MLS Power Rankings, Week 12: Toronto FC takes advantage of Dallas's first loss
- FC Dallas's first loss of the season paved the way for Toronto FC to ride its seven-game unbeaten streak to the top spot in our MLS Power Rankings.
Another week, another milestone in the 2017 MLS season. The league officially has no remaining unbeaten teams left, with San Jose handing FC Dallas its first loss of the season on Saturday on a goal worthy of such an occasion. That result reverberates throughout this week’s Power Rankings, where there is a new leader as well as some shuffling in the middle of the pack ahead of a week chock full of rivalry matchups.
Here's how the league shapes up after its latest slate of matches:
With Friday’s 1–1 draw at the Red Bulls, Toronto FC ended a brutal run of six games in 21 days with an incredible 5–0–1 mark, and Toronto’s unbeaten run has now reached seven games. The thing is, the record could easily have been better. Toronto had several chances to win the game against the Red Bulls, including a goal controversially called back in the second half. Sebastian Giovinco is still out for another couple of weeks, but TFC may not need to rush him back.
Patrick Vieira rested a handful of regular starters on Wednesday and the team lost 3–1 on its trip to Real Salt Lake. The team followed that up with one of its most impressive results of the season: A 3–0 win at Orlando City–the first time the Lions have lost in their new stadium. NYCFC looked dominant in Sunday’s win, which suggests that the midweek result is an outlier for one of the East’s best teams.
It finally happened. After a nine-game unbeaten run to start the season, FC Dallas lost its first game of 2017, 1–0 at home to San Jose. The truth is that Dallas’s performances have been a bit inconsistent the last few weeks, but it was able to salvage draws in games most teams might have lost otherwise. It will look to get back on track on Thursday at Chicago.
Sporting KC looked dominant in a 3–0 midweek home win over Seattle, but then seemed a shadow of itself while playing numerous reserves in Saturday’s 2–0 loss at Vancouver. Leading scorer Dom Dwyer was out with a knee injury for that game, and SKC will hope that issue resolves itself quickly. After starting off the year unbeaten through six, SKC has sprinkled in three losses in its last seven games but still tops the Western Conference standings. It'll face Colorado on Saturday.
The Fire won both of their games, and Nemanja Nikolic cemented his place among the most dangerous strikers in MLS, all in a single week. Nikolic’s two goals in a 3–0 win over Colorado at home midweek vaulted him into pole position in the Golden Boot race, while David Accam got the winner in a gritty 1–0 win over D.C. United on Saturday. Chicago has won three straight as part of a four-game unbeaten run, and it hosts FC Dallas in a must-see matchup on Thursday night.
Portland went down early at Montreal thanks to an extremely harsh PK call. The effects of that bad call were compounded by the Timbers’ frustration, as Diego Chara earned a deserved red card for a slap to the face of Ignacio Piatti away from the ball. The Timbers are riding a four-game winless streak going into Saturday’s Cascadia Cup matchup against Seattle, and they could be without Chara for longer than just that game, depending on what the MLS Disciplinary Committee says.
The road woes continued for the Dynamo in Week 12, as Houston lost 2–0 at Philadelphia and 4–1 at Atlanta to bring its away record to a miserable 0–5–0 on the season. Houston’s 6–0–1 record at home means it is still among the top teams in the West, but good teams must find ways to get results on the road. The Dynamo will have another chance to do so this weekend, at the home of Texas rival FC Dallas.
Atlanta bounced back in a big way after an indifferent run of form, looking utterly dominant in a 4–1 win over Houston at home. Miguel Almiron was on another level in this week’s match, scoring two outstanding goals and adding a PK for a hat trick. If he’s able to repeat anything close to that kind of performance in this weekend’s game against NYCFC, we could be in for a thriller.
After a rip-roaring start to the season, the Lions have cooled off considerably. The team dropped its first points at home last week, then followed that up a week later with its first home loss–a 3–0 result against NYCFC in which Orlando was second-best in just about every facet. In between there was a 1–1 draw at San Jose, which kept the week from being a total disaster. Still, Jason Kreis’ side hasn’t won in five games, and is slowly falling down the Eastern Conference table (and these rankings).
Note to self: next time you’re in an extended slump, make a fun video. Since the release of the team’s spot-on social video tribute to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Philadelphia has won four straight games, the last two coming in Week 12’s homestand–2–0 over Houston and 2–1 over Colorado. The star of said video, CJ Sapong, has scored four goals in that span, including a goal and an assist in the past two games.
Ola Kamara scored a goal-of-the-season contender to open things at New England, but Crew SC allowed Diego Fagundez to get the next two tallies in a 2–1 loss at New England. This was a game Columbus easily could have won or tied had a couple chances gone its way, including a blast off the crossbar and an absolute sitter missed by Kamara later in that game. Columbus travels to face Toronto on Friday.
The Red Bulls took a first-half lead thanks to an acrobatic finish from Bradley Wright-Phillips, but allowed Toronto FC to equalize in the second half in a 1–1 draw at Red Bull Arena on Friday. The result stopped a three-game losing streak for the Red Bulls, but that run could easily have gone on had TFC not narrowly missed out on a number of chances–never mind being denied a winner on a controversial call–in the final stages. Jesse Marsch will be looking for nothing less than a win on Saturday vs. New England.
The Whitecaps’ form has slowly but surely gotten better since the start of the season, so much so that Saturday’s 2–0 win over Sporting Kansas City seemed fairly routine for Carl Robinson’s side. Cristian Techera finished off a beautiful buildup for one goal, continuing a run of good form for the Uruguayan. The Whitecaps face D.C. United at home this weekend.
Diego Fagundez is officially a man in form, following up his goal and assist last week with a double this week in the Revolution’s 2–1 win over Columbus. It feels like a weekly statement, but it still holds: It's unclear what to make of the Revolution yet. The team has won two straight games, though, and it'll hope to extend that to a season-high third game unbeaten this weekend at the Red Bulls.
The Earthquakes achieved the most surprising result of the weekend slate, taking down the league’s last unbeaten team with a 1–0 win at FC Dallas. That is, needless to say, a very positive result for this team, which also drew 1–1 vs. Orlando City at home midweek. The Quakes’ new additions, including Saturday’s match-winner Jahmir Hyka, seem to be fitting in more and more as the season goes on. The Quakes face the LA Galaxy this weekend.
The Sounders’ bad run got even worse with a 3–0 midweek loss at Sporting KC, but they were at least able to end it on a positive note with a 1–0 win over Real Salt Lake at home. Strangely for a team that boasts Jordan Morris, Clint Dempsey, and Nicolas Lodeiro, finishing chances has been this team’s Achilles' heel in many games this season. Seattle will hope those woes go out the window in Saturday’s Cascadia Cup match against Portland.
The Galaxy got a much-needed win against Minnesota United, and it used a magic touch from Giovani Dos Santos (and a Christian Ramirez own goal) to do it. Don’t look now, but this much-maligned Galaxy team has now gone four games without a loss and is riding two straight wins. They’ll put that streak on the line this Saturday at San Jose.
Minnesota United fell victim to a bit of brilliance by Gio Dos Santos, and a bit of...uh…not brilliance from one of their own. Christian Ramirez may have scored the equalizer for the Loons, but he also scored the winner for the LA Galaxy when he allowed a free kick to clumsily deflect off his leg and into his own goal–his second straight week with an own goal. The Loons will look to get back on track on Saturday when it hosts Orlando City.
The Impact got a bit of a break early against Portland, as a soft PK call allowed the Canadian side to take an early 1–0 lead. Then Portland’s Diego Chara got a silly red card, and the Impact more or less dominated from there, especially in the second half. It’s tough to say that the Impact have improved based on this result alone, but any win is welcome for a team that only had two of them going into this week.
RSL finally broke its four-game losing run with a midweek win over an NYCFC side missing many regulars, but followed that up with a 1–0 loss at Seattle. From injuries to form on the field, not much has gone right for RSL recently, but Nick Rimando did set records for total saves and PK saves over the course of those two games. So that’s something.
Unfortunately for the Rapids, last week’s 3–0 win over San Jose looks to have been a mirage. Colorado returned to its awful form this week with two away losses, 3–0 at Chicago and 2–1 against Philadelphia. Caleb Calvert scored his first MLS goal in the latter game, but followed it up with one of the most unusual red cards you’ll ever see.
Another week, another game with the same ol’ problems for D.C. United, which looked subdued in attack and caught unaware along the back line in a 1–0 loss at home to the Chicago Fire. The team generated only two shots on target in the match, neither of which caused a problem for the Fire. D.C. is now at the bottom of the East, and the season is in danger of getting away.