MLS Power Rankings: D.C. United and New York Red Bulls Move Up After Week 23
Week 23 in MLS was uniquely historic, as D.C. United became the first team ever to win a match with just one shot attempt, as noted by the official league website.
The LA Galaxy have moved up in the standings and are just two points behind the Vancouver Whitecaps following a 3-1 win over the slumping Seattle Sounders on Sunday afternoon.
The New York Red Bulls also managed to sweep New York City FC by defeating the expansion side, 2-0 at Red Bull Arena on Sunday night.
With several of MLS' top sides winning, here are the latest power rankings.
20. Philadelphia Union (Previous: 20)
The Philadelphia Union's 0-0 draw against Orlando City SC on Saturday was the dullest match of the weekend.
Philadelphia recorded 11 shots to Orlando's eight, according to the official MLS website, but just five attempts between the two sides reached the target.
Despite the low number of shots, the Union had a couple of quality chances. Sebastien Le Toux struck the post in the 21st minute, while Cristian Maidana was foiled by goalkeeper Tally Hall in the second half.
The Union picked up a point, but it was a game they should've won. It also extended the team's winless skid to four games, which is why Philadelphia stays at the bottom of the standings.
19. Colorado Rapids (Previous: 19)
The Colorado Rapids lost their second home game in as many weeks, as the Columbus Crew defeated them on Saturday, 2-1.
Much like their game against the Galaxy last week, the Rapids opened the scoring. Bobby Burling struck just before halftime, with Jared Watts and Kevin Doyle missing some quality opportunities earlier in the half.
The Rapids were in control throughout the match, but the Crew took advantage thanks to their swift passing and movement. Kei Kamara scored twice in 12 minutes to clinch the victory for Columbus.
Despite the defeat, the Rapids stay at No. 19 after a valiant effort against a strong side.
18. San Jose Earthquakes (Previous: 18)
Dominic Kinnear's second game in Houston since his departure to San Jose didn't end as well as the first meeting. The Earthquakes fell to the Dynamo on Saturday, 2-1, which extended the team's winless skid to six games.
Quincy Amarikwa scored his fourth goal in five games since his trade to the Earthquakes, but the attack as a whole was pitiful. San Jose mustered just six attempts, according to the official MLS website. Fatai Alashe's sending-off didn't help, but the Quakes were static in the final third with 11 players.
The Earthquakes are still just six points away from a playoff spot, but this was a crucial game against another team fighting to make the postseason. As a result of the loss, San Jose stays at No. 18.
17. Chicago Fire (Previous: 17)
The Chicago Fire lost 1-0 to the Portland Timbers on Friday, failing to build on their huge win versus FC Dallas last week.
Neither side was particularly clinical. Both sides combined for 28 shots, but only five were on target, as noted by the official MLS website.
Fanendo Adi scored the decisive goal, but Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson should've been able to save the initial shot from Diego Valeri. However, Chicago's attack wasn't able to alleviate the pressure from Johnson, which made the Timbers' job at the back significantly easier.
Due to the San Jose Earthquakes, Colorado Rapids and Philadelphia Union dropping points, Chicago remains at No. 17 this week.
16. New York City FC (Previous: 16)
New York City FC will finish the MLS season without a win against their crosstown rivals New York Red Bulls. NYCFC lost 2-0 on Sunday night in another uninspiring performance.
NYCFC was electric in the opening minutes. Mix Diskerud and Frank Lampard failed to convert two quality opportunities in the first half. There were also strong shouts for a penalty in the 56th minute.
However, not for the first time in 2015, the NYCFC defense was mainly at fault for this loss. Jefferson Mena completely whiffed on Kemar Lawrence's cross prior to Bradley Wright-Phillips' opening goal.
The midfield was equally appalling. Andrea Pirlo was invisible and didn't help defend, which he seldom did before arriving to MLS. Lampard and Pirlo looked knackered by the 30th minute as well.
NYCFC should move down after losing back-to-back games. However, with the Chicago Fire, San Jose Earthquakes, Colorado Rapids and Philadelphia Union dropping points, the expansion side stays at No. 16.
15. Real Salt Lake (Previous: 15)
Real Salt Lake had a plan for their game against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. Head coach Jeff Cassar deployed a young lineup ahead of the team's U.S. Open Cup semifinal against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.
The plan backfired, as the Whitecaps demolished the young RSL side 4-0 at BC Place. The Claret and Cobalt are still just three points away from a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but the team's road form is still poor.
No club in the West has conceded more goals away from home this season than RSL (26). They're also level on road wins with the Colorado Rapids at two.
Even though the loss was surely a painful one, it's clear that Cassar and his staff were focused on the U.S. Open Cup. For that reason, RSL remain at No. 15 for this week.
14. Orlando City SC (Previous: 13)
Orlando City SC's week was a letdown. The Lions were demolished 4-1 by Sebastian Giovinco and Toronto FC on Wednesday. A 0-0 draw at home with the Philadelphia Union followed on Saturday.
Kaka did not travel to Toronto due to injury and was dearly missed. Apart from a couple of Cyle Larin shots, Orlando City struggled to generate scoring opportunities, producing just five shots, as noted by the official MLS website.
The back line improved against the Philadelphia Union, but the attack was just as stagnant, even with Kaka in the lineup. Orlando had just one shot on target the entire match.
With Orlando coming off a loss to Toronto, it had to defeat the Union at home. However, because it dropped points again, it falls to No. 14.
13. Seattle Sounders (Previous: 11)
It took the Seattle Sounders just 54 seconds to open the scoring against the LA Galaxy on Sunday. However, Chad Barrett pulled up lame and had to exit the match during his celebration.
Barrett's injury was the beginning of a long afternoon for the Sounders, who were brushed aside 3-1 by the Galaxy. It was the team's eighth defeat in its last nine MLS games.
Following Seattle's goal, the Galaxy settled down and utilized their speed and quick passing to expose a weakened Sounders defense.
The absences of Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda obviously hurt the team on both sides of the pitch. New signings Nelson Valdez and Andreas Ivanschitz add depth in quality, but for now, the Sounders fall to No. 13 after another disappointing showing.
12. Houston Dynamo (Previous: 14)
The Houston Dynamo are riding a three-game unbeaten streak after a 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
Houston limited San Jose to just six shots, according to the official MLS website, but relied on a late goal to defeat the 10-man Dynamo.
Nevertheless, Houston won, DaMarcus Beasley scored a wonderful goal and the Dynamo are just one point away from a playoff spot. Thus, the team moves up to No. 12 this week.
11. Montreal Impact (Previous: 10)
The Montreal Impact earned just one point from two matches this week. The 10-man Impact drew 1-1 with the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, then lost to D.C. United in a record-setting game.
Laurent Ciman's sending-off on Wednesday was a blow to the Impact. Despite conceding just one shot to D.C. on Saturday, some miscommunication at the back resulted in the only goal of the match, as United made history that night.
New signing Johan Venegas showed flashes of brilliance, but he and his teammates couldn't beat goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
Montreal is still in sixth place and has a couple of games in hand over the other playoff teams. However, the poor finishing moves the Impact down to No. 11.
10. Toronto FC (Previous: 9)
Toronto FC's week began on a high note with Sebastian Giovinco's hat trick against Orlando City SC on Wednesday. Toronto picked up a 4-1 win at home, but poor defending cost TFC on Saturday afternoon in a 3-1 defeat to Sporting Kansas City.
Giovinco was incredible on Wednesday, and this was without Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley. However, with both back in the lineup on Saturday, the attack couldn't replicate a similar performance.
Sporting KC has conceded just 22 goals this season, tied with the Vancouver Whitecaps for the fewest in MLS. If there was one team capable of shutting down TFC's attack, it's SKC.
Wednesday's win was impressive, but the showing versus SKC is worrying, given how often TFC's defense has let down the team. Due to that poor defensive performance, the Reds fall to No. 10.
9. Columbus Crew (Previous: 12)
The Columbus Crew edged the Colorado Rapids on the road on Saturday night, 2-1. It wasn't the most convincing performance, but after the 5-2 defeat to Orlando City SC, Columbus needed this victory.
The Crew overturned a 1-0 deficit thanks to Kei Kamara's brace. The Sierra Leone international is MLS' leading scorer once again following that two-goal effort.
Colorado outshot Columbus 20-12, according to the official MLS website. However, the Crew overcame the elevation to mount a comeback. That's why they have moved back into the top 10 this week.
8. Portland Timbers (Previous: 8)
The Portland Timbers earned a scrappy 1-0 win at home versus the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
While the Timbers did not concede a lot of chances to the Fire, they struggled to create their own opportunities until Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson's careless handling allowed Fanendo Adi to score the winning goal.
The victory snapped Portland's four-game winless skid and kept it in fifth place in the Western Conference. The Timbers stay at No. 8, but if they can string a couple of victories together, they'll move up again.
7. New England Revolution (Previous: 7)
The New England Revolution were off this week, so they stay at No. 7.
New England's next match is on Saturday against the Houston Dynamo. With a win, the Revolution could move up to third place in the Eastern Conference.
6. FC Dallas (Previous: 4)
FC Dallas did not play this week but fell to No. 6 after D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls won this weekend.
Dallas will get a chance to move back into the top five on Saturday against the champion LA Galaxy.
5. D.C. United (Previous: 6)
D.C. United needed just one shot to defeat the Montreal Impact 1-0 at Stade Saputo on Saturday.
Goalkeeper Bill Hamid deserves all of the plaudits after a monumental performance. The American international made eight saves and faced 25 shots to earn his seventh clean sheet of the season.
Chris Rolfe scored his team-leading ninth goal after Impact defender Victor Cabrera mishit a pass to Wandrille Lefevre. That allowed Rolfe to strike on a breakaway.
D.C. was heavily outshot, but "it was three points to zero" on the night, as midfielder Davy Arnaud told reporters. United moves up to No. 5, but due to the New York Red Bulls' superior form, the Black and Red stay below their Eastern Conference rivals.
4. New York Red Bulls (Previous: 5)
New York is red, at least in 2015. The Red Bulls won 2-0 in the Hudson River derby against New York City FC on Sunday. It was the team's third win from three matches against NYCFC this season.
The opening stages of the game were shaky, with Frank Lampard and Mix Diskerud testing goalkeeper Luis Robles. However, the Red Bulls took over the match and never looked back.
The NYCFC midfield couldn't contain the Red Bulls' swift movements going forward. Dax McCarty and Sacha Kljestan were at the heart of the domination. Both players were stringing passes together, covering ground and tracking back.
Not only was this an impressive win, but it extended New York's unbeaten streak to five games. The Red Bulls deservedly move up to No. 4 and have three matches in hand over D.C. United.
3. LA Galaxy (Previous: 2)
It took 13 minutes for the LA Galaxy to click against the Seattle Sounders, but once they grabbed control, they dominated the rest of the game.
Gyasi Zardes equalized for the Galaxy after Chad Barrett's goal in the first minute of the match. Juninho provided a beautifully worked assist for Zardes, who slotted calmly into the far post.
Robbie Keane gave the Galaxy the lead early in the second half. A.J. DeLaGarza's cross found Giovani dos Santos, who deflected it to Keane for his first MLS assist.
Dos Santos bagged his first league goal after a terrific run and finish from the left side of the box. It capped off what was a strong showing by the champions.
Once dos Santos and Steven Gerrard are fully fit and integrated into the team, the Galaxy will be the team to beat again. Even though LA won, it falls to No. 3 after a depleted Sporting Kansas City earned a road win against Toronto FC.
2. Sporting Kansas City (Previous: 3)
Sporting Kansas City faced Toronto FC without Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi and Dom Dwyer. Sporting KC still managed to defeat TFC by a score of 3-1 at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon.
Former Toronto player Jacob Peterson scored his first goal of the season, which ultimately stood as the winner. Krisztian Nemeth and Benny Feilhaber bagged the other two goals for SKC.
Not only did the visitors score three goals, but they prevented Sebastian Giovinco from scoring. The Italian recorded an assist but was restricted for the remainder of the game.
SKC's road win against a dangerous attack with a depleted lineup is cause for celebration. It's also the reason why they leap over the LA Galaxy and take the No. 2 spot this week.
1. Vancouver Whitecaps (Previous: 1)
The Vancouver Whitecaps made an emphatic statement on Saturday night, crushing Real Salt Lake at home, 4-0. The victory extended the Whitecaps' lead at the top of the Western Conference to four points.
Vancouver has played two more games than second-placed FC Dallas but is in incredible form. The Whitecaps have won three straight games and extended their unbeaten streak to four. The West's No. 1 seed has outscored its opponents 11-2 in that four-match span.
Cristian Techera recorded a brace, Pa-Modou Kah scored his third goal in two games and Octavio Rivero got on the scoresheet as well. It was a perfect performance all around from the Canadian side.
Until the Whitecaps lose, they will remain atop the power rankings.
Peter Galindo covers MLS and U.S. soccer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @GalindoPW.