The Cincinnati Soccer Talk Power Rankings are back after a short hiatus, and not a moment too soon with MLS coming back off its own break. The Portland Timbers highlighted the weekend with a surprising 4-0 destruction of the Houston Dynamo. Meanwhile, before the break, the Philadelphia Union scored a huge 3-2 victory over the New York Red Bulls to further stake their claim to first place in the Eastern Conference.
Here is a look at our MLS Power Rankings after Week 16:
(Legend: (W-L-T, LW: last week’s rankings )
1. Los Angeles FC (11-1-4, LW: 1)
LAFC remained idle this week but did earn two victories in the U.S. Open Cup during the hiatus. It took advantage of an offday this weekend to put a strong lineup out there again San Jose on Thursday, and it worked well. LAFC now has a solid chance of taking both the U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield, as well as possibly the MLS Cup this season.
2. Philadelphia Union (9-4-4, LW: 2)
The Union’s 3-2 victory over the Red Bulls sent a signal to the rest of the conference that they aren’t just sitting there expecting Atlanta to come take the East. Instead, it appears the Union finally are reaching their potential as a club.
3. Atlanta United FC (8-5-2, LW: 4)
Atlanta’s reemergence puts it in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference. It also earned a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Crew in the U.S. Open Cup, putting it in the quarterfinal round.
4. New York City FC (5-1-8, LW: 8)
It’s probably surprising to see a five-win team sitting fourth in the power rankings, but look at what it has done since starting 0-1-4. It compiled victories over four different playoff contenders and now finds itself in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal round.
5. D.C. United (7-4-6, LW: 6)
Honestly, it doesn’t sit well with me to actually move D.C. up a slot while on hiatus. It says more about the struggles of the teams previously head of it than anything else. I keep waiting for D.C. to regain the form it showed at the beginning of the season, and I’m beginning to doubt it will happen.
6. Los Angeles Galaxy (10-6-1, LW: 9)
On paper, a 2-0 win over struggling FC Cincinnati should mean little in the grand scheme of things. However, six Galaxy players missed the match due to international duty, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic barely impacted the match. Moreover, the Galaxy played down to opponents in losses to Colorado and New England. The remaining roster deserves credit for a win in an extremely tough environment at sold out Nippert Stadium.
7. Houston Dynamo (7-4-3, LW: 3)
Portland beating the Dynamo at home wouldn’t have been a surprise. An upset? Absolutely, but not a surprise. The Timbers showed improvement throughout the last month, and I figured they would move up the standing once they finally began a home stand. However, a 4-0 thrashing of the talented Dynamo exposed several real problems. I understand Houston missed some players due to international duty, but that opens the club’s depth to questioning.
8. Seattle Sounders FC (7-4-5, LW: 5)
The slumping Sounders enter their match against the Vancouver Whitecaps on a four-game losing streak, including three in MLS play. The situation got worse last week when forward Will Bruin suffered a torn ACL. Now the Sounders must find someone to step into his shoes with Raul Ruidiaz playing for Peru in the Copa America.
9. New York Red Bulls (7-6-3, LW: 7)
The Red Bulls took a hit with the loss to the Union prior to the break. However, wins in several key upcoming matches would put them on a solid path. A victory over NYCFC in a couple of weeks would be critical.
10. Montreal Impact (8-7-3, LW: 10)
The Impact earned a huge victory over slumping Seattle prior to the break. Can the inconsistent Impact build on that?
11. FC Dallas (7-6-3, LW: 11)
FC Dallas’ dominant 3-0 victory over Toronto showed exactly what it is capable of. Now, like Montreal above, can it build on that win?
12. San Jose Earthquakes (5-6-4, LW: 13)
The improved Earthquakes face off with the Galaxy in the California Clasico this weekend. A win would make a marked difference in each team’s chances for success entering July.
13. Minnesota United FC (6-7-3, LW: 12)
Minnesota entered U.S. Open Cup play with a devastating loss to last-place Colorado. However, things are looking up for the club. It earned victories over both Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo to move into the cup quarterfinal round.
14. Portland Timbers (5-7-2, LW: 19)
The Timbers’ journey home finally happened prior to the break with tough results. However, they turned it around with a 4-0 demolition of the Galaxy during the U.S. Open Cup. Then the Timbers crushed the Dynamo 4-0 as well. I’ve been saying watch out for the Timbers for a while. Their time is now.
15. Sporting Kansas City (4-5-7, LW: 20)
SKC hit the road against two struggling opponents and picked up four points out of the deal.
16. Real Salt Lake (6-8-2, LW: 15)
Real Salt Lake earned a point in Chicago. It will take it, but it really needed three points to keep pace in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
17. Orlando City SC (5-7-3, LW: 16)
The bye leaves Orlando City one point out of a playoff spot with a game in hand on Toronto FC.
18. Chicago Fire (4-6-7, LW: 17)
Chicago really could have used the three points from the home match against RSL. Unfortunately, the Fire failed to maintain possession for much of the game. Once they scored their only goal, RSL took over for much of the match, only giving way late.
19. Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4-6-7, LW: 18)
The Whitecaps rallied from two goals down to earn the 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids. Vancouver played the roles of Jekyll and Hyde in this one, struggling for the first third of the game but dominating much of the second half.
20. Toronto FC (5-7-3, LW: 14)
Toronto FC’s freefall continues.
21. New England Revolution (4-8-4, LW: 22)
The Revolution will face first-place Philadelphia on Wednesday.
22. Colorado Rapids (4-9-4, LW: 23)
Colorado’s rise curtailed a bit with the late tie at Vancouver. That said, the Rapids possess enough firepower to make a difference down the stretch if they can fix that back line.
23. Columbus Crew (5-10-2)
The Crew lost 1-0 to Sporting Kansas City in a matchup of the league’s most disappointing clubs this season.
24. FC Cincinnati (3-12-2, LW: 24)
It’s hard to find positives in FC Cincinnati’s season thus far, but if there is one, it’s the fans. They sold out Nippert Stadium for the 2-0 loss to the Galaxy. In context, their neighbors to the north drew only 13,207 on an equally beautiful night in May.