MLS Power Rankings: Toronto FC rolls to the top

Two more wins for Toronto FC ran its win streak to six and vaulted it atop the MLS Power Rankings.

Previous leader FC Dallas slipped a couple of notches by tying New York City, which took over second place after their 1-1 tie in Frisco. Sporting Kansas City and Houston round out the top five.

The Red Bulls tumbled out of the top half by losing at home to the Galaxy and Chicago jumped into ninth by thrashing defending champion Seattle. After failing to win any of its first eight games Philly hammered D.C. United at RFK Stadium to win its second in a row and the Rapids won for the first time since the opening weekend of the season.

Ten teams play this Wednesday and there is another full slate of games next weekend.
MLS Results, Week 11:
May 10
Columbus 1, Toronto FC 2. Highlights
May 12
Houston 2, Vancouver 1. Highlights
May 13
Toronto FC 3, Minnesota United 2. Highlights
Colorado 3, San Jose 0. Highlights
Montreal 2, Columbus 3. Highlights
D.C. United 0, Philadelphia 4. Highlights
Orlando City 2, Sporting Kansas City 2. Highlights
New England 4, Real Salt Lake 0. Highlights
Chicago 4, Seattle 1. Highlights
May 14
FC Dallas 1, New York City FC 1. Highlights
Portland 1, Atlanta 1. Highlights
New York Red Bulls 1, L.A. Galaxy 3. Highlights
Only MLS results are factored into the Power Rankings, which weight a team’s recent results more than its overall performance. They include a team’s record in parentheses and rank last week.
1. TORONTO FC (7-1-4), 2. The players are getting it done as head coach Greg Vanney keeps getting it right. Tosaint Ricketts scored two goals off the bench to rally TFC past Crew SC, and he nailed the winner as starter against Minnesota. He headed home a cross from Jozy Altidore, who evaded his marker with a slick move to set up the goal. Vanney’s personnel acumen is about to face its toughest test: after converting a penalty kick, Sebastian Giovinco hobbled off with a strained quad (out three weeks) and defender Nick Hagglund suffered a torn MCL (two to three months).

2. NEW YORK CITY FC (5-3-2), 4. Midfielder Andrea Pirlo did not travel to Texas and with a do-or-die moment from Tommy McNamara NYCFC came home with a point. He crashed the six-yard box to head in the rebound of a David Villa free kick off the crossbar to reward the excellent work of keeper Sean Johnson, who stoned FCD several times to keep his team close. Of NYCFC’s 10 points in the last five games, seven have been accrued on the road, and this week it heads to Salt Lake City and Orlando.

3. FC DALLAS (5-0-4), 1. Unable to get a second goal after Kellyn Acosta scored from a clever layoff from Max Urruti in the 20th minute, FCD paid the price for its squandered chances. An Urruti blast was tipped onto the crossbar, and the Curse of Cristian Colman continued when his low shot on a clean chance forced an excellent save. In seven games he has 11 shots and no goals or assists. But he’s doing a lot of the right things.

4. SPORTING KC (5-2-4), 3. After grinding through three games in nine days last week SKC had enough in its legs to grab the first away point at Orlando City Stadium. In his first MLS start winger Latif Blessing scored early and late as SKC landed eight shots on target. Up next is another tough stint: home Wednesday against the defending champion, and at Vancouver Saturday.

5. HOUSTON (6-3-1), 5. The Dynamo won its sixth home game (out of seven) with a goal by Alberth Elis and one by his replacement, Erick "Cubo" Torres, from the penalty spot. It held only 40.4 percent of possession but didn’t concede until the 85th minute and needed only two saves by Joe Willis to get the victory.

6. PORTLAND (5-3-3), 6. The Timbers rallied to tie the game with a Liam Ridgewell goal four minutes after they fell behind, and nearly won it in stoppage time when a David Guzman shot hit the post. Diego Valeri returned to the lineup and managed two shots, Darlington Nagbe sat out again with an ouchy hamstring.

7. ORLANDO CITY SC (6-3-1), 7. The Lions are still unbeaten at home (5-0-1) and got the point with excellent goals by Cyle Larin and Kaka, who has been sharp and energetic since returning from a hamstring injury. But they have conceded eight goals in the last three games and were taken apart repeatedly by SKC while being outshot, 14-7. Once again, Joe Bendik (six saves) had to be top-notch.

8. COLUMBUS (6-5-1), 9. Crew SC stumbled late against TFC to lose a game it had in the bag, so a strong response to win in Canada earned it a bump up the rankings. It blew a 2-0 lead provided by Justin Meram strikes, but grabbed a win when Meram led a stoppage-time counter upfield and banged home a return pass from Niko Hansen.  Meram is the seventh player to hit a hat trick for Crew SC.

9. CHICAGO (4-3-3), 13. Along with myriad other elements necessary for success, the Fire showed a killer instinct after blowing open a 1-1 game. Nemanja Nikolic got the first and last goals – he converted on a second attempted PK after a save on David Accam had been nullified by early goalkeeper movement – and Accam and Luis Solignac also scored as Chicago’s attacking quartet cut the Seattle defense to ribbons.

10. SAN JOSE (4-4-3), 10. The glow from two solid wins rapidly dissolved as the Quakes struggled with altitude and a wildly pumped-up home team. Yet turnovers in bad spots produced the second and third goals and taking better care of the ball under pressure is essential this week; San Jose hosts Orlando City Wednesday and plays at FC Dallas on Saturday.

11. VANCOUVER (4-5-1), 11. The ‘Caps fell behind early, were victimized by a harsh penalty-kick decision when defender Kendall Waston collided with an opponent, and got on the board late with another Brek Shea goal off the bench. The next phase of the season is crucial and they need more consistency as they embark on a run of four straight league games at home and play in the Canadian Championship.

12. NY RED BULLS (5-6-1), 8. The defeat extends their losing streak to three games, during which they’ve been outscored, 8-1, and haven’t asserted their quality in midfield and up front. It’s very hard to control 67.7 percent of possession, out-pass the opposition 504-245, and only generate nine shots. Aside from keeper Luis Robles, the spine of the team is shaky.

13. ATLANTA UNITED (3-4-3), 14. Granted his first MLS start, German native Julian Gressel rolled home a shot from distance during an 86-minute stint that helped AUFC increase its road haul to nine points. AUFC conceded an equalizer four minutes after taking the lead, but a diving save by Alec Kann kept the game tied. It plays the next two at home against Houston and New York City FC, which are squarely in the playoff positions.

14. NEW ENGLAND (3-4-4), 18. Taking advantage of a banged-up opponent is essential, and the Revs set aside their own woes to jump on top with a Steve Caldwell goal in the fourth minute. Four different players scored before halftime as they broke a five-game winless streak. Kei Kamara, Diego Fagundez and Lee Nguyen each bagged a goal and registered an assist.

15. PHILADELPHIA (2-4-4), 19. A goal and two assists for Haris Medunjanin and a goal for Oguchi Onyewu on his 35th birthday brought Philly some redemption for a 2-1 loss at RFK on April Fool’s Day. Faca Picault and Fabian Herbers hit first-class finishes as Philly won its first road game of the season emphatically.

16. MONTREAL (2-4-4), 15. Stung by two goals in the first half, Montreal replied through Ignacio Piatti and sub Anthony Jackson-Hamel but eventually came away with nothing despite outshooting Columbus, 24-10. The midfield collapsed in stoppage time as Meram ran free and Montreal lost a second straight home game. A solid debut for new DP Blerim Dzemaili is one of the few positives.

17. SEATTLE (2-4-4), 12. Not much positive came out of the Sounders’ trip to Chicago, other than Clint Dempsey’s fourth goal of the season and the substitute appearance of Brad Evans, sidelined since the start of the season by a strained calf. He came on in the 81st minute, by which time a Sounders’ back line patched up with Cristian Roldan at right back and Tony Alfaro in the middle had been breached three times in 16 minutes. Seattle has garnered just six points from the last seven games.

18. LA GALAXY (3-5-2), 21. The Galaxy followed up a good second half a week ago against the Fire with a strong showing at Red Bull Arena to kick off a run of four straight on the road. Romain Alessandriani bagged two more goals and drew a penalty-kick foul as well.  A monster game by Jelle Van Dame stamped out attacks all over the defensive half. Up next is Minnesota United, then San Jose and D.C. United.

19. D.C. UNITED (3-5-2), 16. The crumbling concrete and failing plumbing aren’t the only dysfunctional systems at RFK. United managed just one shot on goal and seldom threatened after a wild midfield tackle produced a red card for Luciano Acosta. Defender Chris Korb made his first appearance since suffering a torn ACL in 2015 and Steve Birnbaum got back on the field after sitting out a month going through the MLS Concussion Protocol. The last chance to salvage points from a three-game homestand comes this weekend against Chicago.

20. MINNESOTA UNITED (3-6-2), 17. A pair of tallies by Kevin Molino wiped out a pair of one-goal deficits stemming from an Abu Danladi penalty-kick foul and a Christian Ramirez own goal before the Loons conceded again. They are 0-4-2 on the road and have conceded the most goals (28) in the league but they are battlers.

21. COLORADO (2-6-1), 22. The Rapids awoke from their seven-game winless slumber to roll over the Quakes. Dominique Badji scored a goal after winning a ball in midfield and set up one of two by Shkelzen Gashi by poking a pass through an opponents’ legs while sitting on the grass. A double-dip road trip to Chicago and Philly this week should reveal more about this team’s current state.

22. REAL SALT LAKE (2-7-2), 20. The crushing effects of U-20 callups and injuries continue. Three midfielders made their first starts of the season and defender Reagan Dunk played his first pro game, and the result was about what you’d expect. Jefferson Savarino, a 20-year-old Venezuelan signed on loan last week, put both of this shots on goal during a credible 29-minute stint. No letup this week: RSL hosts NYCFC and also plays in Seattle.
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