MLS Power Rankings: Surges continue for 'Caps and Atlanta

Four-point weeks for two teams helped jostle the rankings at the top, though the top three of Toronto FC, New York City FC and Seattle stayed pat.

Atlanta United delighted combined crowds of more than 115,000 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium by scoring 10 goals, and Vancouver took over the Western Conference lead by beating Minnesota United and rallying late to tie Columbus.

Speaking of Crew SC, it is 3-0-3 since early August. Contrast the record to that of Montreal, which has fallen off the playoff pace by losing four in a row after crashing at home to expansion entrant Minnesota United, and the LA Galaxy, which fell at home to Toronto FC without mustering a shot on goal.

MLS Results, Week 28
Sept. 13
Atlanta United 7, New England 0. Highlights
Vancouver 3, Minnesota United 0. Highlights
Sept. 16
Atlanta United 3, Orlando City 3. Highlights
Real Salt Lake 2, Portland 1. Highlights
Chicago 3, D.C. United 0. Highlights
Montreal 2, Minnesota United 3. Highlights
Vancouver 2, Columbus 2. Highlights
Sporting Kansas City 3, New England 1. Highlights
FC Dallas 0, Seattle 0. Highlights
Colorado 1, New York City FC 1. Highlights
San Jose 1, Houston 0. Highlights
L.A. Galaxy 0, Toronto FC 4. Highlights
Sept. 17
New York Red Bulls 0, Philadelphia 0. Highlights
 
Only MLS results are factored into the Power Rankings, which include a team’s record in parentheses and rank last week.
 
1.TORONTO FC (18-3-8), 1. Two goals by Tosaint Ricketts in his first start since late May punctuated a dominant display (16-3 in shots, no Galaxy shots on goal) and sixth straight victory achieved with Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley rested. The steadily excellent Victor Vazquez registered his seventh goal and 16th assist.

2. NEW YORK CITY FC (15-8-6), 2. For the third time this season NYCFC lost a victory by conceding a goal in the final five minutes. Tom McNamara’s goal was just the third scored by NYCFC in the last four games and set up with a rare Andrea Pirlo assist. After sitting out two games with a strained hamstring, David Villa came off the bench to play the final 18 minutes.

3. SEATTLE (11-7-11), 3. The Sounders were seldom troubled while extending their unbeaten streak to 13 games. A sharp diving save by Stefan Frei turned aside a low shot from Kellyn Acosta as they registered their 10th shutout of the season.

4. SPORTING KC (11-6-11), 5. It traded Dom Dwyer for lots of allocation money to build for the future, but the deal also put pressure on players like Diego Rubio to get goals now. He responded with two opportunistic tap-ins as SKC maintained its unbeaten home record (9-0-5).

5. VANCOUVER (13-9-6), 6. A blown 1-0 lead thanks to an early Fredy Montero goal didn’t dissuade the Caps from snatching a point with a stoppage-time goal by Tony Tchani that was just enough to retain first place in the Western Conference. As for the midweek defeat of MNUFC, that also started with an early goal -- by emerging star Yordy Reyna -- supplemented by strikes from Erik Hurtado and Brek Shea. Rookie right back Jake Nerwinski got his third assist in the last three games.

6. NY RED BULLS (12-10-6), 4. A few starters were rested for the Open Cup final and thus did NYRB acquire only its fourth straight tie. Head coach Jesse Marsch has placed a high priority for the Open Cup against SKC Wednesday, and must also plan for three league games in eight days starting Saturday at Columbus.

7. ATLANTA UNITED (12-8-7), 8. Many great players have come and gone, but MLS ain’t never seen anything like Josef Martinez. Hat tricks in back-to-back games upped his take to 16 goals in 14 games. A record crowd of 70,425 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium observed his second hat trick of the week and third of the season that made for a most remarkable week of soccer in the South.

8. PORTLAND (12-10-8), 7. By scoring in an eighth consecutive game Diego Valeri set a league record but the Timbers back line was cut open repeatedly as their four-game unbeaten streak ended. Dairon Asprilla blazed the rebound of a parried Valeri shot wide from close range and former RSL keeper Jeff Attinella let a savable shot slip past his fists.

9. REAL SALT LAKE (11-14-5), 11. The wins just keep on coming, especially at home, where RSL had gone four straight games without a victory as of Aug. 5. Jefferson Savarino and Albert Rusnak scored as RSL won its third straight game at Rio Tinto by combined scores of 10-2.

10. COLUMBUS (13-12-5), 12. Crew SC bounced back from conceding an early goal in Vancouver but an apparent winner by former Whitecap Kekuta Manneh was matched by counterpart Tchani. Steadily -- with three wins and three ties in the last six games -- it has pulled clear of the chasing pack and considering how low Columbus finished last year (ninth of 10 teams), to plow up the standings in a much more competitive conference is a tribute to the coaching staff and players.
 
11. SAN JOSE (11-12-6), 13. With a goal by Danny Hoesen, his third of the season, the Quakes extended their home unbeaten streak to seven games and edged into the playoff sextet. Hoesen also set up three chances for teammates and rookie Jackson Yeuill played a strong 90 minutes that included 10 recoveries and three interceptions along with one key pass.

12. HOUSTON (10-10-8), 10. The Dynamo fell behind the Quakes on the first tiebreaker, most wins, as it failed to win for a fourth straight game. Erick Torres hit the post with Houston’s best chance. Newcomer Tomas Martinez earned his first MLS caution in his first MLS start as head coach Wilmer Cabrera tries to stop the slide.

13. MINNESOTA UNITED (8-15-5), 15. Twice rallying from one-goal deficits on the road -- on the heels of a loss and cross-country flight -- and winning late with a great strike from rookie Abu Danladi shows how much determination has been infused by head coach Adrian Heath and his staff. Despite some horrendous results and 58 goals conceded, the Loons are legit.

14. CHICAGO (14-9-6), 17. Left back Brandon Vincent got forward to score the clinching second goal with a diving header as the Fire comfortably closed out a game they mostly controlled in the absences of midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael de Leeuw.

15. MONTREAL (10-12-6), 9. That’s a big drop in the rankings, but justified by a fourth straight loss against an expansion team at home that leaves a six-point gap to the playoff tier. Unlike a few conference rivals, the Impact hasn’t solved the problem of winning if its top player -– in this case, Ignacio Piatti, who failed to convert penalty kick –- is absent or off his game.

16. FC DALLAS (9-8-11), 14. FCD plugged up its leaky defense – 12 goals allowed in the previous five games -- to post its first shutout in more than a month, but has itself failed to score five times during its nine-match winless skid. Out of the playoff tier on goal difference, it starts a run of three matches in eight days Saturday at Minnesota United.

17. D.C. UNITED (8-17-4), 16. An own goal by Ian Harkes midway through the first half sent United on the path to a second straight defeat and eighth road shutout of the season.

18. ORLANDO CITY (9-12-8), 21. The Lions took three leads they couldn’t hold, yet two goals by Dom Dwyer and one from Cyle Larin showed what they can do when paired up top. They also showed an attack without Kaka can work just fine.
 
19. NEW ENGLAND (10-14-5), 18. Can it get any worse for the Revs? Krisztian Nemeth made his return to Kansas City infamous instead of memorable by tossing a careless elbow that got him tossed in the 11th minute three days after they were slaughtered in the worst defeat in team history. Two players were sent off in Atlanta as well.

20. PHILADELPHIA (8-12-9), 19. A third straight tie and fourth in the last five games leaves the Union looking ahead to 2018 rather than girding for a playoff challenge. The Union managed only six shots from two players -- C.J. Sapong and Chris Pontius -- and needed another super game (eight saves) by Andre Blake. In his third consecutive start right back Keegan Rosenberry -- remember him? – got in six tackles.

21. COLORADO (7-16-5), 22. A late equalizer by Dominique Badji gave the Rapids a point even though they held just 43 percent of possession and fell behind in the 19th minute.

22. L.A. GALAXY (7-15-6), 20. A record of 2-9-4 at StubHub Center is all you need to know about the 2017 season. Newcomer Michael Ciani made his debut in a rejiggered defense of three defenders and two wingbacks that mirrored TFC’s alignment but did little to slow it down.
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