With several surprising results, and one big clash in New York City, week 22 in MLS was certainly eventful.
The obvious leading headline was New York City FC’s victory in this season’s second edition of the Hudson River derby. David Villa and Bradley Wright-Phillips battled out a titanic clash, in which the former emerged victorious with his first MLS hat-trick.
Elsewhere, the Seattle Sounders won big over Minnesota United amid their great run of form. The Philadelphia Union picked up an upset victory over FC Dallas to keep their playoff hopes alive. Meanwhile, the Portland Timbers benefited from VAR and added to the LA Galaxy’s recent woes thanks to a Diego Valeri stunner.
The news was less good for Toronto FC, who managed only a draw with lowly D.C. United thanks to an own-goal from Steve Birnbaum. Finally, Orlando City took a big hit and missed out on a chance to jump back into playoff position as they surrendered an early lead to let the Montreal Impact escape with a come-from-behind victory.
Here’s a look at this week’s SBI MLS Power Rankings:
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 22)
1. (Last Week – 1) TORONTO FC (12-3-8)
LAST WEEK: Tied D.C. United, 1-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Portland Timbers on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Not the result one expects when the top team in the league takes on the bottom. Credit to D.C. United, they made it hard for Toronto FC, who were lucky to escape with a point on an own-goal from Steve Birnbaum. Still, top of the league and five-straight unbeaten leaves TFC no worse for wear.
2. (2) CHICAGO FIRE (12-5-5)
LAST WEEK: Beat New England Revolution, 4-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at Columbus Crew on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: A good bounce back win for the Chicago Fire after the last two weeks. The Fire snapped their two-match losing streak and got back to big winning ways with a huge victory over the Revs. The win sees them gain ground in the Eastern Conference after a surprising draw from TFC and continues to hold them in strong position as we enter the final stretch.
3. (3) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (9-4-10)
LAST WEEK: Tied Atlanta United, 1-1, on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: at Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Sporting Kansas City suffered a small comedown after last week’s win over the Fire. A late conceded goal to former SKC player Jacob Peterson allowed Atlanta United to salvage a valuable road draw at Children’s Mercy Park. Still, Sporting KC stay atop the Western Conference and extend their unbeaten run to nine straight, an impressive tally.
4. (4) NEW YORK CITY FC (12-7-4)
LAST WEEK: Beat New York Red Bulls, 3-2, on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: at LA Galaxy on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: What a win for NYCFC on Sunday, as they battled from behind to take the season series against the New York Red Bulls for the first time. The win also put them out of range of the Red Bulls in fourth, cementing their role as one of the top three out East. It was a statement victory to bounce back from a big defeat last weekend to Toronto FC.
5. (7) ATLANTA UNITED (10-7-5)
LAST WEEK: Tied Sporting Kansas City, 1-1, on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: Bye.
OUTLOOK: A late goal from Jacob Peterson against his former team salvaged a valuable road point for Atlanta United against Sporting Kansas City. Not many teams have taken points from Sporting KC in their park, and it represents another success for Atlanta amid a season full of them. With six straight unbeaten, a rare expansion season playoff push seems likely.
6. (5) FC DALLAS (9-5-7)
THIS WEEK: vs. Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Things have gone a bit awry in Dallas the past few weeks. After last week’s 4-0 shellacking at the hands of the Vancouver Whitecaps, this week FC Dallas couldn’t get it done on the road against the Philadelphia Union. While the Union are difficult at home, it’s a match that Dallas needs to take points from in order to be true contenders in the West.
7. (12) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (9-7-7)
LAST WEEK: Beat Minnesota United, 4-0, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Sounders made it look easy against Minnesota United on Saturday, handling their opposition en route to the weekend’s biggest win. The victory makes it seven straight unbeaten for the surging Sounders, as they start to bear an eerie resemblance to last year’s title-winning outfit. They can go level atop the West with a win over Sporting Kansas City next weekend.
8. (8) PORTLAND TIMBERS (9-8-7)
LAST WEEK: Beat LA Galaxy, 3-1, on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: at Toronto FC on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Timbers continued their bounce back from recent struggles with a comprehensive win over the Galaxy. Aside from Diego Valeri’s thunderbolt of a goal, the Timbers benefited from the newly implemented VAR as a go-ahead Galaxy goal was disallowed for a handball, immediately showing the benefits of the new system and allowing the Timbers to emerge victorious on the day.
9. (6) NEW YORK RED BULLS (11-9-2)
LAST WEEK: Lost to New York City FC, 3-2, on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Orlando City on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Sunday’s loss to their cross-river rivals was crushing in several way for the Red Bulls. First, it snapped their season-high four match win streak. Second, they surrendered a lead late and eventually lost all three points. Third, it handed NYCFC the series victory this season. The Red Bulls remain in fine shape, but it was a loss that will sting quite a bit.
10. (9) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (9-8-3)
LAST WEEK: Tied Colorado Rapids, 2-2, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at New England Revolution on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Despite salvaging a good road draw in Colorado, the Whitecaps slipped just below the red line once more as the Earthquakes leap-frogged them with a win. Still, the Whitecaps are 3-1-1 in their last five and hold two matches in hand over the playoff rivals, making this Saturday’s clash in New England a chance for a statement of intent.
11. (11) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (9-9-5)
LAST WEEK: Beat Columbus Crew, 2-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: A second consecutive victory for the Earthquakes saw them leap over the Whitecaps and back into playoff position out West. With the Caps still hot on their tails, a chance to make it a season-high three consecutive victories looms large next weekend. They’ll have their hands full with a Dynamo team that is yet to lose at home, however.
12. (10) ORLANDO CITY (8-9-6)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Montreal Impact, 2-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: From bad to worse for Orlando City. The Lions squandered Cyle Larin’s opener to eventually fall to the Impact on Saturday, sinking them to four straight without a win, and just a single win in their last nine matches. For a team that started the year 6-1-0, their descent has been rapid and has them on the wrong side of the playoff fringe once more.
13. (13) HOUSTON DYNAMO (9-7-7)
LAST WEEK: Tied Real Salt Lake, 0-0, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Dynamo earned another rare road point on Saturday in a scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake. The result was impressive given the latter’s recent form and should help build confidence as the team returns to the welcome confines of BBVA Compass Stadium. They have a chance to go atop the West with a win and results elsewhere.
14. (14) COLUMBUS CREW (10-12-2)
LAST WEEK: Lost to San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Chicago Fire on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Columbus Crew are turning down in form at the wrong time with Saturday’s loss to the Earthquakes. Sitting just above the red line, courtesy of Orlando City also losing last weekend, the Crew are nonetheless within reach since the Lions have a game in hand. In a precarious position, they’ll face a tough test with the Fire this weekend.
15. (17) PHILADELPHIA UNION (8-10-5)
LAST WEEK: Beat FC Dallas, 3-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Montreal Impact on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: With maddening inconsistency and one of the prettiest goals you’ll see all year, the Union defeated FC Dallas easily at home on Saturday. The win bolstered the Union’s playoff hopes, which seemed so distant just a few weeks ago. Now, within reach of sixth place, the Union can dispatch a playoff rival this weekend with another good home performance.
16. (15) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (7-10-5)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Chicago Fire, 4-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: After back-to-back wins, it was back to losing form for the Revs as they got razed by the Fire on Saturday. With five losses in their last seven, the Revs find themselves rapidly dropping out of playoff contention. They’re not dead yet, but they’ll need to turn things around fast to avoid going that way.
17. (16) LA GALAXY (6-11-5)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Portland Timbers, 3-1, on Sunday.
THIS WEEK: vs. New York City FC on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Perhaps no team is struggling more than the Galaxy at the moment. After being on the wrong end of one of the first big impactful uses of VAR in the league, the Galaxy dropped all three points to the Timbers to extend their winless streak to a stunning seven matches. Sitting way back out West, an unprecedented turnaround is needed to keep themselves from a wasted season.
18. (19) MONTREAL IMPACT (7-8-6)
LAST WEEK: Beat Orlando City, 2-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: After last week’s big loss to the Red Bulls, the Impact rebounded with a nice come from behind with over Orlando City this weekend. The win keeps the Impact well in the playoff hunt out East, and they’ll have a chance to gain even more ground when they take on the Union this weekend.
19. (20) REAL SALT LAKE (7-12-5)
LAST WEEK: Tied Houston Dynamo, 0-0, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at D.C. United on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Five straight unbeaten for Real Salt Lake seemed like a pipe dream earlier this year. But in good form, the team managed their third consecutive draw against a good Houston Dynamo team. Still a bit out of the playoff picture out West, the team’s recent performances have nonetheless kept those hopes from being extinguished.
20. (21) COLORADO RAPIDS (6-12-3)
LAST WEEK: Tied Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-2, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at FC Dallas on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Simply put, draws will not do at this point in the Rapids’ season. Sitting in dead last out West, a full 11 points out of the playoff picture, and home opportunities simply need to result in three points. With a road trip to Dallas on the agenda, thing figure to get even more difficult for the Rapids at a difficult time.
21. (18) MINNESOTA UNITED (6-13-4)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Seattle Sounders, 4-0, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: Bye.
OUTLOOK: After a comprehensive win over D.C. United last weekend, the Loons found themselves on the wrong end of the same scoreline against the Sounders this time around. With playoff hopes a distant dream at the moment, the Loons sink to a league-high 49 goals allowed this season with the loss. They’ll fortunately have a week to recover, with nothing scheduled this weekend.
22. (22) D.C. UNITED (5-14-4)
LAST WEEK: Tied Toronto FC, 1-1, on Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: With seven straight losses heading into the weekend, D.C. United are the only team to match the LA Galaxy’s futile efforts lately. Still, despite their league-worst position, the team managed to earn a draw against the league-best Toronto FC in a surprising result. But even in a positive result there are negatives, the draw comes from a self-inflicted own goal, adding to the team’s numerous woes this year.
That top picture cracks me up…. they’re mirror images of each other… except maybe skillwise…
Seattle goes up 5 spots by beating arguably the league’s worst team, but NYRB goes down 3 after losing a very close one to the 4th placed team, which in turn doesn’t budge from its spot after beating a surging team in a derby? Strange.