MLS Power Rankings, Week 13: Fire keep on rising as Galaxy make a big leap
- Toronto FC reasserted its status as the league's top team, but few other elites did the same as unfancied sides made big leaps in the Power Rankings.
Week 13 in MLS was a wild one on the field, with many controversial calls (and non-calls) making headlines instead of the usual smattering of golazos. It was also a wild one for this week’s Power Rankings. Three of last week’s top five teams suffered losses, while four of the bottom five got important wins. What does that do to the rankings? Let’s find out:
FC Dallas held top spot in these rankings for a long while, but it now looks like it’ll take a giant surge from another team to dislodge them from the top. Despite being stretched thin with a packed fixture list, TFC extended its unbeaten run on Friday with a 5–0 win over Columbus Crew SC. That makes TFC 7–1–2 in its last 10 MLS games. No matter who they put on the field, Toronto is finding ways to get points.
Nemanja Nikolic stayed hot, the defense held tight, and the Chicago Fire are now riding an impressive four-game win streak after Thursday’s 2–1 win over FC Dallas. Nikolic’s 11 goals put him in pole position for the Golden Boot, and the Fire now have a solid hold on second place in the East. They’ll have a chance to make it five straight on Saturday at Orlando.
NYCFC game up three quick goals in the first half and couldn’t recover in a 3–1 loss to Atlanta United FC. Patrick Vieira’s side are an early frontrunner for the league’s most frustrating team -- occasionally displaying tremendous quality, but almost never any consistency. NYCFC has yet to string together more than three positive results in a row this year, but they’ll get a chance to start that run this week against New England (on Wednesday) and Saturday against Philadelphia.
Its unbeaten start to the season finally snapped, FC Dallas is hurtled all the way back to Earth in Week 13. The team lost 2–1 to Chicago on Thursday, before managing a scoreless draw against Texas rivals Houston Dynamo on Sunday. The road will get harder: Dallas will be without starting center back Walker Zimmerman for 4–6 weeks after he strained his MCL against Houston. On the plus side, playmaker Mauro Diaz made his return to the field as a sub after a long layoff due to an Achilles tear.
Slack defending on a single set piece cost Sporting KC this weekend, as it lost 1–0 to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. As has often been the case with Sporting KC in recent years, it struggled to break down an opponent that was bunked down defensively. That’s KC’s second-straight loss, and it brings their road record to a not-great 1–4–3.
The Timbers went down early at their Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders, and couldn’t find a way back into the game in a 1–0 loss. The Timbers will feel aggrieved that a Chad Marshall handball in the box wasn’t called in that game, but outside of that the Timbers never seriously looked like they were going to grab an equalizer or winner in this one. That makes it five games without a win for Portland, which will hope to rectify that on Friday against San Jose.
Atlanta broke a rough patch of form with a win last week, and they continued that trend on Sunday with a 3–1 home win over NYCFC. Miguel Almiron was, once again, brilliant in the win, striking twice in 23 minutes as Atlanta jumped out to a 3–0 lead within the opening half hour and never looked back. When this team is firing on all cylinders at home, it’s an absolute force.
It may not have been the prettiest result, but after a point-free run of results away from home, keeping a 0–0 draw at rivals FC Dallas will count as a major positive for Wilmer Cabrera’s side. Tyler Deric in particular had a big part to play, making several key saves and interventions for a team that has gotten more plaudits for its attacking inventiveness than its defensive solidity.
The Red Bulls needed a win to boost their spirits on Saturday against New England, and that’s exactly what they got. The 2–1 win didn’t just show a lot of character given that the Red Bulls came from behind to earn it, it also ended the team’s four-match winless run. The Red Bulls will try to build on that result Saturday at Montreal.
The Galaxy fell behind early against old rivals San Jose, but Curt Onalfo’s team kept on fighting and earned a 4–2 win away from home. Give Onalfo credit; after coming in for a lot of criticism early this season the manager has his team playing well at the moment, as the Galaxy are currently riding three straight wins as part of a five-game unbeaten run. The uptick in form from Giovani Dos Santos has a lot to do with that, but so does more cohesive play from the rest of the group.
The Union’s surprising four-game winning streak came to an end on Saturday, as it lost 1–0 at Real Salt Lake. It’s tough to know exactly why the Union came out flat in this one, but the long trip plus playing altitude may have had something small to do with it. Andre Blake made several good saves, and the team remains in fairly good form heading into this week’s trip to NYCFC.
What has gone wrong with the Lions? Once the talk of the league, Orlando has now gone six games without a win, the most recent being Saturday’s 1–0 loss at Minnesota United FC. Striker Cyle Larin’s form has mirrored that of his team -- the Canadian has only scored once in the last six games, cooling off considerably after netting six times in the season’s opening six games. The Lions have two games in Week 14: Hosting D.C. on Wednesday and traveling to Chicago on Sunday.
After a well-earned win last weekend, the Whitecaps fell to a disappointing and arguably undeserved 1–0 loss at home to D.C. United on Saturday. The Whitecaps hit the post four times in this game, including with the last kick as Cristian Techera found woodwork with his stoppage-time penalty kick. It hurts even more than that United’s lone goal came from a PK earned via a blatant dive.
Seattle rode an early header from Christian Roldan to beat Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers 1–0, the club’s second victory in a row. The feel-good factor of beating their biggest rival could be huge for this Sounders team, which has struggled through much of this season but has now doubled its win total in the space of two weeks. They’ll face Columbus on Wednesday and Houston on Sunday.
It had to feel good for Loons coach Adrian Heath to get a 1–0 win over his former employer Orlando City, and it has to feel good for his team to get another win at home in what has been an at-times trying first season in MLS. The club may lack talent in some spots, but striker is not one of them -- Christian Ramirez scored his eighth goal of the season to win it for Minnesota, making it two goals in as many games and three in the last four for the striker.
The Crew followed up last week’s loss with another one that everyone on the team will want to forget as quickly as possible. The Crew were totally dominated in Friday's 5–0 loss at Toronto FC, and now sit perilously close to being out of playoff position after weeks of sub-par results. The Crew value possession more than most teams, but that possession doesn’t mean much when your backline keeps getting carved up when you lose the ball.
The Revolution struck early with a Lee Nguyen penalty kick, and the team was able to hold tough through the remainder of the first half at Red Bull Arena. The second half was a different story. The Revolution have yet to win a game away from home, but they’ll get a chance on Wednesday when they travel to New York again to face NYCFC.
The Earthquakes started off the California Clásico in dream-like fashion with an early goal from Chris Wondlowski, but it ended with a 4–2 win for the visiting LA Galaxy. That’s the Quakes’ first loss at home this year, though they also have three draws to go with that loss. The only time the team has strung more than two positive results together this season, it was three straight draws.
Real Salt Lake got a much-needed win at home against the Philadelphia Union and Joao Plata buried his first goal of the year in the 1–0 win. Those two things alone are really all that matter for RSL right now, who are looking for any points they can get and any positive performances from club regulars that can help get them there. The Royals also enjoyed a positive debut from new addition Jefferson Savarino, who bagged an assist on Plata’s strike.
The Rapids took a beating the last time they played Sporting KC, but they got their revenge with a 1–0 win at home. The Rapids’ defense held firm through wave after wave of Sporting attacks, and Time Howard came up big with a few key saves as well. There’s still a long way to go until Colorado can be considered a relevant force out west, but this is a good first step.
The Impact had this week off in MLS play, but fell 2–1 to Vancouver in the first leg of their Canadian Championship tie. However, that loss won’t mean’ much for these rankings. The Impact drop in these rankings mostly thanks to the teams around them, and they’ll have a chance to handle their own destiny with a home game this week against the New York Red Bulls.
When can a 1–0 win be grounds for staying at the foot of the Power Rankings? When the other team hits the post four times and misses a stoppage-time PK, and when the one goal came as a result of a comically-bad dive in the penalty box that the referee fell for. United would have been lucky to get a draw from this game, but instead they got the win. That’s soccer. But these are the Power Rankings, and Ben Olsen’s side will need to show more in their two games this week to justify moving them off the bottom.