In a week that only saw one of the league’s top-rated teams suffer a loss, the real moving and shaking in the latest SBI MLS Power Rankings takes place on the lower end of the table.
The Columbus Crew are the big movers, coming off an impressive win against previously red-hot New England. In last place in the rankings earlier this month, the Crew are suddenly creeping back into the playoff picture and playing more like the team that reached last year’s MLS Cup final.
The LA Galaxy took a slight tumble in the rankings after their 4-2 loss to Seattle, though they will have to chance to regain that ground with a win against top-ranked FC Dallas.
The New York Red Bulls are moved to the top of the East, and have edged closer to the top of the rankings. Unbeaten in 13 league matches, the Red Bulls are still in the hunt for the Supporters’ Shield, but will need some help from the Galaxy, who play FC Dallas twice in the coming weeks.
Here is a closer look at this week’s SBI MLS Power Rankings:
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 30)
1. (Last week-1) FC DALLAS (15-8-8)
LAST WEEK: Tied Real Salt Lake, 0-0 Saturday, beat Suchitepequez on Wednesday (CONCACAF Champions League);
THIS WEEK: vs. Suchitepequez on Wednesday (CCL), vs. LA Galaxy on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Earned a hard-fought point on the road in Utah, then booked a place in the CCL quarterfinals. Not a bad week at all. The clinched quarterfinal place means being able to focus on an extremely tough final three regular season MLS matches, two against the Galaxy and a visit from Seattle. Wouldn’t read too much into the sudden three-match winless skid in league play, not when those three matches came against top teams.
2. (5) NEW YORK RED BULLS (13-9-9)
LAST WEEK: Beat the Montreal Impact, 1-0, Saturday; tied Alianza, 0-0, on Tuesday (CONCACAF Champions League).
THIS WEEK: vs. Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The New York Red Bulls not only kept their now 13-match unbeaten streak in MLS play alive, but clinched the playoffs and moved into 1st in the East while doing so with a clean 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact. They followed up with a scoreless draw during Tuesday’s CCL match against Alianza that secures their passage through to the knockout stages. A strong week for a strong contender who seek to keep it going against the Philadelphia Union this weekend.
3. (3) TORONTO FC (13-8-9)
LAST WEEK: tied the Philadelphia Union, 1-1, Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Orlando City on Wednesday; vs. D.C. United on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Toronto FC slipped up against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday as a 1-1 draw sees them slip to 2nd in the East, even on points with both New York teams, but with a match in hand on each. TFC remain favorites in the East and will have a two-match week against Eastern conference playoff contenders Orlando City and D.C. United to prove why.
4. (2) LA GALAXY (11-5-15)
LAST WEEK: Lost, 4-2, to the Seattle Sounders on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: at FC Dallas on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: While in the context of the playoff hunt, the 4-2 thrashing suffered at the hands of the Seattle Sounders doesn’t really hurt the Galaxy, it does hurt their pursuit for a top 2 spot in the West and a first-round bye. As any fan in any sport can tell you, momentum matters a great deal when playoff time rolls around, and the Galaxy will need to bounce back from a demoralizing beating in a big way. It won’t be easy as they visit MLS leaders FC Dallas this weekend.
5. (6) NEW YORK CITY FC (13-9-9)
LAST WEEK: Beat Chicago Fire, 4-1, on Friday.
THIS WEEK: at Houston Dynamo on Friday.
OUTLOOK: With a very convincing win (and some help from their cross-river rivals), the party can begin in earnest as New York City FC clinched their first berth in the MLS playoffs in their second season. A lot remains on the line, including potentially winning the East, securing a first-round bye, and earning a CCL spot next season, and that quest continues at the Houston Dynamo on Friday.
6. (4) COLORADO RAPIDS (12-5-12)
LAST WEEK: Tied the Vancouver Whitecaps, 3-3, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Portland Timbers on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The offense finally woke up for the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, as they scored three or more goals for only the second time this season during their match against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Unfortunately for the Rapids, a stoppage time goal from Erik Hurtado pulled a point back at the death for the hosts and left the Rapids wanting. Still well in the playoff and in control of their destiny for a first-round bye (and the Supporters’ Shield actually), they’ll want to avoid that kind of disappointment against a lackluster road opponent in the Portland Timbers.
7. (7) REAL SALT LAKE (12-10-9)
LAST WEEK: Tied FC Dallas, 0-0, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Though only a scoreless draw, Real Salt Lake continue to show they can hang with the best of them as they earn a season split, 1-1-1, against arguably the best team in the league in FC Dallas. Not out of contention for a first-round bye yet, Real Salt Lake will aim to dash the San Jose Earthquakes hopes this weekend and continue their push into the playoffs on good form.
8. (9) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (11-13-5)
LAST WEEK: Beat LA Galaxy, 4-2, on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Chicago Fire on Wednesday; at Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: The Seattle Sounders, on the fringe of playoff contention in the West, needed a good result visiting the LA Galaxy on Sunday and achieved it in stunning fashion, 4-2. The victory sees them only three points behind the Portland Timbers for the final playoff spot and with two matches in hand over the Cascadia rivals. They face a weak Chicago Fire team and their competitors for that final playoff spot, the Vancouver Whitecaps, in a double-action week that could see them leap into the playoff picture.
9. (10) PHILADELPHIA UNION (11-11-9)
LAST WEEK: Tied Toronto FC, 1-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Philadelphia Union will count themselves lucky to have earned a point against the strong Toronto FC. The Union were under pressure for the vast majority of the match after Alejandro Bedoya scored his first MLS goal to give the visitors the lead, but after Justin Morrow’s equalizer, Jozy Altidore could only find the post as TFC failed to capitalize on their home turf. The Union are six back of the Eastern-conference leading triad, but will get a chance to gain a few points when they visit the New York Red Bulls this weekend.
10. (12) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (12-12-7)
LAST WEEK: beat San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at New England Revolution on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Sporting Kansas City needed a bit of breathing room in the playoff picture out West and earned it with their 2-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes. Not only did the win see them go two points over the 6th-place Portland Timbers, but it saw them move within two points of Real Salt Lake for the top four and the right to host a playoff match. They’ll face a New England Revolution side this weekend that has won three of their last four, but is coming off a disappointing defeat against the Columbus Crew.
11. (8) PORTLAND TIMBERS (11-12-8)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Houston Dynamo, 3-1, on Saturday; beat CD Dragon, 2-1, on Tuesday.
THIS WEEK: at Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Portland Timbers had a bad weekend, but a better midweek. A disappointing 3-1 road loss to the Houston Dynamo (keeping them as the league’s only winless team on the road) was compounded by Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City victories around them in the standings. The mood lifted on Tuesday, however, as Darlington Nagbe’s stoppage-time free kick goal earned them the CCL victory against CD Dragon. A tough opponent awaits this week as they seek that elusive first road victory against the Colorado Rapids, who happen to be unbeaten at home.
12. (16) D.C. UNITED (8-9-13)
LAST WEEK: Beat Orlando City, 4-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Columbus Crew on Wednesday; at Toronto FC on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: D.C. United made major progress in the hunt for a playoff spot by beating one of their primary playoff rivals in crushing fashion. Their 4-1 victory over Orlando City, in addition to the New England Revolution’s loss, sees them seize the sixth and final playoff spot in the East entirely in control of their own destiny. Ben Olsen’s squad has the chance to really cement its position this week with two Eastern conference clashes against the Columbus Crew and Toronto FC.
13. (11) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (9-13-9)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Columbus Crew, 2-0, on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The New England Revolution picked a bad week to snap their win streak, as D.C. United’s victory sees the Revs on the outside of the playoffs looking in, hoping for DCU or the Montreal Impact to slip up. The loss to the Columbus Crew stings, but the Revs need to bounce back quick as the season winds down and they’ll have the chance to do so when Sporting Kansas City visit this weekend.
14. (15) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (9-14-8)
LAST WEEK: tied Colorado Rapids, 3-3, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Central on Wednesday (CONCACAF Champions League); vs. Seattle Sounders on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: The defense will feel none too good after conceding three goals to a woeful Colorado Rapids attack, but the offense can take pride in their own three goal performance. Erik Hurtado played the hero with a stoppage-time goal to steal a point for the hosts at the death. A two-match week of CCL play and MLS action on the weekend is eased by the fact that both matches are at home, with the latter a must-win in terms of playoff hopes.
15. (14) MONTREAL IMPACT (9-10-11)
LAST WEEK: lost to New York Red Bulls, 1-0, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at Orlando City on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: The Montreal Impact ran into the wrong team at the wrong time, as the long-unbeaten New York Red Bulls continued their streak at the Impact’s expense with a 1-0 victory. The Impact maintain their playoff position in the Eastern conference playoffs, but now see themselves just two points above the red line with another playoff contender on the schedule this week in Orlando City. While perhaps not a “must-win”, it’s certainly close enough that the Impact should treat it like one.
16. (19) COLUMBUS CREW (7-11-11)
LAST WEEK: Beat New England Revolution, 2-0, on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: vs. D.C. United on Wednesday, vs. Chicago Fire on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Columbus Crew seized their second straight victory against an Eastern conference playoff contender with their 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution on Sunday. Unfortunately, it may not be enough, as the Crew still sit five points out of the playoffs with five matches left to play. Their saving grace may be their game or two in hand over the teams above them, but the Crew are on their last lifeline and need to make the most of two matches against D.C. United and the Chicago Fire this week.
17. (18) HOUSTON DYNAMO (7-11-11)
LAST WEEK: Beat Portland Timbers, 3-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. New York City FC on Friday.
OUTLOOK: The Houston Dynamo did what every team has done at home to the Portland Timbers this season and earned a 3-1 victory. While the Dynamo season is close to a lost cause at this point, they’ll need to continue to try as a strong New York City FC come to town this Friday. If they make the most of their two matches in hand over the Portland Timbers, they could be as little as three points behind the final playoff spot out West.
18. (17) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (7-9-13)
LAST WEEK: lost to Sporting Kansas City, 2-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at Montreal Impact on Wednesday; vs. Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Coupled with a Vancouver Whitecaps draw and Seattle Sounders win, the Quakes 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sporting Kansas City hurts more than usual as they shoot for the playoffs out west. They’ll need to recover against two currently playoff-bound opponents in the Montreal Impact and Real Salt Lake this week, and more importantly need snap their six-match winless streak.
19. (13) ORLANDO CITY (7-10-13)
LAST WEEK: Lost to D.C. United, 4-1, on Saturday
THIS WEEK: at Toronto FC on Wednesday, vs. Montreal Impact on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: Orlando City’s playoff hopes took a huge hit with Saturday’s loss, which now has them sitting in 8th in the East, a full three points behind D.C. United in the final playoff spot. The Lions need to recover some points this week but have a tough schedule to try against, visiting Toronto FC midweek before returning home to face the Montreal Impact.
20. (20) CHICAGO FIRE (6-14-9)
LAST WEEK: Lost to New York City FC, 4-1, on Friday.
THIS WEEK: at Seattle Sounders on Wednesday; at Columbus Crew on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: After traveling to the East Coast and getting demolished by New York City FC, 4-1, the lowly Fire travel all the way out west to face the Seattle Sounders in a midweek match before traveling all the way to the Midwest for a weekend match against the Columbus Crew. The brutal travel could prove fatal to the Fire as they sit on the fringe of elimination from playoff contention this week.