MLS Power Rankings: LA Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps Rise After Week 25
When MLS fans check the Supporters' Shield and Western Conference standings, they'll see a familiar sight for the next few days.
The LA Galaxy crushed New York City FC on Sunday to claim the West's top seed. It also passed D.C. United as the top team in MLS.
Week 25 also produced some surprising results that sees three teams tied for sixth in the Eastern Conference. The San Jose Earthquakes are also level with the Seattle Sounders for the West's final playoff spot.
With several matches altering the standings, here are the latest MLS power rankings.
20. Chicago Fire (Previous: 18)
The Chicago Fire lost 1-0 to the lowly Colorado Rapids on the same day of a fan protest against ownership.
Chicago dominated in every facet of the game. The Fire had more than twice as many shots as the Rapids and had around 68 percent of the possession.
However, it was Colorado that took advantage of one of its two shots on target. Gilberto and Kennedy Igboananike struck the post with their attempts, but that's as close the Fire came to getting on the scoresheet.
The Fire are now at the bottom of the league with 23 points. They're also No. 20 in the power rankings again after a wasteful performance.
19. Colorado Rapids (Previous: 20)
The Colorado Rapids triumphed in a battle between conference basement dwellers. Colorado edged the Chicago Fire 1-0 thanks to Dillon Serna's strike after just 51 seconds.
Colorado was heavily outshot and conceded the majority of possession to Chicago. However, with some luck from the posts and a couple of crucial saves from goalkeeper Clint Irwin, the Rapids held on for the three points.
Judging by this match, Serna should be starting more often. With both him and Dillon Powers in the lineup, the Rapids have more creativity and speed centrally as well as the flanks.
18. Philadelphia Union (Previous: 19)
The Philadelphia Union spoiled Didier Drogba's MLS debut by defeating his Montreal Impact 1-0 at Stade Saputo on Saturday night.
Apart from the goal, the Union only recorded one other quality opportunity in the game; Sebastien Le Toux's volley just after the hour mark.
However, Philadelphia managed to hold Montreal to just four shots on target. The defensive improvement from last week's 3-3 draw with the Chicago Fire means the Union moves up to No. 18.
17. Orlando City SC (Previous: 15)
Orlando City SC finished its game against Toronto FC with nine players. The poor discipline came back to haunt the Lions, who were crushed 5-0 on Saturday afternoon.
Orlando has now received a league-high nine red cards this season. Rafael Ramos' sending off is debatable, but even if the team goes down a man, it shouldn't be losing by five goals.
The defeat leaves Orlando in a tie for the final playoff spot, but with the Montreal Impact's playing four fewer matches, the gap will widen.
Orlando City's disciplinary issues cost them. It's also evident that David Mateos needs to settle into MLS. Due to these two factors, the expansion side falls to No. 17.
16. New York City FC (Previous: 13)
LA Galaxy vs. New York City FC was supposed to be a marquee match. Not only were there several big-name players on the field at once, NYCFC needed a victory to move into sixth place.
NYCFC ended up receiving a 5-1 drubbing by the Galaxy on Sunday afternoon. A David Villa penalty made it 4-1 at one point, but Robbie Keane immediately restored the four-goal advantage.
New York City started brightly. Kwadwo Poku was creating space for Villa and Thomas McNamara, who nearly opened the scoring on a few occasions. However, once the Galaxy caught NYCFC napping on a free kick, it was clear who the likely victor was on the day.
This performance was the complete opposite compared to Wednesday's 2-2 draw versus the Columbus Crew. Even though NYCFC conceded a second-half equalizer, the midfield was organized, the attack was lethal and the defending showed improvement.
NYCFC is in a draw for sixth place, but it will surely fall behind once the Montreal Impact play more games. After earning just one point, New York City slips to No. 16.
15. Houston Dynamo (Previous: 14)
The Houston Dynamo struck twice just before halftime against the Portland Timbers on Friday to take a 2-0 lead. The match ended in a 2-2 draw.
The Dynamo conceded twice in 10 minutes as the Timbers stormed back to earn a point. Both goals could have been prevented if the defenders were more alert.
No one tracked Darlington Nagbe before he scored the opener. The long pass from Diego Valeri to Lucas Melano also should have been cleared when it was hit into the box.
Houston has only itself to blame after blowing the chance to move within one point of a playoff spot. The late collapse drops the Dynamo to No. 15 this week.
14. Real Salt Lake (Previous: 16)
Real Salt Lake stunned the Seattle Sounders by winning 2-0 at home on Saturday night.
A handball by Roman Torres led to the first goal of the night. Sebastian Jaime doubled the lead after Luke Mulholland's shot off the crossbar landed in front of Jaime, who slotted it into the empty net.
Joao Plata was a constant menace on the ball and Luis Silva dazzled with some of his passes in the final third. It was one of RSL's best performances of the season, and it thoroughly deserved the win.
RSL is now just three points away from a playoff spot. The emphatic win over a strong Seattle team means they pass the Houston Dynamo and move up to 14th in the power rankings.
13. Montreal Impact (Previous: 11)
Didier Drogba finally made his MLS debut on Saturday for the Montreal Impact, but it ended in a 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union at Stade Saputo.
Drogba entered the match as a substitute in the 60th minute. The match was still scoreless, but despite a few valiant efforts, the Impact couldn't penetrate the Union back line.
It's evident that Drogba still needs a couple more matches until he's fully fit and in sync with his teammates. However, that doesn't excuse the defeat because Montreal wasted chances and it cost them again.
12. Seattle Sounders (Previous: 10)
The Seattle Sounders suffered another setback with a 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on Sunday.
Clint Dempsey and Osvaldo Alonso were unavailable for the Sounders. However, Nelson Valdez partnered Obafemi Martins and Erik Friberg started in midfield. Both players are quality replacements who were signed earlier this month.
Roman Torres' handball allowed RSL to open the scoring, but Seattle's attack was woeful. The Sounders produced just five shots, one of which hit the target. Martins may have had two attempts, but he was largely invisible.
The Sounders are now tied for sixth with the San Jose Earthquakes, who have a game in hand. This latest defeat might be a blip, but with just eight matches left, Seattle has to recover quickly.
11. San Jose Earthquakes (Previous: 17)
The San Jose Earthquakes traveled across the country to play two road games this week. The Earthquakes earned six points from both games against Sporting Kansas City and D.C. United, two of MLS' best teams.
Wednesday's game against Sporting KC was the highlight. San Jose humiliated SKC 5-0 in its own building. The Quakes were forcing turnovers, threatening on counterattacks and restricted the opposing forwards.
Sporting was playing its fourth game in 11 days, but the final three were at home. Even still, it was a thrilling performance from San Jose.
The Earthquakes built on the momentum to shut out D.C., MLS' top side entering the weekend. San Jose utilized the same game plan from the SKC game to defeat United. The Quakes attacked on the counter and converted their chances after absorbing pressure.
The Earthquakes move up to 11th in the power rankings after earning maximum points against two quality sides on the road.
10. Toronto FC (Previous: 12)
Toronto FC has had Orlando City SC's number throughout the season. The Reds earned their third win against the expansion side in convincing fashion, beating it 5-0 on Saturday.
Orlando finished the game with nine players and entered halftime with a 0-0 draw. However, Toronto dominated the second half. It led to the team's largest home win in franchise history.
Sebastian Giovinco scored a stunning free kick and Jozy Altidore completed a brace, which will please U.S. men's national team fans. Michael Bradley was also excellent and capped off the afternoon with three assists.
TFC won't have one or two-man advantages in every match, but this emphatic win moves it up to No. 10. If Toronto can replicate this performance, it will comfortably make the playoffs.
9. FC Dallas (Previous: 8)
FC Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps are very similar teams. Both sides have fast forwards with a hard-working No. 9 up front and love to counter. This is why it was no surprise to see Vancouver edge Dallas 1-0 on Saturday.
The only goal Dallas conceded was created by the energetic Kekuta Manneh. He dribbled around a few defenders before Cristian Techera executed a backheel past goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez.
The Hoops controlled the match and created chances. However, it was clear that Dallas was more effective on the break compared to having possession in the final third.
One clever run from Manneh was the difference, but the Texan side has the speed and physicality to unlock defenses. Dallas has to become more comfortable in possession. That's why it falls to No. 9 this week.
8. Columbus Crew (Previous: 9)
The Columbus Crew earned four points from two games this week. It began with a 2-2 draw at home with New York City FC and ended with a 3-2 victory over Sporting Kansas City.
The NYCFC draw was slightly disappointing because the Crew defense was not sharp. The second goal was created off a set piece, and defending set pieces has been an issue for Columbus for a few weeks now.
The attack responded six minutes later to salvage a draw.
The Crew was a lot stronger when defending corners and free kicks versus SKC. Although it conceded two goals off counterattacks, Columbus did well to score twice to record a comeback win.
Columbus only moves up one spot due to the slightly disappointing draw with NYCFC. Plus, D.C. United is the only team to have played more matches than the Crew.
7. Portland Timbers (Previous: 7)
The Portland Timbers scored twice in 10 minutes to salvage a 2-2 draw with the Houston Dynamo on Friday night.
Lucas Melano was the hero as he bagged the equalizer for his first-ever MLS goal. However, Timbers head coach Caleb Porter was still worried despite the comeback, per Jamie Goldberg of the Oregonian:
We gave up a goal against the run. That happens in football. Sometimes you give up a goal against the run, but what can't happen is the response, giving up the next goal, and that's happened in a few games this year... We'll learn from that and we haven't been able to learn from that prior to this game. That second half, those 45 minutes, might be the most important 45 minutes this season because we had to dig deep as a team. We had to do what we hadn't done all year and that's come from behind.
The resolute attitude was admirable from the Timbers, but they dominated the first half and fell behind 2-0. Portland still earned a point but will face the Seattle Sounders without midfielder Diego Chara, who was sent off late in the game.
The Timbers did well to respond after going down 2-0, but they stay at No. 7 due to the sloppy defending at the end of the first half.
6. New England Revolution (Previous: 6)
The New England Revolution had the week off, so they stay at No. 6 this week.
New England's next match is on the road against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. A win could move the Revolution up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
5. D.C. United (Previous: 5)
D.C. United was left stunned after losing 2-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
D.C. had to travel to Panama on Wednesday for its CONCACAF Champions League opener, but it still heavily outshot San Jose. The Earthquakes were simply more clinical than United on the night.
Alvaro Saborio, Chris Rolfe, Davy Arnaud and Nick DeLeon all missed quality chances. This is likely an anomaly, although this is now the second loss in a row for D.C.
United stays at No. 5 due to the New York Red Bulls' bye week and the Columbus Crew's wasted opportunity versus New York City FC on Wednesday.
4. Sporting Kansas City (Previous: 1)
Sporting Kansas City entered this week on a high after recording a 4-3 comeback over the Vancouver Whitecaps in their previous match. However, everything went downhill on Wednesday and Saturday.
Sporting KC lost by a combined score of 8-2 in two games. This includes a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday.
SKC was constantly turning over the ball in both matches and looked disorganized defensively. Amobi Okugo started on Wednesday but was taken out at halftime and didn't start the next game.
It's clear that SKC misses Roger Espinoza, but playing five matches in two weeks will lead to fatigue. Sporting still has games in hand, which is why it stays in the top five.
3. New York Red Bulls (Previous: 3)
The New York Red Bulls were off this week but have two games this Wednesday and Sunday to make up for the bye.
New York will face the Chicago Fire before facing its rival D.C. United to close out the week. The Red Bulls have four games in hand over D.C. and trail the Eastern Conference leaders by just five points.
2. Vancouver Whitecaps (Previous: 4)
The Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Dallas were separated by just five points before the weekend. The gap is now eight after the Whitecaps edged Dallas 1-0 at BC Place on Saturday.
Cristian Techera's backheel was the difference in this intriguing tactical duel. Both sides love to run at opposing defenders with pace on the counter. Dallas had the majority of the possession, but Vancouver had the goal.
Kekuta Manneh, who was being compared to Dallas' Fabian Castillo leading up to the game, created the goal after this brilliant run. Defensively, the Whitecaps rarely allowed Castillo to shoot. Vancouver held the Hoops to just seven shots.
It was a strong response to the traumatizing 4-3 defeat in Kansas City last week, so the Whitecaps deservedly move up to No. 2.
1. LA Galaxy (Previous: 2)
For about 15 minutes, it appeared as if New York City FC was going to be able to earn a result on the road against the LA Galaxy. The champions then squashed the visitors' hopes.
LA crushed NYCFC 5-1 on Sunday afternoon. Gyasi Zardes, Robbie Keane, Giovani dos Santos and Sebastian Lletget all scored in what was a confident performance.
It was LA's fourth consecutive victory and the sixth win in their last seven games. The Galaxy are now on top of the Supporters' Shield standings and have outscored their opponents 22-9 since July 4.
Given their recent form, the 2014 MLS Cup winners rightfully move to the top of the power rankings.
Peter Galindo covers MLS and U.S. soccer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @GalindoPW.