MLS Power Rankings: A new Western Conference leader
MLS Power Rankings: September 12
It seems Portland has regained its early season form and is now leading the Western Conference. Can the Timbers make another MLS Cup run?
1. Toronto FC (17-3-8, 59 points)
Toronto is unbeaten in its last 10 and has a five-game winning streak in which all the wins have been by multiple goals. The Reds have already clinched a playoff spot. Life is good for Jozy Altidore (pictured), who scored two goals in Saturday’s 4-0 win against San Jose and is currently dating recently crowned U.S. Open champ Sloane Stephens.
2. Portland Timbers (12-9-8, 44 points)
Saturday’s win in Yankee Stadium seemed to be the culmination of Portland’s improved play of late. Portland is 3-0-1 in the last four, three of those against teams in playoff spots, and the Timbers only loss in the last eight was in Toronto. (Pictured: Diego Valeri)
3. New York City FC (15-8-5, 50 points)
After going 4-0-1 in the last five, New York City FC is allowed a slip up. The 1-0 home loss to Portland on Saturday effectively ended the Supporters’ Shield race, but NYCFC still has a solid grip on the No. 2 seed. (Pictured: Andrea Pirlo)
4. Seattle Sounders (11-7-10, 43 points)
Seattle’s unbeaten run is intact at 12, but the past three have been 1-1 draws. Cascadia rival Portland has taken over the top spot in the incredibly tight Western Conference, for now. Jordan Morris’ (pictured) hamstring injury could be a major blow.
5. Sporting Kansas City (10-6-11, 41 points)
Sporting has become king of the 1-1 draw. Six of the past 12 matches for KC have ended up in a 1-1 tie. Sporting’s defense remains as good as it gets in the league, but the attack is not good. Only three times in those 12 games has the team scored more than one goal. (Pictured: Graham Zusi)
6. Atlanta United FC (11-8-6, 39 points)
Atlanta’s chase up the standings began Sunday with a 3-0 win against Dallas to open Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The team’s next five games are all at home, but come in a 15-day period. None of those five teams are in playoff positions. If Atlanta can endure the crowded schedule, it could contend for the second or third seed in the playoffs.
7. New York Red Bulls (12-10-5, 41 points)
Bradley Wright-Phillips (pictured, left) became the second player in MLS history to score 15 or more goals in four straight seasons. The other is Robbie Keane. Meanwhile, Sacha Kljestan (pictured, right) has 48 assists in the past three years. Wow.
8. Chicago Fire (13-9-6, 45 points)
The Fire seem to be out of the nasty slump, but also don’t resemble the team that stormed through May and June. Perhaps Nemanja Nikolic (pictured) can get hot again and spark a late season run, but the Fire’s attack doesn’t look dangerous enough to give him consistent opportunities.
9. Vancouver Whitecaps (12-9-5, 41 points)
Vancouver hasn’t received much attention around the league this year, but the Whitecaps have had a solid season and are gaining strength. A 4-1-2 stretch in the last seven has solidified Vancouver’s playoff spot. (Pictured: David Ousted)
10. Columbus Crew (13-12-4, 43 points)
Montreal’s recent slump seems to have solidified Columbus’ playoff spot. The Crew had four of the past five matches at home and took advantage with a 3-0-2 mark in that stretch. Many of the team chasing Columbus in the standings have multiple games in hand, but the Crew already have the points on the board. (Pictured: Mohammed Abu)
11. Houston Dynamo (10-9-8, 38 points)
Houston was undefeated at home and Colorado was winless on the road and with the worst record in MLS. So of course the Rapids won 1-0 in Houston on Saturday night. (Pictured: Ricardo Clark)
12. FC Dallas (9-8-10, 37 points)
Dallas’ fall from grace has been something to behold. After being a model of consistency the past three years under Oscar Pareja (pictured), Dallas is struggling just to get into the playoffs. It’s eight straight without a win for FCD and San Jose and Real Salt Lake are both within three points in the standings, although with fewer games remaining.
13. New England Revolution (10-12-5, 35 points)
Lee Nguyen (pictured) is having another standout season for the Revs. After dishing four assists last week, he scored the only goal in a win against Montreal to keep New England’s flickering playoff hopes alive. Nguyen is up to nine goals and 14 assists this year.
14. Montreal Impact (10-11-6, 36 points)
It seems just as Montreal got back into the playoff race with a four-game winning streak, the Impact fell back out of it. It’s three straight losses when the Impact needed to make up some ground. The last two, a home loss to the Fire and a loss in New England, were especially harmful. (Pictured: Victor Cabrera)
15. Real Salt Lake (10-14-5, 35 points)
Saturday’s loss in Vancouver was a big blow to RSL’s playoff hopes despite a recent surge. Special mention to defender Tony Beltran, who scored his first career MLS goal in his 10th season with RSL. (Pictured: Kyle Beckerman's hair)
16. San Jose Earthquakes (10-12-6, 36 points)
Only Dallas’ recent struggles have allowed San Jose to stay in the playoff race. The Earthquakes are one point below the red line, but have one win in the past five games. (Pictured: Chris Wondolowski)
17. Philadelphia Union (8-12-8, 32 points)
C.J. Sapong (pictured) scored his 13th goal of the season in Saturday’s 1-1 draw in Minnesota. He’s the most interesting thing about the Union this season.
18. LA Galaxy (7-14-6, 27 points)
Gyasi Zardes (pictured) has shown some life with goals in back-to-back games. LA has also shown life with consecutive results (a win against Colorado last week and Sunday’s draw in Seattle) for the first time since mid-June.
19. Minnesota United FC (7-14-5, 26 points)
Minnesota still isn’t good, but the Loons have added some pieces to make the team resemble a competitive group. For example, Ethan Finlay (pictured) has two goals and two assists in three games since coming over in a trade. More additions are needed, but at least there’s something to build around now.
20. Orlando City (9-12-7, 34 points)
Orlando has three wins since April and two of them were against D.C. United. Saturday’s 2-1 win at RFK Stadium was the Lions’ first win since June.
21. D.C. United (8-16-4, 28 points)
D.C. lost at home to struggling Orlando as the countdown to the move out of RFK Stadium continues. Just two more games in the old home before moving into their own place next season. (Pictured: Paul Arriola)
22. Colorado Rapids (7-16-4, 25 points)
Dominique Badji (pictured, left) scored in the 93rd minute to give Colorado a win in Houston. It is one of the strangest results of the MLS season.