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The Mane Land MLS Power Rankings: Week 21

The top of the East is more competitive than ever, but the middle of the West is a jumbled mess.

MLS: Sporting KC at New York Red Bulls Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The battle for the top of the Eastern Conference is the tightest it has ever been after Week 20’s results as both New York clubs are threatening to pass Atlanta United on significantly better runs of form. FC Dallas remained top of the West with a dominating performance over a Chicago Fire side on a quick turnaround and Mike Petke made headlines after a losing effort with another classic referee rant.

Check out how last week’s action informed the latest Power Rankings:

1. New York Red Bulls (Last Week: 2)

Marc Rzatkowski rifled the Red Bulls into the top spot after his stellar brace helped New York see off Sporting Kansas City. Jesse Marsch may be off to Germany but the Bulls are still ticking like a well-oiled machine.

2. Los Angeles FC (Last Week: 1)

It was a battle of the keepers in Banc of California Stadium and LAFC needed everything it could get out of Tyler Miller to hold on to a scoreless draw. A poor challenge from Lee Nguyen saw him sent off with just a few minutes left in the match and with a man down, the Wings decided to just see the match through.

3. New York City FC (Last Week: 5)

The Domenec Torrent era has started in style with the Spanish manager having won four of his first five matches. Dominant displays over Montreal and Columbus are the latest victories in the Pigeons’ pockets. NYCFC now sit top of the East in points per game and look like a side determined to win the Supporters Shield.

4. Atlanta United (Last Week: 3)

Luckily for Atlanta United, Baldomero Toledo looked the other way on a few choice instances. Josef Martinez was caught headbutting Chad Marshall on camera and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez got away with a handball in the late stages of the match that would have given Seattle a second penalty and an attempt to win the match. But the Five Stripes got away with all 11 men and a 1-1 draw.

5. Portland Timbers (Last Week: 4)

Portland ground out a draw on the road in LA for the Timbers’ 12th match unbeaten in a row. Diego Valeri will rue his squandered one-on-one chance with Tyler Miller in the opening minutes of the match but Giovani Savarese and the side will be pleased with a result and a clean sheet against one of the top attacks in the league.

6. FC Dallas (Last Week: 7)

FC Dallas was unlucky not to score five or six against the Chicago Fire over the weekend. The West leaders watched a few unlucky bounces go off the woodwork and some nice saves from Richard Sanchez keep them just 1-0 up until the 74th minute. But the floodgates opened and the Hoops ran over the Fire to the tune of 3-1.

7. Houston Dynamo (Last Week: 6)

The Dynamo will be disappointed not to come away from Colorado with more after a scoreless draw. Luis Gil’s effort at the end of the first half was the best chance for both sides but Kortne Ford managed to clean up after Tim Howard did what he could to keep the former Orlando City man from scoring. At least Houston still has several matches in hand on most of the field.

8. LA Galaxy (Last Week: 10)

It looked dire for the Galaxy with five minutes left in normal time. Ashley Cole had just been sent off with Los Angeles down 2-1 on the road on the opposite side of the continent. But Dave Romney and Chris Pontius came through in the final moments of stoppage time, scoring once each to lift the Galaxy to a 3-2 victory.

9. Sporting Kansas City (Last Week: 9)

Sporting has just one win in its last six matches after a promising start to the campaign. Kansas City’s offense did all it could but SKC couldn’t quite keep up with the rampant Red Bulls. The top spot in the West is quickly slipping away from Peter Vermes and company.

10. Montreal Impact (Last Week: 8)

Montreal had absolutely no chance in Yankee Stadium, failing to even get a shot off inside the area, let alone on target. NYCFC was a class above. Montreal managed to turn things around against the worst team in the league in San Jose at the weekend, however, and snatched an important three points in the playoff race.

11. New England Revolution (Last Week: 12)

New England started out on the wrong foot as talented attacker Cristian Penilla kicked out at Romain Alessandrini and was deservedly sent off in the first half. But the Revolution battled to two leads down a man. Unfortunately for the Revs, they collapsed in the final moments as the Galaxy scored twice in stoppage time to take all three points.

12. Columbus Crew (Last Week: 11)

The Crew have struggled mightily as of late. With just one win in their last eight matches after a valiant effort in the Bronx fell short. The team that looked like it would easily cruise to the playoffs has disappeared and while Columbus sits fourth in the East, the Black and Gold have played more matches than almost every other team in the conference.

13. D.C. United (Last Week: 16)

Both Wayne Rooney and Audi Field made their long-awaited debuts as D.C. ran roughshod over the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps. Paul Arriola’s brace combined with Yamil Asad’s curling effort helped United open their new home in style.

14. Seattle Sounders (Last Week: 15)

Seattle came into Atlanta looking for a draw and they got it courtesy of a Nicolas Lodeiro penalty in the first half. The Sounders didn’t make it easy with Jordan McCrary being sent off just after the hour mark, but the Rave Green held on for a well-earned point.

15. Real Salt Lake (Last Week: 13)

Mike Petke made headlines for another rant against PRO and the video review system but it was a poor performance from Salt Lake against Minnesota. Two late goals from Joao Plata made the match look closer than it was on paper but RSL remain comfortably in the playoff picture.

16. Philadelphia Union (Last Week: 19)

The Union struggled to defend against the Chicago Fire but were saved by David Accam against his former side at the death. Philadelphia will be happy with the victory in an important match for playoff position in the middle of the East, but there should be plenty of concern over how easily they allowed the Fire to score.

17. Chicago Fire (Last Week: 14)

The Men in Red have now dropped three straight after losing a heart-breaker in Philadelphia and then getting pummeled in Dallas just a few days later. Chicago is drifting further back from the red line and is in real danger of being passed by all three of the clubs below them in the table that all have multiple games in hand on the Fire.

18. Minnesota United (Last Week: 21)

The Loons started the transfer window off with a bang, bringing in the club’s second Designated Player in history in Angelo Rodriguez. While the Colombian didn’t feature in the United’s victory over RSL, if he’s near the quality of Darwin Quintero, Adrian Heath might actually be able to mount a playoff charge.

19. Vancouver Whitecaps (Last Week: 17)

Vancouver was never really in it at Audi Field. D.C. got up early and the Whitecaps struggled to get anything going on a long road trip. The Caps dropped to eighth in the West with the loss and is in real danger of missing the playoffs. At least Alphonso Davies continues to impress.

20. Toronto FC (Last Week: 18)

The Reds lost the battle of the beleaguered over the weekend, further cementing how desperate of a position the reigning champions find themselves in. Toronto allowed two goals to Orlando City with some poor defending and lost its fourth match in five tries. Playoffs are starting to look like a pipe dream.

21. Colorado Rapids (Last Week: 20)

Former Lion Giles Barnes made his debut for the Rapids, but Colorado couldn’t find the back of the net against the Dynamo even with the Jamaican forward. The Pids will need some big moves this window to have hope of the postseason in 2018.

22. Orlando City (Last Week: 23)

Orlando City finally snapped its long losing streak with a victory over Toronto on Saturday as Dom Dwyer and Chris Schuler got on the scoreboard. Hope isn’t lost for the Lions under new Head Coach James O’Connor, but there’s quite a hole to dig themselves out of.

23. San Jose Earthquakes (Last Week: 22)

The Earthquakes frustrations were on display for everyone to see with an odd turn of events that saw Fatai Alashe subbed on just before halftime only to be pulled just before the restart. Alashe and Head Coach Mikael Stahre’s heated argument on the touchline raged on camera as the Quakes dropped their 11th match of the season and still have just two wins in 2018.