MLS Power Rankings: New York Red Bulls Reign Supreme
There were only three matches in MLS last week due to the international break. However, there were still two major stories that emerged after Week 32.
The New York Red Bulls inched closer to their second Supporters' Shield in three years. The Montreal Impact fell to the Red Bulls but are on the brink of the playoffs thanks to the former's win on Saturday.
Despite the lack of activity across the league, there was still some significant movement in the power rankings this week.
As always, the teams will be graded based on the following criteria:
- Quality of opponent and performance
- Recent form beyond the last week
- Key absences
- Current standing
- Remaining games in hand (if applicable)
Here are the latest MLS power rankings.
20. Colorado Rapids (Previous: 20)
The Colorado Rapids fell to the Montreal Impact 1-0 on Saturday. It was the Rapids' sixth consecutive loss in MLS play.
Didier Drogba's free kick was the difference, but Colorado had a few chances via set pieces that were wildly inaccurate. The Rapids equaled the Impact's three shots on target.
Colorado's current form and standing in the Western Conference keeps it anchored at the bottom of the power rankings.
19. Philadelphia Union (Previous: 19)
The Philadelphia Union were one of many teams who had the week off, so they remain 19th in the power rankings.
The Union have lost three of their last four games and have a busy winter ahead of them. It will start with the appointment of a new CEO after the departure of Nick Sakiewicz.
Philadelphia's final two matches are against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday and versus Orlando City the following week.
18. Chicago Fire (Previous: 18)
The Chicago Fire stay at No. 18 due to their bye week but remain at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
The Fire close out their season with games against D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls. They have a four-point gap to make up to avoid finishing last in the East.
17. Houston Dynamo (Previous: 17)
The Houston Dynamo are currently three points adrift of a playoff spot with two games remaining. However, they were inactive last week, so they stay locked at No. 17.
The Dynamo's final two matches are tough tests. Houston will face the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps to close out the campaign.
The Portland Timbers have a game in hand, so the Dynamo will likely need at least four points to qualify for the postseason.
16. New York City FC (Previous: 16)
New York City FC were eliminated from playoff contention after the Montreal Impact's 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.
The summer was patchy for NYCFC due to the arrivals of their two new designated players. Head coach Jason Kreis had to constantly alter his lineups to accommodate both midfielders.
The defense is still worrying. Josh Saunders has faced more shots than any other goalkeeper in MLS this season, per the league's official website. This has to change in 2016 if NYCFC want to make the playoffs.
As for this week, the expansion side remains at No. 16 due to its inactivity.
15. Real Salt Lake (Previous: 15)
Real Salt Lake are still 15th in the power rankings after a week off, but they have some crucial matches down the stretch.
The craziness begins on Wednesday versus the Portland Timbers. If RSL drop points, they will likely miss out on the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
RSL will then battle FC Dallas three days later and finish the regular season against the Seattle Sounders on October 25.
The Claret and Cobalt are currently three points away from a postseason berth. RSL also have one game in hand over the sixth-placed San Jose Earthquakes.
14. San Jose Earthquakes (Previous: 14)
The San Jose Earthquakes are clinging to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference as the season winds down.
The Portland Timbers are tied with San Jose and have a game in hand. Meanwhile, the Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake are just three points behind the Earthquakes.
Sporting Kansas City and FC Dallas are the Quakes' final two opponents. A win from either game would be a massive boost for San Jose down the stretch.
As for this week's power rankings, the Earthquakes are still at No. 14.
13. Portland Timbers (Previous: 13)
The Portland Timbers are hovering out of the playoffs with just three games remaining.
Portland's next two games are significant to its postseason chances. The Timbers face Real Salt Lake this Wednesday before a crucial tilt against the LA Galaxy on Sunday.
The Timbers finish the regular season against the Colorado Rapids at home. If they fail to win this match, then it could lead to a second consecutive campaign without a playoff appearance.
12. Orlando City SC (Previous: 12)
Orlando City SC are still alive in the race for the playoffs, but it's a lot tougher after the Montreal Impact's win last Saturday.
Montreal now has a four-point advantage with two matches remaining for each side. Orlando faces New York City FC this Friday in a must-win game. The Impact battle the New England Revolution the next day.
Since Orlando did not play last week, it stays at No. 12 in the power rankings.
11. D.C. United (Previous: 10)
D.C. United did not play last week but still slipped to No. 11 after the Montreal Impact's win.
D.C. has a chance to reclaim a spot in the top 10 on Sunday against the Chicago Fire.
10. Montreal Impact (Previous: 11)
The Montreal Impact opened their week with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the New York Red Bulls.
Ambroise Oyongo's red card after just 15 minutes left the Impact exposed. Montreal trailed 2-0 and appeared to be en route to a humiliating loss.
A Didier Drogba penalty cut the deficit in half, although New York was able to hold on for the win.
The following match against the Colorado Rapids wasn't pretty. However, the Impact earned the crucial victory on the road with Drogba scoring yet again.
Montreal now has a four-point advantage over Orlando City SC with two games remaining. For that reason, the Impact move back into the top 10 this week.
9. New England Revolution (Previous: 9)
The New England Revolution are still in ninth after sitting out the previous week.
The Revs have struggled recently. They're currently riding a three-game winless skid and are in danger of missing out on a home playoff game in the first round.
New England's next meeting is a significant match with regard to playoff positioning. The Revolution will host the Montreal Impact on Saturday. With just two points separating the teams, this will be a nail-biter.
8. Toronto FC (Previous: 8)
Toronto FC were initially expected to miss their three designated players for the New York Red Bulls match. Now, TFC might have two of them in the starting lineup.
Michael Bradley returned from U.S. men's national team duty this week. Sportsnet's John Molinaro reported that the team will be cautious with Bradley, but he should still play this Wednesday.
Sebastian Giovinco may also play despite participating in Italy's UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier against Norway on Tuesday.
Kurtis Larson of the Toronto Sun claims Giovinco has been texting TFC staff about contributing on Wednesday.
TFC need to earn at least one point to clinch their first-ever playoff spot. The odds of the Reds securing that berth on Wednesday will be boosted with Giovinco and Bradley featuring in the game.
7. Seattle Sounders (Previous: 7)
The Seattle Sounders also had the week off during the international window. As a result, the Sounders are still No. 7 in the power rankings.
Seattle hasn't lost an MLS match since August 22. The Sounders might be able to extend that unbeaten streak into the playoffs as well.
The team's final two matches are away to the Houston Dynamo and at home against Real Salt Lake.
Despite the Sounders' unlucky summer, they could still finish as one of the top-two seeds in the Western Conference. The power of parity can be advantageous.
6. Vancouver Whitecaps (Previous: 5)
The Vancouver Whitecaps drew against FC Dallas 0-0 at home on Wednesday evening. Vancouver clinched a playoff spot with the point, but the Whitecaps haven't won an MLS match since September 9.
It's worth noting that center back Kendall Waston was away on international duty. Marc Weber of the Province also reported that several players are dealing with injuries.
The Whitecaps will meet Dallas again on the road on October 14. However, the squad will be depleted for the trip. Vancouver has not won a single game in Texas in their MLS history.
Despite the draw, Vancouver has slipped to No. 6 due to the team's current form and Sporting Kansas City's game in hand.
5. Sporting Kansas City (Previous: 6)
Sporting Kansas City have moved into the top five in the power rankings despite their inactivity last week.
The Vancouver Whitecaps' 0-0 draw with FC Dallas last Wednesday keeps Sporting within two points of Vancouver. SKC also have an extra game in hand.
Sporting KC's next match is on Friday against the San Jose Earthquakes. SKC finish the regular season with games against the Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy.
4. Columbus Crew (Previous: 4)
The Columbus Crew remain at No. 4 in the power rankings after their week off during the international break.
The Crew will be itching to return to winning ways. Columbus has lost back-to-back games against the New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers.
Columbus faces Toronto FC on the road on Saturday before its regular-season finale against D.C. United.
3. LA Galaxy (Previous: 3)
The LA Galaxy return to the field this Sunday against the struggling Portland Timbers after their break last week. A victory could solidify a top seed in the Western Conference.
A CONCACAF Champions League match in Guatemala follows just three days later. The Galaxy will then battle Sporting Kansas City in their final game of the regular season.
2. FC Dallas (Previous: 2)
FC Dallas' 0-0 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps propelled them into first place in the Western Conference.
The Hoops will square off with the Whitecaps in a rematch then face Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes in their last two games. With an extra game in hand, Dallas' final seeding is in its hands.
Dallas may have avoided defeat on the road, but the New York Red Bulls' victory keeps the Texan side at No. 2.
1. New York Red Bulls (Previous: 1)
The New York Red Bulls inched closer to the Supporters' Shield with a 2-1 win over the Montreal Impact last Wednesday.
The early red card to Ambroise Oyongo gave the Red Bulls a huge advantage, and they managed to capitalize. Sacha Kljestan and Lloyd Sam gave New York a 2-0 lead in the first half.
Didier Drogba's penalty gave the Impact life, but the Red Bulls were able to stave off Montreal to claim the win.
New York remains on top of the Supporters' Shield standings after earning its second consecutive victory. For that reason, the Red Bulls are still the team to beat in MLS.