MLS Power Rankings: Sporting Kansas City Reclaims No. 1 Spot
MLS team rosters were depleted this week thanks to the Gold Cup, and that helped several sides upset the top clubs.
The Chicago Fire and Philadelphia Union defeated two of the Western Conference's best teams in the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers. The Colorado Rapids also picked up a much-needed win over their rival Real Salt Lake.
Elsewhere, Sporting Kansas City edged the Vancouver Whitecaps on the road. SKC has lost just once in its last 10 games, but where does the rest of the league sit after the weekend?
Here are the MLS power rankings after Week 19.
20. Chicago Fire (Previous: 20)
The Chicago Fire defeated the Seattle Sounders thanks to a late Jason Johnson goal, but the Fire produced an average performance against a significantly weakened Sounders side.
Patrick Nyarko and Harry Shipp had two terrific chances to give the Fire the lead, but so did Cristian Roldan for the Sounders. Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson actually had to make a couple of saves to keep his team in the game.
In the end, it was the Fire who found the winning goal. However, considering how many players were unavailable for the Sounders, and Chicago's status as the last-placed team in the league, it remains at No. 20.
19. New York City FC (Previous: 16)
New York City FC managed to score a season-high four goals at home against Toronto FC, but the hosts ended up drawing 4-4 on Sunday afternoon.
Sebastian Giovinco scored a hat trick and few teams have been able to contain the Italian forward, but in truth, the NYCFC defense was terrible.
It isn't the first time the back line was struggled. TFC had two debatable penalties, but it was too easy for Giovinco and Marky Delgado to score the other three goals.
NYCFC's horrific defensive performance prevented the team from moving back into a playoff spot and moves it down to No. 19 this week.
18. Real Salt Lake (Previous: 14)
Real Salt Lake was missing five players due to the Gold Cup. Those absences were felt as RSL lost 3-1 to the Colorado Rapids in the Rocky Mountain Cup on Saturday.
RSL is now seven points out of a playoff spot after this latest defeat. The Claret and Cobalt haven't won in four straight games and have won just twice in their last eight matches.
Injuries and international call-ups have affected the balance of the squad, but given the team's current form, RSL has fallen to No. 18.
17. Colorado Rapids (Previous: 17)
The Colorado Rapids earned their first Rocky Mountain Cup win since 2013 thanks to a 3-1 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday. It's also the first time that the Rapids have recorded back-to-back wins this season.
The match was dull up until the final 15 minutes. All four goals were scored late in the match, with RSL grabbing the 1-0 lead before the Rapids fought back to claim all three points.
It was a valiant effort by the Rapids, who have struggled in 2015. However, Colorado still struggled to score from open play for most of the game. On the bright side, plenty of chances were created.
If the Rapids can replicate this performance next week against the Seattle Sounders, they'll move up. For now, they aren't enough of a threat to pass the Houston Dynamo or Montreal Impact in the power rankings.
16. Houston Dynamo (Previous: 18)
The Houston Dynamo picked up their first road win in over two months with a 2-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.
Both teams generated almost the same amount of shots. San Jose had 14 to Houston's 13, but it was the Dynamo with the majority of chances on target with eight, per the official MLS website.
The Houston defense was nearly impenetrable. Whenever the Earthquakes managed the occasional shot, goalkeeper Tyler Deric was there to make a save.
Houston is now just six points away from a playoff spot. Sporting Kansas City has games in hand, but once more Dynamo players return from Gold Cup duty, they'll be able to make a push.
15. Montreal Impact (Previous: 19)
The Montreal Impact have played fewer games than any other team in the Eastern Conference. However, they're creeping closer to a playoff spot after a 3-0 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday.
Dominic Oduro recorded a brace, but his first touch and composure was even more impressive. He hasn't demonstrated the latter two attributes very often, so it must have been pleasing for Impact fans to witness.
Ignacio Piatti was brilliant on the ball yet again, setting up Oduro's first goal. The Impact managed to win 3-0 despite being outshot 15-8, per the official MLS website. The back line can be credited for that as it limited the workload for goalkeeper Evan Bush.
Defeating the Crew is no easy task, especially the form that Kei Kamara and Ethan Finlay have been in recently. The Impact move up to No. 15 after a wonderful performance against a tough team.
14. Philadelphia Union (Previous: 15)
The Philadelphia Union upset the Portland Timbers 3-0 at home on Saturday.
Philadelphia outshot Portland but couldn't score until the 69th minute. That's when the Union began to stretch the Timbers and exposed the disorganized defense in the middle.
The Union extended their winning streak to three games after Saturday's win. Because of its slightly superior form compared to the Montreal Impact, Philadelphia moves up to No. 14.
13. New England Revolution (Previous: 13)
The New England Revolution's slide continued on Saturday with a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the New York Red Bulls. New England has now picked up just one win in its last 12 MLS games.
The injury to Jermaine Jones has clearly affected New England, but the defense was abysmal yet again. Jose Goncalves gave Lloyd Sam too much space to dribble and cross, Bradley Wright-Phillips wasn't marked and Sacha Kljestan was dictating the tempo in the final third.
The Revolution simply couldn't keep up in the early moments of the game and it cost them. The Revs are still in a playoff spot but have played more games than anyone else in the Eastern Conference except D.C. United.
New England is still a contender, which is why it remains at No. 13 for now, but if it doesn't snap out of yet another summer slump, it will slip down even lower in the power rankings.
12. Columbus Crew (Previous: 10)
The Columbus Crew picked up points in four straight games entering their match against the Montreal Impact on Saturday. That streak came to an end after a 3-0 loss.
It was a frustrating night for the Crew. The front four struggled thanks to the Impact, who were wary of the threat on the counter.
Emanuel Pogatetz missed a clearance before Dominic Oduro's first goal, but Mohammed Saeid couldn't bring down Ignacio Piatti before he made the pass to Oduro. It was errors like this that cost the Crew.
Columbus has been better as of late despite the loss, but due to Orlando City's better form entering the weekend and the Crew's defensive mishaps, they fall to No. 12.
11. Orlando City SC (Previous: 11)
Orlando City SC had just four outfield players on the bench due to Gold Cup absences and Kaka's suspension. Orlando ended up losing 2-0 at home to FC Dallas after some wonderful individual performances from the visitors.
Despite the depleted squad, Orlando was on the receiving end of some bad luck. Pedro Ribeiro's 56th-minute strike was called back due to an apparent offside, but that appeared to be an incorrect call. Had Ribeiro's goal counted, it would've been 1-1 and the complexion of the match would've changed.
Due to all of the unavailable players and its standing in the Eastern Conference, Orlando stays at No. 11 for this week.
10. San Jose Earthquakes (Previous: 9)
The San Jose Earthquakes suffered another loss on Friday, falling 2-0 to the Houston Dynamo at home.
Matias Perez Garcia returned, but Chris Wondolowski is still at the Gold Cup and Innocent Emeghara is hurt. Losing two designated players is tough and it showed. The Earthquakes couldn't finish against the Portland Timbers in their previous game and the same occurred on Friday.
For now, San Jose doesn't have to worry. It is still just five points out of a playoff spot and once Wondolowski is back, its form should improve. However, a lackluster 2-0 defeat moves them down to No. 10.
9. Toronto FC (Previous: 8)
Toronto FC's star forward Sebastian Giovinco made history on Sunday. The Italian became the first player in TFC history to score a hat trick in MLS. Despite the wonderful showing, Toronto ended up tying New York City FC 4-4.
Referee Ted Unkel awarded four penalties in the game. Before the last one was awarded, the Toronto Sun's Kurt Larson tweeted that if Unkel pointed to the spot for a fourth time, it would set an MLS record.
Two different feats were achieved in this game, which shows how crazy the match was on Sunday. Unfortunately for both teams, the defenses contributed to the madness. TFC slightly rotated the back line, but no matter who has started, it's mostly been disastrous.
TFC is missing Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, but conceding four goals after Giovinco's historic day is inexcusable, which is why Toronto falls to No. 9.
8. New York Red Bulls (Previous: 12)
The New York Red Bulls moved into second place in the Eastern Conference with an emphatic 4-1 win over the New England Revolution on Saturday.
Lloyd Sam had a goal and an assist, Bradley Wright-Phillips scored twice and set up another as well. The midfield trio of Dax McCarty, Sacha Kljestan and Felipe were rock solid again and contributed on both sides of the pitch.
The Red Bulls had to cope without full-backs Kemar Lawrence (Gold Cup) and Chris Duvall (broken tibia) but were barely penetrated at the back. This domination moves New York back into the top 10.
7. D.C. United (Previous: 7)
D.C. United had a bye after a tough 1-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders in their last game, so they remain at No. 7 this week.
D.C.'s next match is against red-hot FC Dallas on Saturday in Frisco, Texas. It will be the perfect chance for United to move back to the top of the power rankings.
6. Seattle Sounders (Previous: 6)
The Seattle Sounders lost 1-0 on the road to the Chicago Fire thanks to a late Jason Johnson goal. It's the Sounders' fourth defeat in their last five games.
Seattle struggled to create scoring chances, but without Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and Marco Pappa, it was always going to be tough for the visitors. On the other hand, the defense was solid despite conceding late.
However, it's clear that head coach Sigi Schmid is desperate to welcome back his star strikers. The fact that the Sounders are still leading the Western Conference is astounding. For that reason, Seattle stays at No. 6 this week.
5. Vancouver Whitecaps (Previous: 5)
The Vancouver Whitecaps lost their fourth match at home this season after a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of Sporting Kansas City on Sunday night.
The Whitecaps lost just three times at home in 2014. Their form at BC Place has been worrying all season, but it's not due to lackluster performances.
Vancouver had 13 shots, seven of which were on target, per the official MLS website. The front four played well but couldn't finish their chances. SKC goalkeeper Tim Melia pulled off two remarkable saves, which preserved the clean sheet.
There were some other positives for the Whitecaps on Sunday. Rookie center back Tim Parker was incredible and looked comfortable in his primary role. Vancouver also stayed level with the Seattle Sounders on top of the Western Conference despite the loss.
Vancouver played well enough to win and because its still at the top of the West, it remains at No. 5.
4. Portland Timbers (Previous: 1)
The Portland Timbers lost 3-0 to the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. The Timbers were without Darlington Nagbe, Diego Chara, Adam Kwarasey, Jorge Villafana and Alvas Powell and it definitely showed.
The Timbers managed to create chances through Diego Valeri, Gaston Fernandez and Rodney Wallace. However, the back line was awful in the final stages of the second half.
The Union stretched the field and made runs into the open space. The defenders failed to read these runs and it cost them dearly.
Despite that loss, the Timbers are still one point behind the Western Conference leaders even without those key starters. For those reasons, they'll stay in the top five.
3. FC Dallas (Previous: 4)
FC Dallas is now tied for first place in the Western Conference after a 2-0 win over Orlando City SC on Saturday. It extended Dallas' unbeaten streak to four games, and it was also the team's third straight win.
David Texeira and Mauro Diaz scored and were excellent once again, even without Blas Perez and Tesho Akindele. Fabian Castillo and Victor Ulloa, who both set up Texeira for his goal, were also exceptional on Saturday.
Dallas also recorded a third straight clean sheet. The defensive performances have been extremely underrated over the last few weeks and deserve a lot of credit for this recent resurgence.
2. LA Galaxy (Previous: 2)
The LA Galaxy was not in action this past weekend in MLS, but they still played in the International Champions Cup.
The Galaxy's next match in MLS is on Friday against the San Jose Earthquakes in the latest edition of the California Clasico. For now, LA is still No. 2 after its bye week, but that will likely change after this game.
1. Sporting Kansas City (Previous: 3)
Sporting Kansas City is the new No. 1 after earning a 1-0 win on the road against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Goalkeeper Tim Melia may have bailed out his team, but SKC was resilient against the Whitecaps. Defensive midfielder Soni Mustivar was key to this, recording an astounding 19 interceptions, per WhoScored.com.
Sporting KC has lost just once in its last 10 games and is just two points away from first place in the Western Conference. SKC also has matches in hand over other teams in the top six. It's clear that this is the club to beat right now.
Peter Galindo covers MLS and U.S. soccer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @GalindoPW.