There were plenty of penalties around Major League Soccer in Week 24 with wild finishes all around the league. Nicolas Lodeiro and Wayne Rooney played hero for desperate teams on the outside looking in while Antonio Delamea played villain in a crucial playoff match for the New England Revolution.
The race for the postseason is heating up and here’s how the latest action affected this week’s Power Rankings:
1. New York Red Bulls (Last Week: 2)
It wasn’t simple for the Red Bulls, but New York got the job done in Chicago. Bradley Wright-Phillips hit another milestone as his winning goal made him the first player in MLS history to record at least 15 goals in five straight seasons.
2. Atlanta United (Last Week: 3)
Atlanta stayed home this weekend.
3. Portland Timbers (Last Week: 1)
Portland’s impressive unbeaten run ended at 15 matches as Cascadian rival Vancouver went into Providence Park and won, 2-1. Even though the Timbers were the better side, their best looks came from the spot twice. Unfortunately Diego Valeri could only convert once.
4. New York City FC (Last Week: 4)
Ismael Tajouri-Shradi has been a revelation for NYCFC and the Libyan winger’s brace propelled the Pigeons to yet another win in Toronto. Questions should be raised about City’s defensive performance, however, after allowing two goals up a man after Jozy Altidore’s sending-off.
5. Seattle Sounders (Last Week: 7)
Seattle has gotten results in eight straight matches, winning six of them. It’s hard not to put your money on the Sounders getting back into the playoffs, especially with Nicolas Lodeiro once again playing like a superstar.
6. FC Dallas (Last Week: 5)
Dallas ran into the buzz saw that is Seattle in the second half of the season. Dominique Badji got on the scoreboard with his first for the club but it wasn’t enough to overcome Seattle. Dallas still sits three points clear at the top of the West.
7. Sporting Kansas City (Last Week: 10)
SKC had a strong end to the window, bringing back Krizstian Nemeth and signing experienced central defender Andreu Fontas. The team followed up patching up its holes on paper with a strong performance in Los Angeles and a 2-0 victory over LAFC.
8. Columbus Crew (Last Week: 8)
Columbus has officially pulled out of the tailspin, winning its third match on the bounce. Gyasi Zardes’ goal in stoppage time was the difference against the Dynamo and the Crew are once again back in the thick of the playoff places in a comfortable fourth.
9. Los Angeles FC (Last Week: 6)
After a blistering pace to start the season, LAFC has fallen back to earth. Bob Bradley’s side has just one win in its last six matches and has sunk to fifth in the Western Conference and now stands on the precipice of missing the playoffs. A summer window that saw the club add even more attacking talent when the defensive issues are so apparent might be exciting, but the team still has huge holes on the back end.
10. LA Galaxy (Last Week: 9)
The Galaxy are an enigma this season. LA’s up-and-down nature has both kept the Galaxy afloat near the top of the table but has also kept them from seriously competing for the top spots in the West. Two brilliant solo efforts against Minnesota from Romain Alessandrini and Sebastian Lletget were enough for a point, but LA has relied on individual brilliance too often in 2018.
11. Vancouver Whitecaps (Last Week: 14)
Even without Alphonso Davies, the ‘Caps found a way to defeat Portland. Kei Kamara and Cristian Techera made the most of their clear-cut chances and it proved just enough with a little luck to see off the Timbers.
12. Toronto FC (Last Week: 11)
The Reds were set back early after Jozy Altidore kicked out at Alexander Callens off the ball fewer than 10 minutes into the match. But even at a disadvantage, Toronto fought back behind Sebastian Giovinco. It looked as though TFC was going to struggle to a draw but a late golazo from Tajouri-Shradi kept the reigning champs deep in a hole.
13. Philadelphia Union (Last Week: 20)
With plenty of skill from young center back Jack Elliott and a little luck, the Union defeated New England, 3-2. Philadelphia is in the thick of the playoff race for likely the final two places in the East and with a little more consistency could be in the postseason.
14. Montreal Impact (Last Week: 13)
The Impact were lucky to come away from the Rio Tinto with a point. RSL had the better of the opportunities but couldn’t quite find a second goal. Jukka Raitala’s blast from distance found the back of the net, though, and it was just enough for an away result.
15. New England Revolution (Last Week: 15)
A heroic rally from 2-0 down was ultimately worthless for the Revs as Antonio Delamea inexplicably threw his hands up in the box late in the match. New England has now slipped below the red line and will need a turnaround if Brad Friedel hopes to get the team back on the right side of it.
16. Houston Dynamo (Last Week: 12)
Houston frustratingly lost its fourth match in a row in Columbus, this time at the death. The Dynamo’s normally deadly attack has stalled in recent weeks with just three goals in their last six games. Their postseason hopes are quickly dwindling.
17. Colorado Rapids (Last Week: 19)
Colorado pulled out yet another bout of late heroics to defeat San Jose. Nana Boateng’s goal in the third minute of stoppage time earned the Rapids their second victory in a row and Colorado quietly has just one loss in five matches.
18. Real Salt Lake (Last Week: 16)
Poor finishing meant Salt Lake didn’t quite have enough to see off the Impact. Joao Plata tested Evan Bush all evening and scored RSL’s goal from the spot. Four matches unbeaten has Mike Petke and company clinging to sixth in the West.
19. Minnesota United (Last Week: 17)
Batman may be gone but Minnesota’s offense is still ticking. The Loons came back from a goal deficit twice with Michael Boxall and Romario Ibarra scoring their first goals for the club. Francisco Calvo’s boneheaded second yellow card at the end of the match will leave a sour taste in United’s mouth, though.
20. D.C. United (Last Week: 21)
You’ve seen the video. Wayne Rooney made the play of the season tracking back to strip Will Johnson before finding Luciano Acosta for his third goal on the night. If D.C. can take this momentum and run with it, the rest of the East needs to watch out.
21. San Jose Earthquakes (Last Week: 18)
The Earthquakes’ high from defeating FC Dallas crashed quickly. The Quakes lost a heart-breaker to Colorado after a dust-up at the end of the match saw Shea Salinas sent off.
22. Orlando City (Last Week: 22)
Another week, another heart-breaking loss for Orlando City. It’s somewhat positive that even missing key players and down a man that the Lions could still score twice but the defense is still shambolic and playoffs at this point are a pipe dream.
23. Chicago Fire (Last Week: 23)
Chicago is putting the Fire in “dumpster fire.” The Men in Red have now lost seven straight and failed to make an impactful signing during the summer window. Chances are, Chicago will drop to last in the East as D.C. plays its matches in hand.