The final season came to a close with a flourish and a flurry of goals -- 46 in the 11 matches played Sunday -- and by scraping out a point in Atlanta Toronto FC held onto the top spot while setting a
league record for points in a season (69).
Strong finishes for Seattle and Columbus -- which combined racked up 20 points in their final 10 games -- pushed them into second and third,
respectively, and Portland’s victory edged it into fifth place.
The balance of power in the Western Conference contrasts sharply with the extremes of the East. Three of the top four
slots in the rankings are filled by Eastern teams yet that conference also has the three bottom-feeders.
Only MLS results are factored into the Power
Rankings, which include a team’s record in parentheses and rank last week.
1. TORONTO FC (20-5-9), 1. The genius who is Sebastian Giovinco rescued the point for
TFC with yet another superb free kick and Jozy Altidore embellished the celebration of his goal by gesturing to the Atlanta fans “can’t hear you.” Their combined 31 goals
doesn’t match their total of 35 in 2015, but that team didn’t come close to 20 wins nor the top playoff seed.
2. SEATTLE (14-9-11), 4. An early red card to Clint Dempsey put a damper on a comfortable victory set in motion by a goal
from Will Bruin, whose playoff importance grows greatly with Dempsey suspended and Jordan Morris still hobbled.
3. COLUMBUS (16-12-6), 5. Distracted by disturbing news of a
pending move to Austin, Crew SC got goals by Ola Kamara and Josh Williams and seven saves – including a last-second PK stop – from Zack Steffen to notch its 11th point
in the last five games. Kamara’s goal is his 18th of the season; two assists for Federico Higuain ups his take to 14.
4. ATLANTA UNITED (15-9-10), 2. After
nearly a month on the shelf with a bad hamstring, Miguel Almiron played the last 30 minutes and earned an assist on Josef Martinez’s 19th goal of the season in front of a
league-record crowd (71,874). AUFC finished with just six points in its last five games to fall out of the top two but still gets a home game for its first postseason appearance against the Red
5. PORTLAND (15-11-8), 6. The Western Conference title race turned out to be a case of last team standing, and the Timbers certainly stood tall to win on the final day.
Defender LiamRidgewell equalized and ex-Cap Darren Mattocks bagged the winner. The health of that pair -- combined they made only 26 starts -- will be just as important in the
playoffs as that of Diego Valeri, who ended the season with 21 goals, 11 assists, and a lot of MVP votes.
6. HOUSTON (13-10-11), 7. Defender Leonardo scored his
second goal of the season in the second minute to set the Dynamo en route to completing its home schedule at 12-1-4. As one of just two teams -- the other being Columbus -- to avoid defeat in
its last six games of the season Houston has some momentum going into the playoffs along with a potent front line. It may not have veteran defender A.J. DeLaGarza, who left the game injured in
the eighth minute.
7. VANCOUVER (15-12-7), 3. To avoid the Knockout Round the ‘Caps needed to prevail in a tough venue unless the Sounders failed to win, which they did, and
so the resting of several starters and subsequent defeat puts all the chips into a game against the Quakes. Vancouver went 1-3-1 in its last five games but before then were unbeaten in a seven-game
run that included six at home, which is where it will be Wednesday.
8. CHICAGO (16-11-7), 8. The Fire rested a few starters yet still controlled more than 60 percent of possession
and completed 84 percent of its passes despite not scoring. Nemanja Nikolic, needing a season-ending hat trick to tie the league record of 27 goals,banged a pair of shots off the
crossbar. Drawn in the Knockout Round against the Red Bulls, a rallying cry of “Win it for Dax! [McCarty]” seems appropriate.
9. NEW YORK CITY FC (16-9-9), 9.
Two more goals for David Villa took his tally for the season for 22, though his stoppage-time penalty kick that would have won the game and a notched a hat trick was saved. One playoff
concern may be Jack Harrison; he’s been subbed out of the last four games and has scored only two goals since the Fourth of July.
10. REAL SALT LAKE (13-15-6), 11.
Goals by Luis Silva and Brooks Lennon helped RSL get a win that wasn’t quite enough to snag a playoff spot. In the reign of head coach MikePetke, RSL recovered
from a four-game losing streak to post a record of 8-3-4 (W-L-T) in the second half of the season.
11. SAN JOSE (13-14-7), 12. Thanks to the last-minute heroics of Marco Urena,
the Quakes incredible win propelled them into the post-season for the first time since 2013. The man who scored twice for Costa Rica against the USA at Red Bull Arena tapped in a square pass from
club icon Chris Wondolowski to get San Jose just above the playoff line. Interim head coach Chris Leitch compiled the exact same points-per-game (1.35) in the same number of games (17)
as predecessor Dominic Kinnear.
12. NY RED BULLS (14-12-8), 14. Goals seven minutes apart from Michael Murillo and Gonzalo Veron swept the Red Bulls to a
season-ending victory, which is just their second in the last 11 games. Yet they are unbeaten in their last three, during which they have conceded just one goal.
13. SPORTING KC
(12-9-13), 10. Defender Ike Opara scored in the 89th minutebut againSKC was unable to post a victory with keeper Andrew Dykstra replacing Tim Melia.SKC
ended the season in a five-game winless skid, during which it scored three goals.
14. NEW ENGLAND (13-15-6), 15. In the final minute of their season finale the Revs finally got a
road victory. Kelyn Rowe’s late winner ended a see-saw tussle in which Diego Fagundez and Krisztian Nemeth had already scored. The rebuild of a talented squad that has
underachieved will be a long process.
15. FC DALLAS (11-10-13), 16. A rousing winfeatured two goalsby Roland Lamah but it was just the second victory in the
last 15 games of the season. With two goals and an assist, MauroDiaz served a reminder of what he means to the team.
16. MINNESOTA UNITED (10-18-6), 13. A bullet
into the top corner by Jerome Thiesson and a headed goal off a corner kick by Francisco Calvo wiped out one-goal deficits before the Loons were stung in stoppage time. For a team that
got a late start on and off the field, 10 wins and average crowds of 20,538 is job well done.
17. PHILADELPHIA (11-14-9), 19. Two goals apiece by Fafa Picault and C.J.
Sapong and the 371st and final game of Brian Carroll’s career gave a nice sheen to a disappointing season.
18. COLORADO (9-19-6), 17. Blanked for the 11th time in
their last 18 games, the Rapids finished the season with the most road losses (14) and tied with the fewest goals (31).
19. L.A. GALAXY (8-18-8), 18. Another bad game against a
good team dropped the Galaxy into the Western Conference cellar as the first squad to finish with the league’s worst overall record. It also set a club record for goals conceded with 67. Nowhere
to go but up.
20. ORLANDO CITY (10-15-9), 20. A fitting end to a stinker of a season. Nothing more to say. Oh, Dom Dwyer scored.
21. D.C. UNITED (9-20-5),
21. Unable to close down RFK Stadium with a victory, United at least generated a first MLS goal for Paul Arriola and drew a tremendous crowd of 41,418.
(11-17-6), 22. Predictablythe season ended with another loss -- the ninth in the last 10 games -- and on Monday the departure of head coach Mauro Biello. But at least club icon
Patrice Bernier concluded his career with a goal from the penalty spot and a tearful jog to the bench when was substituted in the 82nd minute.