After a quiet week during the international break, MLS teams return to action in a big way with a double-week of U.S. Open Cup and MLS league play.
Those teams that were in action over the break came out with some surprising results. The Chicago Fire took down Atlanta United in a shutout victory to start off Saturday’s matches, making it eight straight unbeaten for the turned-around Fire.
Later, Sporting Kansas City battled to a dissatisfying home draw against the Montreal Impact, who still sit well down the Eastern Conference table. Finally, the Portland Timbers took on and defeated FC Dallas in a battle of top Western Conference teams.
Here’s a look at this week’s power rankings:
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 15)
1. (Last Week – 1) TORONTO FC (8-2-5)
LAST WEEK: Bye.
THIS WEEK: vs. D.C. United on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The top Canadians are one of the few teams not to play a double slate of matches in the upcoming week with no U.S. Open Cup to worry about. Toronto FC will seek to take advantage of the extra preparation time to seize a good result at home against D.C. United.
2. (4) CHICAGO FIRE (8-3-4)
LAST WEEK: Beat Atlanta United, 2-0, on Saturday; beat St. Louis FC, 1-0, last Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup.
THIS WEEK: at New England Revolution on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Big winners during the international break, the Fire made it eight straight unbeaten as their assault on the top of the Eastern Conference continued with a win over Atlanta United. They followed that up with a tightly-contested U.S. Open Cup win, but now face a tricky test against a New England side that is very tough at home.
3. (2) FC DALLAS (6-3-5)
THIS WEEK: At Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: One of the six teams in action last week, FC Dallas traveled to the Portland Timbers on Saturday and returned empty handed, having suffered a 2-0 defeat. The battle was meaningful at the top of the Western Conference, and FCD will need to rebound on Saturday against the Whitecaps.
4. (3) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (7-4-5)
LAST WEEK: Tied Montreal Impact, 1-1, on Saturday; beat Minnesota United, 4-0, last Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup.
THIS WEEK: at San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: A draw against the lowly Montreal Impact isn’t the type of performance Sporting Kansas City can be satisfied with at home. If they mean to compete at the top, they’ll need to win those matches. Sporting KC did defend its home turf in U.S. Open Cup play against Minnesota United on Wednesday, and will now take on the Quakes in San Jose over the weekend.
5. (5) NEW YORK CITY FC (7-5-3)
LAST WEEK: Lost to New York Red Bulls, 1-0, last Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup.
THIS WEEK: vs. Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: After a quiet bye week, NYCFC returns to action with an impromptu Hudson River Derby against the New York Red Bulls in the U.S. Open Cup. It’ll be the first meeting between these two in Open Cup history and the first of four meetings overall this season. They’ll follow that up with a tough home contest against the Seattle Sounders to cap off a grueling week.
6. (10) PORTLAND TIMBERS (7-5-3)
LAST WEEK: Beat FC Dallas, 2-0, on Saturday; lost to Seattle Sounders 1-0, last Tuesday in U.S. Open Cup.
THIS WEEK: at Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Timbers emerged on top after their bye-week clash with FC Dallas for Western Conference supremacy. Headlining another MLS-on-MLS clash in the U.S. Open Cup, the Timbers will take part in a Cascadia Rivalry special in midweek play. Afterwards, they’ll travel to the Rockies to take on the Colorado Rapids in MLS play over the weekend.
7. (6) ORLANDO CITY (7-5-3)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Miami FC (USOC), 3-1, last Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup.
THIS WEEK: vs. Montreal Impact on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Orlando City returns to action with an in-state, cross-division rivalry match against Miami FC in the U.S. Open Cup. After taking on their NASL foes, the Lions remain at home to take on an Impact team that will be feeling good after they stole a valuable road point against Sporting KC last week.
8. (8) LA GALAXY (5-5-3)
LAST WEEK: Beat Orange County SC, 3-1, last Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup.
THIS WEEK: vs. Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Galaxy will open their week with a clash against local USL foes, Orange County SC. They’ll remain in-state at the StubHub Center when the Houston Dynamo come to town over the weekend, as the Galaxy seek to reestablish themselves in the playoff conversation out West.
9. (9) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (6-6-1)
LAST WEEK: Bye.
THIS WEEK: vs. FC Dallas on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Like Toronto FC, the Vancouver Whitecaps escape the double-threat of U.S. Open Cup play as they’ll remain north of the border for some extra preparation time. The Whitecaps will also have the fortune of facing a tired FC Dallas team coming off a midweek match and the long flight up north.
10. (7) ATLANTA UNITED (5-6-3)
LAST WEEK: Lost Chicago Fire, 2-0, on Saturday; beat Charleston Battery, 3-2, last Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup.
THIS WEEK: vs. Columbus Crew on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Dropped a decision in Chicago, Atlanta United’s third straight loss on the road, but enjoyed a successful debut in the U.S. Open Cup with a win against Charleston. A return home to Bobby Dodd Stadium should help Tata Martino’s men recapture the form they’ve lost the past two weeks.
11. (11) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (5-6-4)
LAST WEEK: Beat San Francisco Deltas (USOC), 2-0, last Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup.
THIS WEEK: vs. Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Quakes posted a comfortable win against the San Francisco Deltas, in U.S. Open Cup play in midweek action, and will will remain at Avaya Stadium as Sporting Kansas City comes to town.
12. (13) NEW YORK RED BULLS (6-7-2)
LAST WEEK: Beat New York City FC (USOC), 1-0, last Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup.
THIS WEEK: at Philadelphia Union on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: Won their first match of the year against rival NYCFC in a U.S. Open Cup clash that saw both teams play their stars. The Red Bulls face another stern test against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday, giving them an extra day of rest compared to the rest of the league.
13. (12) COLUMBUS CREW (7-8-1)
LAST WEEK: Lost to FC Cincinnati, 1-0, last Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup.
THIS WEEK: at Atlanta United on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Faced a raucous crowd of 30,160 in a 1-0 U.S. Open Cup loss to FC Cincinnati. After that difficult battle, the Crew encounter another tough atmosphere as they take on Atlanta United on the road.
14. (14) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (5-6-4)
LAST WEEK: Beat Portland Timbers, 1-0, last Tuesday in U.S. Open Cup;
THIS WEEK: at New York City FC on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Sounders defeated the Timbers in their mid-week U.S. Open Cup clash, which saw both teams field young squads. Their full-strength squad was saved for a cross-country trip to take on NYCFC in MLS play.
15. (15) HOUSTON DYNAMO (7-6-2)
LAST WEEK: Beat North Carolina FC, 3-2, last Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup.
THIS WEEK: at LA Galaxy on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Dynamo sent a young team to North Carolina to handle U.S. Open Cup duties and the squad came through with the victory. Up next the full squad must head West to take on the LA Galaxy on Saturday.
16. (16) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (5-5-5)
LAST WEEK: Beat Rochester Rhinos, 3-0, last Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup;
THIS WEEK: vs. Chicago Fire on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Revs trotted out a team made up mostly of reserves and manhandled Rochester on the way to a comfortable U.S. Open Cup win. A much tougher test awaits though, as they take on the red-hot Chicago Fire, who enter the match on an 8-game unbeaten run.
17. (17) PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-6-4)
LAST WEEK: Beat Harrisburg City Islanders, 3-1, last Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup.
THIS WEEK: vs. New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: The Union cruised past Harrisburg City in U.S. Open Cup play, and will now look to beat the Red Bulls at Talen Energy Stadium for the second time in two months.
18. (18) MINNESOTA UNITED (4-7-2)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Sporting Kansas City, 4-0, last Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup;
THIS WEEK: at Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Suffered a brutal beatdown against Sporting KC in midweek U.S. Open Cup action, but will face a much easier challenge against a struggling RSL side.
19. (19) MONTREAL IMPACT (4-4-5)
LAST WEEK: Tied Sporting Kansas City, 1-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at Orlando City on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Impact seized a valuable road point over the break, managing a good draw against Sporting KC over the weekend. They’ll avoid any midweek action, as they next take on Orlando City in sunny Florida.
20. (20) D.C. UNITED (4-7-3)
LAST WEEK: Beat Christos FC, 4-1, last Tuesday in U.S. Open Cup.
THIS WEEK: at Toronto FC on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: D.C. United spoiled the Christos FC Cinderella story, shaking off an early goal to cruise to an easy victory. A significantly tougher test awaits on Saturday in the form of league-leading Toronto FC, which hasn’t lost at home this season.
21. (21) COLORADO RAPIDS (4-8-1)
LAST WEEK: Beat OKC Energy (USOC), 3-2, last Tuesday in U.S. Open Cup.
THIS WEEK: vs. Portland Timbers on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: After beating OKC Energy in a Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup showdown, the Colorado Rapids are at home against West rival Portland, which has started to find its early-season form in recent weeks.
22. (22) REAL SALT LAKE (4-10-2)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Sacramento Republic , 4-1, last Wednesday in U.S. Open Cup;
THIS WEEK: vs. Minnesota United on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: After a week to recover from their 11-goal horror-show two weeks back, Real Salt Lake saw more of the same in a blowout U.S. Open Cup loss Sacramento Republic. A return home against Minnesota United is a good chance for Mike Petke’s men to try and stop the bleeding.