While Patrick Vieira may have already conceded first place in the Eastern Conference to Toronto FC, the race to top the Western Conference remains wide open.
Sporting Kansas City’s victory over FC Dallas sent a clear message that Peter Vermes’ squad is ready to fight for first in the East, even without Dom Dwyer or a replacement. Seattle continues to hold first place though, with the Sounders’ late win against Minnesota United pushing their recent run to six wins in seven matches.
Canadian clubs continue to hold the final playoff spots in both conferences, with Montreal and Vancouver both winning to maintain their sixth-place spots. The Impact continue to ride the hot hand of Ignacio Piatti, but Atlanta United looms as a threat to crack the East’s top six as the expansion side prepares to take advantage of the games it has in hand on the rest of the East.
Here’s a look at this week’s SBI MLS Power Rankings:
SBI MLS POWER RANKINGS (WEEK 24)
1. (Last Week – 1) TORONTO FC (14-3-8)
LAST WEEK: Beat Chicago Fire, 3-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Philadelphia on Wednesday, at Montreal on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: Marky Delgado’s excellent fun of form continued in the win against the Fire, which pushed TFC’s unbeaten streak to seven matches.
2. (2) NEW YORK CITY FC (14-7-4)
LAST WEEK: Beat New England Revolution, 2-1, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK: at New York Red Bulls on Friday.
OUTLOOK: The comeback was impressive in beating the Revs, but the early-game struggles might give opponents something to consider as they game plan for Patrick Vieira’s men. Could NYCFC have been looking ahead to the derby? A chance for a season sweep of the Red Bulls awaits on Friday.
3. (5) SEATTLE SOUNDERS (11-7-7)
LAST WEEK: Beat Minnesota United, 2-1, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK: at Vancouver on Wednesday, vs. Portland on Sunday.
4. (4) SPORTING KANSAS CITY (10-5-10)
LAST WEEK: Beat FC Dallas, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Graham Zusi continues to thrive at right back for Sporting KC, setting up both goals in the win vs. FC Dallas. A road trip to Houston looms, but the Dynamo have a mid-week match against FC Dallas, which could give SKC an advantage when the sides meet on Saturday.
5. (3) CHICAGO FIRE (12-8-5)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Toronto FC, 3-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Minnesota United on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Fire’s fifth loss in six does ring some alarm bells, but their injury-hit defense continues to be a key reason for the slide. Nemanja Nikolic is still trying to end his goal drought, and a home game against Minnesota United just might do the trick.
6. (6) ATLANTA UNITED (10-7-5)
LAST WEEK: Bye.
THIS WEEK: at D.C. United on Wednesday, at Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Gerardo Martino’s men are well rested and ready to dive into a busy run if matches that will test Atlanta’s depth. A pair of winnable matches await this week though, and we should see a move above the red line this week.
7. (8) NEW YORK RED BULLS (12-10-2)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Portland Timbers, 2-0, last Friday.
THIS WEEK: vs. NYCFC on Friday.
OUTLOOK: Rallied in dramatic fashion to beat FC Cincinnati in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals, and Jesse Marsch came away impressed with how his mostly reserve side fared in the loss to Portland. Resting key starters should help as the Red Bulls look to avoid the season sweep against NYCFC.
8. (7) FC DALLAS (9-6-8)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Sporting KC, 2-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, at Columbus Crew on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: A third loss in four matches has come at a bad time for Oscar Pareja’s squad, which suddenly finds itself sitting in fifth place in the West, just two points clear of the red line. A tricky derby clash with Houston looms, as does a date against a dangerous Columbus side.
9. (14) MONTREAL IMPACT (10-8-6)
LAST WEEK: Beat Real Salt Lake, 3-1 last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Toronto FC on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: Four straight wins have propelled the Impact into playoff position, but holding on won’t be easy. Not with three meetings with Toronto FC still to come, with the first taking place at home on Sunday.
10. (10) PORTLAND TIMBERS (10-9-7)
LAST WEEK: Beat New York Red Bulls, 2-0 last Friday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Colorado on Wednesday, at Seattle on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: The Timbers aren’t about to feel bad about taking three points from what was essentially a Red Bulls B team, not with a busy schedule this week, including another showdown with red-hot Seattle. Getting Fanendo Avi back from a hamstring injury will be key, as will getting Liam Ridgwell healthy as he battles a quad injury.
11. (12) VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (10-9-4)
LAST WEEK: Beat Houston Dynamo, 2-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Seattle Sounders on Wednesday, at Orlando City on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The Whitecaps impressed with their win against Houston, and Yordy Reyna is looking every bit like a true difference maker. That said, a brutal week awaits, with a date against in-form Seattle, followed by a short turnaround and cross-country trip to face a desperate Orlando City side.
12. (9) HOUSTON DYNAMO (10-8-7)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at FC Dallas on Wednesday, vs. Sporting KC on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Houston’s road woes continued with the loss in Vancouver, but Wilmer Cabrera will be hoping the close proximity to Frisco will make Wednesday’s derby showdown feel like a home game. The two tough games this week could leave the Dynamo vulnerable to a slide if they’re not careful.
13. (11) SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (9-10-6)
LAST WEEK: Tied Philadelphia Union, 2-2, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, at LA Galaxy on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: Grabbing a road point on the East coast had to feel good for Chris Leitch’s squad, especially with three more road games in a row. RSL and the Galaxy are two teams the Earthquakes can beat, so grabbing points this week will be vital to keeping alive San Jose’s playoff hopes.
14. (13) COLUMBUS CREW (11-12-3)
LAST WEEK: Tie Orlando City, 1-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. LA Galaxy on Wednesday, vs. FC Dallas on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Harrison Afful’s red card made taking all three points from Orlando City
15. (15) ORLANDO CITY (8-10-7)
LAST WEEK: Tied Columbus Crew, 1-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: As much as a road point is generally a good thing, the Lions had to feel disappointed about not taking all three points against a 10-man Crew side. The playoffs are slipping away, and a win against the Whitecaps is mandatory if Jason Kreis’ team wants any chance of making the playoffs.
16. (16) NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (8-11-5)
LAST WEEK: Lost to New York City FC, 2-1, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK: at D.C. United on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Just when you thought the Revs were piecing together a rally toward a playoff spot, they squander a late lead and leave Yankee Stadium with zero points. Jay Heaps’ decision to bench Lee Nguyen and Diego Fagundez couldn’t have gone over too well, and now Kelyn Rowe is set to be sidelined with a knee injury.
17. (17) REAL SALT LAKE (8-13-5)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Montreal Impact, 3-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday, vs. Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: RSL saw its six-match unbeaten streak halted, but a promising week awaits, with two games at home Mike Petke’s team will have to feel are winnable.
18. (18) PHILADELPHIA UNION (8-11-6)
LAST WEEK: Tied San Jose Earthquakes, 1-1, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at Toronto FC on Wednesday, vs. Atlanta United on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Things are looking dire for the Union, which must visit mighty TFC after dropping points at home to San Jose, then play host to a dangerous Atlanta United side. A zero-point week could put a pin in what’s left of Philly’s playoff hopes.
19. (19) LA GALAXY (6-12-5)
LAST WEEK: Bye.
THIS WEEK: at Columbus Crew on Wednesday, vs. San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday.
OUTLOOK: A week of rest didn’t do much to offset the departure of star defender Jelle van Damme, or injuries to Gio Dos Santos and Jermaine Jones. Sigi Schmid will have to piece together a defense for his return to Columbus, where the Crew could present real issues with their attack.
20. (21) MINNESOTA UNITED (6-14-4)
LAST WEEK: Lost to Seattle Sounders, 2-1, last Sunday.
THIS WEEK: at Chicago Fire on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: Adrian Heath had to feel some serious deja vu after watching his Loons surrender another late goal to drop points.
21. (22) D.C. UNITED (6-15-4)
LAST WEEK: Beat Colorado Rapids, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: vs. Atlanta United on Wednesday, vs. New England Revolution on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: The deluge at RFK Stadium wasn’t pretty, but seeing newcomers Paul Arriola and Russell Canouse integrated into the squad had to be a good sign for D.C. fans who will be hoping the good vibes at home will continue with this week’s pair of home games.
22. (20) COLORADO RAPIDS (6-13-4)
LAST WEEK: Lost to D.C. United, 1-0, last Saturday.
THIS WEEK: at Portland Timbers on Wednesday, at Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
OUTLOOK: New coach, same issues. Anyone who thought dismissing Pablo Mastroeni as coach would solve the Rapids’ problems hasn’t been paying attention. The Rapids are a poorly-constructed team that will be lucky to gather many more points this season, new coach or not.