portland Timbers, 4-2, on Sunday
THIS WEEK: BYE
OUTLOOK: The Seattle Sounders can thank their lucky stars that they escaped this week with a point from two matches. Were it not for Nicolas Lodeiro’s last-gasp heroics, the Sounders would’ve dropped both matches this weekend. Instead, they managed to eek out a last second draw from the Dynamo in Houston before travelling to face their Cascadia rivals on Sunday. There, the Timbers avenged their defeat last week at the hands of the Sounders by clobbering the visitorsm 4-2. The Sounders found themselves beaten down to a 4-0 disadvantage at halftime as Vytautas Andriuskevicius, Fanendo Adi, Lucas Melano, and Steven Taylor all scored for the Timbers in the first 45 minutes. Andreas Ivanschitz and Jordan Morris managed to snatch two back for the Sounders in the second half, both assisted by Lodeiro, but it wasn’t enough to recover and the visitors fell badly.
13. (14) D.C. UNITED (7-8-11)
LAST WEEK: Tied Montreal Impact, 1-1, on Wednesday; beat Chicago Fire, 6-2, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: at New York City FC on Thursday
OUTLOOK: D.C. United continued their hot form over their double-gameweek. A draw against the Montreal Impact on Wednesday provided a crucial point as their rivals for the sixth playoff spot in the East, Orlando City, lost in Wednesday’s action. DCU couldn’t hold an early lead, but did good to maintain a draw through heavy pressure from the Impact. The weekend proved more fruitful, as they traveled back home and absolutely thrashed the visiting Chicago Fire by a scoreline of 6-2 behind a hat trick from the in-form Patrick Mullins. Four points from six possible sees DCU take sole possession over the sixth and final slot as they bring Mullins north to face his former team in New York City FC on Thursday night.
14. (15) ORLANDO CITY (6-7-13)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Toronto FC, 2-1, on Wednesday; beat New York City FC, 2-1, on Sunday
THIS WEEK: BYE
OUTLOOK: It was a mixed bag of a week for Orlando City against very tough Eastern conference competition. The Lions opened the week on Wednesday by nearly snatching a point from leaders Toronto FC before Jozy Altidore scored late to secure a victory for the visitors. They redeemed themselves on Sunday, however, as second place New York City FC came to town and Kaka stepped up with a brace to secure a 2-1 victory. Unfortunately for the Lions, D.C. United drew and won during the week. They’re still in the playoff hunt though, and the win on Sunday could help begin a push.
15. (12) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (7-8-11)
LAST WEEK: Tied New England Revolution, 0-0, on Wednesday, lost to Columbus Crew, 2-0, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: BYE
OUTLOOK: With their primary playoff competition facing off against one another (Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers), the Earthquakes had a great chance to seize momentum and make their own case against two weak Eastern Conference opponents. Instead, the New England Revolution managed to steal a point at the Avaya Stadium as the Earthquakes and Revolution couldn’t make the most of their opportunities. The Quakes then traveled to the midwest to face the Columbus Crew, sitting in next to last place in the Eastern conference, and were soundly defeated as Ethan Finlay and Justin Meram scored for the hosts. The Earthquakes now face a difficult battle as they sit in seventh place, three points behind the Portland Timbers.
16. (16) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (8-12-7)
LAST WEEK: beat Sporting Kansas City, 3-0, on Tuesday (CCL), tied LA Galaxy, 0-0, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: vs. New York Red Bulls on Saturday
OUTLOOK: The Vancouver Whitecaps made the most of their rematch against Sporting Kansas City. Just three days after losing to their Western Conference foes in MLS play, the Whitecaps dominated their opponents in a Tuesday night CCL, match led by a brace from Cristian Techera. They also performed well on Saturday night, as they traveled to face the LA Galaxy, who are undefeated at home this season. The Whitecaps came close to a breakthrough goal as an Erik Hurtado header rang the crossbar, but the visitors largely played great defense in holding off the Galaxy for a 0-0 draw.
17. (19) COLUMBUS CREW (5-9-11)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Philadelphia Union, 2-1, on Wednesday, beat San Jose Earthquakes, 2-0 on Saturday
THIS WEEK: at LA Galaxy on Saturday
OUTLOOK: It was an up-and-down home stand for the Columbus Crew. The Philadelphia Union came to town first and struck first as well, taking a 1-0 lead in the second half of the Wednesday match. The Crew would level the score in the 73rd minute, but the Union would get a second just a minute later to snatch a 2-1 victory for the visitors. The second home match went more to plan as the Earthquakes came to town and Ethan Finlay and Justin Meram provided the scoring in a 2-0 Crew victory. They remain at ninth in the East, six points off the final playoff spot.
18. (17) HOUSTON DYNAMO (5-11-10)
LAST WEEK: Tied Seattle Sounders, 1-1, on Wednesday; Lost to FC Dallas, 3-1, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: OFF
OUTLOOK: The Houston Dynamo couldn’t escape the cellar this week no matter their results, but the results certainly didn’t help. The Dynamo were just moments away from a victory over the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday before Nicolas Lodeiro somehow found himself alone in the box on a corner to snatch a point away for the visitors. That sting lingered as league-leaders FC Dallas came to town and had their way in an easy 3-1 victory led by a Michael Barrios brace. The Dynamo find themselves 10 points back of the playoff line with only eight left to play, bad prospects in a bad season.
19. (20) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (6-12-9)
LAST WEEK: Tied San Jose Earthquakes, 0-0, on Wednesday; Lost to New York Red Bulls, 1-0, on Sunday
THIS WEEK: vs. Colorado Rapids on Saturday
OUTLOOK: The recent poor run of form continues for the Revolution. While a draw against the Earthquakes at Avaya Staidum isn’t an awful result on an island, in the context of a six-match winless streak, it stings. Not helping was the subsequent loss on Sunday against the Red Bulls, who rode a Bradley Wright-Phillips goal to a solid 1-0 victory. The results see the Revs drop five points below the playoff line with the two teams above them having a match in hand. The road doesn’t get any easier this week as the Colorado Rapids come to town while the Revs look to banish their home woes.
20. (18) CHICAGO FIRE (5-12-8)
LAST WEEK: Tied LA Galaxy, 2-2, on Wednesday; Lost to DC United, 6-2, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: vs. Philadelphia Union on Saturday
OUTLOOK: The Chicago Fire came into the week’s matches riding the high of having snapped their road winless streak against the Montreal Impact last week, but this week wouldn’t prove as kind. After valiantly battling the LA Galaxy to a 2-2 draw, it was time to go on the road once more as they traveled to D.C. United. There it was the same old story, as a red card and Patrick Mullins hat trick led the way to a stunning 6-2 defeat. It was another low point in what has been a difficult season for the Fire and now they face the Philadelphia Union in a difficult Saturday match.
What do you think of the SBI MLS Power Rankings? Which teams do you see being ranked too highly? Who didn’t get enough respect?
Share your thoughts below.