MLS Power Rankings: Toronto FC stumbles but stays top

Montreal ended Toronto FC’s home unbeaten record and Sporting Kansas City and Vancouver continued their winning ways to edge closer to the leader.

Wins for SKC and the ‘Caps moved them into the second and third slots, respectively. Another pair of impressive victories at Mercedes-Benz Stadium lifted Atlanta United into fourth place. Portland rode another strong game from Diego Valeri, who has taken over the scoring lead with 20 goals, into fifth.
 
MLS Results, Week 29:
Sept. 20
Toronto FC 3, Montreal 5. Highlights
Atlanta United 4, L.A. Galaxy 0. Highlights
Sept. 23
New York City FC 1, Houston 1. Highlights
Real Salt Lake 2, Seattle 0. Highlights
Philadelphia 3, Chicago 1. Highlights
New England 2, Toronto FC 1. Highlights
D.C. United 4, San Jose 0. Highlights
Minnesota United 4, FC Dallas 1. Highlights
Columbus 3, New York Red Bulls 2. Highlights
Vancouver 2, Colorado 1. Highlights
Sept. 24
Sporting Kansas City 2, L.A. Galaxy 1. Highlights
Atlanta United 2, Montreal 0. Highlights
Portland 3, Orlando City 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 (18-5-8), 1. Given the scare of last season’s Eastern Conference finals and another big display by Ignacio Piatti, TFC would probably just as soon not see Montreal in the playoffs. Tosaint Ricketts scored two late goals to narrow the final margin. Yet TFC also sputtered against the Revs. A home game against the Red Bulls should be just what the Shield favorites need to get back on the beam and clinch that award.

2.  SPORTING KC (12-6-11), 4. SKC powered through the fatigue of winning the Open Cup on Wednesday to defeat the dispirited Galaxy. The young strike force of Daniel Salloi and Diego Rubio scored before halftime and SKC held on for its third win in the last five league games.

3. VANCOUVER (14-9-6), 5. A goal and an assist by Yordy Reyna earned the ‘Caps another deserved victory; his gamewinner was his fifth of the season in that category. Since joining MLS six years ago never have the ‘Caps looked this good this late in the season. The 2015 team that set a team record for victories with 15 also won its 14th game against Colorado and faded badly down the stretch. With Reyna finally fit and a lot of other players also in good form, a repeat of that collapse is unlikely.

4. ATLANTA UNITED (14-8-7), 7. Another pair of pummeled foes – the first game of which featured two goals by Yamil Asad and “only” one by Josef Martinez -- adds to the team’s burgeoning mystique but how about Brad Guzan and Co. earning shutouts eight and nine of the season? The tightening defense will be just as critical as an injury to Miguel Almiron that will keep him out for two or three weeks.

5. PORTLAND (13-10-8), 9. The Diego Valeri MVP Express took on more passengers as he scored in his ninth straight game (league record) and took his tally for the season to 20 goals (league leader).

6. NEW YORK CITY FC (15-8-7), 2. The returns of David Villa and Alexander Ring may have been offset by a jarring relocation to East Hartford necessitated by a conflict at Yankee Stadium. Defender Andraz Struna marked his first MLS start by assisting Maxi Moralez’s fifth goal of the season in the sixth minute but Jack Harrison’s shot came off the crossbar a few minutes later and NYCFC could not reply after giving up an equalizer.

7. REAL SALT LAKE (12-14-5), 9. There’s some good mojo swirling around RSL. Veterans Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando are turning back the clock aided by a young brigade. Jefferson Savarino (20) bagged a goal and an assist, Albert Rusnak (23) is tied for the team lead in goals (7) and is top dog with 13 assists, and defender Justen Glad (also 20) is looking better every game. RSL is 7-2-3 in the last dozen games.

8. SEATTLE (11-8-11), 3. The end of a 13-game unbeaten run s no cause for a concern, though a run of four straight ties preceding the defeat could be worrisome if the Sounders can’t carve out a few points this week at home against Vancouver and in Philly.

9. COLUMBUS (14-12-5), 10. A Federico Higuain hat trick of assists pushed Crew SC five points ahead of NYRB in the standings and ran its record in the last seven games to 4-0-3. Ola Kamara’s streak of four straight games ended but defender Josh Williams netted his first goal in four a half years for the winner.

10. NY RED BULLS (12-11-6), 6. The Red Bulls take another tumble by failing to win in a sixth straight game despite goals by Bradley Wright-Phillips -- set up by a Sean Davis steal and pass -- and penalty kick from Gonzalo Veron.

11. HOUSTON (10-10-9), 10. The Dynamo unveiled a different alignment to get a point in a very different venue. Goalscorer Mauro Manotas played with a trio of Vicente Sanchez, Alex, and Tomas Martinez in support. Alberth Elis landed two of his three shots on target as a sub and Erick Torres did not get off the bench. Houston can jump into the playoff tier this week with home games against the Galaxy and MNUFC.

12. MINNESOTA UNITED (9-15-5), 15. Speaking of the Loons, they bounced back from conceding early to win going away with another spirited team display. Christian Ramirez equalized and then set up fellow superhero Miguel Ibarra to volley the gamewinner. With a 2-1 lead, Bobby Shuttleworth saved a penalty kick to set the stage for additional goals by Ethan Finlay and Abu Danladi.

13. SAN JOSE (11-13-6), 11. The Quakes survived a few first-half attacks in their last – presumably – last visit to RFK Stadium before Patrick Mullins dropped the hammer on them. The playoff hopes likely hinge on home games this week against Chicago and Portland, both of which have better records and are similarly engaged.
 
14. MONTREAL (11-13-6), 15. With a pair of goals apiece by Ignacio Piatti and Anthony Jackson-Hamel plus a long-distance screamer off the foot of Marco Donadel the Impact ended TFC’s home unbeaten run. Three points from a most foreboding road trip keeps the playoff bubble intact.

15. CHICAGO (14-10-6), 14. Road demons supposedly exorcised by a victory in Montreal returned as the Fire fell behind and got only a late goal from Luis Solignac as consolation.  This week is a grueling West Coast road trip -- to play San Jose Wednesday -- followed by a tough home game -- NYCFC -- Saturday.

16. D.C. UNITED (9-17-4), 18. Yet another milestone has been added to the long, rich lore of RFK Stadium. Mullins scored four times in 31 minutes to easily beat the previous record of 38 minutes. His quartet also pulled United into a tie with Colorado for fewest goals in MLS (27).

17.  NEW ENGLAND (11-14-5), 19. Locked up at 0-0 for more than 80 minutes, the Revs took the lead when Lee Nguyen -- making his first appearance as a sub this season -- scored, and scored again through Kei Kamara two minutes after surrendering the lead. They have won six in a row at home, where they are 11-2-2 this season. The quest for the first road victory of the season takes them to Orlando City on Wednesday.

18. PHILADELPHIA (9-12-9), 20. All hail the first two goals of the season for Chris Pontius, who has persevered through tough times, as has Philly. It’s not about to get easier. On Wednesday comes the first visit to Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

19. FC DALLAS (9-9-11), 16. Well, what else can go wrong? Tesho Akindele opened the scoring, but then hit the post, and then was sent off. Mauro Diaz failed to convert a penalty kick with the score 2-1. Ten games without a victory and many, many more problems than solutions.

20. ORLANDO CITY (9-13-8), 18. For the third time this season the Lions finished the game with nine players and while one of the reds was quite questionable, head coach Jason Kreis also questioned his team’s lack of effort in a game it had to win.

21. COLORADO (7-17-5), 21 Another opportunistic goal by Dominique Badji got the Rapids even, but Tim Howard misplayed a long ball to present Vancouver with its winner. They have lost seven of their last dozen.

22. L.A. GALAXY (7-17-6), 22. Really? Gyasi Zardes played right back in the second game of another dismal week. And he looked better than a few of his teammates. Romain Alessandrini notched his 10th goal of the season with a superb free kick.
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