MLS Power Rankings: Red Bulls hold strong on top

The New York teams keep winning, and Seattle and D.C. United continue their late-season surges as the MLS season heads into its final month.

Toronto FC and the LA Galaxy, on the other hand, slipped down the rankings as their struggles persist. United, the Sounders and the Montreal Impact all came away with six points from their two games last week to move up several notches.

There is only one game this week -- Colorado plays Houston Saturday -- because of the FIFA international break. Regular play resumes a week from Wednesday.
Week 30 Results
Sept. 28 
D.C. United 3, Columbus 0. Highlights
Montreal 3, San Jose 1. Highlights
Seattle 1, Chicago 0. Highlights
Toronto FC 0, Orlando City 0. Highlights
Sept. 30
Houston 0, New York City FC 2. Highlights
Oct. 1
Colorado 1, Portland 0. Highlights
Columbus 3, Chicago 0. Highlights
FC Dallas 1, LA Galaxy 0. Highlights
New England 3, Sporting KC 1. Highlights
New York Red Bulls 3, Philadelphia 2. Highlights
Toronto FC 1, D.C. United 2. Highlights
San Jose 2, Real Salt Lake 1. Highlights
Oct. 2
Orlando City 0, Montreal 1. Highlights
Vancouver 1, Seattle 2. Highlights
Only MLS results are factored into the Power Rankings, which include a team’s record in parentheses and rank last week.
1. NEW YORK RED BULLS (14-9-9), 1. Five two-goal leads blown in the past two months notwithstanding, NYRB can win games in different ways. Against Philly, it fell behind, took a 2-1 lead, conceded an equalizer, and won it with a Dax McCarty header. McCarty had assisted on the first two goals by Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips, and his gamer-ness will be needed in the playoffs. The Red Bulls’ unbeaten run stands at 14.

2. FC DALLAS (13-9-10), 3. The Supporters’ Shield favorite is finishing steadily if not brilliantly (four wins, two losses, four ties in the last 10 games). Any win over the Galaxy is a big one and by scoring the only goal Walker Zimmerman joined the top scoring defenders with four. Mauro Diaz’s corner kick earned him his 12th assist. Chris Seitz bagged his ninth shutout. None of those are dazzling stats but they exemplify the FCD essence: it is very good in all categories.

3. NEW YORK CITY FC (14-9-9), 4. Teams that can beat weaker foes on the road and can also conserve energy in the process tend not to fizzle out in the playoffs. NYCFC did just that in Houston with a pair of goals by David Villa. That doesn’t mean it has regained the road mojo it displayed by winning five of the first eight away from Yankee Stadium, but the signs of a solid finish are obvious.

4. COLORADO (13-5-12), 5. Stung by three goals at Vancouver last week, the Rapids got back to basics by posting their 10th shutout in 15 home games. Yet they tweaked the script when Sebastien Le Toux, goalless since arriving in a trade swung just before the Aug. 3 deadline, banged in the winner. The Shield isn’t out of reach but after two disastrous seasons, finishing second is Coach of the Year-worthy for Pablo Mastroeni.

5. SEATTLE (13-13-5), 8. One major catalyst in the Sounders’ surge is Osvaldo Alonso, whose equalizer – his second goal in the last three games – set up a winner from the penalty spot hit by substitute Brad Evans, who returned after sitting out four games with a strained calf. Evans then earned a red card for a head-butt. Nicolas Lodeiro (suspended) and Andreas Ivanschitz did not play. Chad Marshall’s header from an Ivanschitz corner got the goal against Chicago.

6. D.C UNITED (10-9-13), 10. Scorer of three goals in the last two games, Lamar Neagle is one reason United hasn’t lost in its last five. He matched his career high of nine goals by heading an equalizer and converting Lloyd Sam’s through ball. Speaking of Sam, he’s another cog in the team’s success in the second half of the season: in his 12 starts for United since the trade from NYRB he’s scored three goals and assisted on four. He scored the winner to down Crew SC.

7. TORONTO FC (13-9-10), 2. There’s not been much mo’ at BMO lately. A four-game home stand netted just three points and no victories. Worse, TFC squandered a 1-0 lead provided by Jozy Altidore’s excellent goal (ninth in 2016). Still, at least one home playoff game is all but assured. Sebastian Giovinco, who missed all four of those games with a strained adductor, should be back after the FIFA break.

8. LA GALAXY (11-6-15), 6. An early shot by Steven Gerrard skimmed just wide of the far post, but LA’s only shot on goal came off the foot of Robbie Keane. FCD hit the woodwork before and after Zimmerman scored on the second of two free headers on corner kicks. LAG has conceded five goals in the last 12 games. This team needs the FIFA break to revive and refresh.

9. NEW ENGLAND (10-13-9), 13. The Revs have won their fourth of the last five games but to snag a playoff spot probably need to also capture the last two. Kei Kamara and Juan Agudelo each bagged a goal and assist as the Revs completed 82 percent of their passes and outshot SKC, 15-8.

10. SPORTING KC (12-13-7), 7. Fatherhood is working for Dom Dwyer. The new dad scored his fourth goal in as many games to pull SKC into a 1-1 tie, but the supplier of that chance – defender Kevin Ellis – then directed a shot into his own net for the winner. Matt Besler, a dad for only one month, rode the bench for the second straight game, but Graham Zusi -- a spectator for three games with a strained calf -- came on at halftime.

11. PORTLAND (11-13-8), 9. The Timbers drew 26 fouls and managed only two shots on goal – both by Diego Valeri, who also hit the post -- while losing a sixth straight road game and 10th away contest of the season. The situation is dire; they could win both of their remaining games and fall short of a playoff spot.

12. COLUMBUS (8-12-11), 15. Crew SC rebounded from a rough night at RFK to stay alive, barely, in the playoff race. Dilly Duka and Justin Meram each notched a goal and an assist after Harrison Afful’s swerving shot from distance stunned Chicago in the eighth minute.

13. MONTREAL (11-10-11), 16. After slumbering through four winless games, the Impact woke up to beat San Jose at home and prevail in Orlando. Dominic Oduro’s counterattack goal and several big saves by Evan Bush officially eliminated OCSC. Oduro – who hadn’t hit the net since May --  also scored the first goal against the Quakes; Ignacio Piatti tallied the winner and assisted on the clincher, as did sub Didier Drogba, who didn’t play in Orlando. Two more points clinches a playoff spot.

14. REAL SALT LAKE (12-11-9), 11. Well, getting back to the playoffs after an eighth-place finish would be a good achievement, but RSL is lurching down the stretch. It is 0-3-2 (W-L-T) in the last five games after losing its  10th road game, the second-most in MLS. Joao Plata failed to put away two excellent chances and Juan Manuel “Burrito” Martinez was more mild than wild. Justen Glad got credit for a goal that caromed off the goalkeeper’s back into the net and tied the game, but RSL conceded a headed winner off a set play with Glad marking the scorer.

15. PHILADELPHIA (11-12-9), 12. Ten goals conceded and only two points in the last five games doesn’t bode well for a playoff appearance if the Union should make it. Goals by Fabian Herbers and Chris Pontius, two assists for Fabinho, plus several excellent Andre Blake saves, would have been enough for at least a point against most teams. Yet they conceded goals on a free kick and corner kick and lost Alejandro Bedoya and Joseph Yaro during the game to injuries.

16. HOUSTON (7-12-11), 14. A shot by Raul Rodriguez came closest to forcing a save but it instead hit the post and thus the Dynamo finished the match with zero shots on goal. Still, it has taken 11 points from its last seven games and shown enough life to offer some hope for next season.

17. SAN JOSE (8-10-13), 19. A five-game homeless run ended with perhaps the best 90-minute effort since the All-Star break. For a change the Quakes scored right up the middle when Kofi Sarkodie’s laser along the grass split open the RSL defense and Simon Dawkins drilled a shot after exchanging passes with Chris Wondolowski. They got the winner more typically; Shea Salinas crossed and Fatai Alashe headed home.

18. ORLANDO CITY (7-11-14), 17. Back-to-back blankings for the second time this season dumped the Lions out of playoff contention. A goalless game at Toronto set up a pivotal home game that they couldn’t win. Twelve corner kicks and 22 shots against Montreal should have produced a goal, and though they were thwarted several times by good goalkeeping they were also guilty of sloppy crosses and panicky finishing.

19. VANCOUVER (9-15-8), 18. Unfortunately, the ‘Caps turned in a performance that revealed just what they are at this point: sometimes fun to watch, but in general not very good. Super-teen Alphonso Davies earned a penalty kick converted by Pedro Morales, who later departed with a red card issued for elbowing an opponent. A handball by Jordan Harvey yielded the winning PK for Seattle.

20. CHICAGO (6-16-9), 20. Another bad week in a bad season. The combination of Luis Solignac and David Accam has potential, and Matt Polster, Brandon Vincent, and Jonathan Campbell continue to soldier on valiantly. Questions abound otherwise. After the break a return game at home against Columbus should provide an ideal environment to salvage some pride.
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