Points were at a premium in Week 23. Only one team in the Eastern Conference took all three points as the New York Red Bulls defeated LAFC in a heavyweight cross-conference showdown. In a week full of potentially pivotal matches in the East playoff race, most were disappointing draws that left the table stagnant. In the West, wins came a bit easier and the playoff picture is getting a little clearer every week.
Check out how last week’s matches affected the Power Rankings.
1. Portland Timbers (Last Week: 1)
The Timbers started their third winning streak of the season after shellacking the Philadelphia Union 3-0 late on Saturday night. Diego Valeri picked up a goal and an assist to keep Portland surging up to second in the West.
Days since the Timbers’ last loss: 122.
2. New York Red Bulls (Last Week: 3)
Daniel Royer was the star man for the Red Bulls, who won their fourth match in their last five and remain the favorites to surpass Atlanta United for the top spot in the East. In true Red Bull form, there have been few growing pains in the transition from Jesse Marsch to Chris Armas.
3. Atlanta United (Last Week: 2)
Atlanta looked as though it would blitz through Toronto FC in the first half but collapsed in the second. Poor defending allowed Sebastian Giovinco and Tosaint Ricketts in behind the back line to drop two points at the death.
4. New York City FC (Last Week: 5)
Valentin Castellanos made the most of his debut after joining on loan from Uruguayan club Torque. His goal looked as though it would be the difference but some poor defending meant rare dropped points at home for NYCFC.
5. FC Dallas (Last Week: 4)
It was a rough afternoon for Jesse Gonzalez. His decision to leave his net early in the first half left an open goal for the Earthquakes’ first and he was nutmegged by Jahmir Hyka for the eventual game-winner. There wasn’t much he could do for San Jose’s third, but if Dallas wants to continue its assault on the Supporters’ Shield, the Hoops will need better performances.
6. Los Angeles FC (Last Week: 6)
LAFC may have the most talented attack in the league (including a splash for Christian Ramirez) but its high-priced defense continues to struggle. The combination of Laurent Ciman and Walker Zimmerman once again allowed multiple goals and the Wings have now gone a month without a victory. Is Danilo Silva the answer for Bob Bradley?
7. Seattle Sounders (Last Week: 9)
Seattle is surging, now unbeaten through seven and within touching distance of the red line. A frantic comeback in Minnesota was the latest victory for the Sounders, courtesy of Nicolas Lodeiro’s penalty and Will Bruin’s cheeky chip, both in stoppage time.
8. Columbus Crew (Last Week: 8)
The Crew got Justin Meram back and had the weekend off, which should help him get back into the fold.
9. LA Galaxy (Last Week: 7)
LA probably wanted to hit the reset button on Saturday. The Rapids gift-wrapped Romain Alessandrini’s seventh goal of the campaign and that was all there was to write home about. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic sidelined thanks to turning down his nomination for the MLS All-Star Game, the Galaxy’s attack was toothless.
10. Sporting Kansas City (Last Week: 11)
Gianluca Busio was the talk of the league as the 16-year-old got his first start and the assist on the match-winner for SKC. It was just enough to pull Sporting out of its slide in a 1-0 victory in Houston and a much-needed clean sheet for a defense that has leaked goals of late.
11. Toronto FC (Last Week: 13)
It wasn’t the three points that they needed, but the Reds will feel good about coming back from two goals down to steal a point in Atlanta. But Greg Vanney has said his club needs eight wins to climb above the red line and the number of matches to get those is dwindling.
12. Houston Dynamo (Last Week: 10)
It was a bit of a Red Wedding for Houston, who had three players and Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera ejected in a 1-0 loss to rival Sporting Kansas City. Alejandro Fuenmayor was the first to receive his marching orders followed by Cabrera, Alberth Elis, and Darwin Ceren. A promising year for Houston has rapidly declined.
13. Montreal Impact (Last Week: 12)
The Impact will be ruing their missed chances as Montreal struck the post and crossbar repeatedly and Ken Krolicki was denied twice on the doorstep. But the Quebecois club also allowed D.C. United a plethora of clear opportunities and were lucky not to allow more. A point apiece was a fair result even though l’Impact will feel they could have come away with more.
14. Vancouver Whitecaps (Last Week: 17)
Vancouver did what few teams before it have accomplished: take a point from Yankee Stadium. Erik Hurtado’s goal just minutes from full time meant the Caps could make the long flight back to Vancouver with a result.
15. New England Revolution (Last Week: 14)
The Revs couldn’t find the killer blow in the first half against Orlando City and dropped two points because of it. New England held a 2-0 lead and a 3-2 lead but couldn’t see the match out. In the battle for the final playoff places, the Revolution may be kicking themselves for this one come October.
16. Real Salt Lake (Last Week: 19)
Damir Kreilach’s double was just enough to ensure victory over the Chicago Fire. Salt Lake has lost just once in the last six matches and a four-point cushion above the red line. RSL’s run in is brutal, though.
17. Minnesota United (Last Week: 15)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Loons’ defense collapsed late to drop three points. Darwin Quintero continues scoring but until Minnesota can shore up the defensive issues, playoffs are a pipe dream.
18. San Jose Earthquakes (Last Week: 23)
In the most shocking result of the weekend, last-place San Jose beat FC Dallas in Dallas by multiple goals. The Quakes remain bottom of the table, but perhaps they can climb out of the basement with more matches like that.
19. Colorado Rapids (Last Week: 20)
The Kellyn Acosta trade keeps paying dividends for Colorado. The young American scored the equalizer from outside the box and played the role of facilitator in midfield, something the Rapids have lacked desperately. The attack is far more dynamic and it’s showing.
20. Philadelphia Union (Last Week: 16)
Philly gave up two penalties from poor challenges and a late third goal to boot from David Guzman to limp back East with a loss. Where the rest of their competitors for playoff places picked up a point, the Union lost a bit of ground.
21. D.C. United (Last Week: 18)
It wasn’t pretty for D.C., but United will likely be pleased with the road point, even if the Black and Red hit the woodwork early and often. With so many games in hand, picking up any points can be a positive.
22. Orlando City (Last Week: 22)
Orlando somehow stormed back from a dreadful first half to get a much-needed result at home against New England. But the Lions’ defense has remained dreadful as City looks like it’s on a path to set the record for most goals conceded in a regular season.
23. Chicago Fire (Last Week: 21)
The Fire have now lost six straight and won just once in their last 10. Chicago has shown no signs of fixing its problems on the transfer market. Bastian Schweinsteiger has still got it, at least.