This weekend’s MLS action saw the top four teams in our power rankings square off… and neither was a particularly close match. Could we have leaders emerging from the pack in each conference?
1. Toronto FC (unchanged) – TFC stays atop the rankings following a dominant 4-0 victory against third-place NYCFC. This team will be awfully difficult to beat if they can keep Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley all healthy.
2. Chicago Fire (+1) – The Fire suffered a tough loss on the road against Sporting Kansas City that saw them drop five points behind league leaders Toronto. Though a bit of the luster has come off the MLS’ top Cinderella story, Chicago still looks to be in good shape in the race for a first-round bye in the East.
3. Sporting Kansas City (+3) – Sporting had one of the bigger wins of the weekend, topping Chicago 3-1 and moving back into first place in the West. Questions about how SKC would adjust to life post-Dom Dwyer were temporarily satisfied, as the squad handled one of the league’s top teams with ease.
4. NYCFC (-2) – Given a golden opportunity to jump into the driver’s seat in the East, the Blues stumbled in an ugly loss at Toronto and are now six points off the pace set by the league leaders. Andrea Pirlo’s descent into a total defensive liability has been quick and unmerciful.
5. New York Red Bulls (+2) – The league’s hottest team continued their fantastic form on Saturday, dispatching Montreal 4-0 to win their seventh straight match in all competitions. Remarkably, the Red Bulls sit only three points behind Chicago in the race for a top two spot in the loaded Eastern Conference.
6. Atlanta United (-1) – It took a stoppage-time strike from Hector Villalba for Atlanta to salvage a point against Orlando at home, but they can’t be terribly disappointed: they’re unbeaten in five straight matches and are close to establishing themselves solidly above the red line.
7. FC Dallas (-3) – To describe Dallas as mercurial would be putting it kindly. FCD were the leaders in the West entering the weekend, and proceeded to go down early at home against Vancouver, have a man sent off, and then lose the game 4-0. It was an awful display from a team that’s been lacking in consistency.
8. Vancouver Whitecaps (+1) – What looked like a middling team in the West is starting to look like a genuine contender for a deep playoff run. Fredy Montero earned a brace and an assist in Vancouver’s trouncing of Dallas, and has now scored eight times in his first season back in MLS.
9. Houston Dynamo (-1) – At risk of suffering their first home loss of the season, the Dynamo equalized against Portland with a late header from Juan Cabezas. A single point may not have been ideal, but this is a fun, offensive-minded team that’s still very much a player in the West.
10. Portland Timbers (+5) – Right when pretty much everyone had written off the Timbers—including yours truly—they’ve bounced back with a win and a draw against top Western Conference sides. They’ll be disappointed not to have finished the job against Houston, but a home game against LA next weekend gives them a good chance to keep the unbeaten streak rolling.
11. Seattle Sounders (-1) – Given a home game against a struggling LA team, the Sounders blew an opportunity to vault themselves out of the middle of the pack in the West and were largely toothless in a 0-0 draw. They’re still only five points out of first place…and only two above the cut line. Still, with Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris back, you have to like their playoff chances.
12. Orlando City SC (+2) – A team that looked to be in a midst of an extended nosedive got a shot in the arm when they shelled out serious money for SKC star Dom Dwyer. Dwyer didn’t do much against Atlanta, but a wonderful strike from Kaka was enough to earn the Lions a valuable road point. They’re the front-runner for the last playoff spot in the East.
13. San Jose Earthquakes (unchanged) – The Quakes needed to hold serve at home against Colorado, and they did just that. They were the more impressive side in a quiet 1-0 victory, which saw rookie Nick Lima volley home the winner in the 59th minute.
14. Columbus Crew (-3) – It was an uninspiring week for the Crew, who got blown out by Philadelphia and held by Real Salt Lake during a two-game road trip. One point against two teams below the red line won’t do Columbus any favors in their hopes to hold on to the sixth and final playoff spot in the East.
15. New England Revolution (+3) – The good news: the Revs have shown signs of life lately, topping LA and Philly in consecutive games. The bad news: it was LA and Philly, and the Revs are still six points behind the Crew. Still, where’s there’s life, there’s hope.
16. Real Salt Lake (+3) – RSL very nearly continued their surprising run of good form, but they weren’t able to put away Columbus at home. Three points at home against Houston next weekend feels like a necessity for this team to have a fighting chance in the West.
17. Montreal Impact (-5) – Just when it looked like the Impact might be sneaking up into the playoff picture, they got torn apart by the Red Bulls and occupy second-to-last place in the East. The return of star Nacho Piatti should provide a spark.
18. Philadelphia Union (-1) – A midweek, 3-0 victory over Columbus looked like it could be a turning point, but the Union continued to run hot-and-cold with a 3-0 loss to the Revs on Saturday. They’re close to being out of the playoff race.
19. LA Galaxy (-3) – An unnaturally weak Western Conference has concealed how awful the Galaxy have been this season. The good news is that the team showed a bit of a punch under new manager Sigi Schmid, earning a rare clean sheet against Seattle.
20. Minnesota United (+1) – The Loons are buried too deep in the standings to make a run, but a 4-0 trouncing of DC United still had to feel very, very good. Before the game, they hadn’t scored in over a month.
21. Colorado Rapids (-1) – There’s nothing terribly wrong with a road loss against San Jose, but it’s another disappointing moment in a season full of them for the Rapids. It’s hard to believe this team was in the Western Conference finals last season.
22. DC United (unchanged) – Things are very, very bad in the nation’s capital. DCU have now lost six straight MLS games, and don’t seem very likely to snap that streak against Toronto this weekend.