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The Mane Land MLS Power Rankings: Week 31

Philadelphia is flying thanks to its young defenders.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The playoff race took a turn at the top as the Philadelphia Union downed two of the West’s heavyweights in convincing fashion. Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls are still vying for the Supporters’ Shield as well as the Eastern Conference crown in a two-horse race with the pressure on the Red Bulls to keep pace.

Check out how all of the action from Week 30 affected this week’s Power Rankings.

1. Atlanta United (Last Week: 2)

Atlanta struggled with San Jose and got lucky that a Chris Wondolowski goal was not only overturned, but also became a penalty for United. But the Five Stripes dispatched Real Salt Lake in their second match of the week, solidifying their spot at the top of the table.

2. New York Red Bulls (Last Week: 4)

It wasn’t easy for the Red Bulls, but New York got the job done against Toronto. Kaku somehow found the back of the net through several TFC defenders and Derrick Etienne sealed the deal in the final minutes. The Bulls will need some help to reclaim the Shield, but sit just four points back.

3. Philadelphia Union (Last Week: 9)

Philadelphia might just be for real. The Union went into hostile Seattle and Fafa Picault got a late winner over the hottest team in the league. And to prove that wasn’t a fluke, Philly blanked another top West team, 2-0 in Sporting Kansas City. Playing the young defenders early on is paying dividends for the Union.

4. Seattle Sounders (Last Week: 1)

Things are swinging the wrong way for the Sounders, who followed up a record-breaking winning streak with a pair of losses at home without scoring a goal. A tough match against a resurgent Philadelphia team can probably be written off, but a shellacking at the hands of a bad LA Galaxy team? Not so much.

5. Los Angeles FC (Last Week: 5)

Carlos Vela and Walker Zimmerman hooked up twice as LAFC downed San Jose at home. The expansion side is now unbeaten in its last six matches and it looks like the Wings will comfortably get a home playoff match.

6. Sporting Kansas City (Last Week: 3)

SKC just couldn’t beat John McCarthy. The home side got several good looks on goal, but the veteran keeper stonewalled them each and every time, making six total saves on the evening.

7. FC Dallas (Last Week: 6)

Dallas jumped back to the top of the West after Matt Hedges saved the day in Vancouver. FCD did its damage on set pieces and the defense came up big, forcing the Whitecaps into poor shooting opportunities. While the Shield is a pipe dream, there are still first-round byes for the taking.

8. Portland Timbers (Last Week: 10)

It was a back-and-forth week for Portland as the Timbers handled the Crew at home (with a Niko Hansen goal making the score look closer than it was) but couldn’t keep it up in Minnesota. The Loons jumped out to a 3-0 lead and the Timbers couldn’t quite claw their way back, losing 3-2 on the road.

9. Vancouver Whitecaps (Last Week: 7)

The Caps struggled at home against Dallas. Luckily, Kei Kamara put home Vancouver’s only shot on target, but the Caps couldn’t defend in the air well enough to salvage a point. Playoffs are still within reach for Vancouver, but there’s plenty of work to do.

10. Columbus Crew (Last Week: 8)

The Crew were overwhelmed by the Timbers in Portland and nearly managed to drop points at home to Colorado. Federico Higuain saved the day and two points for Columbus after he was left unmarked near the penalty spot.

11. New York City FC (Last Week: 11)

NYCFC is in danger of slipping to fourth in the East after only managing a draw against the Montreal Impact. The Pigeons couldn’t quite create a quality opportunity and it bit them in the end. New York City just hasn’t been the same since Patrick Vieira left.

12. Montreal Impact (Last Week: 13)

With D.C. charging up the table, the Impact need all of the points they can get. Montreal couldn’t quite get the victory against NYCFC, but was the better side on the day. Saphir Taider pulled all the right strings in the midfield and Ignacio Piatti was a terror for the Pigeons defenders.

13. D.C. United (Last Week: 12)

D.C. had the week off.

14. LA Galaxy (Last Week: 18)

No Sigi, no problem. Zlatan Ibrahimovic started the scoring nine minutes in and Ola Kamara and Emmanuel Boateng finished the job. It was the Galaxy defense that was the star of the show, though, limiting the Sounders to one shot on frame. Maybe LA isn’t quite dead yet?

15. New England Revolution (Last Week: 14)

If you like good defending, be glad you missed the Revs and Chicago Fire draw, 2-2. Scott Caldwell was luckily on the end of a bad parry by Richard Sanchez for New England’s first and Cristian Penilla embarrassed three Fire players before slotting home the late equalizer.

16. Real Salt Lake (Last Week: 15)

RSL got hammered in Atlanta, only putting three shots on frame. Meanwhile, Nick Rimando was kept as busy as possible as the veteran was forced into six saves.

17. Minnesota United (Last Week: 19)

The Loons poured it on against Portland in the first half, jumping out to a 3-0 advantage spearheaded by Romario Ibarra. Minnesota’s defense threatened to derail the offense’s efforts, however, and nearly dropped two points.

18. Toronto FC (Last Week: 16)

Toronto, understandably, got thrashed in the inaugural Campeones Cup by Tigres UANL and then had to travel to New York to take on the Red Bulls. Naturally, that didn’t go very well. TFC put up an admirable fight but in the end was outlasted by New York, 2-0.

19. Houston Dynamo (Last Week: 17)

It’s hard to blame the Dynamo for likely looking forward to their upcoming U.S. Open Cup final, but with Houston starting their first-choice attacking line against the lowly Lions of Orlando, goals are a must. A dull 0-0 draw is not what the Dynamo needed.

20. Chicago Fire (Last Week: 20)

The Fire will feel as though they dropped two points in Foxborough after a late collapse. Aleksandar Katai continued his stellar play by picking the pocket of a Revs defender to give Chicago the lead and even though the Fire allowed an equalizer, a gift from Michael Mancienne put the Men in Red in the lead once more. But even with the draw, Chicago is surprisingly unbeaten in its last three. It’s still too little too late.

21. San Jose Earthquakes (Last Week: 21)

There’s a small glimmer of hope to life without Mikael Stahre. San Jose kept pace with Atlanta — and very easily could have come away with a win — but limped to a 2-0 loss against LAFC days later.

22. Orlando City (Last Week: 23)

Orlando managed to stop the bleeding at least with a 0-0 draw against Houston. The back line that Jason Kreis envisioned finally took the field together with a surprise appearance from 26-year-old Adam Grinwis in net. A clean sheet is a welcome sight for the worst defense in the league this year.

23. Colorado Rapids (Last Week: 22)

Shkelzen Gashi caught the Crew napping but that was the only positive for Colorado in Week 30. The Rapids only put one other shot on target and it wasn’t threatening. The only other thing of note was a bad challenge from Deklan Wynne that saw the Kiwi sent off.