Week 28 was mostly watered down around Major League Soccer, as most clubs took the international break off. Five clubs decided to take the field, all missing portions of their roster to international duty, trading a few missing players for a less-congested schedule in other parts of the season (in theory). It meant, for once, the disembodied heads weren’t the weirdest part of D.C. United’s lineup graphic.
But the Black and Red made the trek north to take on New York City FC with just four substitutes all the same. NYCFC had two shots to gain ground on its Eastern Conference foes at the top of the table, while Sporting Kansas City and the Portland Timbers notched three more points to solidify their standings in the West.
Check out how the short schedule impacted this week’s Power Rankings:
1. Seattle Sounders (Last Week: 1)
2. Los Angeles FC (Last Week: 2)
3. Atlanta United (Last Week: 3)
4. New York Red Bulls (Last Week: 4)
5. Sporting Kansas City (Last Week: 5)
It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective for Sporting KC against Orlando City. Even without its normal forward line, SKC was dangerous in the final third and could very well have had more than its lone goal. Newly returned Krisztian Nemeth got his fair share of touches close to goal and Yohan Croizet had his way on the right wing. But the biggest takeaway might be that new central defender Andreu Fontas looked rock steady in his debut.
6. Philadelphia Union (Last Week: 6)
7. Portland Timbers (Last Week: 8)
The Timbers took care of business at home in dominating fashion against the Colorado Rapids. Portland arguably could have been up 3-0 going into the break if not for some close decisions from the assistant referee, who called Jeremy Ebobisse and Diego Valeri offside. Both players would eventually beat Tim Howard, though, as Portland cruised, 2-0.
8. Vancouver Whitecaps (Last Week: 9)
9. FC Dallas (Last Week: 10)
10. New York City FC (Last Week: 7)
It was a frustrating week for NYCFC. The Pigeons had two home matches — where they have been more than dominant — against weaker opposition and all of the opportunity in the world to get back in the Supporters’ Shield conversation. They out-shot the New England Revolution and D.C. United by a combined 58 to 13. They forced Bill Hamid and Brad Knighton into a combined 14 saves. They averaged 67.6% possession. NYCFC only took one point from the week.
11. Columbus Crew (Last Week: 11)
12. Real Salt Lake (Last Week: 12)
13. D.C. United (Last Week: 14)
D.C. only needed one shot on target to get a draw against NYCFC. In fact, United only needed two shots total. But Wayne Rooney’s free kick dropped in just the right spot for Steve Birnbaum to sneak between the NYCFC back line and Sean Johnson and the defender’s header gave the Black and Red the lead. But taking a result from Yankee Stadium is about making the most of your chances, and D.C. did just that.
14. Montreal Impact (Last Week: 13)
15. New England Revolution (Last Week: 17)
Rookie Brian Wright was the hero for the Revs, who earned the first victory by an away team in Yankee Stadium this season. New England was slightly lucky that the Pigeons were just a little off on the night, missing the target by inches on countless chances. But Brad Friedel won’t complain as the Revolution are now just three points south of the red line with a game in hand.
16. Toronto FC (Last Week: 15)
17. LA Galaxy (Last Week: 16)
18. San Jose Earthquakes (Last Week: 18)
19. Houston Dynamo (Last Week: 19)
20. Minnesota United (Last Week: 20)
21. Orlando City (Last Week: 21)
It may not have been the most uplifting match for Orlando City, but it could have been worse as the Lions lost 1-0 on the road in Kansas City. The defense was able to bail itself out in most circumstances and dealt with the majority of SKC’s crosses. Dom Dwyer had a pair of golden opportunities in his return to Children’s Mercy Park, but the forward couldn’t quite beat Tim Melia. Baby steps.
22. Colorado Rapids (Last Week: 22)
The Rapids will feel hard done by the potentially tying penalty that was wiped away courtesy of video review in the second half. But Colorado was at the mercy of a few other decisions that kept the score close in a match where the team had no business being within touching distance at the hour mark.