MLS Power Rankings: LA Galaxy Retains the Top Spot

Peter Galindo@@GalindoPWFeatured ColumnistMay 4, 2016

MLS Power Rankings: LA Galaxy Retains the Top Spot

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    It was a dramatic week in Major League Soccer as a few teams staked their claims with some emphatic results.

    These performances led to a significant bump up in the latest edition of the power rankings. As always, the following criteria were used to grade each team:

    • Form over the last five games
    • Injuries/absences
    • Quality of a team's most recent performance
    • Games in hand (if applicable)

    Here are the latest MLS power rankings.

20. Houston Dynamo (Previous: 20)

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    The Houston Dynamo let a 1-0 lead slip and suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. The loss extended the Dynamo's winless skid to six games. They have only earned one point in that span.

    Admittedly, Houston was competitive throughout the game and could have claimed a point. However, it was RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando who prevented a late equalizer on a few occasions.

    The Dynamo were also defensively inept as Houston was often crowded centrally. This led to RSL's attackers finding space in the penalty area.

    Once they can gain some defensive solidity and finish chances, Houston should be able to move up the rankings. Their task this weekend doesn't get any easier, though, as it faces Sporting Kansas City. 

    Games played: Eight

    Form: LDLLL

    Points: Five

    Record: 1-5-2

    Standing: 10th in the Western Conference

19. New England Revolution (Previous: 19)

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    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    The New England Revolution picked up two draws at home against the Portland Timbers and Orlando City SC on Wednesday and Saturday, respectively. The Revs are still unbeaten at home, but they now have an MLS-high seven draws this season. The Revolution are also winless in five straight games.

    New England's disappointing home form has been its downfall to start the season. The Revs let a lead slip in the 2-2 draw with Orlando City and failed to convert several quality chances in the 1-1 tie against the Timbers.

    Defender Chris Tierney and striker Charlie Davies were both injured. Nonetheless, the Revs have tons of firepower going forward and have a solid enough back line. Yet those same defenders have committed some questionable errors at times.

    Injuries and suspensions have deterred New England during the first few weeks of the campaign and playing every three or four days does not help. Regardless, the Revs have to start burying chances, especially at home.

    Games played: 10

    Form: DDLDD

    Points: 10

    Record: 1-2-7

    Standing: Seventh in the Eastern Conference

18. New York City FC (Previous: 19)

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    New York City FC finally earned their first victory at home after an enthralling 3-2 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.

    This match had it all. Controversy, entertainment, goals and the occasional defensive lapse. The latter is the main reason why NYCFC managed to secure the win.

    David Villa scored New York City's first two goals of the game. He was wide open on both, although the latter could have been called back for a foul. Nonetheless, Villa spearheaded NYCFC, which he's often done since arriving at the club.

    As motivating as the win was for NYCFC, goalkeeper Josh Saunders had another poor outing. He was slow in reacting to an onrushing Nicolas Mezquida, then the shot-stopper couldn't coral Christian Bolanos' penalty. Both incidents led to Vancouver goals.

    This could be a simple decline in form, especially after the fantastic year Saunders had last season. However, NYCFC still require more concentration and consistency at the back in order to be taken more seriously.

    Games played: Nine

    Form: DLLDW

    Points: 10

    Record: 2-3-4

    Standing: Sixth in the Eastern Conference

17. Columbus Crew (Previous: 14)

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    The Columbus Crew's winning streak was halted at two games after the Seattle Sounders edged the Crew 1-0 on Saturday afternoon.

    Much like the Crew's other defeats, they were able to threaten in the final third, but there was very little substance in the penalty area. In the end, Jordan Morris capitalized on one opportunity and Columbus was wasteful.

    The Crew have generated the fifth-fewest amount of shots on target in MLS this season with 36, per the official league website. They led this category last year

    It appeared as if the Crew were beginning to find consistency in attack, but after a dull defeat, they have taken another step backwards on that front.

    Games played: Eight

    Form: DLWWL

    Points: Eight

    Record: 2-4-2

    Standing: Ninth in the Eastern Conference

16. Chicago Fire (Previous: 15)

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    Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

    The Chicago Fire's 1-1 draw with D.C. United on Saturday was not an instant classic. The downpour and windy conditions made the game a sloppy one and it showed in the attacking third for both sides.

    Picking up points at this stage of the season is always valuable, especially for the Fire, who were one of the worst teams in the league last year. However, with a tough stretch of games coming up, they desperately need goals.

    Chance creation and conversion have been lacking in Chicago so far. David Accam's injury has contributed to it, but the Fire also don't have a genuine No. 10 on their roster.

    Chicago Fire Confidential's Guillermo Rivera provided an update on the search for a playmaker. FC Groningen's Michael de Leeuw has agreed to personal terms, but nothing has been finalized yet.

    The transfer window closes on May 11. If a deal is not complete, de Leeuw won't be able to play until July. That would be bad news for the Fire.

    Games played: Seven

    Form: DWDLD

    Points: Seven

    Record: 2-3-4

    Standing: Sixth in the Eastern Conference

15. New York Red Bulls (Previous: 17)

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    The New York Red Bulls earned its second win in as many matches after crushing FC Dallas 4-0 at home on Friday night.

    This was undoubtedly New York's finest performance of the season. Even without Gideon Baah and Damien Perrinelle, the Red Bulls still managed to nullify Dallas' lethal front four of Fabian Castillo, Mauro Diaz, Michael Barrios and Maxi Urruti.

    Sacha Kljestan and Felipe were the two stars for the Red Bulls on this night. They each registered a goal and an assist. Both midfielders were also a constant threat in the final third as they worked tirelessly on and off the ball the entire game.

    Earning a convincing victory over one of the top teams in the Western Conference is no small feat. Once the Red Bulls welcome back Perrinelle, Baah and Gonzalo Veron, New York will be a significantly stronger side.

    Games played: Nine

    Form: LLLWW

    Points: Nine

    Record: 3-0-6

    Standing: Eighth in the Eastern Conference

14. Seattle Sounders (Previous: 16)

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    The Seattle Sounders picked up a massive 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday to earn their third win in five games.

    Jordan Morris scored his third goal in as many matches as he continues to gain his stride as a professional. A young player will experience dramatic declines and increases in form, and that is why it was inevitable for Morris to snap his dry spell to begin the campaign.

    Morris' exploits aside, the Sounders still have issues going forward. Clint Dempsey and Nelson Valdez just returned from injuries, so the attack could improve over the next couple of weeks.

    Regardless, this was a solid win for the Sounders. If they regain consistency in the final third, they should become a serious contender in the Western Conference.

    Games played: Eight

    Form: WDWLW

    Points: 10

    Record: 3-4-1

    Standing: Ninth in the Western Conference

13. D.C. United (Previous: 12)

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    Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

    The weather conditions in D.C. United's 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire on Saturday were less than ideal. That was reflected in the quality, or lack thereof, at Toyota Park.

    However, United had some standout individual performers that afternoon. Patrick Nyarko and Luciano Acosta were impressive, apart from the goal they were involved in during the second half.

    Both Nyarko and Acosta were wreaking havoc when running at the Fire defense and recorded a combined three shots in the game. 

    A draw on the road is a solid result with all of that in mind. It's also the fourth time in five games that D.C. has recorded a point. If head coach Ben Olsen continues starting Acosta, the team should begin to chart a few more wins.

    Games played: Nine

    Form: DWLWD

    Points: 10

    Record: 2-3-4

    Standing: Fifth in the Eastern Conference

12. Vancouver Whitecaps (Previous: 10)

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    Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    The Vancouver Whitecaps experienced a whirlwind of a week. It began with a 1-1 draw over Sporting Kansas City, but they secured the point with 10 men. The Whitecaps then suffered a disappointing 3-2 loss to New York City FC the following Saturday.

    The draw with SKC was a decent result considering Kendall Waston was sent off after 51 minutes. However, without Waston and Pedro Morales, head coach Carl Robinson made some alterations to his lineup for the NYCFC match.

    Robinson made three changes to his back line, which backfired. Pa-Modou Kah failed to track David Villa for his opening goal and from that point on, NYCFC took over.

    Vancouver actually started strongly in both games. They took 1-0 leads in each match, but were underwhelming in the final third after their opening goal. Those issues should be resolved by now.

    Injuries and suspensions have affected the Whitecaps' chemistry, especially up front. However, when Matias Laba has a poor showing and when Waston is unavailable, Vancouver is very beatable.

    Games played: 10

    Form: LLWDL

    Points: 11

    Record: 3-5-2

    Standing: Eighth in the Western Conference

11. Sporting Kansas City (Previous: 11)

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    It was a good news, bad news kind of week for Sporting Kansas City. They managed to snap their three-game losing streak, but they have now failed to record a win in their last five matches.

    Sporting drew 1-1 on the road with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday before tying the LA Galaxy 1-1 at home on Sunday. 

    SKC had a man advantage in both games but failed to capitalize. In fact, Sporting KC have been very average when they have faced 10 players.

    NBC Sports' Andy Edwards noted that SKC have been up a man for 153 minutes this season, but have only scored one goal in that time. 

    One way to counter a team that sits deep against SKC is to increase the offensive tempo. It could even help Sporting when they are playing against 11 players, because the offense has gone missing at times.

    Games played: 10

    Form: LLLDD

    Points: 14

    Record: 4-4-2

    Standing: Sixth in the Eastern Conference

10. Orlando City SC (Previous: 9)

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    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Orlando City SC salvaged a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution on Saturday night, although their winless run was extended to four games.

    The road point was still a decent result for Orlando City, who were missing Kaka for this game. They didn't struggle to create chances without the Brazilian as they generated 11 shots against the Revolution.

    Head coach Adrian Heath opted to rest Tommy Redding for this game, but the Lions didn't struggle centrally. They were mainly exposed out wide, particularly on the flank where Brek Shea started at left back.

    The defense has been worrisome for Orlando in a few games. That is why it has slid down to No. 10 this week, but the attack has been relatively consistent, even when Kaka hasn't featured.

    Games played: Eight

    Form: WLDLD

    Points: 10

    Record: 2-2-4

    Standing: Fourth in the Eastern Conference

9. Portland Timbers (Previous: 13)

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    Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

    The Portland Timbers earned four points from two games this week. They drew 1-1 with the New England Revolution on Wednesday before returning home to beat Toronto FC 2-1 on Sunday.

    Head coach Caleb Porter rotated his squad for both matches. Diego Valeri was suspended for the Revs game but Darlington Nagbe took over the creative duties. He ended up assisting Jack Barmby's goal. 

    The Timbers were boosted on Sunday with the return of Liam Ridgewell, who made his first appearance since the season opener. The defense produced one of its best performances of the year, although most of the credit went to Jake Gleeson for an outstanding showing.

    Portland's backup goalkeeper made several incredible saves against TFC, especially in the second half. If it wasn't for him, the Timbers would likely have split the points.

    Adam Kwarasey and Alvas Powell are still injured, but the Timbers haven't skipped a beat without them. They're now unbeaten in three games and appear to be regaining their form at the right time.

    Games played: Nine

    Form: DLWDW

    Points: 12

    Record: 3-3-3

    Standing: Seventh in the Western Conference

8. San Jose Earthquakes (Previous: 8)

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    Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    The 10-man San Jose Earthquakes managed to rescue a draw on the road against the Philadelphia Union. The Earthquakes have now only lost one of their last six matches.

    When Anibal Godoy was rightly sent off on 59 minutes, the Quakes appeared to be in trouble. However, San Jose outworked the Union and created more chances after it was reduced to 10. 

    It's always difficult to play away from home with 10 men, so the Quakes claiming a point under those circumstances is huge.

    Games played: Nine

    Form: DWLWD

    Points: 15

    Record: 4-2-3

    Standing: Fifth in the Western Conference

7. Montreal Impact (Previous: 7)

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    The Montreal Impact are still on top of the Eastern Conference, but they only managed to secure two points out of six this week.

    The Impact struck late to tie New York City FC 1-1 on Wednesday, then they let two leads slip in their draw 2-2 with the Colorado Rapids. The former result is not terrible because it was on the road but the latter was a disappointment.

    Montreal out-shot Colorado 16-10, but only three of the Impact's attempts were on target to the Rapids' five. One of those strikes was Didier Drogba's free kick as well. The defending was also suspect at times, especially on set pieces. 

    The one positive for the Impact is that Drogba admitted that he's still not fully fit. The Ivorian has already scored three goals in five appearances, so his form will only improve with time.

    However, if Montreal does not start earning wins soon, it will begin to slide down the rankings.

    Games played: Nine

    Form: WWLDD

    Points: 14

    Record: 4-3-2

    Standing: First in the Eastern Conference

6. FC Dallas (Previous: 3)

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    FC Dallas have conceded 17 goals this season. Twelve of those have come in all three of their defeats. Their latest setback was a humiliating 4-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls on Friday.

    The embarrassment at the hands of the Red Bulls came just a week after Dallas lost 3-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps. The most recent match was easily the worst.

    None of the Hoops' front four could convert any chances in the box. Mauro Diaz missed a sitter from a few yards when Dallas was trailing 2-0, which essentially spelled the end of any potential comeback.

    Dallas' previous two matches have been disastrous, but it is still one of the best teams in the Western Conference. If they turn it around at Toronto FC this Saturday, then the Texan side should be okay.

    Games played: 10

    Form: DWWLL

    Points: 17

    Record: 5-3-2

    Standing: Third in the Western Conference

5. Philadelphia Union (Previous: 5)

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    Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

    The Philadelphia Union extended their home unbeaten streak to four after drawing 1-1 with the 10-man San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday. However, the Union may feel as if they dropped two points as opposed to gaining one.

    The Union were the superior side for the first hour of the match. Once Anibal Godoy was sent off, the Earthquakes should have been in trouble. Instead, they created more chances than Philadelphia and eventually scored the equalizer.

    This is a new-look squad, especially at the back, and the Union have exceeded expectations so far. Nonetheless, they should be winning matches at home when they are up a man. 

    Games played: Eight

    Form: LWLWD

    Points: 13

    Record: 4-3-1

    Standing: Second in the Eastern Conference

4. Toronto FC (Previous: 4)

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    Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

    Toronto FC nearly exited Providence Park with another point on the road. They ended up losing narrowly 2-1 to the Portland Timbers on Sunday.

    TFC may have conceded two goals, but the defense barely conceded any space to the Timbers. They were unlocked on one occasion, which was the opening goal. Diego Valeri's stunning free kick was the eventual winner, so there wasn't much else the back line could have done.

    The finishing from the Reds' point of view will be seen as lackluster. Jake Gleeson made a few terrific saves, but Will Johnson and Michael Bradley had time to place their attempts, which made it slightly easier on Gleeson.

    Toronto's eight-game road trip is over and it will be playing four matches in a row at BMO Field. Now that the team will be playing in familiar surroundings, it could become a real force in MLS.

    Games played: Eight

    Form: LDWWL

    Points: 11

    Record: 3-3-2

    Standing: Third in the Eastern Conference

3. Colorado Rapids (Previous: 2)

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    Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    The Colorado Rapids fought back twice to claim a 2-2 draw with the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo on Saturday. The tie extended Colorado's unbeaten streak to four games.

    The Rapids may have been out-shot 16-10, but apart from Didier Drogba's free kick, Colorado only allowed two attempts on target. It was a solid performance at the back from the visitors.

    There was an element of luck prior to the Rapids' second goal as the Impact failed to clear the ball. Nonetheless, Colorado deserved the equalizer and a share of the points.

    The Rapids will play its next two matches at home, where they have won every game. If Colorado manages to secure three or four points over Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City, it may be time to take this team seriously.

    Games played: Nine

    Form: LWWWD

    Points: 17

    Record: 5-2-2

    Standing: First in the Western Conference

2. Real Salt Lake (Previous: 6)

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    Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

    Real Salt Lake rebounded from their lopsided loss last week by defeating the Houston Dynamo 2-1 on Saturday. 

    Goalkeeper Nick Rimando had to make a few quality saves to prevent a late Dynamo equalizer, but RSL were also generating quality chances. They could have had more than two goals if their finishing was more accurate.

    Regardless, RSL earned its fourth win in their last five games. Despite the superior form, the recent loss to the LA Galaxy and lax performance towards the end of the match halts their rise to No. 2 this week.

    Games played: Eight

    Form: WWWLW

    Points: 17

    Record: 5-1-2

    Standing: Second in the Western Conference

1. LA Galaxy (Previous: 1)

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    Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    The LA Galaxy retain the top spot in the power rankings despite a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City on Sunday. 

    The Galaxy were reduced to 10 men after Ashley Cole was sent off on 70 minutes. LA still managed to hold on and nullify any threat from Sporting KC for the rest of the game.

    The vital road point increased LA's unbeaten streak to six matches. The Galaxy were also missing Robbie Keane, Steven Gerrard and Nigel de Jong, all of whom are key starters.

    If the 2014 MLS Cup winners are earning results on a consistent basis without them, their form will only improve from here on out.

    Games played: Eight

    Form: DDWWD

    Points: 15

    Record: 4-1-3

    Standing: Fourth in the Western Conference

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